Kashmir and Jammu (princely state)

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Jammu and Kashmir
Princely State of British India




Flag of Kashmir

Flag of Jammu and Kashmir from 1936

Location of Kashmir
Map of Kashmir
Historical era New Imperialism
 -  Established 1846
 -  Disestablished 1952
Today part of China, India and Pakistan

Kashmir and Jammu was, from 1846 until 1952, a princely state in the British Empire in India, and was ruled by Jamwal Dogra Dynasty.[1] The state was created in 1846 when, after its victory in the First Anglo-Sikh War, the East India Company annexed the Kashmir valley and on the counsel of Henry Lawrence to Lord Hardinge, in order to make good on the financial loss incurred during the Anglo-Sikh war, Kashmir was sold by the British to Gulab Singh for 7,500,000 rupees of all the lands in Kashmir that were ceded to them by the Sikhs under the Treaty of Lahore.[2]

According to the treaty, the state was "situated to the westward of the river Indus and eastward of the river Ravi", and covered an area of 80,900 square miles (210,000 km2).[3] Later, the regions of Hunza, Nagar, and Gilgit were added to the state.

At the time of the partition of India, Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of the state, preferred to remain independent and did not want to join either the Union of India or the Dominion of Pakistan. He wanted both India and Pakistan to recognise his princely state as an independent neutral country like Switzerland.[4]


Flag of J&K (1846–1936)
Flag of Maharaja of J&K (1846–1936)

Prior to the creation of the princely state, Kashmir was ruled by the Pashtun Durrani Empire, until it was annexed by Sikhs led by Ranjit Singh.[5] During Sikh rule, Jammu was a tributary of the Sikh Empire.

After the death of the Raja of Jammu, Kishore Singh, in 1822, his son Gulab Singh was recognised by the Sikhs as his heir. He then, initially under the Sikhs, began expanding his kingdom.[6]

As Raja of Jammu, Gulab Singh conquered Bhadarwah after a slight resistance. He then annexed Kishtwar after the minister, Wazir Lakhpat, quarrelled with the ruler and sought the assistance of Gulab Singh. The Raja of Kishtwar surrendered without fighting when Gulab Singh's forces arrived. The conquest of Kishtwar meant that Singh had gained control of two of the roads which led into Ladakh, which then led to the conquest of that territory. Although there were huge difficulties due to the mountains and glaciers, the Dogras under Gulab Singh's officer, Zorawar Singh, conquered the whole of Ladakh in two campaigns.[7]

A few years later, in 1840, General Zorawar Singh invaded Baltistan, captured the Raja of Skardu, who had sided with the Ladakhis, and annexed his country. The following year (1841) Zorawar Singh, while invading Tibet, was overtaken by winter and, as a result of being attacked when his troops were disabled by cold, perished with nearly his entire army. Whether it was policy or whether it was accident, by 1840 Gulab Singh had encircled Kashmir.[7]

In the winter of 1845, war broke out between the British and the Sikhs. Gulab Singh remained neutral until the battle of Sobraon in 1846, when he appeared as a useful mediator and the trusted adviser of Sir Henry Lawrence. Two treaties were concluded. By the first, the State of Lahore was handed over to the British, as equivalent to an indemnity of ten million rupee Nanakshahee, the hill countries between the rivers Beas and the Indus; by the second, the British made over to Gulab Singh for 7.5 million rupees all the hilly or mountainous country situated to the east of the Indus and west of the Ravi.[7]

Rani Jindan's lover and chief minister of the Sikh empire, Lal Singh, who later became the prime minister of the Sikh empire, asked the governor of Kashmir, Imam-Uddin, to resist the force of Dogras, which was going there to replace Sikhs as the newly founded state. Gulab Singh and British forces ousted the governor and appointed Gulab Singh as the new Maharaja of Kashmir and Jammu. For this treachery, Lal Singh faced the wrath of the British Empire. Imam-uddin showed the British and Gulab Singh the documents which had been sent to him by the Sikh Empire, which caused him to attack the Dogra Forces, which were on their way to replace Sikh forces in the Kashmir valley. Lal Singh was removed from the post and also banished from entering the Punjab Region.[8]



S.no Name Reign
1. Gulab Singh 1846–1857
2. Ranbir Singh 1857–1885
3. Pratap Singh 1885–1925
4. Hari Singh 1925–1948
5. Karan Singh (Prince Regent) 1948-1952

Prime ministers[edit]

# Name Took Office Left Office
1 Raja Hari Singh 1925 1927
2 Sir Albion Banerjee January, 1927 March, 1929
3 G.E.C. Wakefield 1929 1931
4 1933
5 Elliot James Dowell Colvin 1933 1936
6 Sir Barjor J. Dalal 1936 1936
7 Sir N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar 1936 July, 1943
8 Kailas Narain Haksar July, 1943 February, 1944
9 Sir Benegal Narsing Rau February, 1944 28 June 1945
10 Ram Chandra Kak 28 June 1945 11 August 1947
11 Janak Singh 11 August 1947 15 October 1947


Not long afterwards the Hunza Raja, attacked Gilgit territory. Nathu Shah on behalf of Gulab Singh responded by leading a force to attack the Hunza valley; he and his force were destroyed, and Gilgit fort fell into the hands of the Hunza Raja, along with Punial, Yasin, and Darel. The Maharaja then sent two columns, one from Astor and one from Baltistan, and after some fighting Gilgit fort was recovered. In 1852 the Dogra troops were annihilated by Gaur Rahman of Yasin, and for eight years the Indus formed the boundary of the Maharaja's territories.[9]

