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Jammu & Kashmir - History

Many historians and locals believe that Jammu was founded by Raja Jamboolochan in 14th century BCE. During one of his hunting campaigns he reached the Tawi River where he saw a goat and a lion drinking water at the same place. The king was impressed and decided to set up a town after his name, Jamboo. With the passage of time, the name was corrupted and became "Jammu". According to one "folk etymology", the name "Kashmir" means "desiccated land" (from the Sanskrit: Ka = water and shimeera = desiccate). According to another folk etymology, following Hindu mythology, the sage Kashyapa drained a lake to produce the land now known as Kashmir.

With a fertile soil and temperate climate, the valley is rich in rice, vegetables and fruits of all kinds, and famous for the quality of its wool. Kashmir has been inhabited since prehistoric times, sometimes independent but at times subjugated by invaders from Bactria, Tartary, Tibet and other mountainous regions to the North, and from the Indus valley and the Ganges valley to the South. At different times the dominant religion has been Animist, Buddhist, Hindu and (after the period of the history) Muslim.

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 (3102 BCE), the Rajatarangini comes down to the reign of Sangrama Deva, (c.1006 AD) and Kalhana. 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-ab-ad-din, 1412. P. 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.

Jonaraja (c. 15th century) was a Kashmiri historian and Sanskrit poet. His Dvitīyā Rājataraṅginī is a continuation of Kalhana's Rājataranginī and brings the chronicle of the kings of Kashmir down to the time of the author's patron Zain-ul-Abidin (r. 1423-74). Jonaraja, however, could not complete the history of the patron as he died in the 35th regnal year of him. His pupil, Śrīvara continued the history and his work, the Tritīyā Rājataraṅginī covers the period 1459-86.

In his Dvitīyā Rājataranginī, Jonaraja has vividly described the decline of the Hindu ruling dynasty and the rise of the Muslim ruling dynasty in Kashmir.

The Rājataranginī (The River of Kings) is a metrical chronicle of the kings of Kashmir from earliest time written in Sanskrit by Kalhana. It is believed that the book was written sometime during 1147-1149 CE. The work generally records the heritage of Kashmir, but 120 verses of Rājatarangiṇī describe the misrule prevailing in Kashmir during the reign of King Kalash, son of King Ananta Deva of Kashmir. Although the earlier books are far from accurate in their chronology, they still provide an invaluable source of information about early Kashmir and its neighbors, and are widely referenced by later historians and ethnographers.

In the Rajatarangini, a history of Kashmir written by Kalhana in mid-12th century, it is stated that the valley of Kashmir was formerly a lake. This was drained by the great rishi or sage, Kashyapa, son of Marichi, son of Brahma, by cutting the gap in the hills at Baramulla (Varaha-mula). When Kashmir had been drained, Kashyapa asked Brahmans to settle there. This is still the local tradition, and in the existing physical condition of the country, we may see some ground for the story which has taken this form. The name of Kashyapa is by history and tradition connected with the draining of the lake, and the chief town or collection of dwellings in the valley was called Kashyapa-pura name which has been identified with the Kao-1r6.nupos of Hecataeus (apud Stephen of Byzantium) and Kaspatyros of Herodotus (3.102, 4.44). Kashmir is the country meant also by Ptolemy's Kao-ir,~pta.

Kalhana (c. 12th century CE) a Kashmiri Brahmin was the author of Rajatarangini, and is regarded as Kashmir's first historian. In fact, his translator Aurel Stein expressed the view that his was the only true Sanskrit history. Little is known about him except from what he tells us about himself in the opening verses of his book. His father Champaka was the minister in Harsha of Kashmir's court.

Kalhana in his opening Taranga of Rajatarangini presents his views on how history ought to be written. From Stein's translation[2]:

Verse 7. Fairness: That noble-minded author is alone worthy of praise whose word, like that of a judge, keeps free from love or hatred in relating the facts of the past.

Verse 11. Cite earlier authors: The oldest extensive works containing the royal chronicles [of Kashmir] have become fragmentary in consequence of [the appearance of] Suvrata's composition, who condensed them in order that (their substance) might be easily remembered.

Verse 12. Suvrata's poem, though it has obtained celebrity, does not show dexterity in the exposition of the subject-matter, as it is rendered troublesome [reading] by misplaced learning.

Verse 13. Owing to a certain want of care, there is not a single part in Ksemendra's "List of Kings" (Nrpavali) free from mistakes, though it is the work of a poet.

Verse 14. Eleven works of former scholars containing the chronicles of the kings, I have inspected, as well as the [Purana containing the] opinions of the sage Nila.

Verse 15. By looking at the inscriptions recording the consecretations of temples and grants by former kings, at laudatory inscriptions and at written works, the trouble arising from many errors has been overcome.

