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that this animal is frequently a prey to the eagle ; it emits a shrill cry
on the approach of danger. The otter is frequently met with in the
rivers, and its skin is highly prized The porcupine is found in
Kistawar. There are few reptiles in Kashmir ; venomous serpents are
rare, though the cobra has been seen.


Birds of prey are numerous, and there are several varieties of
eagles and vultures, and also of falcons and hawks. Many kinds
of game birds are found. The black chikor, grey and snow
species of partridge, are met with in many parts. Of pheasants,
the varieties found are the argus, munal, kallij, koklas, and the
snow. The common kind of quail, the jack-snipe, and the wood-
cock are met with. Waterfowl of every species abound during the
winter months. They come from Yarkand and Central Asia, in
order to avoid the cold of the more northern regions, and depart as
soon as spring commences. Bald-coots, moorhens, dab-chicks, and
grebes are constantly to be found in the autumn and winter. Herons
are common. The sdras, or gigantic crane, is often seen in the
marshes, and also a small kind of pelican. The bidbiil, or nightingale
of Kashmir, is a distinct species, greatly inferior in note to the genuine
nightingale of Europe. The cuckoo, the maina, and the hoopoe are
common. The parrot is not indigenous to the valley, but the golden
oriole is frequently met with. Flies, sandflies, and mosquitoes are
numerous and troublesome, especially in August and September.

Population. — The population of the dominions of the Maharaja of
Kashmir and Jamu was estimated in 1875 at about 1,600,000 persons.
This estimate is doubtless founded on the Census made in 1873, the
details of which are given in Appendix vn. of Drew's Kashmir. No
Census of Kashmir State was carried out in 1881. The total
population in 1873 was given at 1, 534,972, excluding ladies of rank
\parda nas/im), who live in close retirement. The total population of
the Jamu District is put at 861,075; of Kashmir Proper, at 491,846 ;
of Ladakh, Iskardoh, and Gilghit, at 104,485; of Punch, at 77,5^6.
Of the total, the number of Hindus was 506,699; of Muhammadans,
918,536; of sundry castes, 89,483; and of Buddhists, 20,254. The
great majority of the Muhammadans belong to the Sunni sect. The
respectable Hindu castes are the Brahmans and the Karkuns ; the latter
form the most numerous class, and are employed as writers, merchants,
and farmers, but never as soldiers.

An estrangement exists between Kashmiri Pandits who have been
domiciled in British India, and their brethren in Kashmir. It is
not long since that a service similar to that for the dead was per-
formed over such Kashmiri Pandits as were about to emigrate, as
their relatives looked upon them as dead thenceforward. The way
was so long and difficult, and the means of correspondence so
uncertain, that they never expected to receive tidings of the absentees,
much less to welcome them back into the home circle. In time, the
wanderers fell away from the customs of their house, and embraced those
of the people amongst whom they had settled. Thus it has come to
pass, that whilst Kashmiri Pandits domiciled in India have accepted


the severe ritual of the Indian Brahmans in matters of food and drink ;
their brethren in Kashmir, whom they characterize as intolerant and
ignorant, do not object to meat, will take water from a Muhammadan,
eat with their clothes on, and have no repugnance to cooking and taking
their meals on board a boat.

The inhabitants of Kashmir are physically a fine race. The men are
tall, strong, and well built ; their complexion is usually olive, but some-
times fair and ruddy, especially among Hindus ; their features are
regular and well developed, and those of the Muhammadans have a
decided Jewish cast, resembling the Pathans. Captain Bates gives the
following analysis of the inhabitants in an ordinary Kashmiri village.
The village selected is Bijbihara, in which are 400 houses. Of the 400
houses, Muhammadan landowners occupied 80 • Muhammadan shop-
keepers, 65; Hindu shopkeepers, 15; Brahmans, 8; pandits, 20;
goldsmiths, 10; bakers, 5; washermen, 5; weavers, 9 ; blacksmiths,
5 ; carpenters, 4; surgeons, 2 ; hakims or physicians, 3 ; leather-workers,
5; milk-sellers, 7; fishermen, 10; carpet and blanket makers, 5;
mullds or Muhammadan priests, 1 2 ; pir zadds or saintly devotees, 40 ;
fakirs, 20. To these 400 houses there were 10 mosques, 8 smaller
shrines, and numerous Hindu temples. The houses throughout the
Kashmir valley are nearly all built after the same pattern. First there
is a ground floor, in which are two chambers with the small hall of the
house. The second floor contains three rooms ; and the floor under
the roof usually consists of one long chamber, which is used as a loft
for storing firewood, kitchen stuff, and lumber. In this last the house-
hold spend the summer months.

