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"If there is a heaven on earth, it is here… it is here… it is here."
(Agar Firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast, Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast)
If heaven's on earth, they claim it's in Kashmir, and they're correct. The valley is located in the middle of the massive Himalayan Mountains and has magnificent tourist attractions. Srinagar, being the summer capital and most significant city throughout history, is home to a variety of historical and architectural sites in addition to natural wonders; it is located in the Kashmir Valley on the banks of the river Jhelum and is considered to be one of the most attractive tourist attractions. It is a popular destination worldwide for family vacations, thanks to its lush green pastures, lovely gardens, tranquil lakes, shikara and houseboats, among other attractions. In addition, Kashmir has pleasant weather all year round; thus, summer is the most incredible time to visit Kashmir for sightseeing, while winter is perfect for snowfall.
One must visit the following locations while in Srinagar to get the most out of their visit.
#1: Dal Lake: It is the second biggest lake in Jammu and Kashmir and provides a picturesque view of the Mughal gardens, making it an ideal location for Srinagar tourism and leaves every traveller spellbound. When the lake freezes over in the winter, it creates an ice skating rink. Dal Lake is one of the greatest locations to visit in Srinagar due to its gorgeous setting. It extends approximately 26 sq km and is internationally recognized for its houseboats and Shikaras.
#2: Shalimar Bagh: Shalimar Bagh is a 31-acre garden designed in the Persian style. Shahanshah Jahangir constructed the garden on the outskirts of the Dal Lake to please Queen Noor Jahan. It is also called "Abode of Love." The park attracts tourists from all over the world because of its horticultural appeal. It has several architectural structures that exhibit outstanding Mughal artistry.
Shalimar Bagh is a 31-acre garden designed in the Persian style. Wikimedia
#3: Nishat Bagh: Built-in 1833 by Nur Jehan's elder brother Asif Khan, Nishat Bagh is the greatest Mughal garden in Jammu and Kashmir. Nishat Bagh, deriving its name from Urdu, means Garden of Gladness or Garden of Delight or Joy. With its magnificent Chinar trees, abundant vegetation, and various fountains, this place also offers an intriguing view of Dal Lake. The garden is divided into two halves by a stagnant stream of water.
With its magnificent Chinar trees, abundant vegetation, and various fountains, this place also offers an intriguing view of Dal Lake. Wikimedia
#4: Chashme Shahi: Chashme Shahi, the third Mughal garden in Srinagar after Shalimar and Nishat Bagh, was built in 1632 on the command of Ali Marda Khan, the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan's administrator. The garden was dedicated to Shah Jahan's son, Dara Sikoh. The garden, with its Persian architecture, presents a storey of imperial Mughal heritage. The garden, which is brimming with nature, history, culture, and legacy, is a sight to see and ranks among the most famous Srinagar tourist attractions.
Cheshmashahi, which is brimming with nature, history, culture, and legacy, is a sight to see and ranks among the most famous Srinagar tourist attractions. Wikimedia
#5: Makhdoom Sahib: Makhdoom Sahib, one of the valley's holiest shrines, is located in the southern portion of Hari Parbat's magnificent Fort. It is named after Sheikh Hamza Makhdoom, a prominent Sufi saint and spiritual teacher also known as Hazrat Sultan, Mehboob-ul-Alam, Makhdoom Sahib, and Sultan-ul-Arifeen. It is a two-story mosque with intricately carved pillars. Apart from its religious significance, its advantageous position makes it one of the most sought-after Srinagar sightseeing attractions.
It is named after Sheikh Hamza Makhdoom, a prominent Sufi saint and spiritual teacher. Wikimedia
#6: Hazratbal Shrine: Hazratbal Shrine, which is embedded on the northern bank of Dal Lake and translates to "a holy place", is today recognized across the world as one of the most heavenly and auspicious sanctuaries in the world. Additionally, it is referred to as Dargah Sharif, Madinat-us-Sani, and Assar-e-Sharief. Its advantageous location at the shores of Dal Lake provides a breathtaking vision of beauty and resonates with spirituality throughout the year.
Its advantageous location at the shores of Dal Lake provides a breathtaking vision of beauty and resonates with spirituality throughout the year.Wikimedia
#7 Shankaracharya Temple: It is a prominent stop on the well-known Hindu pilgrimage to Amarnath Yatra, attracting devotees worldwide. Perched on the hill of Shankara, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva of the Hindu Deity. The great Hindu Saint, Adi Shankaracharya, who gained heavenly and spiritual enlightenment by adoring Lord Shiva in this temple when he visited Srinagar ten centuries ago, has found it as his name suggesting. Located on a solid rock base with an octagonal base, the temple is accessible through a staircase of 243 stairs that leads to the top.
