Jammu and Kashmir is the northernmost state of India. It has special autonomy under Article 370 of Constitution of India. Jammu and Kashmir is the fifth largest among the states of India with a total area of 222,236 km2.
|Symbols of Jammu & Kashmir|
|Official Language: Urdu
Bird: Black-necked crane
Tree: Chinar tree
“Kashmir” means “dry land”, however, Rajatarangini, says that Kashmir valley was formerly a lake. Hindu mythology says that the lake was drained by great sage, Kashyapa, by cutting the gap in hills at Baramulla, to inhabit the population in the region. This story has ground as still we can see this local tradition. Kashyapa-pura, the major town of ancient Kashmir, has also been identified with Hecataeus‘ Kaspapyros and Herodotus‘ Kaspatyros. With the passage of time, the name was corrupted and became “Kashmir”. Later, a famous mountain range got it’s name when Panchalas started ruling over the region. However, Muslims prefixed the word Peer to it in memory of Siddha Faqir and the name corrupted and changed into Peer Panjal. Panjal is simply a distorted form of Sanskritic tribal term Panchala.
Kambojas ruled Kashmir during the epic period of Mahabharata. Rajapura, the capital city of Kambojas, has now been identified as modern Rajauri.
Jammu was founded by Raja Jambu Lochan in 14th century BC. He set up a town, named as Jamboo. With the passage of time, the name was corrupted and changed to “Jammu”.
Burzahom hosts the earliest Neolithic and Megalithic sites which dates back to c. 3000 BCE. During the later Vedic period the Uttara–Kurus settled in Kashmir.
Porus was defeated by Alexander in 326 BC in the Battle of Hydaspes. During the reign of Ashoka, Kashmir became a part of Mauryan empire. Buddhism was introduced in Kashmir during that time. Srinagar is also the establishment of that time. Later, Kanishka take-over the Kashmir region. He also promoted the Buddhism in Kashmir. Kashmiri Buddhist missionaries helped spread Buddhism to Tibet and China from the fifth century CE.
In eighth century, Kashmir grew as an imperial power under the Karkotas. Lalitaditya Muktapida of this dynasty was strongest ruler. Utpala dynasty followed the Kakrotas. Tantrins became very powerful in Kashmir due to political instability in 10th century, however, they were defeated by Chakravarman. Queen Didda took over as the ruler in second half of 10th century. After her death, the throne passed to Lohara dynasty.
Zulju (Dulacha) deprived the Lohara dynasty from the rule. Rinchan established himself as the ruler after Zulju. Rinchana’s conversion to Islam is a subject of Kashmiri folklore. After his death, Shah Mir secured the Muslim rule in Kashmir. In fourteenth century, Islam gradually became the dominant religion in Kashmir. Muslim rulers between 1354–1470 CE were tolerant of other religions with the exception of Sultan Sikandar. By the mid sixteenth century, Hindu influence in the courts had declined as Muslim missionaries immigrated into Kashmir. Persian replaced Sanskrit as the official language.
Muhammad Haidar Dughlat invaded Kashmir in c. 1540 CE on behalf of Humayun. However, the direct rule of Mughals to Kasmir was imposed by Akbar, after 1589 CE. Kashmir was added to Mughal’s Kabul Subah in 1586, but later Shah Jahan carved it out as a separate subah. Many celebrated gardens, mosques and palaces were constructed during the Mughal rule in Kashmir. After the death of Aurangzeb, the influence of the Mughal Empire declined. Nadir Shah’s invasion of India in 1738 CE further weakened Mughal control over Kashmir.
In 1753, Durrani Empire attacked and ruled over the Kashmir. Afghan rule in Kashmir was extremely cruel and oppressive, particularly for the Hindus. Locals were forced into slavery during this period. Dominance of Afghans declined after Ahmed Shah Abdali’s death in 1772, but they ruled Kashmir for another 47 years.
