history of kashmir - aptitude blog


The entire Kashmir region is divided into Jammu and Kashmir, a region that is governed by India as a union territory, and has been the subject of a conflict between India and Pakistan till 1947 and between India and China till 1962. The Line of Control separates Jammu and Kashmir from Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, which are administered by Pakistan, in the west and north. It is situated to the west of the Indian union territory of Ladakh and to the north of the Indian states of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, which was approved by both houses of the Indian Parliament in August 2019, included provisions for the creation of the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. With effect from October 31, 2019, the act reconstituted the old state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, one of which is Jammu and Kashmir and the other is Ladakh.


On the Indian map, the Kashmir Valley is located at the top. The State of Jammu and Kashmir is composed of Kashmir, Ladakh, and the regions of Gilgit and Jammu. The largest of the many valleys found in the state, covering an area of 105 sq. km, is Kashmir Valley. 1730 metres above sea level, it borders Tibet to the east, Pakistan to the west, and China and the CIS to the south. Punjab borders Kashmir to the south and Himachal Pradesh to the southwest. The state of Jammu and Kashmir is located between 32.17″ and 36.58″ North latitude and between 73.26″ and 80.30″ East to West longitude.


The word Kashmir is thought to have been derived from Sanskrit. An etymology is that it is land desiccated from water. An alternative etymology is that the name originated from Vedic sage Kashyapa who is believed to have settled people in this land by draining the lake by cutting a gap in the hills of baramulla.

The ancient Greeks called the region Kasperia, which was identified with Kaspapyros of Hecataeus of miletus and Kaspatyros. The earliest text which mentions Kashmir is in Ashtadhyayi which is written in Sanskrit by Pānini. He called the people of Kashmir as kashmirikas. Some references also suggests that Kashmir can also be found in Mahabharata in sabha parva and in puranas. The British scholar and Chinese traveller, Huientsang called Kashmir kia-shi-milo. Cashmeer is an archaic spelling and in some countries, it is still spelt this way. In French it is Cachemire , Cachemira in French, caxemira in Portuguese, caixmir in Catalan etc. Even in Kashmiri language it is known as Kasheer.


RAJATARANGINI was composed in 1148-50 in Kashmir and it is an account of the many royal dynasties that ruled the ancient kingdom of Kashmir. Books 1 – 3 throw light on the period of karakota dynasty. Book 1 has various imaginary tales and it is said in book 1 that Gonanda was the first king and who was a contemporary and an enemy of the Hindu deity Krishna. It also brings up Mauryan emperors like Ashoka, Jalauka etc. In book 2 a new Lineage is seen starting with Pratapaditya 1 to Aryaraja. The book ends with the establishment of Karkota dynasty by Durlabhaka Pratapaditya 2. In Book 4 Rajatarangini plays as an historical narrative. The Karkota line comes to an end and Avantivarman gets the throne which gives way to the Utpala dynasty in 855.

History of these dynasties continues in other parts of the books until new dynasty Lohara took over. Book 7 narrates the death of King Harsha which was in 1101. 

Book 8 talks about the events that happened during the period of death of Harsha. Rajatarangini discusses about how a powerful king can save Kashmir and how fate plays a role in the destiny of man.


King Asoka was a king of Kashmir according to Kalhana who is the 12th century CE historian who wrote Rajatarangini. Mauryan Empire ruled Srinagar till around 14th century and Buddhism was introduced by Emperor Asoka to the valley of Kashmir. The Kushans believed to have controlled this region during the first century.


Utpala dynasty ruled over the Kashmir region in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent from 8th to 10th century. Avanti Varman established the kingdom. The rulers were from Chamar community according to Ain-i-Akbari. Avanti Varman was a peaceful ruler and established many temples.


The Lohara Dynasty were Hindu rulers of Kashmir approximately between 1003 and 1320 CE. Samgrāmarāja is considered as the founder of Lohara dynasty. Kota Rani was the last ruler lohara dynasty. Also, she was the last female ruler of Kashmir.


Hindu dynasties ruled over the region from 7th – 14th centuries. There were many changes in Kashmir after the seventh century. In the following centuries Kashmir produced many poets, philosophers and artists to contribute to Hindu religion and Sanskrit literature. One among them is Vasugupta, who is a notable scholar. In the eighth century the Karkota Empire established themselves as rulers. Under karkotas Kashmir grew as an imperial power. Chandrapida of the dynasty was recognised by an imperial order by Chinese emperor. Lalitaditya Muktapida, his successor leads a successful military campaign against the Tibetans. Lalitaditya defeated Arabs in Sindh and also extended his influence of Malwa. After his death, Kashmir’s influence over other Kingdoms declined and the dynasty ended. The utpala dynasty found by Avantivarman followed by karkotas and his successor Shankaravarman led a successful military campaign against Gujaras in Punjab. In 10th century due to political instability body guards (tantrins) became very powerful. Under them civil administration collapsed. The chaos came to an end when they were defeated by Chakravarman. Queen Dida who descended from Hindu Shahi’s took over as the ruler in the second half of 10th century. After her death, the throne passed to Lohara dynasty. Queen Kota Rani ruled until 1339.


