Sopore (Sopur in Kashmiri) is a major town in Baramulla District in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is 35 miles north-west from Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. The place is famous for its apple, which is considered among the best in Kashmir.
Sopore was founded by the famous Uptala engineer and irrigation minister Suyya during the peaceful reign of king Avantivarman
in 880 AD.
Sopore is located at . It has an average elevation of 1556 metres
As of 2001
, Sopore had a population of 73,246 (2001 census) and area of 61 km² making it the fourth largest town after Srinagar, Anantnag & Jammu . Males constitute 53% of the population and females 47%. Sopore has an average literacy rate of 55%, lower than the national average of 59.5%: Male literacy is 63%, and female literacy is 46%. In Sopore, 12% of the population is under 6 years of age.
Most of the population of old Sopore resides on the banks of Jhelum River
which passes through the township. Old sopore comprises Khushal mutto, Sofi hammam, Hathi Shah, Armpora and Batpora. These localities are marked by homes with old style of architecture. New Sopore consists mainly civil lines areas like New Colony, Badami bagh, Noor bagh and New Ashpeer sahib. Sopore has quite a population inhabiting several satellite areas like Model town and Krankshivan. New areas have come up in the town suburbs, making it more contiguous. Sopore is surrounded by many tiny but beautiful villages. These hamlets consist one block that is collectively called Zaingair. Important villages of Zainagair Include: Harrdushiva, Watlab, Botingoo,Duroo, Mundji, Bomai, Seelo, Tujar, Wadoora, Zaloora and Sagipora.
Sopore has been a major trading centre for years. Iqbal market is the main market of the township. In chotta bazaar, one can shop for spices, wholesale products and fish. Sopore's fish is much sought after and relished in the whole of north Kashmir. The old town is also famous for its bakeries
, which have withstood the onslaught of modern day pastery corners and continue to have long queues in the mornings.
About 3 miles from Sopore is the famed Wular Lake. It is one of the largest fresh water lake's in Asia and home to some rare water birds. The lake, along with the extensive marshes surrounding it, is an important natural habitat for wildlife. It is also an important habitat for fish, accounting for 60 per cent of the total fish production within the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The lake is a source of livelihood for a large human population living along its fringes. The catchment area of the lake supports magnificent coniferous forests, alpine pastures and orchards, adding to the natural beauty and biodiversity of the wetland area.
Due to the crowded markets it is called the "Chota London"
The people of Sopore have been historically rugged and anti-establishment but very sporty. Football is a favourite pastime. Old people can be seen cheering along with children and young people in the evening football ties, usually played in the degree college grounds or Noorgah area.
Sopore is dotted by many places of religious significance. The more important ones include: Khan-kah Shah-i-Hamdan and Jama Masjid. Besides there are numerous little shrines (locally called 'Astans') spread all over the place. Frequented by people from many areas, some of these spiritual places include: Baba Shukur Din Watlab Sopore, Shiekh Hamza Makhdoomi Tujar, Syed Fatullah Haqani Bomai, Saed shahib Darapora Zainagir, Hathi-Shah Sahib, Rahim-Sahib Armpora, Hab Shahib Hathlangoo, Shah-Dargah Sahib, Syed Jamal-Din Sahib, Khuj Sahib-Shiva to name a few.
Old Hindu shrines include Rishi peer Mandir (Batpora) and Shiv Mandir. Besides these shrines a lot of people in Sopore venerate the local Peer's (holy men) and the township has been home to quite a few. The more famous ones are: Ahad Sahib (aka the naked fakir), Lassa Sahib Arm, Ama Sahib Guknu, Aziz Sahib Vandhome.
Apart from the seemingly distinct sufi religious streak, Sopore has also been a centre of radical Islamic political formations, notably, the Jamaat-Islami, J and K. The firebrand Islamist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, currently Chairman of one faction of the seperatist Hurriat conference, belongs to a village called Dooru near Sopore.