History of Kashmir is recorded since 3450 BCE through Rajatarangini, written by Kalhana.
Kashmir has more than 5400 years of history, lineage of Kashmir Kings and pre-mahabharat era Kashmir valley formation by Kashyapa Rishi by cutting the gap in the hills at Baramulla.
Name “Kashmir” means “desiccated land” (Sanskrit: Ka = water and shimeera = desiccate). In Rajatarangini(Riverflow of Kings), a history of Kashmir written by Kalhana around 1150 CE, it is stated that the valley of Kashmir was formerly a lake, which was drained by the great rishi or sage, Kashyapa, son of Marichi, son of Brahma, by cutting the gap in the hills at Baramulla (Varaha-mula). When Kashmir valley had been drained, Kashyapa asked Brahmans to settle there. That is how Kashmir Pundits started inhabiting the valley with human population.
The name of Kashyapa is by history and tradition connected with the draining of the lake, and the chief town or collection of dwellings in the valley was called Kashyapa-pura, which has been identified with Kaspapyros of Hecataeus (apud Stephanus of Byzantium) and Kaspatyros of Herodotus. Kashmir is also believed to be the country meant by Ptolemy’s Kaspeiria.
During Mahabharata era, Kambojas ruled Kashmir during the epic period with a Republican system of government from the capital city of Karna-Rajapuram-gatva-Kambojah-nirjitastava, shortened to Rajapura, which is modern Rajauri.
Peer Panjal, which is a part of modern Kashmir, is a witness to this fact. Panjal is simply a distorted form of the Sanskritic tribal term Panchala. Muslims prefixed the word peer to it in memory of Siddha Faqir and the name thereafter is said to have changed into Peer Panjal.
History behind name of Jammu
Jammu was founded by Hindu King Raja Jambu Lochan in the 14th century BCE. During one of his hunting campaigns he reached the Tawi River where he saw a goat and a lion drinking water at the same place. The king was impressed and decided to set up a town after his name, Jamboo. With the passage of time, the name was corrupted and became “Jammu“.
Authentic sources of Kashmir history are Nilmata Purana (complied c. 500–600 CE) and Rajatarangini (1150 CE).
Kalhana’s Rajatarangini (River of Kings), has all the 8000 Sanskrit verses of which were completed by 1150 CE, and chronicles the history of Kashmir’s dynasties from Mahabharata times to 12th century CE (4600 years of history and complete list of Kashmir Kings).
During the reign of Muslim kings in Kashmir, three supplements to Rajatarangini were written by Jonaraja (1411–1463 CE), Srivara, and Prajyabhatta and Suka, which end with Akbar’s conquest of Kashmir in 1586 CE.
List of Kashmir Kings from 3450 BCE
This list and timings are derived from Rajatarangini.
1-5. Names not known 3450-3238 BCE
1. Gonanda I 3238-3188 BCE
2. Damodara I 3188-3140 BCE
3. Yasovati (Damodara I’s wife) 3140-3139½ BCE
4. Gonanada II (Yasovati’s son) 3139½-3083 BCE
5. Parikshit 3083-3041 BCE
7. Rama deva
16. Marahandeva & Kamandeva.
35. Sangrama chandra
36. Larik chandra
Gonanda I was relative of Magadha ruler Jarasandha and contemporary to Yudhishtir. He was killed by Krishna’s elder brother Balarama.
His son Damodara I was killed by Krishna and his army. Later Krishna made his wife Yasovati as temporary ruler for 6 months, who was succeeded by her son Gonanda II.
This Gonanda II was Killed in a battle with Parikshit (grandson of Arjuna), king of Hastinapura in 3083 BCE.
As Gonanda II has no heir at time of death, Parikshit took over the kingdom of Kashmir, incorporated it into his empire and handed it over to Harnadeva, who was from his family.
From Harnadeva, Pandava dynasty kings ruled over Kashmir for 1331 years from 3083-1752 BCE.
Gonanda-II had 7 wives. Gonanda-II’s mother Yasovati, along with her pregnant elder daughter-in-law Sudhalahari, ran away and took shelter at her maternal kingdom of Videha.
Gonanda dynasty heir was raised there but for many generations, they could not re-capture their Kashmir Kingdom.
Their descendants survived in multiple regions through many years but never had the courage or strength to attack heirs of Harnadeva.
But they were raised with the thought that they belonged to Gonanda Dynasty.
After 1331 years, Lava gathered enough army and killed Bhagavanta, the last descendant of Harnadeva (relative of Pandavas) and restarted Gonanda dynasty rule.
