Abode of Kashyap
is the name of a Himalayan valley situated about 5,000 feet above sea level.
Eighty miles in length and forty miles in width, this valley of the river Jehlum, the
Vitasta of the Rigveda, pronounced as "Vyath in Kashmiri,''
is the largest valley of its kind in the world. The Vyath rises from Verinag
springs on the foot of the Panchal range that surrounds this valley; flows
north through the capital city of Srinagar and Wuler lake and then enters
the mountains through a gorge resembling the mouth of a boar called "Varaha"
in Sanskrit near the town named "Varaha Molla" now called Baramula on the
northern tip of the valley. The valleys of the Liddar, the Sindh and a
number of smaller streams that flow into the Jehlum add to the size and
beauty of this celebrated valley.
tradition recorded in a number of Sanskrit texts and chronicles of Kashmir
this valley was once a vast lake. It was converted into an alluvial plain
when Kashyap, a great "Rishi," made an opening into the surrounding mountains
As a result
the water of the lake was drained out and the submerged land became a habitable
valley. It then came to be known as "Kashyap Marga" the abode of Kashyap
from which the name Kashmir is derived. Geomorphological evidence has confirmed
that the valley was originally a vast lake.
Kashmir began with the settlement of the Indo-Aryan people in it in pre-Mahabharata
days. It became a centre of Indo-vedic culture and civilization. Sanskrit
literature is replete with references to it. It is often described as "Nandanvan"
the pleasure garden of Bharat.
other parts of India, we have recorded history of Kashmir from the earliest
times. The oldest of these records is Nilamat Purana. It deals with the
legends pertaining to the origin of Kashmir, the ordinances of Nila, the
earliest ruler of Kashmir and gives detailed information about its numerous
"Nagas" or springs and lakes that dot the valley and its surrounding ranges.
Other notable sources of its history are: "Kultanimala Kavya" of Damodar
Gupta, "Deshopadesha" of Kshemendra, "Vikrama Devacharita" of
Bilhan, "Rajtarangini" of Kalhan and chronicle of "Jonrajya" who wrote in 15th
century. Kalhan recorded the history of Kashmir from the Mahabharata period
but the real beginning of Kashmir's history can be traced to the rule of
Mauryan emperor Ashoka who built Shrinagar as its capital.
made a centre of Mahayana Buddhism by Kushan emperor, Kanishka. He built
a town "Kanishkapura," now called Kanspura. It is situated about five miles
from Baramullah on the Baramullah- Srinagar road. He also built many Buddhist
viharas and convened the fourth Buddhist council there. Archeological remains
of the viharas built by him have been found near Harvana Lake.
Hun king Mihirgula,
occupied the throne of Kashmir for some time after he was driven out of
Punjab in the fourth century A.D. He later embraced Shaivism.
The most celebrated
king of Kashmir was Lalitaditya who ruled over it in the seventh century
A.D. He extended his sway beyond the valley. He built the famous sun temple
- the Martanda temple - on a plateau overlooking the town of Anantanag
and the holy springs of Mattan in the Liddar valley. The ruins of this
great temple which was destroyed by Sultan Sikandar in the 14th century
point to the glory that was Kashmir at that time.
was another notable ruler of Kashmir who ruled in the 11th century. He
built a new capital, Avantipur, mid-way between Anantnag and Srinagar.
His prime Minister, Sayyah, deepened the Vitasta from the Wular lake to
Baramullah which helped in reclamation of more land. A new town Sayyapur
now called Sopore was built on the reclaimed land.
Shadow of Islam
first fell on Kashmir in the 11th century when Sultan Mahmood of Ghazani
made an unsuccessful attempt to conquer it. But some Muslim adventurers
and preachers of Turkish, Persian and Khorasani origin entered the valley
in the wake of his invasion.
The last effective
Hindu ruler of Kashmir was Sahdev who ascended the throne in 1301 A.D.
Two Muslim adventurers, Shahmir from Khorasan and Lanker Chak from Gilgit,
came to Kashmir during his reign and entered his service. Another foreign
adventurer to enter his service was Rinchan, a Buddhist Bhotia from Laddakh.
