The modern state of Jammu and Kashmir covered an area of 86024 square miles (prior to 1947) extendingfrom 32deg 78' to 36deg 58' N and from 73deg 27' to 80deg 72' E. The entirestate included, beside the Jammu region, Ladakh, Gilgit, Hunza, Nagar, Punial,and Yasin. The tiny state of Chitral, located towards the north-western side ofGilgit, used to pay tribute to Kashmir ruler. It was due to the untiring effortsof Maharaja Gulab Singh Ji (the founder of Dogra Hindu dynasty in Kashmir) that the State took its present shape and form in the 2nd half of the 19th century.
History Of Kashmir before 1947:br /> Cradled in the lapof the majestic Himalayas, Kashmir is the arguably most beautiful place in the world. Kashmir is the only region of India to have a historical record of itsdistant past. Such is not the case with the other parts of India which led tothe 11th century, the Islamic scholar Alberuni to remark that Indians lack asense of history. Kashmir has also the distinction of producing historians of repute. Chief among them is Kalhan, the author of Rajatarangini. Bilhana wasanother Sanskrit historian who was born in Kashmir. The court poet at Kalyanain the South India, he authored Vikramankadeva-charita to celebrate the reignof Vikramaditya VI, the Chalukya king of Kalyana.
Kashmir, if literally translated, means land desiccated from water:"ka" (the water) and shimeera (to desiccate). Tradition says that Kashmir was originally a lake that was drained by the great saint of ancientIndia Kashyap. It was included in the empire of Ashoka Maurya who is creditedwith the foundation of the city of Srinagar around the year 250 BC.
During this period Buddhism spread in Kashmir and flourished under theKushans. During the reign of Kanishka, the third Buddhist council took place in Kashmir which has been attested by the 7th century Chinese traveler Hien Tsang.But Hinduism held its sway in the region. The 7th Century AD witnessed theestablishment of a dynasty called the Karkota whose foundation stone was laidby Durlabhavarrdhana. The most famous ruler of this dynasty was LalitadityaMuktapid who built the world famous sun temple (Martand) in Kashmir. TheKarkotas were supplanted by the Utpalas in 855 AD. The most important ruler ofthis dynasty was Avanti-verman. He recovered Kashmir from utter political andeconomic disorder into which Kashmir had fallen during the rule of hispredecessors. Didda, a Gupta widowed queen, ruled Kashmir until 1003 AD when the Lohara dynasty took over. Didda was a very unscrupulous and willful ladyand led a very immoral life. But in spite of these drawbacks, she ruled thevalley with firm hands.
The last Hindu ruler of Kashmir was Udyan Dev. His chief Queen Kota Raniwas the de facto ruler of the kingdom. She was a very brave lady, shrewd and anable ruler. With her death in 1339 the Hindu rule in Kashmir came to an end andthus was established the Muslim rule in Kashmir under Sultan Shamas-ud-dinwhose dynasty ruled the valley for 222 years.
The greatest ruler of this dynasty was undoubtedly Sultan Zain-ul-Abdin.Under his rule Kashmir was culturally and politically at its zenith. Thekingdom was annexed into the Mughal Empire in 1586 and thus was extinguishedthe freedom of Kashmir.
In 1757 Kashmir came under the control of Ahmed Shah Durrani, the Afghanwho invaded India many times. In 1819 Kashmir was annexed by Ranjit Singh andmade a part of his Sikh empire. The two Anglo-Sikh wars fought between theSikhs and Ranjit Singh resulted in the complete extinction of the Sikhsovereignty in Kashmir. The British gave away Kashmir to Ghulab Singh for thesum of 75 lakhs of rupees under the Treaty of Amritsar. This entitled GhulabSingh to have his complete sway over the dominion. He extended his territory byannexing Ladakh. Ghulab Singh died in 1857 and was replaced by Rambir Singh(1857-1885). Two other Marajahs, Partab Singh (1885-1925) and Hari Singh ruledin succession. Maharaja Sir Hari Singh ascended the throne in 1925. He continuedto govern the state till 1950. In 1932 Kashmir's first political party - AllJammu & Kashmir Muslim Conference was formed by Sheik Abdullah The partywas later renamed the National Conference in 1939 and continues to be a majorpolitical party in Kashmirtoday.