40. Lava 1752-1713 BCE
41. Kusa or Kusesaya 1713-1674 BCE
42. Khagendra 1674-1635 BCE
43. Surendra (Issueless) 1635-1596 BCE
44. Godhara (Another family) 1596-1557 BCE
45. Suvarna 1557-1518 BCE
46. Janaka 1518-1479 BCE
47. Sachinara (His Paternal uncle was Sakuni’s great grandson) 1479-1447 BCE
48. Asoka or Dharmasoka (Gonanda Dynasty) 1448-1400 BCE
He lost his kingdom, as Mlechchas occupied it and he fled to forest. His son Jaelauka reconquered it)
49. Jaelauka 1400-1344 BCE
This Jaelauka was the first Kashmir king to build bridges on 5 rivers.
Prior to that, people (including kings) used to cross rivers on boats only.
50. Damodara II 1344-1294 BCE
50. Hushka, Jushka and Kanishka 1294-1234 BCE
52. Abhimanyu 1234-1182 BCE
Dharmasoka built Srinagar, capital of Kashmir during 1448-1400 BCE
Gonanda I was a poet. Dharmasoka, who belonged to the Gonanda dynasty, freed himself from sins by embracing Buddhism and built the city of Srinagar, with ninety-six lakhs of houses, resplendent with wealth.
He too was a poet.
Dynasty of Gonanada III. From 1182 BCE to 272 BCE – Total 910 years
53. Gonanda III 1182-1147 BCE
54. Vibhishana 1147-1092½ BCE
55. Indrajit 1092½-1057 BCE
56. Ravana 1057-1027 BCE
57. Vibhishana II 1027-991½ BCE
58. Kinnara or Nara 991½-952 BCE
59. Siddha 952-892 BCE
60. Utpalaksha 892-861½ BCE
61. Hiranyaksha 861½-824 BCE
62. Hiranyakula 824-764 BCE
63. Vasukula 764-704 BCE
64. Mihirakula 704-634 BCE
65. Baka 634-594 BCE
66. Kshitinamdana 594-564 BCE
67. Vasunamdana (Poet) 564-512 BCE
This Vasunandana was a poet and author of Samara Sastra.
Mihirakula (wrongly identified by historians as a Huna King), ruled during 704-634 BCE.
He was 12th king from Gonanda-III. This King married Gandhara princess Kalyanavati during a war. She married him and stopped the war.
His father Vasukula was house arrested for 10 days before death by Mihirakula.
This Mihirakula also attacked Sri Lanka (Sinhala Kingdom) and killed its king. During his path, he also defeated Kannada, Dravida kings.
He was known for killing Buddhists in large number and re-establishing sanatana dharma, 200 years before Adi Sankaracharya.
During his rule, Andhra Kings of Magadha, Skandhasatambhin, Lambodara etc did not dare to attack him.
68. Nara 512-477 BCE
69. Aksha 477-417 BCE
70. Gopaditya 417-357 BCE
This Gopaditya built the temple of Adi Sankara in 367-366 BCE. He founded several temples and Agraharams. He was also a poet.
71. Gokarna 357-322 BCE
72. Kinkhila or Narendraditya 322-285 BCE
73. Andha Yudhistira 285-272 BCE
He was called Andha Yudhistira by the people, because of his having small eyes. In fact he was not blind.
Dynasty of Pratapaditya (272 to 80 BCE – Total 192 years with 6 kings)
74. Pratapaditya 272-240 BCE
This 74th king Pratapaditya is mentioned in Rajatarangini as a relative of Vikramaditya, was brought by the ministers from a distant land and placed on the Kashmir throne. He ruled Kashmir from 272 to 240 BCE.
Vikramaditya referred to here must be Sri Harsha Vikramaditya of Ujjain from 457 BCE. Kalhana says that this Vikramaditya, the relative of the Pratapaditya was not the Sakari Vikramaditya from 57 BCE.
This Pratapaditya did not have children. He fell in love with Rupalata, who was wife of a rich Vysya businessman Jalaukasa.
This Jalaukasa came to kashmir from Rohtak (Haryana). He donated lot of money to kingdom and helped king during many wars.
Pratapaditya later was convinced to marry Rupalata’s twin sister and their son was named Jalaukasa in remembrance of their friendship.
75. Jalaukasa 240-208 BCE
76. Tunjina 208-172 BCE
77. Vijaya 172-164 BCE
78. Jayendra 164-127 BCE
79. Sandhimati 127-80 BCE
This Sandhimati was minister of Jayendra. Astrologers had predicted that Jayendra will die issue-less and his minister will take over.
