Great Britain. India Office.

Imperial gazetteer of India .. (Volume 15) online

. (page 12 of 50)
Online LibraryGreat Britain. India OfficeImperial gazetteer of India .. (Volume 15) → online text (page 12 of 50)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

the king gave his subjects some excellent advice. He warns them
against internal feuds, and says that if the forts are kept in repair and
provisioned they need fear no foe. In a country shut in by mountains,
discipline must be strict, and the cultivators must not be left with grain
more than sufficient for a year's requirements. Cultivators should not
be allowed to have more ploughs or cattle than are absolutely neces-
sary, or they will trespass on their neighbours' fields. They should
be repressed, and their style of living must be lower than that of the
city people, or the latter will suffer. These words spoken some 1,200
years ago have never been forgotten ; and rulers of various races and
religions have followed Lalitaditya's policy, and sternly subordinated
the interests of the cultivators to the comfort of the city.

Sankara Varman (883-902) was another great conqueror; and it is
stated that, though Kashmir had fallen off in population, he was able
to lead out an army of 900,000 foot, 300 elephants, and 100,000 horse.



Sankara Varman was avaricious and profligate. He plundered Paraspur
in order to raise the fame of his own town, now known as Pattan.

There were signs of decay, and the last of the strong Hindu rulers
was queen Didda (950-1003). Then followed the Lohara dynasty.
Central authority was weakened, the country was a prey to civil war
and violence, and the Damaras, skilled in burning, plundering, and
fighting, harassed the valley. The last of this line was Jaya Simha,
or Simha Deva (1128); and in his reign the Tartar, Khan Dalcha,
invaded Kashmir, and after great slaughter set fire to Srlnagar. He
subsequently perished in the passes on his retreat from Kashmir, over-
taken by snow. Ram Chand, the commander-in-chief of the Kashmir
army, had meanwhile kept up some semblance of authority in the
valley, and had routed the Gaddis from Kishtwar. With Ram Chand
were two soldiers of fortune, Rainchan Shah from Tibet and Shah
Mirza from Swat.

Rainchan Shah quarrelled with Ram Chand, and with the assistance
of the Ladakhis attacked and killed him. He married Kuta Rani,
the daughter of Ram Chand, and embracing Islam became the first
Muhammadan king of Kashmir, but died after a short reign of two
and a half years. At this juncture Udayanadeva appeared, who was
the brother of Raja Simha Deva and had fled to Kishtwar. He
married the widow, Kuta Rani, and reigned for fifteen years. On his
death Kuta Rani assumed power for a short time, and committed
suicide rather than marry Shah Mirza, who now declared himself king.
He was the first of the line known as Salatln-i- Kashmir, and took the
name of Shams-ud-dln. In 1394 Sultan Sikandar, known for his fierce
zeal as Butshikan or ' iconoclast,' was king of Kashmir. He was
a gloomy fanatic, and destroyed nearly all the grand buildings and
temples of his Hindu predecessors. To the people he offered death,
conversion, or exile. Many fled ; many were converted to Islam ;
many were killed, and it is said that Sikandar burnt seven maunds
of sacred threads worn by the murdered Brahmans. By the end of
his reign all Hindu inhabitants of the valley, except the Brahmans,
had probably adopted Islam.

In 1420 Zain-ul-abidln succeeded. He was wise, virtuous, and
frugal, and very tolerant to the Brahmans. He remitted the poll-tax
on Hindus, encouraged the Brahmans to learn Persian, repaired some
of the Hindu temples, and revived Hindu learning. Hitherto in
Kashmir Sanskrit had been written in Sarada, an older sister of the
Devanagarl character. The introduction of Persian, as the official
language, divided the Brahmans into three subdivisions : the Karkuns,
who entered official life ; the Bachabatts, who discharged the function
of the priesthood ; and the Pandits, who devoted themselves to
Sanskrit learning. Towards the end of this good and useful reign the


Chakks sprang into mischievous prominence. Zain-ul-abidln drove
them out of the valley, but in the time of his weak successors they
returned and eventually seized the government of Kashmir. Turbulent
and brave, the Chakks were not fitted for administration. Yakub
Khan, the last of the line, offered a stubborn resistance to Akbar, and
with the help of the Bambas and Khakhas routed the Mughal on his
first attempt on the valley (1582). But later, not without difficulty
and some reverses, Kashmir was finally conquered (1586) 1 .