Polygamy does not appear to be very common among the Hindus in
Kashmir ; and with the Muhammadans the practice is confined to the
wealthier classes, who are generally found in the towns. Few of the
agricultural population have the means to indulge in a plurality of
wives. Kashmiris, rich and poor, are passionately fond of tea, of which
two kinds find their way into the market, called sitrati and sabzi. The
surati is like English tea, and reaches Kashmir from the Punjab ; the
sabzi is the famous brick-tea, which finds its way into the country
through Ladakh. The Russian tea-urn, or 'samovar,' is a common
article of household furniture in Kashmir ; the shape is said to have
been imitated from a Russian model brought by some travelling
merchant years ago from the north.

The chief towns of Kashmir are Jamu (Jummoo), the capital, on the
river Tavi, an affluent of the Chenab, in the extreme south of the
territory ; Srinagar, the Maharaja's summer residence, and the seat
of the shawl and silk manufacture, situated on the Jehlam to the west
of Kashmir ; Islamabad, the terminus of the navigation of the Upper
Jehlam; and Leh, the entrepot of the trade between Yarkand and


India, situated near the right bank of the Indus, towards the north-east
of the Maharaja's dominions.

The languages of Kashmir are divided into thirteen separate dialects.
Of these, Dogri and Chibhali, which do not differ much from Hindustani
and Punjabi, are spoken on the hills and country of the Punch and
Jamu Districts. Kashmiri is mostly used in Kashmir Proper, and
is rather curiously and closely related to the Sanskrit. It is not,
however, the Court language, and for the purpose of a traveller through
Kashmir, either Hindustani or Punjabi will serve. Five dialects are
included under the term ' Pahan,' a language spoken by the moun-
taineers in the east of Kashmir. Besides these, there are two dialects
of Tibetan, which are spoken in Baltistan, Ladakh, and Champas ; and
in the north-west three or four varieties of the Dard dialects of Aryan

The flora of Kashmir bears a strong affinity to that of Europe. Of
trees, the deodar or Himalayan cedar (Cedrus deodara) merits first
notice. Its range extends from 7000 to 12,000 feet above the sea;
in its most congenial locality it reaches a height of from 100 to 200
feet, and has a girth ranging from 20 to 40 feet. The deodar forests
are very extensive, and of great value. The forests of Kashmir con-
tain, among other trees, the yar (Pinus excelsa), the most widespread
species of pine. There are also two other species of pine, including
the chil (Pinus longifolia), and one of fir. The common yew (Taxus
baccata) abounds. The elm is frequently met with, and there is said
to be a forest of sandal-wood in the Kutihar District. The cypress is
common in gardens ; and a species of plane-tree (Platanus orientalis),
considered an exotic, is probably nowhere found more abundant or
luxuriant than in Kashmir. Poplars, lime-trees, and a species of wild
chestnut-tree attain great size and luxuriance. Two kinds of willow
grow in the valley, and the maple and red and white hawthorn
(Crataegus oxyacantha) are common. The birch and the alder are
found at great heights. Junipers and rhododendrons grow on the
mountains at a height of 11,000 feet, and roses, both wild and culti-
vated, bloom in vast profusion. Flowers are very numerous. The
crocus is cultivated for the production of saffron, which is used as a
condiment and as a medicine. About 1600 lbs. of saffron are said to
be yearly exported to Ladakh.

The fruit-trees of Kashmir are the apple, pear, quince, peach,
apricot, plum, almond, pomegranate, mulberry, walnut, hazel-nut, and
melon. The strawberry, raspberry, and currant grow wild. There are
said to be at least six varieties of grape. Of late years the Maharaja
has been devoting attention to the improvement of vine cultivation
and the manufacture of wine and spirits, with encouraging results.
The extent of land now under vines is considerable, and some of the


wine and brandy produced has been reported on favourably by Euro-
pean visitors to Kashmir. Neither orange, lemon, nor any other
species of Citrus arrives at maturity in Kashmir, as the intense cold of
winter proves fatal to them. There is great variety and abundance of
excellent vegetables. Hiigel enumerates fifteen different sorts not known
in Europe. The potato, cauliflower, carrot, rhubarb, and, in short,
garden vegetables generally, may be grown of the finest description,
and in any quantity.

