1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kashmir

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KASHMIR, or Cashmere, a native state of India, including much of the Himalayan mountain system to the north of the Punjab. It has been fabled in song for its beauty (e.g. in Moore’s Lalla Rookh), and is the chief health resort for Europeans in India, while politically it is important as guarding one of the approaches to India on the north-west frontier. The proper name of the state is Jammu and Kashmir, and it comprises in all an estimated area of 80,900 sq. m., with a population (1901) of 2,905,578, showing an increase of 14.21% in the decade. It is bounded on the north by some petty hills chiefships and by the Karakoram mountains; on the east by Tibet; and on the south and west by the Punjab and North-West Frontier provinces. The state is in direct political subordination to the Government of India, which is represented by a resident. Its territories comprise the provinces of Jammu (including the jagir of Punch), Kashmir, Ladakh, Baltistan and Gilgit; the Shin states of Yaghistan, of which the most important are Chilas, Darel and Tangir, are nominally subordinate to it, and the two former pay a tribute of gold dust. The following are the statistics for the main divisions of the state:—

 Area in sq. m.   Pop. in 1901.
Jammu 5,223 1,521,307
Kashmir 7,922 1,157,394
Frontier Districts  443 226,877

The remainder of the state consists of uninhabited mountains, and its only really important possessions are the districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

Physical Conformation.—The greater portion of the country is mountainous, and with the exception of a strip of plain on the south-west, which is continuous with the great level of the Punjab, may be conveniently divided into the following regions:

(1) The outer hills and the central mountains of Jammu district.
(2) The valley of Kashmir.
(3) The far side of the great central range, including Ladakh, Baltistan and Gilgit.

The hills in the outer region of Jammu, adjoining the Punjab plains, begin with a height of 100 to 200 ft., followed by a tract of rugged country, including various ridges running nearly parallel, with long narrow valleys between. The average height of these ridges is from 3000 to 4000 ft. The central mountains are commonly 8000 to 10,000 ft., covered with pasture or else with forest. Then follow the more lofty mountain ranges, including the region of perpetual snow. A great chain of snowy mountains branching off south-east and north-west divides the drainage of the Chenab and the Jhelum rivers from that of the higher branches of the Indus. It is within spurs from this chain that the valley of Kashmir is enclosed amid hills which rise from 14,000 to 15,000 ft., while the valley itself forms a cup-like basin at an elevation of 5000 to 6000 ft. All beyond that great range is a wide tract of mountainous country, bordering the north-western part of Tibet and embracing Ladakh, Baltistan and Gilgit.

The length of the Kashmir valley, including the inner slopes of its surrounding hills, is about 120 m. from north-west to south-east with a maximum width of about 75 m. The low and comparatively level floor of the basin is 84 m. long and 20 to 24 m. broad.

The hills forming the northern half-circuit of the Kashmir valley, and running beyond, include many lofty mountain masses and peaks, the most conspicuous of which, a little outside the confines of Kashmir, is Nanga Parbat, the fourth highest mountain in the world, 26,656 ft. above the sea, with an extensive area of glacier on its eastern face. The great ridge which is thrown off to the south-west by Nanga Parbat rises, at a distance of 12 m., to another summit 20,740 ft. in height, from which run south-west, and south-east the ridges which are the northern watershed boundary of Kashmir. The former range, after running 70 m. south-west, between the valleys of the Kishenganga and the Kunhar or Nain-sukh, turns southward, closely pressing the river Jhelum, after it has received the Kishenganga, with a break a few miles farther south which admits the Kunhar. This range presents several prominent summits, the highest two 16,487 and 15,544 ft. above the sea. The range which runs south-east from the junction peak above mentioned divides the valley of the Kishenganga from that of the Astor and other tributaries of the Indus. The highest point on this range, where it skirts Kashmir, is 17,202 ft. above the sea. For more than 50 m. from Nanga Parbat there are no glaciers on this range; thence eastward they increase; one, near the Zoji-la pass, is only 10,850 ft. above the sea. The mountains at the east end of the valley, running nearly north and south, drain inwards to the Jhelum, and on the other side to the Wardwan, a tributary of the Chenab. The highest part of this eastern boundary is 14,700 ft. There no are glaciers. The highest point on the Panjal range, which forms the south and south-west boundary, is 15,523 ft. above the sea.