After the four centuries of Muslim rule, in 1819, the control of Kashmir valley passed to the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh. However, the Sikh governors turned out to be hard taskmasters like Afghans, protected perhaps by the remoteness of Kashmir from capital of Sikh Empire in Lahore.
In 1845, the First Anglo-Sikh War broke out, and Gulab Singh appeared as a useful mediator and trusted advisor of Sir Henry Lawrence. Two treaties were concluded then. By the first the State of Lahore handed over to the British. By the second, all the hilly or mountainous country situated to the east of Indus and west of Ravi” (i.e. the Vale of Kashmir), the British made over to Gulab Singh. Dogras’ loyalty came in handy to the Britishers during the revolt of 1857. Dogras refused to provide sanctuary to mutineers and allowed Britishers to seek asylum in Kashmir. In return, Dogra rule established in Kashmir. The Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu was constituted between 1820 and 1858.
At the time of Indian Independence in 1947, Hari Singh was the reigning monarch. After the Poonch rebels, region was declared as “Azad” Kashmir. However, the rulers of region were encouraged to merge their States into either India or Pakistan. To postpone making a hurried decision, the Maharaja signed a standstill agreement with Pakistan, which ensured continuity of trade, travel etc between the two. Such an agreement was pending with India. Soon the pakistani leaders started instigating the locals and tribesmen for looting and killings. The ostensible aim of the guerilla campaign was to frighten Hari Singh into submission. Instead the Maharaja appealed to Government of India for assistance, signing on accession of the state with India. Indian soldiers entered the Kashmir then and drove the Pakistan-sponsored irregulars from all but a small section of state. India accepted the accession. Kashmir leader Sheikh Abdullah endorsed the accession as ad-hoc which would be ultimately decided by the people of State. However, the Pakistani government was not agreed on this accession.
In 1948, on the sought of India, United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) was set-up to a resolve the Kashmir Conflict. UNCIP, on 5 January 1949 through a resolution, stated that accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through a free and impartial plebiscite. India insisted that no referendum could occur until all of the state had been cleared of pakistani irregulars. Since the plebiscite demanded by UN was never conducted, relations between India and Pakistan soured, and eventually led to three more wars over Kashmir in 1965, 1971 and 1999. India now has control of about half the area of former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir; Pakistan controls a third of region.
The eastern region of the state has also been beset with a boundary dispute. In the late 19th-and early 20th centuries, although some boundary agreements were signed between Great Britain, Afghanistan and Russia over the northern borders of Kashmir, China never accepted these agreements. China has occupied Aksai Chin (the north-east portion of Ladakh) since 1962 and, in addition, an adjoining region, the Trans-Karakoram Tract was ceded by Pakistan to China in 1965.
Because of Jammu and Kashmir’s wide range of elevations, its biogeography is diverse. State is the home to several valleys. The main Kashmir Valley is 15,520.3 km2 in area. Himalayas divide the Kashmir valley from Ladakh while the Pir Panjal range separates it from Northern Plains.
Jammu and Kashmir is the fifth largest among the states of India with a total area of 222,236 km2. State is bordered by Tibet in the east, by the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab in south, and by Pakistan in the west. Towards the North Western side, Afghanistan is located.
Jammu and Kashmir can be divided in four regions- Jammu; Kashmir (including PoK); northern areas of Gilgit-Baltistan and Ladakh (including Aksai Chin). Due to some land disputes, in order of percentages, 48% of the territory is under Indian occupation, 35% is under Pakistan and rest 17% is under the control of China.
Jammu and Kashmir’s economy is mainly dependent on agriculture and allied activities. The Kashmir valley is famous for its sericulture, cold-water fisheries, Kashmir Willow etc. World renowned Kashmiri saffron brings handsome amount of foreign exchange to the state. Agricultural exports from Jammu and Kashmir include apples, barley, cherries, corn, peaches, pears, saffron, sorghum etc while manufactured exports include handicrafts and rugs etc. Since the times of Sikh Empire, Kashmiri shawls became known to world wide. Horticulture, the next biggest source of income, produce from the state includes apples, apricots, cherries, pears, plums, almonds and walnuts.
