Kashmir –As an Afghanistan Frontier || by Hari Ram Gupta || LIVE IMAGE


Kashmir, the land of shawls, snow and sun,
Was being eaten by Afghans like a bun.

A little known fact is that if not for the ambition of Maharajah Ranjit Singh (Lion of Punjab, who ruled from 1799 AD – 1839 AD), to expand his empire into Kashmir, today this region would be part of Afghanistan.

Prior to 14th century, Kashmir had witnessed the Vedic period evolve into Buddhism, followed by Kashmir Shaivism and then around 14th century, under spiritual guidance of Sheikh Nooruddin Noormai (Baba Reshi), Islam started gaining ground. Between 1354 AD – 1540 AD, various Sultans ruled Kashmir. Then in 1540 AD, the central Asians stepped into the valley, when Mirza Muhammad Haidar Dughlat invaded on behalf of Mughal emperor, Humayun, thus starting the era of Mughal rule.

In 1738 AD, Emperor Nadir Shah, the Shah of Iran (who ruled from 1736 AD – 1747 AD) and founder of Afsharid dynasty, invaded India with a fifty-thousand strong army, weakening the foundation of Mughal empire. This subsequently paved the way for Ahmed Shah Durrani (ruled Afghanistan from 1747 AD – 1772 AD) to invade Kashmir in 1753 AD and expand the reaches of Durrani Empire of Afghanistan.

Kashmir had now become a part of Afghanistan.

It was in the year 1819 AD, the Sikh king, Maharajah Ranjit Singh of Punjab, having pushed the Afghans out of Punjab, establishing the western frontier of his empire at Peshawar (Pakistan), now turned his full attention northwards towards Kashmir. His objective was to reclaim Kashmir from the Afghans.

In 1814 AD, Ranjit Singh had led a failed expedition to Kashmir and retreated from Tosamaidan pass. It took him four years to overcome this defeat. In 1819 AD, he sent a force under Diwan Chand, leading to ousting of the Durrani Afghanis from Kashmir and making it a part of the Sikh empire. The boundaries of the Sikh empire now extended from Peshawar on the West to river Sutlej in East (where British India started) and from Multan in South, to Kashmir in the North.
The Sikh rule in Kashmir lasted from 1819 AD till 1846 AD. Ranjit Singh was a liberal ruler, in whose cabinet there was a representation in high posts from both Hindu and Muslim community. His Prime Minister was Dhian Singh, the Dogra Hindu King of Jammu, whom he trusted the most. Dhian Singh’s brother, Gulab Singh, a Dogra Hindu was a commander in Ranjit Singh’s army. After the demise of Ranjit Singh, Gulab Singh deceived the Sikh kingdom by secretly joining hands with British to cut off the military supplies to Sikh army fighting the British at river Sutlej in 1846 AD. In exchange, for helping British win over Sikhs, Gulab Singh Dogra was given an independent title of Kashmir. The Sikh kingdom was thereafter annexed into British India empire in the year 1846 AD.
Reflecting back, Maharajah Ranjeet Singh’s victory over Kashmir in 1819 AD is the reason why Kashmir today finds a place in the map of India. With annexation of Sikh empire by British in 1846 AD, the region of Kashmir also came under jurisdiction of British. Thereafter during independence of India in 1947 AD, Kashmir moved to India, though remaining disputed between Pakistan and India.
However, if not for Ranjit Singh’s victory of the Durrani Afghan rulers in 1819 AD, Kashmir would have remained a part of Afghanistan and history today would have been very different.
Hari Parbat, is a hill overlooking Srinagar. Due to hills vantage point, during the Shuja Shah Durrani’s Afghanistan rule of Kashmir in 1808 AD, a large fort was built on the hill to provide strategic defense to the city. The Durrani flag was hoisted in the fort, till Maharajah Ranjit Singh, replaced it by hosting the Sikh flag in the year 1819 AD.
I had heard that inside the fort there is a small Gurudwara (Sikh place of worship) which was built in 1820 AD by the Sikh Governor of Kashmir, General Hari Singh Nalwa. In current times, due to militancy threats and occupation of the fort by Indian Defense forces, rarely does anyone from the local Sikh population visit the Gurudwara inside the fort. On enquiry, we were able to find a local Sikh man willing to take us to the top of the hill and he assured that the Gurudwara is still operational, though managed by the personnel of Indian Defense force.
I was glad to be able to reach the top of the hill and was delighted to find a small Gurudwara still existing inside the fort. A single Sikh from Indian Police Reserve force maintains the Gurudwara, performing the daily services. He was kind enough to read us a hymn from the Holy Granth and distribute Prashad (offering). Time has progressed but the victory of Kashmir by Maharajah Ranjit Singh in the year 1819 AD is today, symbolically represented through the fluttering Nishaan Sahib (Sikh flag) hosted on top of the Gurudwara, right inside this fort.
I felt proud of this contribution to modern India by my community!
In the photo series below, I am sharing what I saw at Hari Parbat fort.

Photo :  Hari Parbat fort on top of the hill. Positioned strategically, overlooking into Srinagar city.

Photo :  Gate that leads to the hill, which then has to be ascended to reach the Hari Parbat fort.

Photo :  History awareness board, just outside the Hari Parbat fort.

 Photo :  Stairs leading to Hari Parbat fort.

Photo :  Nailed doors to protect from elephants breaking the entrance.

Photo :  Entrance to Hari Parbat fort.

Photo :  Inside view of Hari Parbat fort. In the centre is a mosque.

Photo :  Bathing pool inside Hari Parbat fort.

Photo : Watch tower at Hari Parbat fort.

Photo :  Alley inside Hari Parbat fort.

Photo :  Watch tower at Hari Parbat fort.

Photo :  Boundary wall of Hari Parbat fort, overlooking Srinagar city.

Photo :  View of Srinagar city from the Hari Parbat fort watch tower.

Photo :  View of Srinagar city from gun firing hole in the walls of Hari Parbat fort.

Photo :  View of Srinagar city from the Hari Parbat fort watch tower.

Photo :  Sikh Gurudwara inside Hari Parbat fort.

Photo :  Sikh policeman maintains the Hari Parbat Gurudwara, inside the fort.

Photo :  In remembrance of the soldiers who died in liberating Kashmir from the Afghan rule. The writing on the wall inside the fort reads, “Spilling blood of martyrs forms the fate of a nation”.

Photo :  Satnam Waheguru (God is Truth & attained through Guru’s Grace) written on the walls, inside the fort, close to Gurudwara

Photo :  The Sikh flag (Nishaan Sahib) on the fort.

Photo :  The Sikh flag (Nishaan Sahib) on the fort.

- by Hari Ram Gupta
Excerpt from “History of Sikhs (Vol V)”

Courtesy - 
Bushan Parimoo
(Feedback at: blparimoo@gmail.com)

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