The river Jhelum (q.v.) or Behat (Sanskrit (Vitasta)—the Hydaspes of Greek historians and geographers—flows north-westward through the middle of the valley. After a slow and winding course it expands about 25 m. below Srinagar, over a slight depression in the plain, and forms the Wular lake and marsh, which is about 121/2 m. by 5 m. in extent, and surrounded by the lofty mountains which tower over the north and north-east of the valley. Leaving the lake on the south-west side, near the town of Sopur, the river pursues its sluggish course south-westward, about 18 m. to the gorge at Baramulla. From this point the stream is more rapid through the narrow valley which conducts it westward 75 m. to Muzaffarabad, where it turns sharply south, joined by the Kishenganga. At Islamabad, about 40 m. above Srinagar, the river is 5400 ft. above sea-level, and at Srinagar 5235 ft. It has thus a fall of about 4 ft. per mile in this part of its course. For the next 24 m. to the Wular lake, and thence to Baramulla, its fall is only about 21/4 ft. in the mile. On the 80 m. of the river in the flat valley between Islamabad and Baramulla, there is much boat traffic; but none below Baramulla, till the river comes out into the plains.

On the north-east side of this low narrow plain of the Jhelum is a broad hilly tract between which and the higher boundary range runs the Kishenganga River. Near the east end of this interior hilly tract, and connected with the higher range, is one summit 17,839 ft. Around this peak and between the ridges which run from it are many small glaciers. These heights look down on one side into the beautiful valley of the Sind River, and on another into the valley of the Lidar, which join the Jhelum. Among the hills north of Srinagar rises one conspicuous mountain mass, 16,903 ft. in height, from which on its north side descend tributaries of the Kishenganga, and on the south the Wangat River, which flows into the Sind. By these rivers and their numerous affluents the whole valley of Kashmir is watered abundantly.

Around the foot of many spurs of the hills which run down on the Kashmir plain are pieces of low table-land, called karéwa. These terraces vary in height at different parts of the valley from 100 to 300 ft. above the alluvial plain. Those which are near each other are mostly about the same level, and separated by deep ravines. The level plain in the middle of the Kashmir valley consists of fine clay and sand, with water-worn pebbles. The karewas consist of horizontal beds of clay and sand, the lacustrine nature of which is shown by the shells which they contain.

Two passes lead northward from the Kashmir valley, the Burzil (13,500 ft.) and the Kamri (14,050). The Burzil is the main pass between Srinagar and Gilgit via Astor. It is usually practicable only between the middle of July and the middle of September. The road from Srinagar to Lehin Ladakh follows the Sind valley to the Zoji-la-pass (11,300 ft.) Only a short piece of the road, where snow accumulates, prevents this pass being used all the year. At the south-east end of the valley are three passes, the Margan (11,500 ft.), the Hoksar (13,315) and the Marbal (11,500), leading to the valleys of the Chenab and the Ravi. South of Islamabad, on the direct route to Jammu and Sialkot, is the Banihal pass (9236 ft.). Further west on the Panjal range is the Pir Panjal or Panchal pass (11,400 ft.), with a second pass, the Rattan Pir (8200 ft.), across a second ridge about 15 m. south-west of it. Between the two passes is the beautifully situated fort of Baramgali. This place is in the domain of the raja of Punch, cousin and tributary of the maharaja of Kashmir. At Rajaori, south of these passes, the road divides: one line leads to Bhimber and Gujrat, the other to Jammu and Sialkot by Aknur. South-west of Baramulla is the Haji Pir pass (8500 ft.), which indicates the road to Punch. From Punch one road leads down to the plains at the town of Jhelum, another eastward through the hills to the Rattan Pir pass and Rajaori. Lastly, there is the river pass of the Jhelum, which is the easy route from the valley westward, having two ways down to the plains, one by Muzaffarabad and the Hazara valley to Hasan Abdal, the other by the British hill station of Murree to Rawalpindi.