By 14th century Islam gradually became the ruling religion in Kashmir. With the fall of Kashmir Sanskrit literature there disappeared. Sheikh Nooruddin Noorani revered by Hindus as Mund Rishi combined elements of Kashmir Shaivism and Sufi mysticism. Sultan Sikandar could not tolerate other religions so he imposed taxes on non-Muslims, forced conversions to Islam, and earned the title but-shikan for destroying idols. Under the rule of Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin the arts of wood carving, shawl and carpet weaving prospered. Hasan Khan took over the rule in 1472 CE. By the 16th century Hindu priests and Hindu influence in courts was declined and official language which was Sanskrit was replaced by Persian.

Kashmir didn’t witness the Mughal rule until the reign of Badshah Akbar the great who took control of Kashmir and in 1586 he added Kashmir to his Kabul subah. During Mughal rule gardens, mosques and palaces were constructed. In 1658 when emperor Aurangzeb ascended religious intolerance and discriminatory taxation reappeared. After his demise, the Mughal control got declined.


As the Mughal control declined the Afgan Durrani took advantage under Ahmed Shan Durrani and took control of Kashmir in 1752. The empire was controlled by Afghans till 1819 and after the region was annexed by Sikh empire. Kashmir fell into the armies of the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh of Punjab after the battle of shopian. As the people suffered under Mughal rule, they welcomed the new Sikh rulers but the Sikh rule was considered oppressive as they turned out to be hard taskmasters. The Sikhs enacted anti-Muslimism laws which included death penalty for cow slaughter. They closed down Jamia masjid in Srinagar and banned azaan (public Muslim call for prayer). Taxes were high. After the famine in 1832 Sikhs reduced the kand tax. Under Sikh empire Kashmir became the second highest revenue earner.


Dogra dynasty was of Dogra Rajput’s. They were from Shiwalik Himalayas and created Jammu and Kashmir when all other dynasties were being absorbed by East India Company. Dogra’s traces their ancestry to the Ikshvaku. In 1846 when British defeated Sikhs and annexed Kashmir they sold Kashmir to Gulab Singh of Jammu under treaty of Amritsar. Maharaja Ranbir Singh conquered the trans-Himalayan territories of Gilgit, Astore, Hunza-Nagar. Maharaja Pratab Singh reigned from 12th September 1885- 23 September 1925. The last ruling maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir was Hari Singh. He contributed troops to the British war effort in World War 2. He also served on Churchill’s Imperial war cabinet. Following the partition, he faced a rebellion in the western districts of the state.


The first Anglo-Sikh war was fought between the Sikh empire and the British East India Company in 1845 and 1846 in the Ferozepur district of Punjab. The Sikh Kingdom was expanded by Maharaja Ranjit Singh during the early years of nineteenth century, at the same time the British controlled territories were advanced by conquest and annexation of borders of Punjab. Ranjith Singh maintained a policy of wary friendship with the British. After the death of Ranjit Singh, the British East India company begun increasing its military strength and started conquering borders. The actions of Governor General Lord Ellenborough and his successor Sir Henry Hardinge are disputed. Their main threat was Sikh army. They were a serious threat to the British territories along the border. The unconcealed and seemingly aggressive British military build-up at the borders increased tensions within the Punjab and Sikh army. After accusations and mutual demand between Sikh Durbar and east India company, diplomatic relations were broken. The Sikh empire was one of the few remaining kingdoms in India after the rise of the Company and the fall of Mughal empire. Although the Sikh army was weakened by the war, within three years their resentment at British led to Second Anglo-Sikh War.


According to the Muslim League’s “Two Nation” doctrine, India was on the verge of breaking away from British colonial rule during this time. Pakistan was to include the British India regions with a Muslim majority. Under the terms of the Indian Independence Act of 1947, the approximately 570 princely kingdoms that were subject to British suzerainty had the option of annexing to either India or Pakistan. India witnessed 560 princely states join by August 15. Hyderabad, Jammu & Kashmir, and Junagadh had not merged with either nation. Hari Singh, the monarch of Kashmir, was a Hindu, but the bulk of the population in his state was Muslim. He had sought to maintain his independence because joining a democratic India would mean losing his monarchical authority. Hari Singh also agreed to a standstill with Pakistan, which would allow for unrestricted trade, communications, and travel. With India, no agreement was reached. Kashmir was forcibly taken in October 1947 by Pashtun tribesmen from Pakistan’s NWFP. They were moving in the direction of Srinagar, where the king was. Significant issues with law and order existed in the state. In the process, they gained a portion of north Kashmir. On October 26, the invaders killed 11,000 people in Baramullah. For the purpose of calming the situation and putting an end to the invasion, Hari Singh requested armed assistance from India. He left Srinagar that day and drove to Jammu, where Jawaharlal Nehru’s official V P Menon greeted him. He was informed that, India cannot send troops outside of its own country. Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession there, and Jammu Kashmir joined India.

On October 27, the Indian army airlifted its soldiers to Kashmir, where they stopped the invaders in less than two weeks. The National Conference additionally helped the Indian army drive the Pashtuns out of Afghanistan. Pakistan, however, refused to acknowledge the Instrument of Accession, and the First Kashmir War quickly broke out. Forces from Pakistan and the rebels attempted to advance as far as Jammu. On Lord Mountbatten’s recommendation, the issue was brought before the UN in 1948 rather than completely repelling the invaders. On January 1, 1949, a cease-fire was declared, and the line of the cease-fire became known as the Line of Control (LOC). While Pakistani forces were in charge of securing Gilgit and Baltistan, Indian forces were in charge of the other third of the state. The accession to India is celebrated as Accession day which is held on 26th November.

After the Indian government (in August 2019) abolished the special status given to the state under Article 370, Jammu and Kashmir is officially a union territory of India.

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