Kashmir is in the north of India. Its Summer capital, Srinagar is situated on Dal Lake,
a beautiful 18 sq km body of water known as "the jewel in the crown" of Kashmir. Foreigners were not allowed to purchase land so built houseboats on the lake, which are still in use today and can be rented for a unique holiday.
The snow capped mountains of the Zabarwan Range create a magical backdrop as one glides across the peaceful mirrored surface of the lake in small boats called Shikaras, paddled by local villagers who have grown up on the lakeside.
The region is famous for its very fine Cashmere wool collected from the Changthangi goats that live high up in the mountains. It is collected after the winter snow has melted and woven into fine stoles and shawls in the villages on handlooms. These stoles are embroidered by (mostly) male villagers whilst waiting for their crops to grow in the spring and summer. Fine hand embroidery using silk thread can take many months to complete. Special pieces were in great demand from the Mughal Emperors in the past with elements of those designs still being passed down through the generations today.
Due to demand stoles woven from sheep and goats wool are now mass produced with machine embroidery alongside the hand weavers.These are typically embroidered in Ari or Crewel work in traditional designs such as flowers or leaves. This wool is coarser as the fibres are shorter than the Changthangi wool.