Geology.—The general strike of the beds, and of the folds which have affected them, is from N.W. to S.E., parallel to the mountain ranges. Along the south-western border lies the zone of Tertiary beds which forms the Sub-Himalayas. Next to this is a great belt of Palaeozoic rocks, through which rise the granite, gneiss and schist of the Zanskar and Dhauladhar ranges and of the Pir Panjal. In the midst of the Palaeozoic area lie the alluvium and Pleistocene deposits of the Srinagar valley, and the Mesozoic and Carboniferous basin of the upper part of the Sind valley. Beyond the great Palaeozoic belt is a zone of Mesozoic and Tertiary beds which commences at Kargil and extends south-eastward past the Kashmir boundary to Spiti and beyond. Finally, in Baltistan and the Ladakh range there is a broad zone composed chiefly of gneiss and schist of ancient date.

The oldest fossils found belong either to the Ordovician or Silurian systems. But it is not until the Carboniferous is reached that fossils become at all abundant (so far as is yet known). The Mesozoic deposits belong chiefly to the Trias and Jura, but Cretaceous beds have been found near the head of the Tsarap valley. The Tertiary system includes representatives of all the principal divisions recognized in other parts of the Himalayas.

Climate.—The valley of Kashmir, sheltered from the south-west monsoon by the Panjal range, has not the periodical rains of India. Its rainfall is irregular, greatest in the spring months. Occasional storms in the monsoon pass over the crests of the Panjal and give heavy rain on the elevated plateaus on the Kashmir side. And again clouds pass over the valley and are arrested by the higher hills on the north-east side. Snow falls on the surrounding hills at intervals from October to March. In the valley the first snow generally falls about the end of December, but never to any great amount. The hottest months are July, August and the greater part of September, during which the noon shade temperature varies from 85° to 90° and occasionally 95º at Srinagar, probably the hottest place in the valley. The coldest months are January and February, when for several weeks the average minimum temperature is about 15º below freezing. As a health resort the province, excluding Srinagar, which is insanitary and relaxing, has no rival anywhere in the neighbourhood of India. Its climate is admirably adapted to the European constitution, and in consequence of the varied range of temperature and the facility of moving about the visitor is enabled with ease to select places at elevations most congenial to him. Formerly only 200 passes a year were issued by the government, but now no restriction is placed on visitors, and their number increases annually. European sportsmen and travellers, in addition to residents of India, resort there freely. The railway to Rawalpindi, and a driving road thence to Srinagar make the valley easy of access. When the temperature in Srinagar rises at the beginning of June, there is a general exodus to Gulmarg, which has become a fashionable hill-station. This great influx of visitors has resulted in a corresponding diminution of game. Special game preservation rules have been introduced, and nullahs are let out for stated periods with a restriction on the number of head to be shot. The wild animals of the country include ibex, markhor, oorial, the Kashmir stag, and black and brown bears. Many sportsmen now cross into Ladakh and the Pamirs.

People.—The great majority of the inhabitants of Kashmir are professedly Mahommedans, but their conversion to the faith of Islam is comparatively recent and they are still strongly influenced by their ancient superstitions. At the census of 1901 out of a total population in the whole state of 2,905,578, there were 2,154,695 Mahommedans, 689,073 Hindus, 35,047 Buddhists and 25,828 Sikhs. The Hindus are mostly found in Jammu, and the Buddhists are confined to Ladakh. In Kashmir proper the few Hindus (60,682) are almost all Brahmans, known as Pundits. Superstition has made the Kashmiri timid; tyranny has made him a liar; while physical disasters have made him selfish and pessimistic. Up to recent times the cultivator lived under a system of begar, which entitled an official to take either labour or commodities free of payment from the villages. Having no security of property, the people had no incentive to effort, and with no security for life they lost the independence of free men. But the land settlement of 1889 swept all these abuses away. Restrictive monopolies, under which bricks, lime, paper and certain other manufactures were closed to private enterprise, were abolished. The results of the settlement are thus enumerated by Sir Walter Lawrence: “Little by little, confidence has sprung up. Land which had no value in 1889 is now eagerly sought after by all classes. Cultivation has extended and improved. Houses have been rebuilt and repaired, fields fenced in, orchards planted, vegetable gardens well stocked and new mills constructed. Women no longer are seen toiling in the fields, for their husbands are now at home to do the work, and the long journeys to Gilgit are a thing of the past. When the harvest is ripe the peasant reaps it at his own good time, and not a soldier ever enters the villages.” In consequence of this improvement in their conditions of life and of the influx of wealth into the country brought by visitors, the Kashmiri grows every year in material prosperity and independence of character. The Kashmir women have a reputation for beauty which is not altogether deserved, but the children are always pretty.

