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 Shown in green is the Kashmiri region under Pakistani control. The dark-brown region represents Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir while the Aksai Chin is under Chinese occupation
Shown in green is the Kashmiri region under Pakistani control. The dark-brown region represents Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir while the Aksai Chin is under Chinese occupation
For other uses, see Kashmir (disambiguation).

Kashmir is a region in the northern part of the South Asia and the southern part of Central Asia. The term Kashmir historically described the valley just to the south of the westernmost end of the Himalayan range. Politically, however, the term 'Kashmir' describes a much larger area which includes the regions of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh.

The main "Vale of Kashmir" is relatively low and very fertile, while magnificent mountains fed by many mountain streams flowing from adjoining valleys are found on the rest of the Kashmiri landscape. It is renowned as one of the most spectacularly beautiful places in the world.

Srinagar, the ancient capital, lies alongside Dal Lake and is famous for its canals and houseboats. Srinagar (alt. 1,600 m. or 5,200 ft.) acted as a favoured summer capital for many foreign conquerors who found the heat of the north Indian plains in summer oppressive. Just outside the city are found the beautiful Shalimar gardens created by Jehangir, the Mughal emperor, in 1619.

The region is currently divided amongst three countries: Pakistan controls the northwest portion (Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir), India controls the central and southern portion Jammu and Kashmir and the People's Republic of China controls the northeastern portion (Aksai Chin and the Trans-Karakoram Tract). Though these regions are in practice administered by their respective claimants, India has never formally recognized the accession of the areas claimed by Pakistan and China. It claims that these areas, including the area ceded to China by Pakistan in 1963 (the Trans-Karakoram Tract) should belong to it. Pakistan views the entire Kashmir region as disputed territory, and does not consider India's claim to it to be valid. An option favoured by many Kashmiris is independence, but both India and Pakistan oppose this for various reasons.

The rest of this article will, for the sake of clarity, refer to the parts of Kashmir administered by India, Pakistan and China as "Indian Kashmir", "Pakistani Kashmir", and "Chinese Kashmir" respectively. By this nomenclature, the word "Kashmir" in "Indian Kashmir" is used in a general sense to refer to what India calls "Jammu and Kashmir".

Kashmir is one of the world's most well-known territorial disputes, and most Western made maps use a dotted-line to indicate the territory's uncertain boundaries.

Market boats on Mar Canal, Srinigar by E. Molyneux; painted before 1908
Market boats on Mar Canal, Srinigar by E. Molyneux; painted before 1908



For history of Kashmir prior to the 19th century, see History of Kashmir.

For information regarding on going conflict see History of the Kashmir conflict

Modern history

Kashmir passed from the control of the Durrani Empire (see Ahmad Shah Durrani) of Afghanistan and centuries of Muslim rule under the Mughals, Persians, and Afghans to the conquering Sikh armies by the mid-19th century. During the latter part of the 19th century, Kashmir was ruled by the Dogras, who are a predominantly Hindu people in the area around Jammu and who were installed as rulers by the Sikhs (see Ranjit Singh). Their kings paid tribute to the Sikhs, and were part of the Sikh Empire that arose following the collapse of the Durrani Empire. Under the Sikhs, as feudatories, the Dogras sought and obtained permission to push further into the North, including regions of Ladakh. Zorawar Singh Dogra led an expedition into Tibet in a failed effort to bring it to submission to the Sikh Empire, as a sub-feudatory of the Dogras. With the sudden collapse of the Sikh Empire before the English forces, the Dogras purchased from the British their independence, and thus also assured themselves of their feudal hold over the subsidiary kingdoms of Kashmir, Ladakh and the Emirates of the north. The Dogra kings who originally ruled only from Jammu, also began to operate in summer from Srinagar, the metropolis of Kashmir. As a result, the Dogra Kingdom developed into a sort of "Dual Monarchy", the Dogra Kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir.

Kashmir is a valley whose beauty has been proclaimed by many and stretches out at about 7,200 square kilometers (2,800 square miles) at an elevation of 1,675 meters (5,500 feet). A Mughal ruler who built the famed Shalimar Gardens in Kashmir made the statement, " If heaven be on this earth, it must be here." It has a very ancient history and it was for a long time one of the centers of Hindu philosophical, literary and religious culture, a tradition still maintained by the native population. Kashmiri literature, sculpture, music, dance, painting, and architecture have had a profound influence in Asia.

On 8 October 2005, Kashmir was struck by an earthquake with a magnitude between 7.6 and 7.8 on the Moment magnitude scale.

Area and Subdivisions

Indian-administered Kashmir

India controls approximately 45.5% (101,387 km²) of the disputed territory. Indian-administered Kashmir, known as the state of Jammu and Kashmir, includes 3 main regions:

Indian-controlled Kashmir is divided into 6 administrative districts: Anantnag, Baramulla, Budgam, Doda, Jammu, Kargil, Kathua, Kupwara, Leh, Poonch, Pulwama, Rajauri, Srinagar and Udhampur. Major cities include Srinagar, Jammu and Leh.

Pakistan-administered Kashmir

The Pakistan-controlled portion of Kashmir, is divided up into the following 2 main regions:

  • Azad Kashmir: 250 miles in length with width varying from 10 to 40 miles, 13,300 km² (5134 miles²).
  • Northern Areas, a much larger area, 72,496 km² (27,991 mi²), incorporated into Pakistan and administered as a de facto dependency.

