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Political Map: the Kashmir region districts, showing the Pir Panjal range and the Valley of Kashmir.

Ninth-highest: Nanga Parbat, a dangerous mountain to climb, is in the Kashmiri region of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan
Ninth-highest: Nanga Parbat, a dangerous mountain to climb, is in the Kashmiri region of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan
Kashmir (Balti, Gojri, Poonchi/Chibhali, Dogri: ; Kashmiri: , ; Ladakhi: ; Uyghur: ; Shina: ) is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range. Today Kashmir denotes a larger area that includes the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir (the Kashmir valley, Jammu and Ladakh), the Pakistani-administered Gilgit-Baltistan and the Azad Kashmir provinces, and the Chinese-administered regions of Aksai Chin and Trans-Karakoram Tract.

In the first half of the first millennium, the Kashmir region became an important center of Hinduism and later of Buddhism; later still, in the ninth century, Kashmir Shaivism arose.[1] In 1349, Shah Mir became the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir and inaugurated the Salatin-i-Kashmir or Swati dynasty.[2] For the next five centuries, Muslim monarchs ruled Kashmir, including the Mughals, who ruled from 1526 until 1751, then the Afghan Durrani Empire that ruled from 1747 until 1820.[2] That year, the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh, annexed Kashmir.[2] In 1846, upon the purchase of the region from the British under the Treaty of Amritsar, the Dogras—under Gulab Singh—became the new rulers. Dogra Rule, under the paramountcy (or tutelage) of the British Crown, lasted until 1947, when the former princely state became a disputed territory, now administered by three countries: India, Pakistan, and the People's Republic of China.



General view of Temple and Enclosure of Marttand (the Sun), at Bhawan, ca. 490 555; the colonnade ca. 693 729. Surya Mandir at Martand, Jammu & Kashmir, India, photographed by John Burke, 1868.
General view of Temple and Enclosure of Marttand (the Sun), at Bhawan, ca. 490 555; the colonnade ca. 693 729. Surya Mandir at Martand, Jammu & Kashmir, India, photographed by John Burke, 1868.

The word Kashmir is an ancient Sanskrit word which literally means Land of Kashyap Rishi. Kashyap Rishi was a Saraswat Brahmin and one of the Saptarshis, who was key in formalizing the ancient Historical Vedic Religion. The Kashmiri Pandits are his descendants and have named the valley after him, in his honour. According to the "Nilmat Puran," the oldest book on Kashmir, in the Satisar, a former lake in the Kashmir Valley meaning "lake of the Goddess Sati,"[3] lived a demon called Jalodbhava (meaning "born of water"), who tortured and devoured the people, who lived near mountain slopes.[4] Hearing the suffering of the people, Kashyap, a Saraswat Brahmin, came to the rescue of the people that lived there.[4] After performing penance for a long time, the saint was blessed, and therefore Lord Vishnu assumed the form of a boar and struck the mountain at Varahamula, boring an opening in it for the water to flow out into the plains below.[5] The lake was drained, the land appeared, and the demon was killed.[4] The saint encouraged people from India to settle in the valley.[4] As a result of the hero's actions, the people named the valley as "Kashyap-Mar", meaning abode of Kashyap, and "Kashyap-Pura", meaning city of Kashyap, in Sanskrit.[4] The name "Kashmir," in Sanskrit, implies land desiccated from water: "ka" (the water) and shimeera (to desiccate).[4] The ancient Greeks began referring to the region as "Kasperia" and the Chinese pilgrim Hien-Tsang who visited the valley around 631 AD. called it "KaShi-Mi-Lo" .[4] In modern times the people of Kashmir have shortened the full Sanskrit name into "Kasheer," which is the colloquial Koshur name of the valley, as noted in Aurel Stein's introduction to the Rajatarangini metrical chronicle.[4]

The "Rajatarangini," a history of Kashmir written by Kalhana in the 12th century, concurs with Nilmat Puran, stating that the valley of Kashmir was formerly a lake. This lake was drained by the great rishi or sage, Kashyap, son of Marichi, son of Brahma, by cutting the gap in the hills at Baramulla (Varaha-mula). Cashmere is a variant spelling of Kashmir, especially within the English language.[6] Kashmir a beautiful mountain state with clear rivers, evergreen forests and one of the highest death rates in the world. It is at the center of an age-old dispute between Pakistan and India that has dragged on from the independence of both nations over fifty years ago to the present time, with no resolution in sight. The combined population of the two nation totals over a billion, so no conflict between them is of passing importance, especially when nuclear weapons are involved. Pakistan and India share a common heritage, language, and traditions, yet the subject of Kashmir can push them to the brink of annihilation. Kashmir by culture, language and ethnicity is closer to Central Asia. Jammu and Azad Kashmir are South Asian in culture, but unlike these two districts, Kashmir on the other hand, has had centuries of influence from Central Asia.


