By Haziq Qadri @haziq_qadri

IN Indian-Administered Kashmir, two ethnic groups called Gujjars and Bakarwals live their entire life migrating from one place to another in the Western Himalayas

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The Gujjar-Bakarwals herd their stock and travel up and down the mountains in southern Kashmir

The Gujjars and Bakarwals are the two unique ethnic groups that rear flocks of sheep and goat between high and low altitudes of Western Himalayas.

This tribe are not interested in the busy world and focus on a primitive way of life

In summer, these groups migrate to upper reaches of the valley and in winter, they take their flocks to the lower areas of the valley to protect themselves from the harsh cold.

The farmers migrate their animals to the warmer pastures below, escaping the freezing conditions

The habitat of these people is in the hilly terrain of the North-Western Himalayas.

Abdul Jabbar Khan, 50 - a Gujjar nomad - said: “Our life revolves around our flocks. We setup our camps wherever our flocks are safe."

'Bakarwal' is derived from "bakra" meaning goat or sheep, and wal meaning "one who takes care of"

The Gujjar-Bakarwals claim a common ancestry from the ancient Gujjar tribe of India. Some of the scholars are of the opinion that they are the foreign stock representing the pastoral nomads of Central Asia.

The tribe eat wheat, corn, or whichever grain grows on the land

However, some are of the opinion that the Gujjars are the descendants of the Kushan and the Yuchi tribes of Eastern Tatars (Russia). Even some scholars hold the view that they are of Indian origin.

The men in the tribe perform arduous tasks like herding of flock and cattle, repairing of tools and equipment, and hunting for animals

The annual migration starts when the summers hit the northern hemisphere in the months of April and May and these people start their migration from the hotter areas of Jammu region to colder, mountainous region of Kashmir.

Due to the constant travelling, the children of the tribe don't go to school and many are illiterate

They travel back to Jammu in the month of October before the onset of winters in Kashmir Valley.

A Gujjar-Bakarwal father usually divides his animal flock among his male children once they get married

These tribal people follow the custom of annual migration of their sheep and cattle and keep travelling all year round; because of this, their children are deprived of education.

The tribes live in hamlets on the mountain slopes, in very basic, man - made homes

Mohammad Ramzan, 45 - an ethnic Bakarwa - said: “We keep running from one place to another, so there is no way we can keep our children behind in schools.”

They lead simple lives, sharing their bare homes with their livestock

In 2011, the Jammu and Kashmir Government approved 100 ‘mobile schools’ to be set up for the nomad children in a bid for them to keep up with their studies everywhere they went.