It is hard to imagine that Kashmir, one of the most beautiful places on earth and inhabited by a peaceful populace, could be the bone of contention between India and Pakistan. Unlike similar disputed territories around the world, the main reason that Kashmir is at the centre of strife has more to do with political reasons than with religious ideology, despite the fact that has been a melting pot of different religious faiths.
- GANDHARA ORIGIN
Gandhara has been proto-historically linked to Kashmir because of the Jhelum Valley Route which began from Hazara and stopped at Baramulla. This route was said to be the easiest way into Kashmir and was left open throughout the year. Among the territories that Gulab Singh bought from the Britons in 1846, the Hazara-Puklee was one of them. Gulab Singh later surrendered the route to the Punjab state and in return gained ownership of regions including Minawar, Kathua and Suchetgarh.
Unfortunately, In the beginning of 14th century, a ferocious Mongol warlord, Dulucha, invaded the valley through its northern side Zojila Pass, with an army of 60,000 men. His savage attack ended for all purposes the Hindu rule in Kashmir and he is said to have destroyed many temples and killed thousands of Hindus. Muslim rule was further tightened in 1389, during the rule of Sultan-Sikandar. He banned all celebrations and would not even listen to music. He imposed Jizia (tax on Infidels) upon Hindus and stopped them to use tilak. Almost all the Muslim chroniclers of that time speak of the wholesale destruction of Hindu shrines including the famed ‘Martand’ Temple, and forcible conversion of Hindus to Islam. Thousands of Hindus fled to India to save their religion and holy books, and also to escape the wrath of the Sultan.
- ASHOKA ‘S MIRROR
The conquest of Emperor Ashoka (273-232 B.C.) marks the beginning of Kashmir’s proto-history. Chandragupta Maurya was the father of Ashoka and lived in the district of Mainwali in West Punjab. His invasion of Punjab began from Gandhara, the land between Peshawar and Rawalpindi. Stories of his attacks and invasions in this region have been inscribed in the Kharoshti script. Gandhara was also used by many Buddhists to enter into the state of Kashmir during Ashoka’s reign. It is believed that people belonging to Central Asian Regions like Indo-Greeks, Kushans, Sakas and Huns occupied Kashmir after Ahsoka’s rule, and archaeological evidence has been unearthing to support this belief. The new occupants first strengthened their hold over Gandhara before finally entering into Kashmir. Known in history as the white Hun, Mihirkula (528 A.D.) was a powerful man and first strengthened his hold over Sialkote before invading Kashmir and beginning a kingdom there. He was known to be a worshiper of the Sun.
- HOW KASHMIR GOT ITS NAME
Legends have it that Rishi Kashyapa, the saint of antiquity, reclaimed the land of the Kashmir valley from a vast lake known as “Satisar”, after the goddess Sati, the consort of Lord Shiva.
In ancient times, this land was called “Kashyapamar” (after Kashyapa), but later that became Kashmir. The ancient Greeks called it “Kasperia,” and the Chinese pilgrim Hiun-Tsang who visited the valley in the 7th century AD called it “Kashimilo.”
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.
- KASHMIR: A MAJOR HUB OF HINDU & BUDDHIST CULTURE
The earliest recorded history of Kashmir by Kalhan begins at the time of the Mahabharata war. In the 3rd century BC, Emperor Ashoka introduced Buddhism in the valley, and Kashmir became a major hub of Hindu culture by the 9th century AD. It was the birthplace of the Hindu sect called Kashmiri ‘Shaivism’, and a haven for the greatest Sanskrit scholars.
- KASHMIR UNDER MUSLIM INVADERS
Several Hindu sovereigns ruled the land until 1346, the year marking the beginning of Muslim invaders. During this time, many Hindu shrines were destroyed, and Hindus were forced to embrace Islam.
The Mughals ruled Kashmir from 1587 to 1752–a period of peace and order. This was followed by a dark period (1752-1819) when Afghan despots ruled Kashmir. The Muslim period, which lasted for about 500 years, came to an end with the annexation of Kashmir to the Sikh kingdom of Punjab in 1819.