The valley of Kashmir is a unique, oval plain, approximately 134 km in length
and 32 to 40 km in breadth, with an average height of 1,800 m above the sea level, and nested securely among the
Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas.
The mountains which surround the valley are varied in form, height, and
To the east stands hoary-headed Harmukh (5,150 m), the formidable mountain
guarding the valley of the Sindh. Further south is Mahadev and the lofty ranges
of Gwasha Brari (5,425 m). The peak of Amarnath (5,280 m) also lies in this
area. On the south-west is the Pir Panjal range with peaks 4,500 m high and to
the north are ranges of the Karakorams and the Himalayas. Himalayas is dominated by the
majestic Nanga Parbat (7,980 m), also called by the poetic name of Diyamir.
Covered with snow all the year round and rising glistening white, Nanga
Parbat is the
fifth highest mountain in the world. Latitude wise, Kashmir corresponds to
Damascus in Syria, Fez in Morocco, and South Carolina in the United States.
The legend that the Kashmir valley was a vast lake,
Satisar, in pre-historical
times, corresponds with the results of geological observations. The sandstone
rock at the western corner of the basin was most probably formed by volcanic
action. The lake was drained by the deepening of the Baramulla gorge - the
result of the slow process of erosion spread over geological years. Tradition
has it that the drainer of the lake was Kashyap, after whom the valley was
called Kashyap-mar, which, with the passage of time, became Kashmir.
According to an interpretation, Kashmir is a prakrit compound with its
components Kas meaning "a channel" and Mir, "a mountain" - the compound word
adding to a "a rock trough." In the Puranas, Kashmir is called gerek
(hill) because of its overwhelming hilly features. The word Kashmir has been
shortened by Kashmiris into Kashir. Kashmiris call their language Koshur or
The shape of the valley is that of an elliptical saucer. The floor of the vast
valley is built of small consolidated lake beds and alluvial soils. Numerous
plateaus, locally known as Karewas, stand up isolated in the middle of the
(also called Islamabad) is another ancient town of Kashmir, about 64 km to the
north of Srinagar. It is an exotic town full of springs and streams run in every
other compound. Some of these are sulphurous springs, which have curative
major towns are Baramulla and Sopore, both situated on the Jhelum after the
river enters the Wular lake and emerges from it.