Buddhism in Kashmir

Hindu temple of Jyeshteswara (Shankaracharya), on the Shankaracharya Hill, near Srinagar.
Hindu temple of Jyeshteswara (Shankaracharya), on the Shankaracharya Hill, near Srinagar.
This general view of the unexcavated Buddhist stupa near Baramulla, with two figures standing on the summit, and another at the base with measuring scales, was taken by John Burke in 1868. The stupa, which was later excavated, dates to 500 AD.
This general view of the unexcavated Buddhist stupa near Baramulla, with two figures standing on the summit, and another at the base with measuring scales, was taken by John Burke in 1868. The stupa, which was later excavated, dates to 500 AD.

The Buddhist Mauryan emperor Ashoka is often credited with having founded the old capital of Kashmir, Shrinagari, now ruins on the outskirts of modern Srinagar. Kashmir was long to be a stronghold of Buddhism.[7]

As a Buddhist seat of learning, the Sarv stiv dan school strongly influenced Kashmir.[8] East and Central Asian Buddhist monks are recorded as having visited the kingdom. In the late 4th century AD, the famous Kuchanese monk Kum raj va, born to an Indian noble family, studied D rgh gama and Madhy gama in Kashmir under Bandhudatta. He later became a prolific translator who helped take Buddhism to China. His mother J va is thought to have retired to Kashmir. Vimal k a, a Sarv stiv dan Buddhist monk, travelled from Kashmir to Kucha and there instructed Kum raj va in the Vinayapi aka.

Adi Shankara visited the pre-existing (Sharada Peeth) in Kashmir in late 8th century or early 9th century AD. The Madhaviya Shankaravijayam states this temple had four doors for scholars from the four cardinal directions. The southern door (representing South India) had never been opened, indicating that no scholar from South India had entered the Sarvajna Pitha. Adi Shankara opened the southern door by defeating in debate all the scholars there in all the various scholastic disciplines such as Mimamsa, Vedanta and other branches of Hindu philosophy; he ascended the throne of Transcendent wisdom of that temple.[9]

Abhinavagupta (approx. 950 - 1020 AD[10][11]) was one of India's greatest philosophers, mystics and aestheticians. He was also considered an important musician, poet, dramatist, exeget, theologian, and logician[12][13] - a polymathic personality who exercised strong influences on Indian culture.[14][15] He was born in the Valley of Kashmir[16] in a family of scholars and mystics and studied all the schools of philosophy and art of his time under the guidance of as many as fifteen (or more) teachers and gurus.[17] In his long life he completed over 35 works, the largest and most famous of which is Tantr loka, an encyclopedic treatise on all the philosophical and practical aspects of Trika and Kaula (known today as Kashmir Shaivism). Another one of his very important contributions was in the field of philosophy of aesthetics with his famous Abhinavabh rat commentary of N ya stra of Bharata Muni.[18]

In the 10th century AD Moksopaya or Moksopaya Shastra, a philosophical text on salvation for non-ascetics (moksa-upaya: 'means to release'), was written on the Pradyumna hill in r nagar.[19][20] It has the form of a public sermon and claims human authorship and contains about 30,000 shloka's (making it longer than the Ramayana). The main part of the text forms a dialogue between Vasistha and Rama, interchanged with numerous short stories and anecdotes to illustrate the content.[21][22] This text was later (11th to the 14th century AD)[23] expanded and vedanticized, which resulted in the Yoga Vasistha.[24]

Muslim rule

Gateway of enclosure, (once a Hindu temple) of Zein-ul-ab-ud-din's Tomb, in Srinagar. Probable date A.D. 400 to 500, 1868. John Burke. Oriental and India Office Collection. British Library.
Gateway of enclosure, (once a Hindu temple) of Zein-ul-ab-ud-din's Tomb, in Srinagar. Probable date A.D. 400 to 500, 1868. John Burke. Oriental and India Office Collection. British Library.
The Muslims and Hindus of Kashmir lived in relative harmony, since the Sufi-Islamic way of life that Muslims followed in Kashmir complemented the Rishi tradition of Kashmiri Pandits, and Sufi saints such as Sheikh Noor-ud-din Wali were thought of as Muslim Rishis. This led to a syncretic culture where Hindus and Muslims revered the same local saints and prayed at the same shrines . Famous sufi saint Bulbul Shah was able to convert Rinchan Shah who was then prince of Kashgar Ladakh to an Islamic lifestyle, thus founding the Sufiana composite culture. Under this rule, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist Kashmiris generally co-existed peacefully. Over time, however, the Sufiana governance gave way to outright Muslim monarchs.

First Muslim Ruler, Shah Mir

In the beginning of 14th century a ferocious, Dulucha, coming from Turkestan invaded the valley through its northern side Zojila Pass, with an army of 60,000 men. Like Taimur in the Punjab and Delhi, Dulucha carried sword and fire, destroyed towns and villages and slaughtered thousands. Dulacha was liquidated on his way back from the valley as he was mis-directed by the Brahmins and thus he and his army perished in a snow blizzard. His savage attack practically ended the Hindu rule in Kashmir. Raja Sahadev was the ruler then. It was during his reign that three men, Shah Mir from (has often been mentioned erroneously from Swat) entered Kashmir from a proximal region of the Kashmir Valley, Rinchin from Ladhak, and Hilmat and Hikmat Chak from Dard territory came to Kashmir, and played a notable role in subsequentive political history of the valley.