Despite these stated principles, and despite the value that historians have placed on Kalhana's work, it must be accepted that his history was far from accurate. Kalhana lived in a time of political turmoil in Kashmir, at that time a brilliant center of civilization in a sea of barbarism. Kalhana was an educated and sophisticated Brahmin, well-connected in the highest political circles. His writing is full of literary devices and allusions, concealed by his unique and elegant style. Kalhana was a poet.

Kalhana borrowed from authors such as Ksemendra, Padmamiriha and Chavillakara, and tells us that he used many other sources to confirm his information including engravings, literary manuscripts, other histories and local verbal traditions. Certainly, some of his descriptions show evidence of such research. However, he clearly used his imagination to fill in the gaps. The Gonandiya dynasty, taking its name from the legendary first king of Kashmir, is revived twice in the Rājatarangiṇī, but with little historical evidence. Perhaps Kalhana used it as a literary device, where the ancient and legitimate dynasty was periodically displaced by invaders and usurpers, but always re-emerged.

Kalhana's chronology, particularly in the first three books, is highly inaccurate. For a man of his time, exact dates may have been more a way to add realism and emphasis to the account. What mattered was the story.
The Rajtarangini Kalhanas chronicle

The author of the Rajatarangini history chronicles the rulers of the valley from earliest times, from the epic period of the Mahābhārata to the the reign of Sangrama Deva (c.1006 CE), before the Muslim era. The list of kings goes back to the 19th century BCE[4]. Some of the kings and dynasties can be identified with inscriptions and the histories of the empires that periodically included the Kashmir valley, but for long periods the Rajatarangini is the only source.

This work consists of 7826 verses, which are divided into eight books called Tarangas (waves).

Kalhaṇa’s account of Kashmir begins with the legendary reign of Gonarda, who was contemporary to Yudhisthira of the Mahābhārata, but the recorded history of Kashmir, as retold by Kalhaṇa begins from the period of the Mauryas. Kalhaṇa’s account also states that the city of Srinagar was founded by the Mauryan emperor, Ashoka, and that Buddhism reached the Kashmir valley during this period. From there, Buddhism spread to several other adjoining regions including Central Asia, Tibet and China.

The Dynasties - Kalhana wrote during the time of Jayasimha (AD 1127-59).

The kings of Kashmir described in the Rājatarangiṇī can be roughly grouped into dynasties as in the table below.

Notes in parentheses refer to a book and verse. Thus (IV.678) is Book IV verse 678.

Gonanda I

The Rajatarangini (I.59) lists Gonanda I as the first king of Kashmir, a relative of Jarasasamdha of Magadh.

Lost and Unknown kings

Skipping over "lost kings" we come to Lava of an unknown family. After his family, Godhara of another family ruled (I.95).


The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive and powerful political and military empire in ancient India, founded by Chandragupta Maurya in 322 BCE. His grandson Ashoka the Great (273-232 BCE) built many stupas in Kashmir, and was succeeded by his son Jalauka.


After a Damodara ("of Asoka's kula or another"), we have Hushka, Jushka and Kanishka (127-147 CE) of the Bactrian Kushan Empire.

(Note the confusion of dates in this and the following sections. Kalhana appears to made little attempt to determine the actual dates and sequence of rule of the kings and dynasties he recorded)


After an Abhimanyu, we come to the main Gonandiya dynasty, founded by Gonanda III. He was (I.191) the first of his race. Nothing is known about his origin. His family ruled for many generations.

Some others

Eventually a Pratapaditya, a relative of Vikrmaditya (not the Shakari) became king (II.6). After a couple of generations a Vijaya from another family took the throne (II.62).

His son Jayendra was followed by Sandhimat-Aryaraja (34 BCE-17 CE) who had the soul of Jayendra's minister Sandhimati. Kalhana says that Samdhimat Aryaraja used to spend "the most delightful Kashmir summer" in worshiping a lingam formed of snow/ice “in the regions above the forests” (II.138). This too appears to be a reference to the ice lingam at Amarnath.


Kalhana describes the rules of Toramana and Mihirakula (510-542 CE), but does not mention that these were Huna people: this is known from other source.

Gonandiya again

After the Huna, Meghavahana of the Gonandiya family wasbrought back from Gandhara. His family ruled for a few generations. Meghavahana was a devout Buddhist and prohibited animal slaughter in his domain.

Karkota dynasty (625-1003 CE)

Gonandiya Baladitya made his officer in charge of fodder, Durlabhavardhana (III.489) his son-in-law because he was handsome. Lalitaditya Muktapida (724-760 CE) of this dynasty created an empire based on Kashmir and covering most of Northern India and Central Asia.