Akbar visited the valley three times. He built a strong fort on the
slopes of the Hara Parbat, paying high wages, and dispensing with
forced labour. His revenue minister, Todar Mai, made a very summary
record of the fiscal conditions of the valley. Jahanglr was greatly
attached to Kashmir. He laid out lovely pleasure-gardens ; around
the Dal Lake were 777 gardens, yielding a revenue of 1 lakh from roses
and bed musk. Much depended on the character of the governors.
All Mardan Khan, the best of these, built a splendid series of sarais
on the Plr Panjal route to India, and grappled with a famine with
energy and success. Aurangzeb visited the valley only once ; but in
that brief time he showed his zeal against the unbelievers, and his name
is still execrated by the Brahmans. Then followed the disorder of
decay, and in 1751 the Subak of Kashmir was practically independent
of Delhi.

From the following year the unfortunate Kashmiris experienced the
cruel oppression of Afghan rule, the short but evil period of the
Durranis. Governors from Kabul plundered and tortured the people
indiscriminately, but reserved their worst cruelties for the Brahmans,
the Shiahs, and the Bambas of the Jhelum valley. In their agony the
people of Kashmir turned with hope to the rising power of Ranjlt
Singh of Lahore. In 18 14 a Sikh army advanced by the Plr Panjal,
Ranjlt Singh watching the operations from Punch. This expedition
miscarried ; but in 18 19 Misr Dlwan Chand, Ranjlt Singh's great
general, accompanied by Gulab Singh of Jammu, overcame Muhammad
Azlm Khan, and entered Shupiyan. In comparison with the Afghans,
the Sikhs came as a relief to the unfortunate Kashmiris, but their rule
was harsh and oppressive.

Sher Singh, the reputed son of Ranjlt Singh, was a weak governor,
and his name is remembered in connexion with the terrible famine
which visited the valley. The best of the Sikh governors was Colonel
Mian Singh (1833), wno 1S s ^ spoken of with gratitude, and did his
best to repair the ravages of the famine. He was murdered by

1 Kashmir had been attacked from the side of Ladakh by Mirza Haidar (the author
of the Tarikh-URashidi) in 1532, and again invaded from the south in 1540, and
ruled by him (nominally on behalf of the emperor Humayiin) until his death eleven
years later.

G 2



mutinous soldiers, and was succeeded by Shaikh Ghulam Muhl-ud-din
in 1842. During his government the Bambas, under Sher Ahmad,
inflicted great losses on the Sikhs. In 1845 Imam-ud-din succeeded
his father as governor.

The history of the State, as at present constituted, is practically the
history of one man, a Dogra Rajput, Gulab Singh of Jammu. Lying
off the high roads of India, and away from the fertile plains of the
Punjab, the barren hills of the Dogras had not attracted the notice
of the Mughal invaders of India. Here lived a number of petty Rajas,
and it appears that from very early times the little kingdom of Jammu
was locally of some importance, Towards the end of the eighteenth
century the power of the Jammu ruler had extended east as far as the
Ravi, and west to the Chenab ; but the power waned and waxed
according to the fortunes of petty and chronic warfare. To the east,
at Basoli and Kishtwar, were independent Rajput chiefs, while to the
north-west were the Muhammadan rulers of Bhimbar and Rajaori,
descendants of Hindu Rajputs. These two states lay on the Mughal
route to Kashmir, and so came under the influence of Delhi. Up the
Jhelum valley, the country was held by small independent Muham-
madan chiefs, whose title of Raja suggests their Hindu origin.

About the middle of the eighteenth century Raja Ranjlt Deo was
the ruler of Jammu. He was a man of some mark, and his capital
flourished ; but at his death about 1780, his three sons quarrelled.
The Sikhs were invoked, and Jammu was plundered. From Ranjlt
Deo's death to 1846, the Dogra country became tributary to the Sikh
power. Gulab Singh, Dhyan Singh, and Suchet Singh were the great-
grandsons of Surat Singh, youngest brother of Ranjlt Deo. They were
soldiers of fortune, and as young men sought service at the court of
Ranjlt Singh of Lahore. They rapidly distinguished themselves ; and
Gulab Singh, for his service in capturing the Raja of Rajaori, who
was fighting the Sikhs, was created Raja of Jammu in 1820. Dhyan
Singh obtained the principality of Punch, a hilly country between the
Jhelum and the Plr Panjal range, north of Rajaori ; while Suchet Singh
received Ramnagar, west-by-north of Jammu.

