Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
Anisha Sheth | The News Minute | December 19, 2014 | 2.57 pm IST  In the Indian imagination, Kashmir is largely associated with shikharas on the still surface of Dal (Lake), apple orchards, snow, kahwa and kangri, or militancy, unrest and stone-pelting, terrorism, separatism.  Struggling against touristy and terroristy perceptions of their home, enclosed by unnatural borders and the presence of around six lakh armed forces personnel, Kashmiris go about their daily lives, struggling to stay afloat amid waters that constantly threaten to rise above their heads. Srinagar and parts of the Kashmir Valley in the first two weeks of December as elections were underway in Jammu and Kashmir, in pictures: Right behind where the CRPF van stands in Lal Chowk is where Palladium theatre used to be. Before the armed struggle for independence from India began, there were around 15 cinema halls in Srinagar. Having been destroyed in the conflict, these have never been reopened. To this day, Srinagar does not have a single cinema hall. Instead, where Palladium theatre once stood, one finds CRPF personnel enclosed in their bunker next to the van and fenced off by barbed wire, two pairs of eyes watching. Watching. The samadhis of the erstwhile Dogra rulers in Srinagar. A disused board lies in a corner of the grounds on which the samadhis stand. It gets few visitors. The house of the widely popular and well-respected leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani who is under house arrest. During the elections journalists were not allowed to visit the leader and were turned away by the Jammu and Kashmir Police. Trade in Kashmir is a tricky thing and also an electoral issue. Historically, Kashmir’s natural mandis or markets, were Rawalpindi and Muzzaffarabad. There is resentment among the local people that the apples they grow have to be sent all the way to Mumbai port for export to international markets instead of to Karachi, which is much closer. The extra time required to send the produce to Mumbai takes its toll on the quality of the fruit. Political parties have promised to improve trade opportunities in their manifestos. The banks of the Leder river submerged many houses on its banks. Some of the houses still have marks indicating the level to which the water rose. Children playing on the embankment in a village in Pulwama district on December 9. A boatman seen from the bridge over the Jhelum near the bund in Lal Chowk. A lone bus on election day in Kulgam district. A shop on the bund (embankment) along the Jhelum in Srinagar, displaying pherans worn by women at weddings. There is a view among some Kashmiris that their culture is being influenced by Punjabi culture, and pherans are being replaced by lehengas. Others see it as changes that happen naturally to any culture. Children playing cricket on the bund along the Jhelum in Srinagar. Hotel Apple town, in Shopian town. Shopian district is an apple-growing region. A temple on the road to Shopian town, adjoining a CRPF camp. A woman on the road to Shopian. This area too was flood hit.  Lal Chowk at night. In the winters it is deserted by around 8 pm. A mosque in Bellow Dergund village in Pulwama district. Traditionally, mosques in Kashmir are designed this way. Newer mosques have been designed with the dome generally associated with Islamic architecture.  The Aastan e Shah I Hamdan in Shopian district, a few kilometres from Shopian town. In the local parlance, a dargah or shrine is called an aastan. It overlooks the Rambiara river.  Chillies hung out to dry in December in a shed in Bellow Dergund village in Pulwama district. Chilly is widely cultivated in the region unlike in other parts of the valley where paddy is the main crop. Similar sights are to be found in many houses in the region. A Kashmiri woman in Pulwama district. This is Mishra's house. The people of Bellow Dergund village said the widow of a man named Mishra lives alone in the house after her husband died of cancer a year ago. They know little about how she lives. In pictures: Kashmir elections   Tweet  Follow @anisha_w  Follow @thenewsminute

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