Doda district has deposits of high-grade sapphire. Though small, the manufacturing and services sector is also growing. ASSOCHAM has identified several industrial sectors, and accordingly, it is working with government to set up industrial parks and special economic zones. Jammu & Kashmir Bank, which is listed as a S&P CNX 500 conglomerate, is based in the state. The state is one of the largest recipients of grants from New Delhi, totaling US$812 million per year. It has a mere 4% incidence of poverty.
The tourism economy in Kashmir valley was worst hit after the insurgency intensified in 1989. However, the holy shrines of Hindus and Buddhist monasteries of Ladakh continue to remain popular. A number of foreign governments, like Canada & UK, permit their citizens with a number of exclusions and exceptions regarding travel in Jammu and Kashmir. Tourism in the Kashmir valley has rebounded in recent years. Gulmarg has the most popular ski resorts and world’s highest green golf course. It was reported that more than a million tourists visited Kashmir in 2011.
Ladakh is famous for its unique Indo-Tibetan culture, with chanting in Sanskrit and Tibetan language, annual masked dance festivals, weaving and archery etc. Ladakhi food has much in common with Tibetan food.
The Dumhal and Rouff are famous folk dances. Kashmir has been noted for its fine arts for centuries, including poetry and handicrafts. Shikaras and houseboats, an integral part of Kashmiri lifestyle, are common features in lakes and rivers across the Valley.
Jammu’s Dogra culture is very similar to that of neighboring states of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.
Gujjars, Gaddis and Bakkarwalas are nomadic pastoral people who move along the Himalayan slopes in search for pastures for their huge flocks of goats and sheep.
Education in the state is divided into primary, middle, high secondary, college and university level. JKBOSE handles the 10+2 education pattern for children. Several notable higher education or research institutes, including IIM & AIIMS at Jammu, NIT at Srinagar, Sher-i-Kashmir Institutes & Universities, and Central Universities of Jammu & Kashmir, are imparting the education throughout the state.
Jammu and Kashmir, consisting of three administrative divisions of Jammu, Kashmir Valley and Ladakh, is divided into 22 districts. Jammu and Kashmir is the only state in India having its own official state flag along with national flag and constitution. It also enjoys special autonomy under Article 370 of the Constitution of India. Like all other states, Jammu and Kashmir has a multi-party democratic system of governance with a bicameral legislature and 6-year term. State Assembly has total number of 111 seats, of which 87 are within Indian-administered territory. The Kashmir valley region has 46 seats, the Jammu region has 37 seats and the Ladakh region has 4 seats. State sends 10 members to Parliament of India, of which 4 to Rajya Sabha and 6 to Lok Sabha. Capital of the state is Jammu (October–March) and Srinagar (March–October).
In the 1901 Census of British Indian Empire, the population of the state was 2,905,578. Of these 2,154,695 were Muslims, 689,073 Hindus, 25,828 Sikhs, and 35,047 Buddhists. In Jammu, Hindus were a little less than 50%; in Kashmir Valley 5.24% and in the frontier wazarats of Ladhakh and Gilgit only 0.94% of total population.
According to the Indian census of 2011, total population of Jammu and Kashmir is 12,541,302 of which male and female are 6,640,662 and 5,900,640 respectively. Density of the state is recorded as 56 person/km2. In Jammu, Hindus are 62.55%; in Kashmir Valley 2.45% and in Ladhakh 12.11% of total population. There is a literacy rate of 67.16 % of which male and female are 76.75 % and 56.43 % respectively. Out of the total population of Jammu and Kashmir, 27.38% people live in urban regions while 72.62 % in rural areas.
An estimated 50,000-150,000 Kashmiri Muslims and 150,000-300,000 Kashmiri Pandits are internally displaced due to the violence.