Ranjlt Singh had found that the control of the Dogra country was
a difficult task, and his policy of enlisting the services of able Dogras
was at once obvious and prudent. The country was disturbed, each
man plundered his neighbour, and Gulab Singh's energies were taxed
to the utmost in restoring order. He was a man of extraordinary
power, and very quickly asserted his authority. His methods were
often cruel and unscrupulous, but allowances must be made. He
believed in object-lessons, and his penal system was at any rate
successful in ridding the country of crime. He kept a sharp eye on
his officials, and a close hand on his revenues. Rapidly absorbing the


power and possessions of the feudal chiefs around him, after ten years
of laborious and consistent effort he and his two brothers became
masters of nearly all the country between Kashmir and the Punjab,
save Rajaori. Bhadarwah fell easily into the hands of Gulab Singh
after a slight resistance. In Kishtwar, the minister, Wazir Lakhpat,
quarrelled with the Raja and sought the assistance of Gulab Singh,
who at once moved up with a force, and the Raja surrendered his
country without fighting.

His easy successes in Kishtwar, which commanded two of the roads
into Ladakh, probably suggested the ambitious idea of the conquest
of that unknown land. The difficulties of access offered by mountains
and glaciers were enormous ; but the brave Dogras under Gulab
Singh's officer, Zorawar Singh, never hesitated, and in two campaigns
the whole of Ladakh passed into the hands of the Jammu State. It is
interesting to notice that the Dogras did not pillage the rich monastery
of Himis, which saved itself by allowing the army in ignorance of
its locality to pass the gorge leading to the Himis valley, and then
sending a deputation with an offer of free rations while in Ladakh
territory. The agreement made was respected by both parties.

A few years later, in 1840, Zorawar Singh invaded Baltistan, captured
the Raja of Skardu, who had sided with the Ladakhis, and annexed
his country. The following year (1841) Zorawar Singh while invading
Tibet was overtaken by winter, and, being attacked when his troops
were disabled by cold, perished with nearly all his army. Whether
it was policy or whether it was accident, by 1840 Gulab Singh had
encircled Kashmir.

In the winter of 1845 war broke out between the British and the
Sikhs. Gulab Singh contrived to hold himself aloof till the battle of
Sobraon (1846), when he appeared as a useful mediator and the
trusted adviser of Sir Henry Lawrence. Two treaties were concluded.
By the first the State of Lahore handed over to the British, as equiva-
lent for one crore of indemnity, the hill countries between the rivers
Beas and the Indus ; by the second the British made over to Gulab
Singh for 75 lakhs all the hilly or mountainous country situated to the
east of the Indus and west of the Ravi. Kashmir did not, however,
come into the Maharaja's hands without fighting. Imam-ud-dm, the
Sikh governor, aided by the restless Bambas from the Jhelum valley,
routed Gulab Singh's troops on the outskirts of Srlnagar, killing Wazir
Lakhpat. Owing, however, to the mediation of Sir Henry Lawrence,
Imam-ud-din desisted from opposition and Kashmir passed without
further disturbances to the new ruler. At Astor and Gilgit the Dogra
troops relieved the Sikhs, Nathu Shah, the Sikh commander, taking
service under Gulab Singh. Not long afterwards the Hunza Raja
attacked Gilgit territory. Nathu Shah retorted by leading a force to


attack the Hunza valley ; he and his force were destroyed, and Gilgit
fort fell into the hands of the Hunza Raja, along with Punial, Yasin,
and Darel. The Maharaja sent two columns, one from Astor and one
from Baltistan, and after some fighting Gilgit fort was recovered. In
1852, partly by strategy, partly by treachery, the Dogra troops were
annihilated by the bloodthirsty Gaur Rahman of Yasin, and for eight
years the Indus formed the boundary of the Maharaja's territories.

Gulab Singh died in 1857: and when his successor, Ranblr Singh,
had recovered from the strain caused by the Mutiny, in which he had
loyally sided with the British, he determined to recover Gilgit, and to
rehabilitate the reputation of the Dogras on the frontier. In i860
a force under Devi Singh crossed the Indus, and advanced on Gaur
Rahman's strong fort at Gilgit. Gaur Rahman had died just before
the arrival of the Dogras. The fort was taken ; and since then the
Maharajas of Jammu and Kashmir have held it, to their heavy cost
and somewhat doubtful advantage.

Ranblr Singh was a model Hindu : devoted to his religion and to
Sanskrit learning, but tolerant of other creeds. He was in many ways
an enlightened man, but he lacked his father's strong will and deter-
mination, and his control over the State officials was weak. The latter
part of his life was darkened by the dreadful famine in Kashmir,
1877-9; an d in September, 1885, he was succeeded by his eldest son,
the present Maharaja Pratap Singh, G. C.S.I. He bears the hereditary
title of Maharaja, and receives a salute of 19 guns, increased to 21 in
his own territory.