Shah Mir was the second Muslim ruler (Rinchin was the first as he converted to Islam) of Kashmir and the founder of the Shah Miri dynasty named after him. Jonaraja, in his Rajatarangini mentioned him as Sahamera who was from a proximal region of Kashmir and claimed lineage from Arjuna. According to Jonaraja his ancestors were of Hindu origin and wrree Kshatriyas. Shah Mir was succeeded by his eldest son Jamshid, but he was deposed by his brother Ali Sher probably within few months, who ascended the throne under the name of Alauddin[1] Following the Shahmiri Dynasty, was the Chak Dynasty that ruled until Mughal conquest in 1586.

Some Kashmiri rulers, such as Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin who was popularly known as Budshah( ) (the King) (r.1423-1474), were tolerant of all religions in a manner comparable to Akbar. However, several Muslim rulers of Kashmir were intolerant of other religions. Sult n Sikandar Butshikan of Kashmir (AD 1389-1413) is often considered the worst of these. Historians have recorded many of his atrocities. The Tarikh-i-Firishta records that Sikandar persecuted the Hindus and issued orders proscribing the residence of any other than Muslims in Kashmir. He also ordered the breaking of all "golden and silver images". The Tarikh-i-Firishta further states: "Many of the Brahmins, rather than abandon their religion or their country, poisoned themselves; some emigrated from their native homes, while a few escaped. After the emigration of the Brahmins, Sikandar ordered all the temples in Kashmir to be thrown down. Having broken all the images in Kashmir, (Sikandar) acquired the title of 'Destroyer of Idols'."[25]

Hazratbal shrine in Srinagar.
Hazratbal shrine in Srinagar.

Kalhana's metrical chronicle of the kings of Kashmir, called the Rajatarangini, has been pronounced by Professor H. H. Wilson to be the only Sanskrit composition yet discovered to which the appellation "history" can with any propriety be applied. It first became known to the Muslims when, on Akbar's invasion of Kashmir in 1588, a copy was presented to the emperor. A translation into Persian was made at his order. A summary of its contents, taken from this Persian translation, is given by Abul Fazl in the Ain-i-Akbari. The Rajatarangini was written around the middle of the 12th century. His work, in six books, makes use of earlier writings that are now lost.

The Rajatarangini is the first of a series of four histories that record the annals of Kashmir. Commencing with a rendition of traditional history of very early times, the Rajatarangini comes down to the reign of Sangrama Deva, (c.1006 AD). The second work, by Jonaraja, continues the history from where Kalhana left off, and, entering the Muslim period, gives an account of the reigns down to that of Zain-ul-Abidin, 1412. Srivara carried on the record to the accession of Fah Shah in 1486. The fourth work, called Rajavalipataka, by Prajnia Bhatta, completes the history to the time of the incorporation of Kashmir in the dominions of the Mogul emperor Akbar, 1588.

Sikh rule

In 1819, the Kashmir valley passed from the control of the Durrani Empire of Afghanistan, and four centuries of Muslim rule under the Mughals and the Afghans, to the conquering armies of the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh of Lahore.[26] As the Kashmiris had suffered under the Afghans, they initially welcomed the new Sikh rulers.[27] However, the Sikh governors turned out to be hard taskmasters, and Sikh rule was generally considered oppressive,[28] protected perhaps by the remoteness of Kashmir from the capital of the Sikh empire in Lahore;[29] The Sikhs enacted a number of anti-Muslim laws,[29] which included handing out death sentences for cow slaughter,[27] closing down the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar,[29] and banning the azaan, the public Muslim call to prayer.[29] Kashmir had also now begun to attract European visitors, several of whom wrote of the abject poverty of the vast Muslim peasantry and of the exorbitant taxes under the Sikhs.[27] High taxes, according to some contemporary accounts, had depopulated large tracts of the countryside, allowing only one-sixteenth of the cultivable land to be cultivated.[27] However, after a famine in 1832, the Sikhs reduced the land tax to half the produce of the land and also began to offer interest-free loans to farmers;[29] Kashmir became the second highest revenue earner for the Sikh empire.[29] During this time Kashmiri shawls became known world wide, attracting many buyers especially in the west.[29]

Earlier, in 1780, after the death of Ranjit Deo, the Raja of Jammu, the kingdom of Jammu (to the south of the Kashmir valley) was also captured by the Sikhs and afterwards, until 1846, became a tributary to the Sikh power.[26] Ranjit Deo's grandnephew, Gulab Singh, subsequently sought service at the court of Ranjit Singh, distinguished himself in later campaigns, especially the annexation of the Kashmir valley, and, for his services, was appointed governor of Jammu in 1820. With the help of his officer, Zorawar Singh, Gulab Singh soon captured for the Sikhs the lands of Ladakh and Baltistan to the east and north-east, respectively, of Jammu.[26]

Princely State

1909 Map of the Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu. The names of regions, important cities, rivers, and mountains are underlined in red.
1909 Map of the Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu. The names of regions, important cities, rivers, and mountains are underlined in red.