Located on a solid rock base with an octagonal base, the temple is accessible through a staircase of 243 stairs that leads to the top. Wikimedia
#8: Hari Parbat: Hari Parbat testifies to the religious variety and spirit of secularism inherent in Srinagar, the holy and heavenly city. Renowned for being established by the Durrani Empire in the 19th century for the Fort, this site attracts history, culture and environment enthusiasts all year round and worshippers from all over the world. Beaming with spirituality, beauty, and tranquilly, this reveals an unheard of Kashmir worthy of being heard.
Beaming with spirituality, beauty, and tranquilly, this reveals an unheard of Kashmir worthy of being heard. Wikimedia
#9: Tulip Garden: It is located in the foothills of the Zabarwan Hills near Dal Lake. Additionally, this world-famous garden is home to an array of vibrant Tulips, creating a charming atmosphere. An annual Tulip Festival that lasts seven days is hosted here. During the event, the garden attracts a large number of tourists. Without a doubt, this is one of the greatest sites to see in Srinagar and should be on your bucket list.
#10: Pari Mahal: Pari Mahal, literally translates to "castle of angels" or "palace of fairies," is located atop the Zabarwan mountain ranges. It is peppered with vivid, colourful, and exotic flowers and fruit orchards and is influenced by traditional Mughal architecture. Pari Mahal lives up to its designation as a fairies' dwelling, as its enamouring beauty transports you to a realm of imagination.
Pari Mahal lives up to its designation as a fairies' dwelling, as its enamouring beauty transports you to a realm of imagination. Wikimedia
Keywords: Srinagar, Kashmir, tourist, summer, gardens, tranquil lakes, shikara and houseboats, Pari Mahal, Dal lake, Chashme-shahi
By Himanshu Agarwal
There is no exaggeration in saying that Covid-19 has literally taken over our lives. Whether vaccinated or not, most of us are still living in the shadow of fear and anxiety. In fact with breakthrough infections showing up for some, even the vaccinated do not feel completely safe from a possible assault of the virus. The finding that the virus can be airborne is scary enough, research also shows that the transmission of the coronavirus is higher indoors than outdoors. This means that even if you don't step out and think that the virus can't get to you because you are ensconced safely and comfortably indoors, the bad news is that you can still get infected.
So, what should you do to keep the virus at bay while being confined indoors? While taking other precautions, keeping the indoor air sanitized, and constantly so, is one big answer to this.
Indoor aerosols a carrier of coronavirus
Unlike the earlier dominant belief that only respiratory droplets could spread infection, it has been established now that the tiny aerosols in the air can carry the coronavirus. These aerosols which are smaller and lighter than respiratory droplets can not only stay longer in the air but also carry the virus farther and for a longer time. The assumption that only by making contact with a contaminated surface one can get the virus, is no more valid.
Aerosols which are smaller and lighter than respiratory droplets can not only stay longer in the air but also carry the virus farther and for a longer time. | Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash
Several natural human activities carried out Indoors
We must remember that a lot of our daily natural and basic activities are conducted in our indoor spaces many of which involve active and oral expulsion of particles. From talking to shouting to sneezing and coughing to even singing, every one of these acts and others creates aerosols in the air which whether we like it not, continue to be exchanged with the others. In fact, many of these activities create more aerosols than even breathing. So, if we do not repeatedly ventilate the room and purify the air within, we can always be susceptible to be infected by others. Even if a house has no Covid patient, the risk of the virus being transmitted through the air from the neighbours or temporary staff can never be ruled out.
From talking to shouting to sneezing and coughing to even singing, every one of these acts and others creates aerosols in the air which whether we like it not, continue to be exchanged with the others. | Photo by Shazaf Zafar on Unsplash
Indoor air is naturally more unsafe than outdoor
As opposed to outdoor air which has natural circulation, unfortunately, indoor air doesn't have the same advantage. In India, the outdoor air itself isn't healthy enough for the human respiratory and health system due to the high amount of PM2.5, PM1.0 and other pollutants. So, without timely ventilation and purification, the chances of indoor air getting stale and unhygienic and thereby becoming more conducive to the 'designs' of coronavirus become very high. Add to this, there are recent studies that prove the possibility of PM2.5 particles being potential carriers of coronavirus, carrying them too much larger distances in the air. The high temperature and humidity which often characterizes our tropical climate add to the woes. (IANS/ MBI)
The outdoor air itself isn't healthy enough for the human respiratory and health system due to the high amount of PM2.5, PM1.0 and other pollutants. | Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash
Keywords: Pollution, pollutants, indoorm outdoor, air, covid, aerosol
Children exposed to high levels of air pollution are up to 50 per cent more likely to self-harm later in life, suggested a study that adds to evidence of link between air pollution and mental health problems. Researchers from the University of Manchester in England and Aarhus University examined 1.4million kids under 10 in Denmark and found that those exposed to a high level of nitrogen dioxide were more likely to self harm in adulthood than their peers, the Daily Mail reported.
