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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 April, 2005, 09:58 GMT 10:58 UK
Guide to the Kashmir bus route
The reopening of the bus service between Indian and Pakistan-administered Kashmir is seen as a sign of improving relations between the nuclear-armed rivals. Click on the map to find out more about some key locations along the route.

MuzaffarabadHattiyan BalaLal Pull BridgeChakothiBaramullaPattanSrinagar

Muzaffarabad

Muzaffarabad is the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, situated on the confluence of the rivers Neelam and Jhelum. It dates back to 1652 and is named after its founder, Sultan Muzaffar Khan.

Muzaffarabad
Muzaffarabad: Capital of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir
The city was made the regional capital in 1949, two years after the partition of India. Its population is about 125,000.

Pakistan-administered Kashmir has its own parliament, supreme court, prime minister's secretariat and university. The remains of two forts, one Sikh temple and many Hindu temples can still be seen around the city.

Before 1947, Hindus and Sikhs used to live in this area along with Muslims. Muzaffarabad is connected to Pakistan by two main road routes, while there is one main route that connects it to Srinagar. This route is called the Srinagar-Rawalpindi road. The road follows the river Jhelum along its course, and this is the route buses will take between Muzaffarabad and Srinagar.

Gadhi Dopatta

This is a small town 16km from Muzaffarabad. The neighbouring town of Hatiyan Dopatta was an important trading centre before the division of Kashmir in 1947.

Kashmiris at Gadhi Dopatta
Kashmiris at Gadhi Dopatta
Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims used to live here in peace till 1947. After the creation of Pakistan, tribesmen invaded Kashmir to try to drive Indian forces out.

Most non-Muslims fled, either to what is now Indian-administered Kashmir, or India. Shuttered-down shops belonging to Hindus who fled in 1947 still stand in the town of Hatiyan Dopatta. There is also a dilapidated temple there.

Hattiyan Bala

This is another town on way on the Muzaffarabad to Srinagar road, located 40km from Muzaffarabad.

The  Jhelum river
The road follows the Jhelum river
This area was inhabited by Hindus and Sikhs before the tribal invasion of Kashmir in 1947.

Following the invasion, India and Pakistan fought their first war over Kashmir, leading, among other things, to the closure of the road.

Chakothi

This is the last border town on the Pakistani-administered side in the Jhelum valley.

Soldier in Kashmir
Pakistani troops in Chakothi can see Indian soldiers across the Line of Control
Chakothi's population is around 50,000. It has been in and out of news headlines over the past years.

Before the current ceasefire between India and Pakistan, the armies of the two countries would often exchange fire across the United Nations Line of Control dividing the two sides of Kashmir. Being close to the Line of Control, Chakothi has suffered a lot over the years, with lives being lost and property destroyed.

As with other border towns in this area, the current ceasefire between India and Pakistan has brought much needed relief to the town. The bridge that, in effect, divides Pakistani and Indian-administered Kashmir is a mere 3 kilometres from the town's main market.

The bus passengers have to cross the dividing bridge on foot and get on another bus on the other side as the bridge is in such a poor state.

The Lal Pull bridge

It is said that bringing the two sides of Kashmir together would never have been possible without the Lal Pull bridge (the Red Bridge).

Lal Pull Bridge
The Lal Pull bridge - travellers cross by foot
When fighting broke out in 1947, it was among the first structures to be blown up, thus dividing millions of families.

The Srinagar Muzaffarabad road was originally built in 1892 by the then ruler of Kashmir, Maharaja Pratap Singh.

Uri

Uri is near the Line of Control in Indian-controlled Kashmir. It is a beautiful, mountainous area which has suffered a great deal because of tensions that have prevailed between India and Pakistan over the years.

Villagers of Uri
Kashmiris have endured nearly two decades of violence
Many badly damaged buildings still stand witness to violence this area has suffered.

There are as many military personnel here as there are civilians. The army is actively involved in areas ranging from education to health. Correspondents say Indian intelligence services are also highly active here.

Baramulla

In terms of population and area, Baramulla is the largest district in Kashmir valley.

Kashmiris in snowfall
Kashmiris in snowfall
It is known as the Gateway to Kashmir.

Kings, invading armies (including the Moghuls) and later tourists, have over the years entered Kashmir through Baramulla. The heavy losses to life and property during the Indian armies struggle against militants provides a sharp contrast to its natural beauty.

Pattan

Some 50km from Srinagar lies the beautiful town of Pattan, historically known as Shankarpur.

Kashmiri men on horse-drawn cart
The violence has caused economic hardship too
It has often been used as the assembly point for armies before their military forays. It is said that the town was looted many times under Muslim rulers.

Many of the pro-Pakistan tribesmen who invaded Kashmir in 1947 to drive the Indians out got as far as Pattan before the Indian army reached Srinagar and forced them to retreat.

Srinagar

According to the Rajtarangini, regarded as one of the most ancient and famous historical texts of the sub-continent, Srinagar was one big lake, which the mythical Kashyap Rishi drained and on which he founded the city of Srinagar.

Dal Lake, Srinagar
Srinagar's Dal Lake - the centre of Kashmir's tourist trade

The beautiful Dal Lake in the heart of Srinagar is reputed to be what is left of the original lake.

Srinagar has been the summer capital of Kashmir for years. The city abounds with remnants from its variously Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim past.

The Hazratbal Shrine, the Shankaracharya temple, the Jamia Masjid and the Sikh Chhatti Padshahi bear witness to the city's religious leanings.

It is at the centre of efforts to revive Kashmir's once-thriving tourist industry.

Text: Nayeema Ahmad and Zulfikar Ali.




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