In 1845, the First Anglo-Sikh War broke out. According to the Imperial Gazetteer of India,

"Gulab Singh contrived to hold himself aloof till the battle of Sobraon (1846), when he appeared as a useful mediator and the trusted advisor of Sir Henry Lawrence. Two treaties were concluded. By the first the State of Lahore (i.e. West Punjab) handed over to the British, as equivalent for one crore indemnity, the hill countries between the rivers Beas and Indus; by the second the British made over to Gulab Singh for 75 lakhs all the hilly or mountainous country situated to the east of the Indus and the west of the Ravi i.e. the Vale of Kashmir)."[26]

Drafted by a treaty and a bill of sale, and constituted between 1820 and 1858, the Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu (as it was first called) combined disparate regions, religions, and ethnicities:[30] to the east, Ladakh was ethnically and culturally Tibetan and its inhabitants practised Buddhism; to the south, Jammu had a mixed population of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs; in the heavily populated central Kashmir valley, the population was overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, however, there was also a small but influential Hindu minority, the Kashmiri brahmins or pandits; to the northeast, sparsely populated Baltistan had a population ethnically related to Ladakh, but which practised Shi'a Islam; to the north, also sparsely populated, Gilgit Agency, was an area of diverse, mostly Shi'a groups; and, to the west, Punch was Muslim, but of different ethnicity than the Kashmir valley.[30] After the Indian Rebellion of 1857, in which Kashmir sided with the British, and the subsequent assumption of direct rule by Great Britain, the princely state of Kashmir came under the suzerainty of the British Crown.

In the British census of India of 1941, Kashmir registered a Muslim majority population of 77%, a Hindu population of 20% and a sparse population of Buddhists and Sikhs comprising the remaining 3%.[31] That same year, Prem Nath Bazaz, a Kashmiri Pandit journalist wrote: The poverty of the Muslim masses is appalling. ... Most are landless laborers, working as serfs for absentee [Hindu] landlords ... Almost the whole brunt of official corruption is borne by the Muslim masses. [32] For almost a century until the census, a small Hindu elite had ruled over a vast and impoverished Muslim peasantry.[31][33] Driven into docility by chronic indebtedness to landords and moneylenders, having no education besides, nor awareness of rights,[31] the Muslim peasants had no political representation until the 1930s.[33]

Year 1947 and 1948

The prevailing religions by district in the 1901 Census of the Indian Empire. Ranbir Singh's grandson Hari Singh, who had ascended the throne of Kashmir in 1925, was the reigning monarch in 1947 at the conclusion of British rule of the subcontinent and the subsequent partition of the British Indian Empire into the newly independent Union of India and the Dominion of Pakistan. According to Burton Stein's History of India,

"Kashmir was neither as large nor as old an independent state as Hyderabad; it had been created rather off-handedly by the British after the first defeat of the Sikhs in 1846, as a reward to a former official who had sided with the British. The Himalayan kingdom was connected to India through a district of the Punjab, but its population was 77 per cent Muslim and it shared a boundary with Pakistan. Hence, it was anticipated that the maharaja would accede to Pakistan when the British paramountcy ended on 14–15 August. When he hesitated to do this, Pakistan launched a guerrilla onslaught meant to frighten its ruler into submission. Instead the Maharaja appealed to Mountbatten[34] for assistance, and the governor-general agreed on the condition that the ruler accede to India. Indian soldiers entered Kashmir and drove the Pakistani-sponsored irregulars from all but a small section of the state. The United Nations was then invited to mediate the quarrel. The UN mission insisted that the opinion of Kashmiris must be ascertained, while India insisted that no referendum could occur until all of the state had been cleared of irregulars."[35]

In the last days of 1948, a ceasefire was agreed under UN auspices, but since the plebiscite demanded by the UN was never conducted, relations between India and Pakistan soured,[35] and eventually led to two more wars over Kashmir in 1965 and 1999. India has control of about half the area of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, while Pakistan controls a third of the region, the Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir. According to Encyclop dia Britannica, "Although there was a clear Muslim majority in Kashmir before the 1947 partition and its economic, cultural, and geographic contiguity with the Muslim-majority area of the Punjab (in Pakistan) could be convincingly demonstrated, the political developments during and after the partition resulted in a division of the region. Pakistan was left with territory that, although basically Muslim in character, was thinly populated, relatively inaccessible, and economically underdeveloped. The largest Muslim group, situated in the Valley of Kashmir and estimated to number more than half the population of the entire region, lay in Indian-administered territory, with its former outlets via the Jhelum valley route blocked."[36]

The Karakash River (Black Jade River) which flows north from its source near the town of Sumde in Aksai Chin, to cross the Kunlun Mountains.
The Karakash River (Black Jade River) which flows north from its source near the town of Sumde in Aksai Chin, to cross the Kunlun Mountains.
Topographic map of Kasmir.
Topographic map of Kasmir.