And people in the same age group exposed to above average levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) were 48 per cent more likely to subsequently self-harm, revealed the study published in the journal Preventive Medicine. Nitrogen dioxide is mainly produced by cars, while PM2.5 is mainly emitted by burning diesel and petrol, which is most commonly used for shipping and heating. These two pollutants are among those most commonly linked with causing harm to physical health, such as heart and lung diseases, by getting into the bloodstream and causing inflammation.
"Our findings add to the growing evidence-base indicating that higher levels of air pollution exposure are linked with poor mental health outcomes," lead author Dr Pearl Mok, a research fellow at Manchester University was quoted as saying. "Although air pollution is widespread, it is a modifiable risk factor and we therefore hope our study findings will inform policymakers who are devising strategies to combat this problem," Mok added.
"Our findings add to the growing evidence-base indicating that higher levels of air pollution exposure are linked with poor mental health outcomes," lead author Dr Pearl Mok | Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash
While the researchers have not explained the mechanism for how these pollutants can cause mental health problems, they say high pollution levels could trigger inflammation in the brain, leading to mental health conditions, the report said. Childhood is a 'sensitive time for brain development', so youngsters may be 'particularly susceptible' to negative effects from toxic particles in the air, they added.
Further, the team found that some 32,984 people (2.3 per cent) harmed themselves in the study period, with cases higher among women, those whose parents had mental illness and individuals from poorer families. Exposure to an average of 19 microgram/m3 or more of particulate matter each day was associated with a 48 per cent higher chance of self-harming later in life, compared to children exposed to an average of 13 microgram/m3 per day or less. And for every 5 microgram/m3 increase in exposure above 19 microgram/m3, the risk of self harm rose by 42 per cent. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: pollution, kids, exposure, pollution, self-harm, development
By- Tejas Maheta
When attempting to summarise the current performance and future portents for the South Asia economy, it's arguable that most of the region's nations are doing relatively well.
Malaysia offers a relevant case in point, as despite combatting Covid-19 whilst also dealing with a global oil price crash and political instability, the nation is poised to record economic growth of 0.5% by the end of 2020.
Sure, this is noticeably down on the initial 2002 forecast of 4.8% growth, but it needs to be considered against the backdrop of an unprecedented combination of socio-economic and geopolitical challenges.
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Similar trends have been reported in Vietnam and Hong Kong, the former of which has recorded no coronavirus deaths at all and remains one of the few nations on course to achieve economic growth this year. But which nations are really leading the recovery in this region, and what should we expect going forward?
Surviving Covid - Currencies and Stimulus Packages
Of course, one thing that unites these nations is the proactive rollout of generous stimulus and quantitative easing packages, with Malaysia having provided an RM295 billion injection into the economy.
Of this, an estimated 15% (approximately RM45 billion) is a direct fiscal injection in the government, with the remaining capital introduced in the form of slashing base interest rates and managing inflation.
Hong Kong has also introduced several rounds of quantitative easing measures since February, with April's iteration providing an HKD120 billion relief package and taking the total government stimulus investment to HKD290 (which equates to 9.5% of Hong Kong's gross domestic product).
In the case of both Malaysia and Hong Kong, these measures have also helped to boost the value of domestic currencies. The Hong Kong dollar rose for the fifth consecutive day last week, for example, while the HK Monetary Authority sold a further HK£3.72 billion of local currency and continued to boost their capital inflows as a result.
The Malaysian Ringgit has also performed relatively well against major currencies of late, although it faces additional challenges in the form of the recent global oil price decline.
So, although crude oil prices have recently rebounded slightly, Malaysia's currency value has been impacted by rising capital outflows and forced to trade within an increasingly narrowing range.
Common Ringgit notes Image source: wikimedia commons
A Look Ahead - What Can we Expect?
Asia was the region first affected by Covid-19, and therefore it stands to reason that its nations should have commenced their recovery quicker than those in Europe and the US.
Interestingly, the shoots of recovery may be green in more ways than one, with the Export-Import Bank of Korea leading the return of Asian green bonds in the primary financial market.
Also Read: Zimbabwe Ends Its Interim Currency
Of course, the idea of sustainable finance and investment has been a hot-button topic in Asia for a while now, while we've also seen a significant increase in demand for Green, Social and Sustainability (GSS) bonds in recent times.
This followed the introduction of a 700 million Euro green bond and Korea's pledge to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 (following hot on the footsteps of the UK).
With these points in mind, there's clearly the potential for Asia to build on its relative strength and initial Covid-19 recovery by investing in sustainable assets and building a considerably greener future.
(Disclaimer: This article is sponsored and contains commercial links)