According to the most popular legend that is also recorded in Rajtarangani and Nilmat Purana,
two most authoritative books, Kashmir was once a large lake and it was Kashyap Rishi who drained it off
the water, making it a beautiful abode. But geologists have their own theory, which says that geographical changes made way
for the outflow of water by subsidence of the mountain at Khadianayar, Baramulla and thus emerged the Valley of Kashmir, the paradise on earth.
Recorded history of Kashmir goes back
to about 2000 B.C. For about three quarters of its history, Kashmir has been an independent state though its area has been expanding and shrinking. It is known that Kashmir was invaded
several times from the dawn of history by the Aryans (3000 years ago), Mauryas (3rd century B.C.), Greeks and Scythians (2nd
century B.C.), Kushans (1st century B.C.), Huns (6th century A.D.), Mongols (1320), Turks (1324), Mughals (1587), Afghans
(1752), Sikhs (1819), Dogras (1846) and Indians (1947).
The history of Kashmir can be divided
into seven distinct periods.
(I)The Hindu period (from the beginning of Kashmiri’s history to 1339)
(II)The period of Muslim Sultans (1339–1586)
(III)The Mughal rule (1586–1752)
(IV)The Afghan rule (1752–1819)
(V)The Sikh rule (1819–1846)
(VI)The Dogra monarchy (1846–1947)
(VII)Kashmir after 1947
Ashoka introduced Buddhism to Kashmir in the 3rd century B.C., which was later strengthened by Kanishka. Huns got the control of the valley in the early
6th century. The Valley regained freedom in 530 AD but soon came under the rule of the Ujjain Empire. After the decline of
the Vikramaditya dynasty, the valley had its own rulers. There was a synthesis of Hindu and Buddhist cultures. Lalitaditya
(697-738 AD) extended his rule up to Bengal in the east,
Konkan in the south, Turkistan in the northwest and Tibet in the northeast. Considered as the most famous
Hindu ruler, Lalitaditya was known for constructing beautiful buildings. Throughout Hindu period, with the exception of two
brief intervals, Kashmir was free and there were times when its kings ruled
over large parts India and Afghanistan. Kashmir’s conquest by Ashoka in the middle of the
third century B.C. and by Emperor Kanishka of the Kushan Empire in the first century A.D were both short lived and at both
times Kashmir quickly regained its independence.
Islam came to Kashmir during 13th
and 14th century AD. The period of Muslim Sultans was the most glorious and golden age in the history of Kashmir. For a period of thousands of years, the country despite its exploitation
was independent and flourishing. Zain-ul-Abedin (1420-70) was the most famous Muslim ruler, who came to Kashmir when the Hindu king Sinha Dev fled before the Tatar invasion. Later
Chaks overran Haider Shah, son of Zain-ul-Abedin. They continued to rule till 1586.
The long history of independence was however broken over four hundred and fifty years ago when
some short-sighted politicians invited external interference and Mughal Emperor Akbar annexed Kashmir in Oct, 1586. Mughal emperors ruled Kashmir from 1586 to 1752 and the Durranis of Afghanistan at the time of Ahmed Shah Abdali established their rule over Kashmir from 1752 to 1819. The brutally oppressive Afghan occupation for 67
years was followed in 1819 by the Sikh rule from neighbouring Punjab. The Sikhs ruled Kashmir for 27 years and in 1846 the Sikhs were defeated
by the British and therefore had to relinquish their hold over Kashmir. The British ruled Kashmir, only on paper though, for one week (March 9 to 16,
1846). On 16 March, 1846
Kashmir and all the mountainous country east of the river Indus and west of the river Ravi which had been ceded to the British
government by the Sikhs by the way of indemnity was made over to the “Maharaja Gulab Singh Dogra and the male heirs
of his body" in exchange for a petty sum of three-quarters of a million pounds sterling paid down, and an annual tribute of
one horse, twelve goats and six pairs of shawls. When Gulab Singh, after signing the agreement went to Srinagar to capture the city, he was resisted by the Kashmiris. The governor
of Kashmir did not respect the treaty signed by the British
and Gulab Singh. A terrible battle took place between the Kashmiris and the Dogras in Srinagar. Hundreds of Dogra troops were killed and the rest of them made good their
escape to Jammu. Six months later Gulab Singh went again to Kashmir along with his British friends in the army and on the fateful day
of 9th November1846, Kashmir was captured. Between 1846–1947, known as
the Dogra period the state of Jammu and Kashmir including Ladakh, Baltistan and Gilgit were ruled by the Maharajas of the Dogra dynasty.
Gulab Singh and his successors ruled Kashmir in a tyrannical and repressive way. The people of Kashmir, nearly 80 per cent of who were Muslims, rose against Maharaja Hari Singh’s rule. He ruthlessly crushed a mass
uprising in 1931. In 1932, Sheikh Abdullah formed Kashmir’s first
political party—the All Jammu & Kashmir Muslim Conference (renamed as National Conference in 1939). Despite local
resistance the Dogras ruled Kashmir -as an independent princely state for about hundred
years- till 1947 when events in the Indian subcontinent overtook the events in Kashmir.
According to the instruments of partition of India, the rulers of princely states were given the choice to freely accede
to either India or Pakistan, or to remain independent. They were, however, advised to accede to
the contiguous dominion, taking into consideration the geographical and ethnic issues.
In 1947 the British relinquished their paramountcy over India. In Kashmir, however, the Maharaja hesitated but eventually gave way to the Indian pressure and agreed to
join India by signing the Instrument of Accession on 26 October
1947. Kashmir was provisionally accepted into the Indian Union pending a free and
impartial plebiscite. This was spelled out in a letter from the Governor General of India, Lord Mountbatten, to the Maharaja on 27 October
1947. In the letter, accepting
the accession, Mountbatten made it clear that the State would only be incorporated into the Indian Union after a reference
had been made to the people of Kashmir.
The newly created republics of India and Pakistan both vied for control over Kashmir. In the military conflict that followed in October 1947, one third (37%) of the Kashmir's territory was taken over by Pakistan and the rest (63%) was occupied by India. Indian occupied Kashmir enjoyed full internal autonomy for about 17 years after 1947 with its own president,
Prime minister, flag and national language etc. This autonomy was snatched gradually by India with the result that today it is worse than a mediaeval
type of colony under continuous Indian tyranny.