The traveler to Kashmir will find himself in a country of surpassing natural beauty. The Himalayas have many other beautiful valleys and countless other places from which the great snow ranges and peaks can be seen; but none of these have the same combination of mountain and meadow, river and lake, glacier and forest, that are afforded by Kashmir. It is as if the Himalayas, ending their thousand mile sweep along the north of India, had determined as a climax to produce some place in which all their charms would be presented at their best in a small compact area. So while the central mountain range continues northwards until it is stopped by the Indus, a branch is sent out to the west and the extremities of both connected by intervening ranges. In the quite considerable space thus formed lies the Vale of Kashmir, a region by itself, having a distinctive and well-marked individuality. Nothing that the traveler has seen elsewhere in the Himalayas prepares him for that combination of sublimity with rich cultivation and homesteads buried in fruit blossom that Kashmir can offer. It is in Kashmir alone that, in a special degree, the gentler and wilder aspects of nature are united in harmony.
It is as the most delightful of all Himalayan valleys that the ordinary I knows Kashmir. Yet to regard Kashmir as simply a place of great natural beauty would mean a failure to appreciate its other achievements and its many-sided character.