The floating gardens of Kashmir are so peculiar as to deserve some
notice. They are common on the city lake, where they yield abundant
crops of fine cucumbers and melons. To form these islands, choice
is made of a shallow part of the lake overgrown with reeds and other
aquatic plants, which are cut off about 2 feet below the surface, and
then pressed close to each other without otherwise disturbing the posi-
tion in which they grow. They are subsequently mowed down nearly
to the bed, and the parts thus taken off are spread evenly over the
floats, and covered with a thin layer of mud drawn up from the bottom.
On the level thus formed are arranged close to each other conical heaps
of weeds, about 2 feet across and 2 feet high, having each at top
a small hollow filled with fresh mud. In each hollow are set three
plants of cucumber or melon, and no further care is required but to
gather the produce, which is invariably fine and abundant. Each bed
is kept in its place by a willow stake driven into the bottom of the
lake. A most valuable product of uncultivated vegetation is the sing-
hdra (Trapa bispinosa), or horned water-nut. It grows in the Wiilar
Lake in such profusion, that 60,000 tons are, it is said, raised every
year, constituting almost the sole food of at least 30,000 persons for
five months in the year. It ripens in the month of October. The
nut is dried, and then formed into a flour or meal, of which cakes are

Agriculture. — In Kashmir, as in Upper India, two harvests are reaped
annually. The first, or raM, ripens about July ; the second, or kharif,
about two and a half months later. The chief rabi crops are wheat,
barley, peas, etc. ; those of the kharif are rice, Indian corn, gram, and
flax. Of the total rainfall of Kashmir, which does not exceed an
average of 18 inches annually, only 6 inches fall during the agricultural
season in the valley. Of much greater importance than the rainfall is
the snow, which falls on the mountains from November to March, and
on the melting of which in the spring and summer the rice crop mainly
depends for its irrigation. Heavy rains usually fall in March and April,
failing which the spring crops of barley and wheat are poor. Steady
showers in July are required for the rice and Indian corn crops, and
further showers in September and October. The spring crop ripens in
June or July, after which is an intermediate crop of Indian corn and


other less important grains, which ripens in August and September ;
and finally, the rice harvest is gathered from the beginning of November.
Rice forms the staple food of the people, and is the most important
crop, occupying three-fourths of the cultivated area.

Famine. — Kashmir suffered severely from famine in the two years
1S78-80. The wheat and barley crops in 1878 were exceedingly poor ;
the fruit crop was to a great extent destroyed owing to an unusually wet
and cold winter ; and the early autumn grains of maize and millet were
partly destroyed by intense heat and blight, and partly devoured by the
starving peasantry, so that scarcely any reached the State granaries.
Notwithstanding a fair spring crop in 1879, famine continued to rage
throughout the summer, and was not checked till the ripening of a good
rice crop in the autumn. Famine was not entirely at an end till June
1880. It was caused mainly by excessive and unseasonable rainfall ;
and was aggravated by a heavy assessment, inadequate arrangements
for collecting the land revenue, the State monopoly of grain, and the
badness of the roads and communications. The mortality was very
heavy, especially among the Muhammadan population ; and the distress
was intensified by an outbreak of cholera in 1879.

Manufactures. — The chief manufacture of Kashmir consists of shawls,
which are celebrated throughout the world. These are of two kinds—
those loom-made, and those woven by hand. The wool of which the
shawls are manufactured is from the goats pastured upon the elevated
regions of Changthan, Turfan, etc. It is also obtained from the yak
and the shepherd's dog. The shawl-weavers are Muhammadans, and
are the most miserable portion of the population, both physically and
morally. Crowded together in small and badly ventilated workshops,
earning a mere pittance (about ijd. a day), and insufficiently nourished,
they suffer from chest affections, rheumatism, and scrofula. Of the
Kashmir shawls imported into Europe, France used to monopolize about
80 per cent. On the breaking out of the war between France and
Germany in 1870, the shawl trade suffered a sudden collapse, which has
continued till the present day, owing, it is said, to a change of fashion
in Europe. There are said to be still exported shawls to the value of
£1 30,000 annually, ^90,000 worth of which goes to Europe. A really
fine shawl may bring as much as ^300, but this is an exceptional price.