Through all these vicissitudes of government and changes in religion
the Kashmiri has remained unaltered. Mughal, Afghan, Sikh, and
Dogra have left no impression on the national character ; and at heart
the people of the valley are Hindus, as they were before the time of
Sikandar Shah. The isolation from the outer world accounts for this
stable unchanging nationality, and passages in the Rajatarangi?il show
that the main features of the national character were the same in the
early period of Hindu rule as they are now.

The valley of Kashmir is holy land, and everywhere one finds
remains of ancient temples and buildings called by the present inhabi-
tants, though without historical foundation, Pandavlari, ' the houses of
the Pandavas.' These ancient buildings, though more or less injured by
iconoclasts, vandal builders, earthquakes, and, as Cunningham thinks,
by gunpowder, are composed of a blue limestone capable of taking the
highest polish, and of great solidity. They defy weather and time,
while the later works of the Mughals, the mosques of Aurangzeb and
the pleasure-places of Sallm and Nur Mahal, are crumbling away and
possess little or none of their pristine beauty.

The Hindu buildings of Kashmir have been described by Sir


Alexander Cunningham and Mr. F. S. Growse 1 . They exhibit traces
of the influence of Grecian art, and are distinguished by the graceful
elegance of their outlines, by the massive boldness of their parts, and
by the happy propriety of their decorations. Characteristic features
are the lofty pyramidal roofs, trefoiled doorways covered by pyramidal
pediments, and the great width of the space between columns.

Among the numerous temples two may be noticed — Martand and
Payech — the first for its grandeur, and the second for its excellent
preservation. Martand, the Temple of the Sun, stands on a sloping
karewa, about 3 miles east of Islamabad, overlooking the finest view
in Kashmir. The great structure was built by Lalitaditya in the eighth
century. Kalasa came here at the approach of death and expired at
the feet of the sacred image (1089). In the time of Kalhana the
chronicler, the great quadrangular courtyard was used as a fortification,
and the sacred image is said to have been destroyed by Sikandar, the

The building consists of one lofty central edifice, with a small
detached wing on each side of the entrance, the whole standing in a
large quadrangle surrounded by a colonnade of eighty-four pillars with
intervening trefoil-headed recesses. The length of the outer side of
the wall, which is blank, is about 90 yards ; that of the front is about
56 yards. The central building is 63 feet in length by 36 feet in
width, and, alone of all the temples of Kashmir, possesses, in addition
to the cella or sanctuary, a choir and nave, termed in Sanskrit the
autarala and arddhaniaiulapa ; the nave is 18 feet square. The
sanctuary alone is left entirely bare, the two other compartments being
lined with rich panellings and sculptured niches. As the main build-
ing is at present entirely uncovered, the original form of the roof can
be determined only by a reference to other temples and to the general
form and character of the various parts of the Martand temple itself.
It has been conjectured that the roof was pyramidal, and that the
entrance chamber and wings were similarly covered. There would
thus have been four distinct pyramids, of which that over the inner
chamber must have been the loftiest, the height of its pinnacle above
the ground being about 75 feet.

The interior must have been as imposing as the exterior. On
ascending the flight of steps, now covered by ruins, the votary entered
a highly decorated chamber, with a doorway on each side covered by
a pediment, with a trefoil-headed niche containing a bust of the Hindu
triad, and on the flanks of the main entrance, as well as on those of
the side doorways, were pointed and trefoil niches, each of which held
a statue of a Hindu deity. The interior decorations of the roof can
only be determined conjecturally, as there do not appear to be any
1 Calcutta Review, No. CVII.


ornamented stones that could with certainty be assigned to it. Baron
Hiigel doubts whether Martand ever had a roof ; but as the walls of the
temple are still standing, the numerous heaps of large stones that are
scattered about on all sides suggest the idea that these belonged to
the roof. Fergusson, however, thought that the roof was of wood.

