For many years, the term
Kashmir referred to a small valley located between the Pir
Panjal mountain range and the Himalayas. In the mid-19th century,
this changed and Kashmir is now a much larger geographical
area. It is unique in that the region contain within it areas
of land that are administered by several different nations.
China, Pakistan and India all maintain administrative control
over portions of Kashmir.
Historically speaking, Kashmir has long been an
important region for religions. Early in its history, the area was
at the center of both Buddhism and Hinduism. Several centuries later
Kashmir Shaivism was introduced. Other religions were to follow.
Throughout its history, Kashmir has been ruled by a variety of peoples,
many practicing different religions. Islam played a role as well.
The history of the area is just as rich. Control of the land changed
hands many times over its long and varied history. Muslim monarchs,
Mughals, Sikhs and even the British Empire tried their hand at ruling
the area. In 1947, the British Crown gave up its paramountcy and
the land became a hotly disputed territory. Since then the unique
balance of power between India, Pakistan and China has been laid
down and today the area is governed by the three separate countries.
Kashmir is a land rich in history, religion and culture. Its long
history has created a unique region in which the influences of all
their various rulers, leaders, religions and conquerors can be seen.
With such a long tradition of change and influence, it will be interesting
to see just how we define the term “Kashmir” in 100
years – that definition will likely bear commonality with
the way we define the unique and beautiful region today.