Attempts are now being made to divert labour into other channels,
such as the manufacture of carpets, to which trade the peculiar dexterity
of the Kashmir weavers is well adapted. Great attention is also paid
to the cultivation of the vine for wine-making ; and in parts of the
Maharaja's territory, to tea. The manufacture of woollen cloths is
almost universal throughout the valley, and gives employment to the
villagers throughout the long winter months. The better quality of
wool is used in the manufacture of blankets, and the fine woollen cloth


called pashmind ; of the inferior wool, coarse woollens called pattu are
made. Silk has of late years received considerable attention, and
bids fair to become one of the most important products of the Maharaja s
dominions. There is a factory at Srinagar; and in 187 1, £30,000 was
set apart by the Maharaja to foster the young industry. In 1872,
57,600 lbs. of silk is said to have been produced, the value of which
was about £"12,000.

The paper produced in Kashmir has a great reputation throughout
Hindustan. A description of papier-mache or lacquered work is
peculiar to Kashmir. The designs are by no means always on papier-
mache, being frequently done on articles of smooth wood. They
consist of a delicate pattern in colours, chiefly crimson, green, and
blue, drawn with a fine brush; flowers and the curved forms seen
upon shawls are most commonly produced. The lapidaries of Kashmir
are stated to have produced specimens of their skill and taste superior
to any in Europe. The silver and gold work, of which a great deal
is made in Srinagar, is exceedingly effective; and the smiths, with
the rudest tools, consisting of a hammer and a few tiny chisels and
punches, contrive to copy with admirable fidelity numerous designs
both Oriental and European. Kashmir was long famous for the manu-
facture of gun and pistol barrels and sword-blades, but this trade has
greatly declined of late years.

Commerce and Trade. — The principal commercial intercourse is with
the Punjab, Ladakh, and Afghanistan. The main routes by which the
merchandise of Kashmir enters India are from Srinagar, by the Banihal
Pass to Jamu and Amritsar, by the Pir Panjal and Bhimbar to Giijrat,
also by Akhmir and the Biidil Pass; and lastly, from Srinagar to
Peshawar, by Baramula, MuzarTarabad, and Manserat. The great mart
in the Punjab for the trade of Kashmir is Amritsar. Goods to a con-
siderable amount pass through Kashmir from British India for the
markets of Central Asia. Several main lines of road lead from the
Punjab into Kashmir, and the construction of a railway between
Sialkot and Jamu has been talked of. Telegraphic communication
is kept up between Sialkot, Jamu, and Srinagar.

In 187 1, an annual fair was established at Jamu, which commences
on the 20th November ; prizes are awarded by the Maharaja, and
during the continuance of the fair the custom duties are reduced to
half the ordinary rates. The value of the trade with British territory
in 1874 was estimated at £890,000; and in 1883-84 at ,£901,604,
namely, imports into the Punjab, £529,013, and exports, £372,591.
In addition, there is a trade between British India and Yarkand, passing
through Kashmir, valued at £60,000 a year. The total trade of Leh,
which is the centre of this through traffic, increased in value from about
£5000 in 1864 to about £"80,000 in 1876. In 1883-84, this trade,


which has been falling off of late years, was valued at .£52,781, both
exports and imports.

In 1870, a treaty was concluded with the Maharaja, by which he
agreed to abolish all transit duties on goods passing between the
countries of Eastern Tiirkistan and British India; while the British
Government agreed to abolish the export dues on shawls and other
textile fabrics, and to levy no duty on goods transmitted in bond through
British India to Central Asia, or to the territories of the Maharaja.
The Maharaja also undertook to facilitate the survey of the trade routes
between his territory and Yarkand, and consented to the appointment
of Joint Commissioners (one to be nominated by the British Govern-
ment) for the settlement of disputes between carriers, traders, or others
using that road, in which either of the parties, or both of them, should
be subjects of the British Government or of any foreign State. An
officer of the British Government is stationed at Leh, and another at

