Srinagar in Colors and Shades — by Mir Yasir Mukhtar
February 6, 2019
In this series of photographs, Mir Yasir Mukhtar diverts his lens to portray everyday life in Kashmir beyond the horrors that are captured by professionals from his field of photojournalism. In habitual scenarios, it is almost impossible to avoid images of war, conflict, tragedy and violence. However, as the images themselves communicate, an alternate Kashmir, and with it an alternate Srinagar, exists to show how Kashmiris try to live on a daily basis while being at the focal point of the oldest unresolved geopolitical conflict of global modernity.

A Kashmiri man walks near a resort amidst icicles hanging from the rooftop on a cold wintery day in Gulmarg, near Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir. The world famous tourist resort of Gulmarg located less than 6 miles from the ceasefire line or Line of Control (LoC) that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan is known for long-run skiing, snowboarding, heli-skiing and steep mountains.

A Kashmiri fisherman covered under a torn blanket, holding a harpoon, as he waits in his boat to catch fish using a unique technique called Tchay-e- gard shikar (‘shadow fishing’) in the Anchar lake in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir. Tchay-e- gard shikar (‘shadow fishing’) is a unique method employed by fishermen to catch fish in Srinagar’s Anchar lake. The fishermen camouflage their presence and lure the fish into a trap with the help of reeds and shock waves by beating the water.

An elderly Kashmiri man walks near a damaged house in old downtown in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir. Kashmir, the Muslim majority state, known as ‘Paradise on Earth’, has for centuries captured the imagination of many writers, poets, film makers and image producers.

Two Kashmiri girls walk on a bridle path, with one holding a chicken in her hand near the interiors of Dal Lake in Srinagar.

An elderly Kashmiri woman walks near a worn-down house in old downtown Srinagar.

A Kashmiri Muslim man burns autumn foliage in the Nishat Mughal garden during the autumn season in Srinagar. Autumn colors are reaching their peak as the days are becoming shorter, heralding the approach of winter in Kashmir. Known locally as the Chinar, an indigenous variety of the maple, it can be found in many popular Mughal gardens such as the ones at the Nishat, Shalimar, Harwan and Naseem Bagh. 

A bodybuilder gets gloss applied before participating in Mr. Kashmir Body Building Competition organized by the Jammu and Kashmir Bodybuilding Association in Srinagar. Kashmir’s top bodybuilders competed in the championship in the strife-torn valley where indoor sports have received a boost in the recent years. Bodybuilding has evolved into a popular sport in Kashmir with hundreds of gyms flourishing in the region. 

A Kashmiri laborer poses for a photograph in coal mine in old downtown in Srinagar.

Shikara boats are moored towards the banks of Dal Lake during the autumn season in Srinagar.

A little bittern holds a prey in its bill at Dal Lake in Srinagar.

An elderly Kashmiri woman ties a thread (daaesh) at the shrine of Sufi saint Sheikh Hamza Makhdoom during a festival in Srinagar. Thousands of Kashmiri Muslims make the pilgrimage to the shrine of Sufi Saint Sheikh Hamza Makhdoomi, also known as Makhdoom Sahib, to offer prayers on the anniversary of his birth. 

A general view of Khanqah-e-Moula shrine at dawn, with the structure situated on the right bank of river Jhelum in Zainakadal in Srinagar. The Khanqah-e-Moula was the first mosque to be built in Srinagar and stands atop the ruins of the original Kalleshwari temple. The mosque was constructed by Muslim ruler Sikander Budshikan during the Islamic occupation of Jammu and Kashmir in memory of the preacher Mir Syed Ali Hamdani. Also known as Shah Hamadan, the preacher came to Kashmir from the city of Hamadan in Persia during the 13th century. He is believed to be responsible for the spread of Islam in Kashmir. The Shah stayed in Kashmir for many years and then left for Central Asia via Ladakh. However, it is believed that Shah Hamdan’s son, Mir Mohammad actually built the shrine. In 1480 AD, the shrine was destroyed due to a fire. The then ruler, Sultan Hassan Shah, expanded its premises and rebuilt it. In 1731 AD, the Khanqah was again destroyed by a fire and then rebuilt by Abdul Barkat Khan. 

A Kashmiri man takes a power nap in his shop in old downtown Srinagar.

A Kashmiri Muslim man prays under the almond blossom trees in the almond garden in Baadam Vaer Park in Srinagar. The blossom of thousands of almond trees marks the arrival of spring and attracts tourists worldwide. 