He usurped the throne of Kashmir and married his queen Kota rani, daughter
of Ramachandra, the commander-in-chief of Sahdev in 1319. He wanted to
embrace Shaiviasm but Brahmins refused to accept him. He, then, turned
to Islam and took the name Sadaruddin.
in 1323 A.D. Udyan Dev, brother of Sahdev, then ascended the throne. He
married Kota rani and ruled up to 1338 A.D. After the death of Udyandev,
Kota rani took over the reigns of government. But she could not rule for
long. Shahmir, who had entrenched himself in Udyandev's court, staged a
coup and took control of the government.
power, Shahmir made Kota rani captive. He wanted to marry her but she spurned
his offer. She was then forcibly put into the harem of Shahmir. She committed
suicide the next morning. Thus, the throne of Kashmir passed into the hands
of a foreign Muslim adventurer whose conduct can be compared with that
of Haider Ali who usurped the throne of Mysore fourteen centuries later.
This marked the beginning of Muslim rule over Kashmir in 1339 A.D.
culture is writ large over every nook and corner of Kashmir. Most of its
village and town names end with suffix "Gam" derived from Sanskrit word
"Gram" or "Pur" or "Nag." Every scenic site of this picturesque valley
has a temple or remains of an ancient temple on it. The sky-line of the
capital city Srinagar is dominated by two hillocks, Shankaracharya and
Hari Parvat atop which stands the shrine of Shankaracharya temple and a
Kali temple. Hari Parvat has a fort of the same name on it.
Ram kund and
Devi mandir near Baramullah, ruins of Kanishkapur and Pattan between Baramullah
and Srinagar, Shankaracharya temple of Srinagar, ruins of Martand temple
and of Avantipura between Srinagar and Anantnag, holy springs of Kheer Bhawani, Anantnag and Mattan and the holy cave of
Amarnath, link the present
day Kashmir with its Hindu past and rest of Hindustan.
the real founder of Muslim rule in Kashmir. Rinchan Shah, who came to power
by virtue of his marriage with Kota rani and who embraced Islam in 1319
AD, ruled only for three years. Hindu rule returned when Udyan Bev ascended
the throne after Rinchan's death.
founded by Shah Mir ruled over Kashmir for over 200 years. Shah Mir was
a Khorasani and not a Kashmiri. But in course of time SHAHMIRIS got assimilated,
took to Kashmiri language and way of life.
of the dynasty was Sikander who is called 'But-shikan' i.e. iconolast because
he destroyed almost all Hindu temples of Kashmir including that of Martand
and confronted the people with the choice of conversion to Islam or death.
Most of the Kashmiri Hindus were converted or killed. A few Brahmin families
took shelter in Jammu region across Panchal range. The present Hindus of
Kashmir are progeny of those refugees. According to Kashmiri tradition
he burnt seven maunds of sacred threads of the murdered Hindus whose bodies
were thrown into Dal Lake to form what is now called 'Butt-mazar' i.e.
grave of Brahmins. This is a bund which runs across the Dal lake from Nasim
garden to Nishat garden.
who succeeded Sikander in 1420 AD brought a welcome change. He not only
stopped forced conversions but also allowed those Hindus who had fled away
to return to their home land. He appointed Hindus to high places in his
court. Jonraj the famous chronicler who continued the chronicle of Kalhan
and brought it to date enjoyed his patronage.
was replaced by Chak dynasty in 1561 AD. Ghazi-chek the founder of this
dynasty was a scion of Lanker Chak, the Muslim adventurer from Gilgit who
came to Kashmir in the reign of Sahdev. Chaks were Shia. Therefore, Shia
sect of Islam got a foothold in Kashmir during Chak rule.
Usuf Shah the
last effective Chak ruler of Kashmir was defeated by a Mughal army led
by Raja Bhagwan Dass, during the reign of Akbar. Usuf Shah died in Patna
as an exile. His son, Yakub Shah, ruled over Kashmir for some time but
was defeated and displaced by the Mughals in 1686 AD.
Kashmir a separate province of Mughal empire. His son Jahangir had special
liking for Kashmir. He described it as "Heaven on earth" and embellished
it with the famous Mughal gardens.
used Bhimber, Rajouri - Nandi-Marg route for going to Kashmir from Punjab.