Coinage. — The silver coins in circulation in Kashmir are of three
classes. First, the old Harisinghi rupees, worth eight annas, introduced
during the Sikh rule by Sardar Hari Singh. They are few in number,
but are for the most part of good metal and full weight. Second,
the old Chilki rupees, issued by the late Maharaja Ghulab Singh, and
valued originally at ten annas. In consequence of irregularities in the
Kashmir mint, these old chilki rupees were greatly debased ; and some
years ago the State found itself forced to lower the value generally to
eight annas. The quantity of alloy, however, varies to the extent of
many annas ; and the device on the coin being a rude one, and easily
imitated, the Kashmir silversmiths have freely issued their own coins
along with Government money, and mixed with them as much copper
alloy as they chose. These old chilki rupees are spread all over the
country, and form the general circulating medium for petty trade.
Third, the new Chilki rupees, issued by the present Maharaja about
fifteen or sixteen years ago. These are of full weight, of good metal,
and of the value of ten annas, say about one shilling if converted into

Climate.-— The. climate of Kashmir varies according to the situation.
Upon the summits of the surrounding mountains it is extremely rigorous,
while in the valley it is temperate, being intermediate between that of
Europe and the plains of India. The seasons in the valley are all
well marked, and occur about the same time as in England. In the
higher portions of the valley, the climate from the beginning of May
to the end of October is mild and very salubrious, and almost as
invigorating to the European constitution as that of England. In
consequence of the great elevation of Kashmir, the cold of winter is
considerable, being on an average much more severe than in any part


of the British Isles, and this in a latitude lower than that of Sicily.
The hottest months in the valley are July and August; the air is
occasionally close and oppressive, especially for a day or two before
rain, which is often accompanied with thunder and lightning. The
coldest months are December and January, when the average morning
temperature in the valley is a little below freezing point ; ice invariably
covers the surface of the lakes to a considerable distance from the
banks, and about once in seven or eight years the Jehlam itself is
frozen over at Srinagar. Schlagintweit gives the following as the
monthly mean temperature at Srinagar in 1856 : — January 40 F.,
February 45 °, March 50 , April 5 6°, May 6o°, June 70 , July 73 ,
August 71 , September 63 , October 57 , November 54 , December
42 F.

There are no periodical rains as in Hindustan ; and although the
annual fall upon the mountains must be very great, yet in the valley
the quantity probably does not exceed 18 or 20 inches during the
year. About the end of March and beginning of April, there are
frequent and sudden storms in the valley, accompanied by hail and
rain ; spring showers are frequent during April and May. In June and
September also, heavy rain is not infrequent, and there are occasional
showers in July and August. The air of Kashmir is in general remark-
able for its stillness. Night frosts set in as early as the middle of
November. By the end of that month the trees are stripped of their
leaves and the year's vegetation is killed off, a thick haze overspreads
the whole valley, and the lakes and rivers send up clouds of vapour.
Every movement of men or beasts raises great quantities of dust, and
the haze becomes so great that even at mid-day, and under a cloudless
sky, no object can be seen at a mile's distance. This murky state of
the air extends for about 200 feet above the level of the valley; and
those who climb beyond that height see the snowy mountains of a
dazzling whiteness, and the sun shining clearly in a cloudless sky, while
the low country lies hidden in dim obscurity. The first fall of snow
restores the clearness of the air. This fall upon the mountains usually
occurs about the beginning of November, but it is slight, and soon
melted by the sun. The heavy fall begins about the middle of
December, and the snow lies to the average depth of 2 feet until the
middle of April.

Medical Aspects. — Malaria is very prevalent throughout the valley,
and fevers arid affections of the bowels are common, but the other
diseases peculiar to India are seldom observed. Epidemics of small-
pox and cholera are not infrequent. In many villages the inhabitants
suffer from goitre. In addition to the above diseases, phthisis,
elephantiasis, syphilis, and scrofula are common.

Administration — Law and Justice. — The Maharaja of Kashmir forms


himself the ultimate Court of Appeal throughout his dominions, his
decisions alone being final. t The rule obtains that every suit must
be instituted in the Court of First Instance, i.e. in the lowest com-
petent to try the issue, though for the ends of justice it is not very
strictly observed. In cases involving the Hindu and Muhammadan
laws, the authorities are the s/idsfra and the shara respectively ;
but the majority of the text-books of the five schools of Hindu law
have no force in Kashmir. After mature deliberation, the Maharaja
has caused a criminal code to be prepared, consisting of 203 sections,
with punishments for each offence, differing in spirit very little from
the Indian Penal Code. Political offenders and criminals under life
sentences are banished to the frontier fort of Bhiinji, but the bulk of
ordinary prisoners are lodged in the jail near the village of Habbak, on
the margin of the Dal Lake. Education has lately been encouraged by

Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 8) → online text (page 9 of 64)