Chinese-administered Kashmir

Areas under Chinese-control include:


Please improve this section according to the posted request for expansion.
Claimed by Area Population % Muslim % Hindu % Buddhist % Other
Pakistan Northern Areas ~3 million 99%
Azad Kashmir 99%
India Jammu ~7 million 30% 66% 4%
Ladakh 46% 50% 3%
Kashmir Valley 95% 4%
China Aksai Chin
Statistics from the BBC In Depth report

Pakistan-administered Kashmir (containing Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir) contain a 99% Muslim majority. Settlers encouraged by the Government of Pakistan include the Pathan and Punjabi communities.

China-administered Kashmir (Aksai Chin) contains an extremely small population of Tibetan origins.

Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir (containing Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh) contain an approximately 70% Muslim majority (according to Indian sources in 2001). The rest of the population are Buddhist, Hindu and others. The people of Ladakh are of Indo-Tibetan origin, while the southern area of Jammu includes many communities tracing their ancestry to the nearby Indian states of Haryana and Punjab, as well as the city of Delhi.

In 1941 the Hindus represented 15 % of the population. In 1991 they only represented 0.1 % of Kashmir's population. [1]. In 1989, the total population of Kashmiri pundits was approximately 425,000. Only 15,000 Kashmiri Pundits still stay in the valley. [2]


Kashmiri lifestyle is essentially - irrespective of the differing religious beliefs - slow paced. Generally peace loving people, the culture has been rich enough to reflect the religious diversity as tribes celebrate festivities that divert them from their otherwise monotonous way of life. Kashmiris are known to enjoy their music in its various local forms and the dresses of both sexes are quite colorful. The Dumhal is a famous dance in Kashmir, performed by menfolk of the Wattal region. The women perform the Rouff another folk dance.

Please improve this section according to the posted request for expansion.


Historically, Kashmir came into economic limelight when the world famous Cashmere wool was exported to other regions and nations. Kashmiris are well adept at knitting and making shawls, silk carpets, rugs, kurtas and pottery. Kashmir is home to the finest saffron in the world - the Kashmir/Indian saffron. Efforts are on to export the naturally grown fruits and vegetables as organic foods mainly to the middle east. The Kashmir valley, is a fertile area that is the economic backbone for Indian-controlled Kashmir. The area is known for its sericulture as well other agricultural produce like apples, pears and many temperate fruits as well as nuts. Along with pilgrimage, since the dawn of the 20th century, it also became a favourite tourist spot until the spurt of tensions in the 1990s.

The economy was badly damaged by the 2005 Kashmir earthquake which as of October 17, 2005 resulted in over seventy thousand deaths.

Tourist attractions

The Vale of Kashmir, from Talmarg in Indian Kashmir.
The Vale of Kashmir, from Talmarg in Indian Kashmir.

The scenic setting of Kashmir itself has been a major tourist attraction despite the ever present danger. The mode of travel itself is a picturesque sight with many house boats and boat taxis ferrying passengers and goods alike. There are many mosques serving the largely Muslim population, such as the Hazratbal Mosque, situated on the western banks of Dal Lake. The mosque is home to a holy hair belonging to the prophet Muhammad which was sent to Kashmir by the Moghul emperor Aurangzeb. Thirty kilometers from Srinagar lies Chrar-e-Sharif, which is a holy shrine of the Muslim Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Wali. Originally constructed in 1395, Khanqah of Shah Hamadan is the first mosque ever built in Srinagar. There are also some Hindu temples. In addition, there is the claimed tomb of Yuzasaf, recently often claimed to be Jesus, in the Rozabal section of Srinagar, visited by many. There is also the purported tomb of Moses on Mount Nebo (Nebo Bal). Recently a number of Jews have started to visit Kashmir to see the land where some lost tribes may have settled in antiquity. Kashmir tourism received a boost when the world's highest and longest operating gondola lift was opened for the public in the Gulmarg region, thereby providing easier access to skiing as well as mountaineering.

See also

Further reading

  • Drew, Federic. 1877. “The Northern Barrier of India: a popular account of the Jammoo and Kashmir Territories with Illustrations.&;#8221; 1st edition: Edward Stanford, London. Reprint: Light & Life Publishers, Jammu. 1971.
  • Neve, Arthur.(Date unknown). The Tourist's Guide to Kashmir, Ladakh, Skardo &c. 18th Edition. Civil and Military Gazette, Ltd., Lahore. (The date of this edition is unknown - but the 16th edition was published in 1938)
  • Stein, M. Aurel. 1900. Kalhaṇa's Rājataraṅgiṇī – A Chronicle of the Kings of Kaśmīr, 2 vols. London, A. Constable & Co. Ltd. 1900. Reprint, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, 1979.
  • Knight, E. F. 1893. Where Three Empires Meet: A Narrative of Recent Travel in: Kashmir, Western Tibet, Gilgit, and the adjoining countries. Longmans, Green, and Co., London. Reprint: Ch'eng Wen Publishing Company, Taipei. 1971.
  • Younghusband, Francis and Molyneux, E. 1917. Kashmir. A. & C. Black, London.
  • Drew, Frederic. Date unknown. The Northern Barrier of India: a popular account of the Jammoo and Kashmir Territories with Illustrations. Reprint: Light & Life Publishers, Jammu. 1971.
  • Moorcroft, William and Trebeck, George. 1841. Travels in the Himalayan Provinces of Hindustan and the Panjab; in Ladakh and Kashmir, in Peshawar, Kabul, Kunduz, and Bokhara... from 1819 to 1825, Vol. II. Reprint: New Delhi, Sagar Publications, 1971.
  • Anonymous. 1614. Baharistan-i-Shahi: A Chronicle of Mediaeval Kashmir. Translated by K.N. Pandit. [3]

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