The language spoken in Kashmir is akin to that of the Punjab, though marked by many peculiarities. It possesses an ancient literature, which is written in a special character (see Kashmiri).

Natural Calamities.—The effect of physical calamities partly incidental to the climate of Kashmir, upon the character of its inhabitants has been referred to. The list includes fires, floods, earthquakes, famines and cholera. The ravages of fire are chiefly felt in Srinagar, where the wood houses and their thatched roofs fall an easy prey to the flames. The national habit of carrying a kangar, or small brazier, underneath the clothes for the purpose of warming the body, is a fruitful cause of fires. Srinagar is said to have been burnt down eighteen times. Many disastrous floods are recorded, the greatest being the terrible inundation which followed the slipping of the Khadanyar mountain below Baramula in A.D. 879. The channel of the Jhelum river was blocked and a large part of the valley submerged. In 1841 a serious flood caused great damage to life and property; there was another in 1893, when six out of the seven bridges in Srinagar were washed away, 25,426 acres under crops were submerged and 2225 houses were wrecked; another flood occurred in July 1903, when the bund between the Dal Lake and the canal gave way, and the lake rose 10 ft. in half an hour. Between two and three thousand houses in and around Srinagar collapsed, while over 40 miles of the tonga road were submerged. Since the 15th century eleven great earthquakes have occurred, all of long duration and accompanied by great loss of life. During the 19th century there were four severe earthquakes, the last two occurring in 1864 and 1885, when some 3500 people were killed. Native historians record nineteen great famines, the last two occurring in 1831 and 1877. In 1878 it was reported that only two-fifths of the total population of the valley survived. During the 19th century also there were ten epidemics of cholera, all more or less disastrous, while the worst (in 1892) was probably the last. During that year 5781 persons died in Srinagar and 5931 in the villages. The centre of infection is generally supposed to be the squalid capital of Srinagar, and some efforts to improve its sanitation have been made of recent years.

Crops.—The staple crop of the valley is rice, which forms the chief food of the people. Indian corn comes next; wheat, barley and oats are also grown. Every kind of English vegetable thrives well, especially asparagus, artichoke, seakale, broad beans, scarlet-runners, beetroot, cauliflower and cabbage. Fruit trees are met with all over the valley, wild but bearing fruit, and the cultivated orchards yield pears, apples, peaches, cherries, &c., equal to the best European produce. The chief trees are deodar, firs and pines, chenar or plane, maple, birch and walnut. There are state departments of viticulture, hops, horticulture and sericulture. A complete list of the flora and fauna of the valley will be found in Sir Walter Lawrence’s book on Kashmir.

Industries.—The chief industry of Srinagar was formerly the weaving of the celebrated Kashmir shawl, which dates back to the days of the emperor Baber. These shawls first became fashionable in Europe in the reign of Napoleon, when they fetched from £10 to £100; but the industry received a blow at the time of the Franco-German War, and the famine of 1877 scattered the weavers. The place of the Kashmir shawl has to some extent been taken by the Kashmir carpet, but the most thriving industry now is that of silk-weaving. Srinagar is also celebrated for its silver-work, papier mâché and wood-carving. The minerals and metals of the Jammu district are promising, and a company has been formed to work them. Coal of fair quality has been found, but the difficulties of transport interfere with its working.