A Kashmiri boatman rows his boat as the snow covered Zabarvan mountain range is reflected on the waters of Dal Lake in Srinagar. Cold weather continues in Kashmir valley with most places in the state recording sub-zero temperatures.

Assadullah, 82, is into this art known as Zari (or Jari) since last 60 years. It is based on an even thread traditionally made of fine gold and silver. Zari is used in various forms such as Zardozi, Kataoki Bel, Mukaish, Tilla or Marori Work, Gota Work and Kinari Work. This art is dying a slow death because at present it generates artists considerably less income. According to Mr Assadullah, this art form is considered a taboo because no one would want to end up married with an artist who makes their living from this trade.

Bashir Ahmad, 42, works on a Kashmiri Pashmina shawl at his workshop in Srinagar. Pashmina is a fine type of cashmere wool. The textiles made from it were first woven in Kashmir. The name comes from Persian pašmina, meaning “made from wool”. Pashmina came to be known as cashmere in the West because Europeans first encountered this fibre here in Kashmir. The wool comes from a number of different breeds of the cashmere goats such as the changthangi or the Kashmir pashmina goat from the Changthang Plateau in Tibet and part of the Ladakh region, the malra from the Kargil area in the Kashmir region, the chegu from Himachal Pradesh in the Himalayas of northern India, and the chyangara or Nepalese pashmina goat. Often shawls called shahmina are made from this material in Kashmir and Nepal; these shawls are hand spun and woven from the very fine cashmere fibre.

An elderly Kashmiri Muslim man receives leech therapy on his back from a practitioner, on 21 March, 2018 in Srinagar. Nowruz, the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar has a different significance in Indian-administered Kashmir. On Nowruz, the Persian New Year, thousands of patients suffering from various skin conditions gather at Hazratbal to receive leech treatment, where practitioners use leeches to suck impure blood from the ailing patient. Leech treatment is one of the oldest skin therapies in the valley and is believed to have been used to treat thousands of patients. People from various parts of Kashmir travel to the Hazratbal market each Nowruz to receive the therapy. Nowruz also marks the first day of spring in Kashmir that extends roughly from March to early May.

Kashmiri Muslim women devotees look towards a cleric (not seen in the picture) displaying the holy relic believed to be the whisker from the beard of Prophet Mohammed, at Hazratbal shrine on the Eid-e-Milad, or the birth anniversary of Prophet Mohammad. Thousands of Muslims from all over Kashmir visit the Hazratbal shrine in Srinagar to pay obeisance on the Eid-e-Milad.

Kashmiri Muslim devotees pray inside the Shrine of Charar-e-Sharief on Urs of the Sufi saint Sheikh Noor-Ud-Din Noorani, in Yusmurg, 40 kms away from Srinagar. Charar-e-Sharief is considered to be one of the most sacrosanct Muslim shrines in Kashmir. Inheriting a historical heritage of 600 year, this wooden shrine was built to commemorate Sheikh Noor-Ud-Din Noorani. It is located at a distance of 40 kilometers from the city of Srinagar in the village of same name as the shrine, in the Badgam district. One can visit the dargah on their way to Yusmarg. Devotees of all faiths throng the place throughout the year to pay homage to the saint. On the day of Urs of Noor-ud-din Noorani, thousands of devotees visit the shrine. Charar-e-Sahrief has survived several eras of turmoil. It was rebuilt in 1995 when a major portion of the shrine was destroyed by conflicted-related violence.

Houseboats are illuminated on the waters of Dal Lake in Srinagar.

A Kashmiri boy poses for a picture near closed shops in city center in Srinagar.

A candid picture of a Kashmiri man in the shrine of Khanqah-e-Moula shrine at dawn. The shine is situated on the right bank of river Jhelum in Zainakadal in Srinagar.

All images copyright of Mir Yasir Mukhtar

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About the Contributor

<a href="" target="_self">Mir Yasir Mukhtar</a>

Mir Yasir Mukhtar

Mir Yasir Mukhtar is a freelance photojournalist based in Kashmir. He is developing his craft and skillset while looking to learn and further a career in the photographic industry. Yasir has captured day-to-day events in Kashmir, specializing in people’s movement, human portraits, nature landscapes and documentary features. Yasir has recently been published by Free Press Kashmir, VICE Magazine, Inverse Journal, Kashmir Observer, Mountain Ink Magazine, PARI Education and other publications from Kashmir.