Payech lies about 19 miles from Srlnagar under the Naunagri
karewa, about 6 miles from the left bank of the Jhelum river. On the
south side of the village, situated in a small green space near the bank
of the stream surrounded by a few walnut and willow trees, stands an
ancient temple, which in intrinsic beauty and elegance of outline is
superior to all the existing remains in Kashmir of similar dimensions.
Its excellent preservation may probably be explained by its retired
situation at the foot of the high table-land, which separates it by an
interval of 5 or 6 miles from the bank of the Jhelum, and by the mar-
vellous solidity of its construction. The cella, which is 8 feet square,
and has an open doorway on each of the four sides, is composed of only
ten stones, the four corners being each a single stone, the sculptured
tympanums over the doorways four others, while two more compose
the pyramid roof, the lower of these being an enormous mass, 8 feet
square by 4 feet in height. It has been ascribed by Sir Alexander
Cunningham, on grounds which, in the absence of any positive
authority either way, may be taken as adequate, to Narendraditya,
who reigned from 483 to 490. Fergusson, however, considered that
the temple belongs to the thirteenth century. The sculptures over
the doorways are coarsely executed in comparison with the artistic
finish of the purely architectural details, and are much defaced, but
apparently represent Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, and the goddess Durga.
The building is said to be dedicated to Vishnu as Surya or the Sun-
god. Inside the cupola is rayed, so as to represent the sun ; and at
each corner of the square the space intervening between the angle and
the line of the circle is filled up with a. jinn or attendant, who seems
to be sporting at the edge of its rays. The roof has been partly
displaced; which is said to have been the result of an attempt made to
take it down and remove it to the city. The interior is still occupied
by a large stone lingam.

Table III at the end of this article (p. 145) shows the distribution of

population in 1901. An estimate of the number of inhabitants was

_ , . made in 1873, but the first regular Census was taken

Population. . _ /0 ' , & . .

in 1891. In that year the population was 2,543,952,

and it rose to 2,905,578 in 1901, or by 14 per cent. To a considerable

extent the increase was due to improved enumeration, as for example

in Gilgit, where the number recorded rose from 16,769 to 60,885. The

increase amounted to 22 per cent, in the Kashmir province, compared

with only 6 per cent, in Jammu. The density of population in the


whole State is 36 persons per square mile. Details of the area of sub-
divisions are not available, but the density per square mile of land
under cultivation varies from 64 in Muzaffarabad district to 1,295 m
Gilgit, where cultivable land is scarce. There are only two towns of
any size, Jammu (36,130) and Srinagar (122,618) ; but the State con-
tains 8,946 villages. Nearly half the total population live in villages
with a population of less than 500 each. Formerly, considerable num-
bers of Kashmiris emigrated to the Punjab, but the census results in
that Province show that only 83,240 persons born in Kashmir were
enumerated there in 1901, compared with 111,775 m J 88i. Statistics
of age are, as usual, unreliable, and need not be referred to in detail.
In the whole State there are 884 females to 1,000 males, the pro-
portion being highest in the frontier tracts (933) and lowest in Kashmir
province (876). These results point to defective enumeration of
females. Marriage is comparatively late, and less than 1 per cent,
of the males under fifteen years, and about 2 per cent, of the females
of the same age, are married. Taking the whole population, 53 per
cent, of males and 39 per cent, of females are married. Polyandry
is prevalent in Ladakh. About 34 per cent, of the population speak
Kashmiri, and 15 per cent. Dogrl, while Punjabi is the tongue of
nearly 30 per cent. A great variety of languages are used, in various
parts of the State, by comparatively small numbers. Agriculture sup-
ports 54 per cent, of the total, and weaving and allied arts 2 per cent.

The total population includes 2,154,695 Muhammadans, 689,073
Hindus, 25,828 Sikhs, and 35,047 Buddhists. The Hindus are found
chiefly in the Jammu province, where they form rather less than half
the total. In the Kashmir province they represent only 524 in every
10,000 of population, and in the frontier wazdrats of Ladakh and
Gilgit only 97 out of every 10,000 persons.

Among the Hindus of the Jammu province, who number 626,177,
the most important castes are the Brahmans (186,000), the Rajputs
(167,000), the Khattris (48,000), and the Thakkars (93,000). Each
caste is subdivided into many sub-castes ; but for practical purposes
the Dogra Rajputs do not regard the finer divisions of the ethnologist,
but draw a broad distinction between the Mian Rajputs who engage in
neither trade nor agriculture, and the other Rajputs who have con-
descended to work for their living. The Mians will marry the daughters
of the latter class, but will not give their own daughters in marriage
to them. They have territorial names, such as Jamwal and Jasrotia,
signifying that the family is connected with Jammu and Jasrota. They
mostly hold land on pepper-corn rents, cultivated by others, who take
a share of the crops. The Mian Rajput gladly serves as a soldier, by
choice in the cavalry, and if there is not room for him in the Maharaja's
forces, he will enlist in the Indian army. In the Hunza-Nagar campaign


and at Chitral the Dogra Rajput worthily maintained his ancient repu-
tation. As a soldier he is admirable, but as a landowner evil days are
in store for him. The agriculture of the Dogra country is uncertain,
and not over-profitable ; and in the course of years the proud, gallant,

Online LibraryGreat Britain. India OfficeImperial gazetteer of India .. (Volume 15) → online text (page 12 of 50)