(With his account of the Karkota dynasty, relatively recent at the time he wrote his chronicles, Kalhana's information becomes more consistent with other sources.)

Kalhana relates that Laliditya Muktapida invaded the tribes of the north and after defeating the Kambojas, he immediately faced the Tusharas. The Tusharas did not give a fight but fled to the mountain ranges leaving their horses in the battle field. Then Lalitaditiya meets the Bhauttas in Baltistan in western Tibet north of Kashmir, then the Dardas in Karakoram/Himalaya, the Valukambudhi and then he encounters Strirajya, the Uttarakurus and the Pragjyotisha respectively (IV.165-175).


In the Karkota family, Lalitapida had a concubine, a daughter of a Kalyapala (IV.678).

Her son was Chippatajayapida. The young Chippatajayapida was advised by his maternal uncle Utpalaka or Utpala (IV.679). Eventually the Karkota dynasty ended and a grandson of Utpala became king.


After the Utpala dynasty, a Yashaskara became king (V.469). He was a great-grandson of a Viradeva, a Kutumbi (V.469). Here maybe Kutumbi = kunabi (as in kurmis of UP and Kunbi of Gujarat/Maharastra). He was the son of a treasurer of Karkota Shamkaravarman.

Kalhana describes Shamkaravarman (883-902) thus (Stein's trans.): "This [king], who did not speak the language of the gods but used vulgar speech fit for drunkards, showed that he was descended from a family of spirit-distillers". This refers to the fact that the power had passed to the brothers of a queen, who was born in a family of spirit-distillers.


After a young son of Yashaskara, Pravaragupta, a Divira (clerk), became king. His son Kshemagupta married Didda, daughter of Simharaja of Lohara. After ruling indirectly and directly, Didda (980-1003 CE) placed Samgramaraja, son of her brother on the throne, starting the Lohara dynasty.


The Lohara family was founded by a Nara of Darvabhisara (IV.712). He was a vyavahari (perhaps merchant) who along with others who owned villages like him had set up little kingdoms during the last days of Karkotas. The Loharas ruled for many generations. The author Kalhana was a son of a minister of Harsha of this family.

Damar and others

After Loharas, a Damara family ruled. Then a general Ramchandra became king. His daughter Kota Rani married Tibetan Rinchan, who became Muslim.

Cashmere is an archaic spelling of Kashmir, and in some countries it is still spelled this way.

Modern Background

Creation - Prior to the creation of the princely state, Kashmir was ruled by the Durrani Empire, until it was annexed by Sikhs led by Ranjit Singh. During Sikh rule, Jammu was a tributary of the Sikh Empire.

After the death of the Raja of Jammu, Kishore Singh, in 1822, his son Gulab Singh was recognised by the Sikhs as his heir. He then, initially under the Sikhs, began expanding his kingdom.

As Raja of Jammu, Gulab Singh conquered Bhadarwah after a slight resistance and then annexed Kishtwar after the minister, Wazir Lakhpat, quarrelled with the ruler and sought the assistance of Gulab Singh, the Raja of Kishtwar surrendered without fighting when Gulab Singh's forces arrived. The conquest of Kishtwar meant that Singh had now gained control of two of the roads which led into Ladakh which then led to this conquest of that territory. Although there were huge difficulties, due to the mountains and glaciers, the Dogras under Gulab Singh's officer, Zorawar Singh conquered the whole of Ladakh in two campaigns.

A few years later, in 1840, General Zorawar Singh invaded Baltistan, captured the Raja of Skardu, who had sided with the Ladakhis, and annexed his country. The following year (1841) Zorawar Singh, while invading Tibet, was overtaken by winter, and, being attacked when his troops were disabled by cold, perished with nearly all his army. Whether it was policy or whether it was accident, by 1840 Gulab Singh had encircled Kashmir.

In the winter of 1845 war broke out between the British and the Sikhs. Gulab Singh remained neutral until the battle of Sobraon in 1846, when he appeared as a useful mediator and the trusted adviser of Sir Henry Lawrence. Two treaties were concluded. By the first the State of Lahore handed over to the British, as equivalent to an indemnity of one crore rupees, the hill countries between the rivers Beas and the Indus; by the second the British made over to Gulab Singh for 75 lakh rupees all the hilly or mountainous country situated to the east of the Indus and west of the Ravi.