History.—The metrical chronicle of the kings of Kashmir, called Rajatarangini, was pronounced by Professor H. H. Wilson to be the only Sanskrit composition yet discovered to which the title of history can with any propriety be applied. It first became known to the Mahommedans when, on Akbar’s invasion of Kashmir in 1588, a copy was presented to the emperor. A translation into Persian was made by his order, and a summary of its contents, from this Persian translation, is given by Abu’l Fazl in the Á’īn–i-Akbarī. The Rajataranginī, the first of a series of four Sanskrit histories, was written about the middle of the 12th century by P. Kalhana. His work, in six books, makes use of earlier writings now lost. Commencing with traditional history of very early times, it comes down to the reign of Sangrama Deva, 1006; the second work, by Jonaraja, takes up the history in continuation of Kalhana’s, and, entering the Mahommedan 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, 1486. And the fourth work, called Rājāvalipataka, by Prajnia Bhatta, completes the history to the time of the incorporation of Kashmir in the dominions of the Mogul emperor Akbar, 1588.

In the Rājātarangini it is stated that the valley of Kashmir was formerly a lake, and that it was drained by the great rishi or sage, Kasyapa, son of Marichi, son of Brahma, by cutting the gap in the hills at Baramulla (Varaha-mula). When Kashmir had been drained, he brought in the Brahmans to occupy it. 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 Kasyapa 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 Kasyapa-pur—a name which has been plausibly identified with the Κασπάπυρος of Hecataeus (Steph. Byz., s.v.) and Κασπάπυρος of Herodotus (iii. 102, iv. 44). Kashmir is the country meant also by Ptolemy’s Κασπήρια. The ancient name Kasyapa-pur was applied to the kingdom of Kashmir when it comprehended great part of the Punjab and extended beyond the Indus. In the 7th century Kashmir is said by the Chinese traveller Hsuan Tsang to have included Kabul and the Punjab, and the hill region of Gandhara, the country of the Gandarae of classical geography.

At an early date the Sanskrit name of the country became Kásmír. The earliest inhabitants, according to the Rajatarangini, were the people called Naga, a word which signifies “snake.” The history shows the prevalence in early times of tree and serpent worship, of which some sculptured stones found in Kashmir still retain the memorials. The town of Islamabad is called also by its ancient name Anant-nag (“eternal snake”). The source of the Jhelum is at Vir-nag (the powerful snake), &c. The other races mentioned as inhabiting this country and the neighbouring hills are Gandhari, Khasa and Daradae. The Khasa people are supposed to have given the name Kasmir. In the Mahabharata the Kasmira and Daradae are named together among the Kshattriya races of northern India. The question whether, in the immigration of the Aryans into India, Kashmir was taken on the way, or entered afterwards by that people after they had reached the Punjab from the north-west, appears to require an answer in favour of the latter view (see vol. ii. of Dr J. Muir’s Sanskrit Texts). The Aryan races of Kashmir and surrounding hills, which have at the present time separate geographical distribution, are given by Mr Drew as Kashmírí (mostly Mahommedan), in the Kashmir basin and a few scattered places outside; Dard (mostly Mahommedan) in Gilgit and hills north of Kashmir; Dogra (Hindu) in Jamma; Dogra (Mahommedan, called Chibāli) in Punch and hill country west of Kashmir; Pahāri or mountaineers (Hindu) in Kishtwar, east of Kashmir, and hills about the valley of the Chenab.