To prevent this, Jayendra kept Sandhimati in jail and later ordered his execution in grave-yard.
His security attempted to kill Sandhimati and left his body pierced to a sharp iron rod, assuming him to be dead.
Sandhimati was later saved by other ministers and brought back to life.
At same time, Jayendra’s step-sister Kalhara Malika killed him and she was killed by king’s body guards.
Infact one of king Jayendra’s bodyguard was his Dilhara, who was also his another step-sister.
She was the first known female bodyguard for any king in history.
Sandhimati was proven as unfit ruler. He filled his court with rishis (sages), and spent his time in forest retreats. Therefore, his ministers replaced him with Meghavahana, a descendant of Yudhishthira I (Andhra Yudhishthira). He willingly gave up the throne.
80. Meghavahana 80-46 BCE
81. Pravarasena or Sreshtasena or Tunjina 46-16 BCE
82. Hiranya 16 BCE – 14 CE
This Hiranya died issueless. He was twin brother of Toramana.
Hiranya and Torama had Twin_telepathy, where one would get hurt if other was injured. Their father Tunjina knew about this and made sure that both his sons ruled Kashmir kingdom alternately each year.
Toramana issued few coins by his name which were found by archaeologists.
Next year, Hiranya became king, caputured Toramana and kept him in a cave-jail. Toramana’s wife Anjana, who was pregnant at that time, escaped with help of an astrologer named Pravaresa.
Hiranya did not kill Toramana because it would also bring his own death, due to Twin-Telepathy effect.
After some time, Toramana managed to escape from his cave-jail and tried to meet his wife.
Anjana and her son Pravarasena-II were in exile.
83. Matrigupta 14 – 19 CE
He was sent by Emperor Vikramaditya of Ujjain as King of Kashmir when Hiranya died issueless. At the same time, Toramana met his son Pravarasena-II and also died.
With the help of Pravaresa and few army-men, Pravarasena attacked Srinagar.
At the same time, Emperor Vikramarka died in Ujjain (19 CE). Matrigupta, who was installed by Vikramarka as Kashmir king, voluntarily descended the throne and became a monk. Toramana’s son Pravarasena-II took over Kashmir.
84. Pravarasena II (Toramana’s son ) 19-79 CE
85. Yudhistira II 79-118 CE
(This Yudhistira II was contemporary to Salivahana, founder of the Era 78 CE)
86. Lakshmana (Narendraditya) 118-131 CE
87. Tunjina or Ranaditya (Poet) 131-173 CE
This Ranaditya married RanaRambha, who was an incarnation of Goddess Bhramaravasini. Chola king Ratisena had found her among the waves, during an ocean worship ritual.
Ranaditya also maried AmritaPrabha, who was daughter of Kuluta King (Modern day Kulu, Himachal Pradesh).
Both Ranaditya and Amrita Prabha had recurring dreams about their past life, where they were a couple but did not have physical relationship.
They worshipped Goddess Lakshmi every friday and died issueless. In next life, they were born as king and queen.
Their son was Vikramaditya, who took over kingdom in 173 CE. Later Ranaditya went into exile. Rajatarangini mentions that he went into Patala Loka, and lived there.
87. Vikramaditya 173-215 CE
89. Baladitya 215-252 CE
Karkota Dynasty Kings of Kashmir
90. Durlabha vardhana (Son-in-law of Baladitya) 252-288 CE
91. Durlabhaka or Pratipaditya 288-338 CE
92. Chandrapeeda or Varnaditya 338-397 CE
93. Tarapida or Udayaditya 397-431 CE
94. Lalitaditya or Mukatapida(Poet) 431-467 CE
This Lalitaditya built the famous Martanda (Sun) temple in Kashmir.
He was regarded as reincarnation of Ranaditya, who continued his poetry and temple building.
95. Kuvalayaditya 467-468 CE
96. Vajraditya or Bapyayika or Lalitapida 468-525 CE
97. Prithivyapida 525-569 CE
98. Sangramapida 569 CE(ruled only for 7 days)
99. Jayapida (Pandit and poet) 569-620 CE
100. Lalitapida 620-672 CE
101. Sangramapida II 672-729 CE
102. Chipyata-Jayapida 729-781 CE
103. Ajitapida 781-837 CE
104. Anangapida 837-840 CE
105. Utpalapida 840-845 CE
106. Sukhavarma 845-852 CE
Total 17 kings ruled for 600 years.
