Kashmir Valley

Kashmiri handicrafts, shawls and carpets are world famous. Shahtoos or Ringshawl as it was known was exclusively made by hand in Kashmir and was worn by celebrities and high profile dignitaries. This shawl is so soft that it can pass through a ring! However, it has been banned by the Government after animal rights campaigners objected because it involves killing a baby antelope in the high regions of Ladakh and making the shawl from its hide.

Although the Shahtoos shawl has been rightly banned it shouldn't stop you from buying the famed Kashmiri Pashmina.

Pashmina is exclusively Kashmiri and a good quality Pashmina shawl including one that is hand embroidered by Kashmiri artisans can cost over $US450.

The intricacies of hand made Kashmiri carpets are well known. Most take months, some even a couple of years to make. The history of the Kashmiri carpet dates back to the period of Hazrat Mir Syed Ali Hamdani 1341-1385 A.D - the famous sufi saint of Persia who came to enlighten Kashmir with his spiritual guidance and brought along with him highly skilled artisans through the silk trade route.

Kashmir witnessed a phenomenal rise and growth in all things artistic in the golden reign of Budshah in the 15th century. Emperor Akbar in the 16th Century is said to have encouraged the art of carpet weaving by bringing in more skilled artisans to the Kashmir valley.

An original Kashmir carpet can be very expensive but the right one can be as prized or treasured as any work of art.