Current status and political divisions

The eastern region of the former princely state of Kashmir has also been involved in a boundary dispute. In the late 19th- and early 20th centuries, although some boundary agreements were signed between Great Britain, Afghanistan and Russia over the northern borders of Kashmir, China never accepted these agreements, and the official Chinese position did not change with the communist revolution in 1949. By the mid-1950s the Chinese army had entered the north-east portion of Ladakh.[36]

"By 1956 57 they had completed a military road through the Aksai Chin area to provide better communication between Xinjiang and western Tibet. India's belated discovery of this road led to border clashes between the two countries that culminated in the Sino-Indian war of October 1962."[36]

Populous Kashmir valley (bordered in brown), Jammu and Ladakh are in Indian controlled state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Populous Kashmir valley (bordered in brown),[37] Jammu and Ladakh are in Indian controlled state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The region is divided among three countries in a territorial dispute: Pakistan controls the northwest portion (Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir), India controls the central and southern portion (Jammu and Kashmir) and Ladakh, and China controls the northeastern portion (Aksai Chin and the Trans-Karakoram Tract). India controls the majority of the Siachen Glacier area including the Saltoro Ridge passes, whereas Pakistan controls the lower territory just southwest of the Saltoro Ridge. India controls of the disputed territory, Pakistan and China, the remaining .

Jammu and Pakistan administered Kashmir lie outside Pir Panjal range, and are under Indian and Pakistani control respectively. These are populous regions. The main cities are Mirpur, Dadayal, Kotli, Bhimber Jammu, Muzaffarabad and Rawalakot.

The Gilgit-Baltistan, formerly called Northern Areas, are a group of territories in the extreme north, bordered by the Karakoram, the western Himalayas, the Pamir, and the Hindu Kush ranges. With its administrative center at the town of Gilgit, the Northern Areas cover an area of 72,971 km (28,174 mi ) and have an estimated population approaching 1,000,000. The other main city is Skardu.

Ladakh is a region in the east, between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south.[38] Main cities are Leh and Kargil. It is under Indian administration and is part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is one of the most sparsely populated regions in the area and is mainly inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent.[38]

Aksai Chin is a vast high-altitude desert of salt that reaches altitudes up to . Geographically part of the Tibetan Plateau, Aksai Chin is referred to as the Soda Plain. The region is almost uninhabited, and has no permanent settlements.

Though these regions are in practice administered by their respective claimants, neither India nor Pakistan has formally recognised the accession of the areas claimed by the other. India claims those areas, including the area "ceded" to China by Pakistan in the Trans-Karakoram Tract in 1963, are a part of its territory, while Pakistan claims the entire region excluding Aksai Chin and Trans-Karakoram Tract. The two countries have fought several declared wars over the territory. The Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 established the rough boundaries of today, with Pakistan holding roughly one-third of Kashmir, and India one-half, with a dividing line of control established by the United Nations. The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 resulted in a stalemate and a UN-negotiated ceasefire.


In the 1901 Census of the British Indian Empire, Muslims constituted 74.16% of the total population of the princely state of Kashmir and Jammu where Gujjar Muslims constitute 20% population, Hindus, 23.72%, and Buddhists, 1.21%. The Hindus were found mainly in Jammu, where they constituted a little less than 70% of the population.[39] In the Kashmir Valley, Muslims constituted 95.6% of the population and Hindus 3.24%.[39] These percentages have remained fairly stable for the last 100 years.[40] Forty years later, in the 1941 Census of British India, Muslims accounted for 93.6% of the population of the Kashmir Valley and the Hindus for 4%.[40] In 2003, the percentage of Muslims in the Kashmir Valley was 95%[41] and those of Hindus 4%; the same year, in Jammu, the percentage of Hindus was 66% and those of Muslims 30%.[41] In the 1901 Census of the British Indian Empire, the population of the princely state of Kashmir and Jammu was 2,905,578. Of these 2,154,695 were Muslims (74.16%), 689,073 Hindus (23.72%), 25,828 Sikhs, and 35,047 Buddhists.

A Muslim shawl making family shown in Cashmere shawl manufactory, 1867, chromolith., William Simpson.
A Muslim shawl making family shown in Cashmere shawl manufactory, 1867, chromolith., William Simpson.

