The world of Islam, embracing about 600 million persons, extends across much of Africa and Asia. Most people in the West know that large numbers of Muslims live in the Arab states and in such countries as Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia. But there are also sizable communities in such unexpected places as Taiwan (Aramco World, July-August, 1970) and Yugoslavia (Aramco World, May-June 1973). One of the most beautiful of Muslim lands is Kashmir, a remote haven of green valleys and towering mountains on the northern borders of Pakistan and India. Kashmir has a population of about five million, nearly all Muslim.
Islam came to Kashmir late in the 14th century and for a time, in the 16th and 17th centuries, the land was part of the great Muslim Mogul empire of India. Later there was a century of local independence, then a century of British rule. In 1948 Kashmir fell into strife which ended with its partitioning and a United Nations truce.
Srinagar, a quiet town in the famous Vale of Kashmir, is the capital of Jammu and Kashmir—the larger part of the original country and now attached to India. It lies along the Jhelum River, surrounded byclear lakes and formal Mogul gardens, at analtitude of one mile. Forested hillsides and lofty glacier-covered peaks of the Himalayan range surround the heavily populated central valley. The people of Kashmir, merchants , craftsmen, farmers, woodsmen and shepherds, are as handsome as the land they dwell in, as the color photographs by Harold Sequeira on these pages suggest.