Kashmir did not, however, come into the Maharaja's hands without fighting Imam-ud-din, the Sikh governor, aided by the restless Bambas from the Jhelum valley, routed Gulab Singh's troops on the outskirts of Srinagar, killing Wazir Lakhpat. Owing, however, to the mediation of Sir Henry Lawrence, Imam-ud-din desisted from opposition and Kashmir passed without further disturbances to the new ruler. At Astor and Gilgit the Dogra troops relieved the Sikhs, Nathu Shah, the Sikh commander, taking service under Gulab Singh

Not long afterwards the Hunza Raja, attacked Gilgit territory. Nathu Shah on behalf of Gulab Singh responded by leading a force to attack the Hunza valley; he and his force were destroyed, and Gilgit fort fell into the hands of the Hunza Raja, along with Punial, Yasin, and Darel. The Maharaja then sent two columns, one from Astor and one from Baltistan, and after some fighting Gilgit fort was recovered. In 1852 the Dogra troops were annihilated by Gaur Rahman of Yasin, and for eight years the Indus formed the boundary of the Maharaja's territories.

Gulab Singh died in 1857; and when his successor, Ranbir Singh, had recovered from the strain caused by the Indian Rebellion, in which he had loyally sided with the British, he was determined to recover Gilgit and to expand to the frontier. In 1860 a force under Devi Singh crossed the Indus, and advanced on Gaur Rahman's strong fort at Gilgit. Gaur Rahman had died just before the arrival of the Dogras. The fort was taken and held by the Maharajas of Jammu and Kashmir until 1947.

Ranbir Singh although tolerant of other creeds lacked his father's strong will and determination, and his control over the State officials was weak. The latter part of his life was darkened by the dreadful famine in Kashmir, 1877-9; and in September, 1885, he was succeeded: by his eldest son, Maharaja Pratap Singh, G.C.S.I

Geography - The area of the state extended from 32° 17′ to 36° 58′ N. and from 73° 26′ to 80° 30′ E.[2]. Jammu was the southern most part of the state and was adjacent to the Punjab districts of Jhelum, Gujrat, Sialkot, and Gurdaspur. There is just a fringe of level land along the Punjab frontier, bordered by a plinth of low hilly country sparsely wooded, broken, and irregular. This is known as the Kandi, the home of the Chibs and the Dogras. To travel north a range of mountains, 8,000 feet (2,400 m) high, must be climbed. This is a temperate country with forests of oak, rhododendron, and chestnut, and higher up of deodar and pine, a country of beautiful uplands, such as Bbadarwah and Kishtwar, drained by the deep gorge of the Chenab river. The steps of the Himalayan range known as the Pir Panjal lead to the second storey; on which rests the exquisite valley of Kashmir, drained by the Jhelum river.

Up steeper flights of the Himalayas led to Astore and Baltistan on the north and to Ladakh on the east, a tract drained by the river Indus. In the back premises, faraway to the north-west, lies Gilgit, west and north of the Indus, the whole area shadowed by a wall of giant mountains which run east from the Kilik or Mintaka passes of the Hindu Kush, leading to the Pamirs and the Chinese dominions past Rakaposhi (25,561 ft), along the Muztagh range past K2 (Godwin Austen, 28,265 feet), Gasherbrum and Masherbrum (28,100 and 28,561 feet (8,705 m) respectively) to the Karakoram range which merges in the Kunlun Mountains. Westward of the northern angle above Hunza-Nagar the mighty maze of mountains and glaciers trends a little south of east along the Hindu Kush range bordering Chitral, and so on into the limits of Kafiristan and Afghan territory.

In 1947 the Indian Independence Act was passed, this meant that British India would be divided into two independent states, the Dominion of Pakistan and the Union of India. According to the Act, "the suzerainty of His Majesty over the Indian States lapses, and with it, all treaties and agreements in force at the date of the passing of this Act between His Majesty and the rulers of Indian States", so each of the princely states would be free to join India or Pakistan or to remain independent. Most of the princes acceded to either of the two nations.

Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu - By the early 19th century, the Kashmir valley had 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 Sikh armies. 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 captured by the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh of Lahore and afterwards, until 1846, became a tributary to the Sikh power.[6] 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 by the Sikhs army in 1819, and, for his services, was created Raja of Jammu in 1820. With the help of his officer, Zorawar Singh, Gulab Singh soon captured Ladakh and Baltistan, regions to the east and north-east of Jammu.

British era - In 1845, the First Anglo-Sikh War broke out, and 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 (rupees) one crore of indemnity, the hill countries between Beas and Indus; by the second the British made over to Gulab Singh for (Rupees) 75 lakhs all the hilly or mountainous country situated to the east of Indus and west of Ravi" (i.e. the Vale of Kashmir). Soon after Gulab Singh's death in 1857, his son, Ranbir Singh, added the emirates of Hunza, Gilgit and Nagar to the kingdom.

The Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu (as it was then called) was constituted between 1820 and 1858 and was "somewhat artificial in composition and it did not develop a fully coherent identity, partly as a result of its disparate origins and partly as a result of the autocratic rule which it experienced on the fringes of Empire." It combined disparate regions, religions, and ethnicities: 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. 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 paramountcy of the British Crown.




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