Among the Muslims of the princely state, four divisions were recorded: "Shaikhs, Saiyids, Mughals, and Pathans. The Shaikhs, who are by far the most numerous, are the descendants of Hindus, but have retained none of the caste rules of their forefathers. They have clan names known as krams ..."[39] It was recorded that these kram names included "Tantre," "Shaikh,", "Bhat", "Mantu," "Ganai," "Dar," "Damar," "Lon" etc. The Saiyids, it was recorded "could be divided into those who follow the profession of religion and those who have taken to agriculture and other pursuits. Their kram name is "Mir." While a Saiyid retains his saintly profession Mir is a prefix; if he has taken to agriculture, Mir is an affix to his name."[39] The Mughals who were not numerous were recorded to have kram names like "Mir" (a corruption of "Mirza"), "Beg," "Bandi," "Bach," and "Ashaye." Finally, it was recorded that the Pathans "who are more numerous than the Mughals, ... are found chiefly in the south-west of the valley, where Pathan colonies have from time to time been founded. The most interesting of these colonies is that of Kuki-Khel Afridis at Dranghaihama, who retain all the old customs and speak Pashtu."[39] Among the main tribes of Muslims in the princely state are the Butts, Dar, Lone, Jat, Gujjar, Rajput, Sudhan and Khatri. A small number of Butts, Dar and Lone use the title Khawaja and the Khatri use the title Shaikh the Gujjar use the title of Chaudhary. All these tribes are indigenous of the princely state and many Hindus also belong to these tribes.

The Hindus were found mainly in Jammu, where they constituted a little less than 60% of the population.[39] In the Kashmir Valley, the Hindus represented "524 in every 10,000 of the population (i.e. 5.24%), and in the frontier wazarats of Ladhakh and Gilgit only 94 out of every 10,000 persons (0.94%)."[39] In the same Census of 1901, in the Kashmir Valley, the total population was recorded to be 1,157,394, of which the Muslim population was 1,083,766, or 93.6% and the Hindu population 60,641.[39] Among the Hindus of Jammu province, who numbered 626,177 (or 90.87% of the Hindu population of the princely state), the most important castes recorded in the census were "Brahmans (186,000), the Rajputs (167,000), the Khattris (48,000) and the Thakkars (93,000)."[39]

In the 1911 Census of the British Indian Empire, the total population of Kashmir and Jammu had increased to 3,158,126. Of these, 2,398,320 (75.94%) were Muslims, 696,830 (22.06%) Hindus, 31,658 (1%) Sikhs, and 36,512 (1.16%) Buddhists. In the last census of British India in 1941, the total population of Kashmir and Jammu (which as a result of the second world war, was estimated from the 1931 census) was 3,945,000. Of these, the total Muslim population was 2,997,000 (75.97%), the Hindu population was 808,000 (20.48%), and the Sikh 55,000 (1.39%).[42]

The Kashmiri Pandits, the only Hindus of the Kashmir valley, who had stably constituted approximately 4 to 5% of the population of the valley during Dogra rule (1846–1947), and 20% of whom had left the Kashmir valley by 1950,[43] began to leave in much greater numbers in the 1990s. According to a number of authors, approximately 100,000 of the total Kashmiri Pandit population of 140,000 left the valley during that decade.[44] Other authors have suggested a higher figure for the exodus, ranging from the entire population of over 150,000,[45] to 190,000 of a total Pandit population of 200,000,[46] to a number as high as 300,000.[47]

Administered by Area Population % Muslim % Hindu % Buddhist % Other
Kashmir Valley ~4 million 95% 4%*
Jammu ~3 million 30% 66% 4%
Ladakh ~0.25 million 46% 50% 3%
Azad Kashmir ~2.6 million 100%
Gilgit-Baltistan ~1 million 99%
Aksai Chin

Culture and cuisine

Brokpa women from Kargil, northern Ladakh, in local costumes
Brokpa women from Kargil, northern Ladakh, in local costumes
Kashmiri cuisine includes dum aloo (boiled potatoes with heavy amounts of spice), tzaman (a solid cottage cheese), rogan josh (lamb cooked in heavy spices), yakhiyn (lamb cooked in curd with mild spices), hakh (a spinach-like leaf), rista-gushtaba (minced meat balls in tomato and curd curry),danival korme and of course the signature rice which is particular to Asian cultures. The traditional wazwan feast involves cooking meat or vegetables, usually mutton, in several different ways.

Alcohol is strictly prohibited in most places. There are two styles of making tea in the region: nun chai, or salt tea, which is pink in colour (known as chinen posh rang or peach flower colour) and popular with locals; and kahwah, a tea for festive occasions, made with saffron and spices (cardamom, cinamon,sugar, noon chai leaves), and black tea.


Tourism is one of the main sources of income for vast sections of the Kashmiri population. Shown here is the famous Dal Lake in Srinagar, India.
Tourism is one of the main sources of income for vast sections of the Kashmiri population. Shown here is the famous Dal Lake in Srinagar, India.
Skardu in the Northern Areas, is the point of departure for mountaineering expeditions in the Karakorams.
Skardu in the Northern Areas, is the point of departure for mountaineering expeditions in the Karakorams.

Kashmir's economy is centred around agriculture. Traditionally the staple crop of the valley was rice, which formed the chief food of the people. In addition, Indian corn, wheat, barley and oats were also grown. Given its temperate climate, it is suited for crops like asparagus, artichoke, seakale, broad beans, scarletrunners, beetroot, cauliflower and cabbage. Fruit trees are common in the valley, and the cultivated orchards yield pears, apples, peaches, and cherries. The chief trees are deodar, firs and pines, chenar or plane, maple, birch and walnut, apple, cherry.