This area was inhabited by war-like Suddan and Chib Hindu Rajputs many
of whom were forcibly converted to Islam under orders of Jahangir. Aurangzeb
let loose a reign of terror on Hindus of Kashmir.
patronized Kashmiri Brahmins who took to Persian language with gusto. Many
of them came down to Delhi and Agra to work as scribes and tutors in the Mughals' households. Mohammed Shah, one of the later Mughal rulers of Delhi,
decreed that Kashmir's Brahmins should be described as Kashmiri Pundits
to distinguish them from local Brahmins. This name has stuck with them
in Kashmir ended formally in 1752 when Ahmed Shah Abdali annexed it to
his kingdom of Kabul. But, beginning of the end of Mughal rule took place
in 1739 when Nadir Shah sacked Delhi and gave a body blow to the decadent
over Kashmir, which is considered to be the cruelest and the worst, lasted
till 1819 when it was conquerred by Diwan Mohakam Chand, a General of Maha
Raja Ranjit Singh. It then became a "Suba" or Province of Lahore Kingdom.
Thus Hindu rule returned to Kashmir after a lapse of about five centuries.
into the hands of Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu, a feudatory of Lahore kingdom
in 1846. He entered into a treaty with the East India Company in March
1846 as a result of which the British recognized him as dejure master of
all the hill territories of Lahore Kingdom lying to the east of the Indus
and west of the Ravi. This territory was taken over by the British after
the first Anglo-Punjab war of 1845 in lieu of war indemnity of Rs.75 lakh
which Lahore Durbar was not in a position to pay.
was already de-facto master of all this territory excepting Kashmir Valley
which was a separate province of Lahore Kingdom.
the only real acquisition of Gulab Singh as a result of this treaty was
Kashmir. That is why it is alleged by his critics that he purchased Kashmir
for Rs.75 lakhs from the British. But this is not correct. The British
at that time were in no position to dislodge Gulab Singh and annex this
territory to their expanding empire. Gulab Singh had to wage a war against
the Governor of Kashmir who under secret instruction from Lahore Durbar,
refused to hand over Kashmir to him. He therefore got Kashmir by force
background of Kashmir Valley, the real bone of contention between India
and Pakistan, is of vital importance for proper understanding of Kashmir
problems. It points to certain realities which are vital for arriving at
a durable settlement of this problem.
its geographical situation, Kashmir valley has a distinct geo-political
identity different from the territories surrounding it across the Himalayan
ranges, which remain snow bound and impassable for four to six months in
a year. That is why it has always been a separate kingdom or a separate
province of the various Indian empires of which it become a part in course
of history. Some of its rulers like Lalitaditya did extend their way to
the territories beyond the surrounding mountains for some time. But that
did not in any way affect the distinct identity and character of Kashmir
valley as such.
reality to be noted is that Kashmir has always been a part of the Indian
state system. Geography, history and culture have made it an inseparable
part of Bharat-Khand and Jambu-Dweep now called Hindustan or India.
The third fact
to be kept in mind is that even though Kashmir came under Muslim rule and
most of its people were forcibly converted to Islam it never got completely
cut-off from its Indo-vedic cultural moorings. Islam sat rather lightly
on its people who continued to cherish their pre-Islamic culture and way
of life till recently. Their links with the rest of Hindustan were never
snapped. Its holy shrines like Amarnath cave and Holy springs like Mattan
and Khir Bhavani continue to attract pilgrims from all over Hindustan.
These links were reinforced during 30 years of Sikh rule and 100 years
of Dogra rule. Jammu and Kashmir was one of the 500 and odd princely states
of India before the British left it for good in 1947.
affinity of Kashmir with the rest of India is evident from its language,
art, literature and architecture. All its mosques still look like Buddhist
Gompas and temples. None of them has minaret which is an essential feature
of mosque architecture all over the world. The only mosque with a minaret
in Arab-Persian style was built by Sheik Abdullah at Hazratbal around 1980.
Most of the Muslim saints of Kashmir are still called "rishis." Kashmiri
language, which is directly derived from Sanskrit, was written in Sharda
script, a form of Devnagari script till Persian script was imposed on it
by Muslim rulers.
which have made Kashmir a storm centre of the world and dragged it into
the vertex of international power politics, are directly connected with
the developments in and about Jammu and Kashmir state of which it became
a part in 1846. Therefore, the story of the making of Jammu and Kashmir
state, its relations with the rest of India and British Government and
recent socio-political developments in it are very relevant and important
for any study of genesis of the Kashmir problem and its changing contours
and dimensions over the years.