Utpala Dynasty Kings of Kashmir
107. Avantivarma 852-880 CE
(In his court f1ourished many poets like Anandavardhan, Ratanakara)
108. Sankaravarma 880-900 CE
(Contemporary to Lalya Sahi, Brahmin king of the Yavanas in Uttara Jyotisha, Divya Kataka and Simhapura, now part of Afghanistan)
109. Gopalavarma (minor, whose mother Sugandha ruled) 900-902 CE
112. Suravarma 902-904 CE (all 3 ruled for 2 years only)
113. Partha 904-918 CE
114. Nirjitavarma 918-920 CE
115. Chakravarma (assassinated) 920-934 CE
116. Unmattavanti 934-936 CE
These 8 Kings ruled for 84 years.
Gupta Brahmin Kings Dynasty of Kashmir
117. Yasaskara 936-945½ CE
118. Varnata (1 month)
119. Sangramadeva (5 months) 945½-946 CE
120. Parvagupta 946-948 CE
121. Kshemagupta 948-957 CE
122. Abhimanyugupta 957-971 CE
Abhimanyu was a minor, ruled by mother Didda or Diththa Devi, wife of Kshemagupta. Didda was contemporary to Bhima Sahi of Kabul, descendent of Lalya Sahi. Didda was grand daughter of Bhima Sahi(Daughter’s daughter)
123. Nandigupta (second son of Didda) 971-972 CE
124. Tribhuvanagupta (3rd son of Didda) 972-974 CE
125. Bhima gupta (4th son of Didda) 974-979 CE
All sons were minors. So, ruled by mother Didda
126. Didda or Diththa, herself reigned 979-1012 CE
(Didda was daughter of Simharaja of Lohar and wife of Kshemagupta)
This Lohar family belongs to the Andhra Satavahana dynasty. This Simharaja, father of Didda, is the son-in—law of Bhima Sahi of Kabul who belonged to the Thomara Dynasty, one of the four Agni Vamsi. These ten Brahmin kings ruled for 76 years.
Lohar Dynasty rulers of Kashmir
127. Sangramaraja 1012-1027 CE
He is brother’s son of Didda; contemporary to Trilochana Pala of Kabul
128. Hariraja 22 days only
129. Anantadeva 1027-1062 & 1062-1078 CE
Anantadeva was dethroned for few days in 1062 CE, but came back.
130. Kalasa or Ranaditya (Pandit and Poet) 1078-1088 CE
131. Utkarsha (few days only)
132. Harsha 1088-1110 CE
These six kings of Lohar Dynasty ruled for 98 years.
Agni Vamsa or Brahma-Kshatra Kings of Kashmir
133. Uchchla (few days)
134. Sankaraja 1110-1120 CE
135. Sussala 1120-1128 CE
136. Jayasimha 1128-1148 CE
Kalhana’s time is 1148 CE.
4593-1148 = 345O BCE
That means, from 3450 BCE we have the history of Kashmir for 4593 years and then till today, which is 5467 years.
Kalhana’s father was a tributary to the king of Kashmir, besides being the Prime Minister. This family might have been a branch of the Satavahana dynasty.
Earliest Neolithic sites in the flood plains of Kashmir valley are dated to c. 3000 BCE. Most important of these sites are the settlements at Burzahom, which had two Neolithic and one Megalithic phases.
This proves the history of Kashmir for almost 5000 years.
Lohar dynasty (1012–1320 CE) paved the way for foreign invasions of Kashmir. Suhadeva, last king of the Lohara dynasty, fled Kashmir after Zulju (Dulacha), a Turkic–Mongol chief, led a savage raid on Kashmir.
Rinchana, a Tibetan Buddhist refugee in Kashmir, established himself as the ruler after Zulju.
Rinchana’s conversion to Islam is a subject of Kashmiri folklore. He was persuaded to accept Islam by his minister Shah Mir, probably for political reasons.
From the 14th century, Islam gradually became the dominant religion in Kashmir. The Sultans between 1354–1470 CE were tolerant of other religions with the exception of Sultan Sikandar (1389–1413 CE). Sultan Sikandar imposed taxes on non–Muslims, forced conversions to Islam, and earned the title But–Shikan for destroying idols.
Later, Mughals (1580s–1750s), Afghan rulers (1750s–1819), Sikhs (1820–1846 CE) ruled over Kashmir.
Between 1846-1947 CE, there was Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu (Dogra Rule).