Historically, Kashmir became known worldwide when Cashmere wool was exported to other regions and nations (exports have ceased due to decreased abundance of the cashmere goat and increased competition from China). Kashmiris are well adept at knitting and making Pashmina shawls, silk carpets, rugs, kurtas, and pottery. Saffron, too, is grown in Kashmir. Efforts are on to export the naturally grown fruits and vegetables as organic foods mainly to the Middle East. Srinagar is known for its silver-work, papier mache, wood-carving, and the weaving of silk.

The economy was badly damaged by the 2005 Kashmir earthquake which, as of October 8, 2005, resulted in over 70,000 deaths in the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir and around 1,500 deaths in Indian controlled Kashmir.

The Indian-administered portion of Kashmir is believed to have potentially rich rocks containing hydrocarbon reserves.[48][49]


Transport is predominantly by air or road vehicles in the region.[50] The only functioning railway is the under-construction Kashmir Railway which will link the Kashmir Valley to the rest of India. Another railway in the Indian side, the Bilaspur-Mandi-Leh Railway has been approved in the 2012-2013 Indian railway budget. A railway on the Pakistani side, the Khunjerab Railway has been proposed however has not been approved.

History of tourism in Kashmir

The state of Jammu & Kashmir is a region of widely varying people and geography. In the south, Jammu is a transition zone from the Indian plains to the Himalaya . Nature has lavishly endowed Kashmir with certain distinctive favors which hardly find a parallel in any alpine land of the world. It is the land of snow clad mountains that shares a common boundary with Afghanistan, China and Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir is the northernmost state of the Indian Union. Known for its extravagant natural beauty this land formed a major caravan route in the ancient times.

Trade relations through these routes between China and Central Asia made it a land inhabited by various religious and cultural groups. It was during the reign of Kashyapa that the various wandering groups led a settled life Buddhism influenced Kashmir during the rule of Ashoka and the present town of Srinagar was founded by him. This place was earlier called 'Srinagari' or Purandhisthan. The Brahmins who inhabited these areas admired and adorned Buddhism too. From the regions of Kashmir Buddhism spread of Ladakh, Tibet, Central Asia and China. Various traditions co-existed till the advent of the Muslims.

The Mughal had a deep influence on this land and introduced various reforms in the revenue industry and other areas that added to the progress of Kashmir. In 1820 Maharaj Gulab Singh got the Jagir of Jammu from Maharaj Ranjit Sigh. He is said to have laid the foundation of the Dogra dynasty. In 1846 Kashmir was sold to Maharaj Gulab Singh. Thus the two areas of Kashmir and Jammu were integrated into a single political unit. A few chieftains who formed part of the administration were of the Hunza, Kishtwar, Gilgit Ladakh. During the Dogra dynasty trade improved, along with the preservation and promotion of forestry.


For hundreds of million years Kashmir Valley remained under Tethya sea and the high sedimentary-rock hills seen in the valley now were once under water. Geologists have come to believe that Kashmir Valley was earlier affected by earthquakes. Once there was such a devastating earthquake that it broke open the mountain wall at Baramulla. and the water of the Satisar lake flowed out leaving behind lacustrine mud on the margins of the mountains known as karewas. Thus came into existence the oval but irregular Valley of Kashmir. The karewas being in fact the remnants of this lake confirm this view. The karewas are found mostly to the west of the river Jhelum where these table-lands attain a height of about 380 meters above the level of the Valley. These karewas protrude towards the east and look like tongue-shaped spurs with deep ravines.

Ancient legends and popular traditions say that Samdimat Nagar, capital of the kingdom of Sundra Sena, was submerged as a result of an earthquake, and the water that filled the area formed the Wular Lake, the largest fresh water lake in India. The oldest igneous rocks are still found at Shankaracharya hill. When the whole Valley of Kashmir was under water this hillock was the first piece of dry land lying in the form of an igneous island.

1. Lignite. It is an inferior quality of coal which is found in the valley of Kashmir at Nichahama, Baramulla, Handwara, Chowkibal, Ferozepur nullah, Nagbal, Tangmarg, Raithan, Badgam tehsil, Laligang and Lolab valley. Lignite is a blackbrown coal that is intermediate in coalification between peat and sub-bituminous coal which has a calorific value less than 8300BTU/lb, on a moist mineral free basis. According to the report of the Geological Survey of India, there are lignite coal deposits of about 5 crore 60 lakh tons in the valley. Drilling operations were started first in the Nicahhom- Chowkibal area where the reserves were estimated at 4. 5 million tons to a depth of 40 metres. Lignite is used as a fuel in the valley of Kashmir.

2. Limestone. All the three regions of the State i.e. Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh have deposits of different ages and grades of Limestone. The Limestone of Kashmir is of high quality and is used in the manufacture of cement at Wuyan and Khrew. These deposits exist in Anantnag, Achhabal, Doru, Verinag, Biru, Sonamarg, Ajas, Wuyau, Khrew and Loduv. It is also used as building stone and mortar.

3. Copper ores are found at Aishmuqam, Shubbar area (Anantnag), Lashtil hill spurs (Baramulla), Handwara, Sumbal, Kangan andLolab valley in the province of Kashmir.

