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The Amazing Story Of Kashmiri Saffron

Kashmiri saffron is among the most sought after in the world. The beauty and flavour of Kashmiri saffron is such that it has many legends and myths associated with it. According to one of the stories saffron first came to Kashmir sometime in the eight century when a serpent god gifted it to physician who cured his affliction. Another story believes that it was brough by to wandering Sufi saints Khawja Masood Wali and Sheikh Sharifuddin Wali in the 12th century. This is disputed by some who claim that Kashmiris were growing Saffron from much earlier times as per some older Hindu documentations of early ages. In the middle ages, we have the classic, star-crossed Kashmiri love story of poetess and ascetic Zooni who met the future King of Kashmir Yusuf Shah on a blooming saffron field during a moonlit night. She assumed the name Habba Khatoon post marriage but the romance was cut short as the king was defeated and exiled by the Mughals.

The main saffron producing area in Kashmir is spread around the town of Pampore. It is a historic town by the side of the river Jhelum. While the cultivation has spread across other locations, it still remains the hub of saffron trade. Especially during late autumn in October, all the fields surrounding the town get covered with purple blossoms and thousands of villagers get involved in plucking flowers and extracting the spice. There was a time when everyone in this area only dealt in saffron. Now they are opening up to other opportunities but still Pampore’s economy is manly driven by saffron.