The Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir was the ruler of the erstwhile Indian princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. The first ruler was Gulab Singh, who became Raja of Jammu and Kashmir through a grant from the Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and subsequently accepted the throne of Kashmir. The region of Jammu and Kashmir was ruled by Raja Gulab Singh as a governor of Sikh Empire till 1846. After the First Anglo-Sikh War in 1846, under the terms of the Treaty of Amritsar, the British government sold Kashmir to Maharaja Gulab Singh and the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, the second largest princely state in British India, was created. 
History of Dogra rulers
According to legend, Raghuvanshi descendant, Agnigarba, who was living as a recluse, came to Nagarkot (Kangra, Himachal Pradesh), in the Shivalik Hills. When the Raja of Kangra came to know about this person's ancestry, he offered him the hand of his daughter and a part of kingdom. The river Ravi was then the boundary of Nagarkote. Agnigarba crossed it and captured some villages in the Kathua area and declared himself as sovereign king.
After his death, his son Bayusharva (B.C. 1530-1500) married the princess of Parole (Kathua). The princess was known as Erwan and she died young. The Raja founded a city after her which is still found near Parole, though now a small village and at the 'Samadhi' of the queen, a `Mela' (fair) is held at every `Baisakhi' (13 or 14 April) every year. Bayusharva extended the boundaries up to the river Ujh. Bayusharva's great grandson, Bahulochan was enthroned after his death. He migrated from Erwan and built his fort on the banks of river Tawi. Bahulochan died in a bloody battle with Chadaras, Raja of Sialkot (Shayalkot) and his younger brother Jambulochan (B.C 1320-1290) ascended the throne. In those days the area beyond Tawi (the present city of Jammu) was used for hunting. Tradition has it that one day Jambulochan came to this area and while he was sitting behind a bush to ambush some bird or animal, he saw a lion(a tiger in some accounts) and a goat drinking water from the same pond. This peaceful coexistence encouraged him to found the city of Jammu, which some say is named after him.
One of his descendants, Raja Shaktikaran (B.C 1200-1177) introduced the Dogri script for the first time. Another of his descendants, Jasdev founded the city of Jasrota on the bank of river Ujh, and another Raja, Karan Dev built a fort on the banks of the river Basantar. In the early centuries of the first millennium the area came under the sway of the Indo-Greeks, with their capital at Sagala (Sialkot).
Among the rulers of Jammu was Raja Ranjit Dev (1728–1780), who introduced social reforms such as a ban on sati (immolation of the wife on the pyre of the husband) and female infanticide.
In 1814, Jammu became part of the Sikh Kingdom of the Punjab, under Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Ranjit Singh bestowed the place as a jagir on Gulab Singh, who belonged to the Jamwal Rajput clan that ruled Jammu. As a jagirdar for the Sikhs, Gulab Singh extended the boundaries of the Sikh kingdom to western Tibet with the help of Zorawar Singh. The Sikh rule was then extended beyond the Jammu Region and the Kashmir Valley to include the Tibetan Buddhist Kingdom of Ladakh and the Emirates of Hunza, Gilgit and Nagar.
After the First Anglo-Sikh War in 1846, Sir Henry Lawrence was appointed British Resident and Lal Singh was asked to surrender Kashmir. Under the terms of the Treaty of Amritsar, the British government then sold Kashmir for a sum of 7.5 million rupees to Maharaja Gulab Singh, who had been a their loyal ally against the Sikhs. Jammu again became an independent Rajput kingdom under Maharaja Gulab Singh, as per the treaties, Treaty of Lahore, signed between the British and the Sikhs.
Maharaja Partab Singh (enthroned in 1885) saw the construction of Banihal Cart Road (B.C. Road) mainly to facilitate telegraph services.
List of Maharajas of Jammu and Kashmir (1846-1949)
- Gulab Singh (1846–1857)
- Ranbir Singh (1857–1885)
- Pratap Singh (1885–1925)
- Hari Singh (1925–1949)
- Hari Singh (Title Only) (1949–1961)
- Karan Singh (Title Only) (1961–1971)(Monarchy abolished)
Persecution of Muslims by Dogras
In 1837, Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu was entrusted by Maharaja Ranjit Singh to suppress the revolt of the Yousafzai tribe which formed the biggest proportion of Pashtun tribes. He offered one rupee for the head of every Yousafzai man brought to his feet. He made Katuha his headquarters and hunted for Muslim Pashtun tribes. He had some of the women spared, but others were kept for Raja Gulab Singh's harem and the rest were sold as slaves in Lahore and Jammu. It was reported that this expedition resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of Pashtun rebels and thousands of women were sold into slavery. In 1863 the Dogra ruler Maharaja Ranbir Singh ordered a major invasion of the frontier areas of Yasin and Hunza to punish Muslim rebels. 3,000 troops were commanded by General Hooshiara Singh who invaded the frontier. The Dogras took all men as prisoners and many Dogra soldiers entered the back portion of the Mandoori Hill which was full of Yasini and Hunza women and their children. Those women who were injured but not dead were burnt alive and approximately 2000 Yasin villagers were killed overall. About 5,000 Yasinis were taken back to Srinagar for forced labor and all their women were included into the harems of Dogra Soldiers.
The last ruling Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir
The last ruler of Jammu and Kashmir was Maharaja Hari Singh, who ascended the throne in 1925. He made primary education compulsory in the State, introduced laws prohibiting child marriage and threw open places of worship for the low castes.
Singh's reign saw the accession of Jammu & Kashmir to the newly independent Indian Union in 1947. He originally manoeuvered to maintain his independence by playing off India and Pakistan against each other. There was an armed freedom movement against Maharaja,s rule especially in the Poonch district of Jammu, when his troops were unable to control these freedom fighters and his troops retreated to Jammu, in October 1947, Singh appealed to India for its help. He acceded to India, though there is considerable controversy over exactly at what point.
In 1951 Singh's rule was terminated by the state government of Indian-administered Kashmir. His son Yuvraj (Crown Prince) Karan Singh was elected 'Sadr-e-Riyasat' ('President of the Province') and Governor of the State in 1964, His Highness Dr. Karan Singh is the present titular Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir.
- (Dogra dynasty: Britanica)
- Rai, Mridu (2004). Hindu Rulers, Muslim Subjects: Islam, Rights, and the History of Kashmir. Princeton University Press. pp. 27, 133. ISBN 0-691-11688-1.
- Raja Lal Singh
- Hastings Donnan, Marriage Among Muslims: Preference and Choice in Northern Pakistan, (Brill, 1997), 41.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Royal House of Jammu and Kashmir.|
- Kashmir and Jammu, The Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1909, v. 15, p. 71.
- Genealogy of the ruling chiefs of Jammu and Kashmir
- Conflict in Kashmir: Selected Internet Resources by the Library, University of California, Berkeley, USA; University of California at Berkeley Library Bibliographies and Web-Bibliographies list
- Brief history of Kashmir rulers with their coinage details
- Brief history of Jammu rulers with a coin image