4. Iron-ore deposits occur in Sharda (Karnah tehsil), Khrewa, Haral (Handwara), Uri tehsil, Garez (Sopore tehsil) and Lolab valley in Kashmir.

5. Gypsum. It is used for making plaster of paris and chalksticks. The Kashmir province has gypsum deposits at Lachhipora, Baramulla, Anantnag, Liddipora and Kathia Nullah (Uri). There is total reserve of about 4 million tons of gypsum in the State.

6. Ochre. It is used in paints and varnishes etc. There are extensive deposits of ochre in Nur Khawn, Ratasar and Jhaggi in the Uri tehsil. About 4 lak tons of ochre have been found in the State so far.

7. Zinc and Nickelarfound at Buniyar (Baramulla).

8. Fuller's Earth is used in the manufacture of country soap and for filling paper. It is found in Rampur near Baramulla

9. Slate Stone is found in abundance in the valley of Kashmir.

10. Graphite is used in the manufacture of lead pencils and is found in Bararipora, Uri, Karnah, Malogam, Piran in the province of Kashmir

11. Sulphur is found in Pagga valley in Ladakh. In spring water, it is found at Anantnag and Khrewa. The estimated deposits of sulphur in the State are 2,00,000 tons.

12. Marble. Large deposits of marble have been found at Drugmalla, Zirahama, Oura and Trehgam in Kupwara district of Kashmir. This is light brown to dirty grey in colour. This is being used commonly in buildings these days.

13.oil and fossil fuels. Kashmir is known to have vast quantities of fossil fuels especially in Azad Kashmir. it is estimated that Kashmir has a whopping 14,263,000,000 barrels of oil.[51][52]

See also


Cited References

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Further reading

  • Blank, Jonah. "Kashmir Fundamentalism Takes Root," Foreign Affairs, 78,6 (November/December 1999): 36-42.
  • Drew, Federic. 1877. "The Northern Barrier of India: a popular account of the Jammoo and Kashmir Territories with Illustrations; 1st edition: Edward Stanford, London. Reprint: Light & Life Publishers, Jammu. 1971.
  • Evans, Alexander. Why Peace Won't Come to Kashmir, Current History (Vol 100, No 645) April 2001 p. 170-175.
  • Hussain, Ijaz. 1998. "Kashmir Dispute: An International Law Perspective", National Institute of Pakistan Studies.
  • Irfani, Suroosh, ed "Fifty Years of the Kashmir Dispute": Based on the proceedings of the International Seminar held at Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir August 24 25, 1997: University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Muzaffarabad, AJK, 1997.
  • Joshi, Manoj Lost Rebellion: Kashmir in the Nineties (Penguin, New Delhi, 1999).
  • Khan, L. Ali The Kashmir Dispute: A Plan for Regional Cooperation 31 Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, 31, p. 495 (1994).
  • Knight, E. F. 1893. Where Three Empires Meet: A Narrative of Recent Travel in: Kashmir, Western Tibet, Gilgit, and the adjoining countries. Longmans, Green, and Co., London. Reprint: Ch'eng Wen Publishing Company, Taipei. 1971.
  • Knight, William, Henry. 1863. Diary of a Pedestrian in Cashmere and Thibet. Richard Bentley, London. Reprint 1998: Asian Educational Services, New Delhi.
  • K chler, Hans. ''The Kashmir Problem between Law and Realpolitik. Reflections on a Negotiated Settlement''. Keynote speech delivered at the "Global Discourse on Kashmir 2008." European Parliament, Brussels, 1 April 2008.
  • Moorcroft, William and Trebeck, George. 1841. Travels in the Himalayan Provinces of Hindustan and the Panjab; in Ladakh and Kashmir, in Peshawar, Kabul, Kunduz, and Bokhara... from 1819 to 1825, Vol. II. Reprint: New Delhi, Sagar Publications, 1971.
  • Neve, Arthur. (Date unknown). The Tourist's Guide to Kashmir, Ladakh, Skardo &c. 18th Edition. Civil and Military Gazette, Ltd., Lahore. (The date of this edition is unknown - but the 16th edition was published in 1938).
  • Stein, M. Aurel. 1900. Kalha a's R jatara gi A Chronicle of the Kings of Ka m r, 2 vols. London, A. Constable & Co. Ltd. 1900. Reprint, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, 1979.
  • Younghusband, Francis and Molyneux, Edward 1917. Kashmir. A. & C. Black, London.
  • Norelli-Bachelet, Patrizia. "Kashmir and the Convergence of Time, Space and Destiny", 2004; ISBN 0-945747-00-4. First published as a four-part series, March 2002 - April 2003, in 'Prakash', a review of the Jagat Guru Bhagavaan Gopinath Ji Charitable Foundation.
  • Muhammad Ayub. An Army; Ita Role & Rule (A History of the Pakistan Army from Independence to Kargil 1947-1999) Rosedog Books, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA 2005. ISBN 0-8059-9594-3.

External links

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