In the time of Asoka, about 245 B.C., one of the Indian Buddhist missions was sent to Kashmir and Gandhara. After his death Brahmanism revived. Then in the time of the three Kushan princes, Huvishḳa, Jushka and Kanishka, who ruled over Kashmir about the beginning of the Christian era, Buddhism was to a great extent restored, though for several centuries the two religions existed together in Kashmir, Hinduism predominating. Yet Kashmir, when Buddhism was gradually losing its hold, continued to send Buddhist teachers to other lands. In this Hindu-Buddhist period, and chiefly between the 5th and 10th centuries of the Christian era, were erected the Hindu temples in Kashmir. In the 6th and 7th centuries Kashmir was visited by some of the Chinese Buddhist pilgrims to India. The country is called Shie-mi in the narrative of To Yeng and Sung Yun (578). One of the Chinese travellers of the next century was for a time an elephant-tamer to the king of Kashmir. Hsuan Tsang spent two years (631-633) in Kashmir (Kia-chí-mí-lo). He entered by Baramula and left by the Pir Panjal pass. He describes the hill-girt valley, and the abundance of flowers and fruits, and he mentions the tradition about the lake. He found in Kashmir many Buddhists as well as Hindus. In the following century the kings of Kashmir appear to have paid homage and tribute to China, though this is not alluded to in the Kashmir chronicle. Hindu kings continued to reign till about 1294, when Udiana Deva was put to death by his Mahommedan vizier, Amir Shah, who ascended the throne under the name of Shams-ud-din.

Of the Mahommedan rulers mentioned in the Sanskrit chronicles, one, who reigned about the close of the 14th century, has made his name prominent by his active opposition to the Hindu religion, and his destruction of temples. This was Sikandar, known as But-shikan, or the “idol-breaker.” It was in his time that India was invaded by Timur, to whom Sikandar made submission and paid tribute. The country fell into the hands of the Moguls in 1588. In the time of Alamgir it passed to Ahmad Shah Durani, on his third invasion of India (1756); and from that time it remained in the hands of Afghans till it was wrested from them by Ranjit Singh, the Sikh monarch of the Punjab, in 1819. Eight Hindu and Sikh governors under Ranjit Singh and his successors were followed by two Mahommedans similarly appointed, the second of whom, Shekh Imam-ud-din, was in charge when the battles of the first Sikh war 1846 brought about new relations between the British Government and the Sikhs.

Gulab Singh, a Dogra Rajput, had from a humble position been raised to high office by Ranjit Singh, who conferred on him the small principality of Jammu. On the final defeat of the Sikhs at Sobraon (February 1846), Gulab Singh was called to take a leading part in arranging conditions of peace. The treaty of Lahore (March 9, 1846) sets forth that, the British Government having demanded, in addition to a certain assignment of territory, a payment of a crore and a half of rupees (11/2 millions sterling), and the Sikh government being unable to pay the whole, the maharaja (Dhulip Singh) cedes, as equivalent for one crore, the hill country belonging to the Punjab between the Beas and the Indus, including Kashmir and Hazara. The governor-general, Sir Henry Hardinge, considered it expedient to make over Kashmir to the Jammu chief, securing his friendship while the British government was administering the Punjab on behalf of the young maharaja. Gulab Singh was well prepared to make up the payment in default of which Kashmir was ceded to the British; and so, in consideration of his services in restoring peace, his independent sovereignty of the country made over to him was recognized, and he was admitted to a separate treaty. Gulab Singh had already, after several extensions of territory east and west of Jammu, conquered Ladakh (a Buddhist country, and till then subject to Lhasa), and had then annexed Skardo, which was under independent Mahommedan rulers. He had thus by degrees half encircled Kashmir, and by this last addition his possessions attained nearly their present form and extent. Gulab Singh died in 1857, and was succeeded by his son, Ranbir Singh, who died in 1885. The next ruler, Maharaja Partab Singh, G.C.S.I. (b. 1850), immediately on his accession inaugurated the settlement reforms already described. His rule was remarkable for the reassertion of the Kashmir sovereignty over Gilgit (q.v.). Kashmir imperial service troops participated in the Black Mountain expedition of 1891, the Hunza Nagar operations of 1891, and the Tirah campaign of 1897–1898. The total revenue of the state is about £666,000.

See Drew, Jammu and Kashmir (1875); M. A. Stein, Kalhana’s Rajatarangini (1900); W. R. Lawrence, The Valley of Kashmir (1895); Colonel A. Durand, The Making of a Frontier (1899); R. Lydekker, “The Geology of the Kashmir and Chamba Territories,” Records of the Geological Survey of India, vol. xxii. (1883); J. Duke, Kashmir Handbook (1903). (T. H. H.*)