|Vale of Kashmir|
|Length||83 miles (134 km) Northwest-Southeast|
|Width||20 miles (32 km)|
|Area||15,520.3 km2 (5,992.4 sq mi)|
|State||Jammu and Kashmir|
The Kashmir Valley, also known as the Vale of Kashmir, is an intermontane valley concentrated in the Kashmir Division of the Indian-administered union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.[a] The valley is bounded on the southwest by the Pir Panjal Range and on the northeast by the main Himalayas range. It is approximately 135 km (84 mi) long and 32 km (20 mi) wide, and drained by the Jhelum River.
The Kashmir Valley lies between latitude 33° and 35°N, and longitude 73° and 76°E. The valley is 100 km (62 mi) wide and covers 15,520.3 km2 (5,992.4 sq mi) in area. It is bounded by sub-ranges of the Western Himalayas: the Great Himalayas bound it in the northeast and separate it from the Tibetan plateau, whereas the Pir Panjal Range in the Lesser Himalayas bounds it on the west and the south, and separates it from the Punjab Plain. The valley has an average elevation of 1,850 metres (6,070 ft) above sea-level, but the surrounding Pir Panjal range has an average elevation of 10,000 feet (3,000 m). The Jhelum River is the main river of the Valley. It originates at Verinag; its most important tributaries are the Lidder and Sind rivers. Unlike other areas of Kashmir region, the Kashmir valley is densely populated owing to the availability of a large expanse of fertile flat land.
The Kashmir Valley has a moderate climate, which is largely defined by its geographic location, with the towering Karakoram Range in the north, Pir Panjal Range in the south and west, and Zanskar Range in the east. It can be generally described as cool in the spring and autumn, mild in the summer and cold in the winter. As a large valley with significant differences in geo-location among various districts, the weather is often cooler in the hilly areas compared to the flat lower parts.
Summer is usually mild and fairly dry, but relative humidity is generally high and the nights are cool. Precipitation occurs throughout the year and no month is particularly dry. The hottest month is July (mean minimum temperature 16 °C, mean maximum temperature 32 °C) and the coldest are December–January (mean minimum temperature −15 °C, mean maximum temperature 0 °C).
The Kashmir Valley enjoys a moderate climate but weather conditions are unpredictable. The record high temperature is 37.8°C and the record low is −18 °C. On 5 and 6 January 2012, after years of relatively little snow, a wave of heavy snow and low temperatures (winter storm) shocked the valley covering it in a thick layer of snow and ice.
The Valley has seen an increase in relative humidity and annual precipitation in the last few years. This is most likely because of the commercial afforestation projects which also include expanding parks and green cover.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
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The valley of Kashmir was formed by folding and faulting as the Himalayan mountain chain was thrust between the Indian subcontinent and the rest of Asia. The valley runs northwest to southeast along the strike of the mountain chain and is drained by the river Jhelum which cuts through the Pir Pinjal at the Baramullah gap. This structural basin is 135 km in length with a maximum width of 40 km and ranges in altitude from 5,200 to 6,000 ft above sea level. Its floor stands 1,600 m above sea level in the Jhelum flood plain. It covers an area of about 4,865 km square. The valley is accessible from the Punjab plain through two famous passes; the Pir Panjal pass (3,494 m) and Banihal pass (2,832 m).