Gulab Singh died in 1857; and when his successor, Ranbir Singh, had recovered from the strain caused by the Indian Rebellion, in which he had loyally sided with the British, he was determined to recover Gilgit and to expand to the frontier. In 1860 a force under Devi Singh crossed the Indus, and advanced on Gaur Rahman's strong fort at Gilgit. Gaur Rahman had died just before the arrival of the Dogras. The fort was taken and held by the Maharajas of Kashmir and Jammu until 1947.[9] Capturing Gligit was not the last frontier, determine to expand their land they capture the fort of Yasin and Punial however the lack of funds and to make more stronger barrier against Invaders they fell back to Gilgit and hold it until the Independence of Indian Subcontinent from British Rule.[10]

Gulab Singh's grandson Pratap Singh defeated Ruler of Chitral in 1891 and forced Hunza and Nagar to accept the suzerainty of the Kashmir and Jammu state.[11]

Ranbir Singh although tolerant of other creeds lacked his father's strong will and determination, and his control over the State officials was weak. The latter part of his life was darkened by the dreadful famine in Kashmir, 1877-9; and in September 1885, he was succeeded: by his eldest son, Maharaja Pratap Singh, G.C.S.I.[9]


1909 map showing Kashmir.

The area of the state extended from 32° 17' to 36° 58' N. and from 73° 26' to 80° 30' E.[3] Jammu was the southernmost part of the state and was adjacent to the Punjab districts of Jhelum, Gujrat, Sialkot, and Gurdaspur. There is just a fringe of level land along the Punjab frontier, bordered by a plinth of low hilly country sparsely wooded, broken, and irregular. This is known as the Kandi, the home of the Chibs and the Dogras. To travel north, a range of mountains 8,000 feet (2,400 m) high must be climbed. This is a temperate country with forests of oak, rhododendron, chestnut, and higher up, of deodar and pine, a country of uplands, such as Bbadarwah and Kishtwar, drained by the deep gorge of the Chenab river. The steps of the Himalayan range, known as the Pir Panjal, lead to the second storey, on which rests the valley of Kashmir, drained by the Jhelum river.[3]

Up steeper flights of the Himalayas led to Astore and Baltistan on the north and to Ladakh on the east, a tract drained by the river Indus. In the back premises, faraway to the north-west, lies Gilgit, west and north of the Indus, the whole area shadowed by a wall of giant mountains which run east from the Kilik or Mintaka passes of the Hindu Kush, leading to the Pamirs and the Chinese dominions past Rakaposhi (25,561 ft), along the Muztagh range past K2 (Godwin Austen, 28,265 feet), Gasherbrum and Masherbrum (28,100 and 28,561 feet (8,705 m) respectively) to the Karakoram range which merges in the Kunlun Mountains. Westward of the northern angle above Hunza-Nagar the maze of mountains and glaciers trends a little south of east along the Hindu Kush range bordering Chitral, and so on into the limits of Kafiristan and Afghan territory.[3]


There used to be a route from Kohala to Leh, it was possible to travel from Rawalpindi via Kohala and over the Kohala Bridge into Kashmir. The route from Kohala to Srinagar was a cart-road 132 miles (212 km) in length, from Kohala to Baramulla the road was close to the River Jhelum. At Muzaffarabad the Kishenganga River joins the Jhelum and at this point the road from Abbottabad and Garhi Habibullah meet the Kashmir route. The road carried heavy traffic and required expensive maintenance by the authorities to repair.[12]


In 1893, after 52 hours of continuous rain, very serious flooding took place in the Jhelum and much damage was done to Srinagar. The floods of 1903 were much more severe and it caused a great disaster.[13]

End of the princely state[edit]

In 1947 the Indian Independence Act was passed dividing British India into two independent states, the Dominions of Pakistan and India. According to the Act, "the suzerainty of His Majesty over the Indian States lapses, and with it, all treaties and agreements in force at the date of the passing of this Act between His Majesty and the rulers of Indian States",[14] so each of the princely states would be free to join India or Pakistan or to remain independent. Most of the princes acceded to one or the other of the two nations.

Jammu and Kashmir had a Muslim majority but was ruled by a Hindu Raja. On 2 October 1947, the Working Committee of the National Conference met under Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah's presidency and took the decision to support the accession of the State to India. The decision of the Working Committee was conveyed to Nehru by another Kashmiri, Dwarka Nath Kachroo, the Secretary General of the All India States Peoples' Conference, who was invited to attend the Working Committee meeting of the National Conference as an observer.[citation needed]

Maharaja Hari Singh wanted his state to remain independent, joining neither Pakistan nor India. For this reason, he offered a standstill agreement (to maintain the status quo) to both India and Pakistan. India refused the offer but Pakistan accepted it. The Maharaja was advised by Mehr Chand Mahajan, who later became his Prime Minister, that a landlocked country such as Kashmir would be soon engulfed by foreign powers such as the USSR or China.[15]

The Gilgit Scouts staged a rebellion in the Northern Areas under British command; as a result, this region became effectively a part of Pakistan (and has since been administered by Pakistan). Subsequently tribal Kabailis (Mehsuds and Afridis) from the Northwest Frontier Province invaded Kashmir proper. The Pakistan Army's British chiefs, Sir Frank Messervy and Douglas Gracey, refused to involve the armed forces.

With independence no longer an option, the Maharaja turned to India, requesting troops for safeguarding Kashmir. Although the Indian Prime Minister Nehru was ready to send troops, the Governor-General of India, Lord Mountbatten of Burma, advised the Maharaja to accede to India before India would send its troops. Hence, considering the emergent situation, the Maharaja signed an Instrument of Accession to the Dominion of India.

As the invading tribal Kabailis spread into the princely state, the Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession to the Dominion of India on 26 October 1947. Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah had already reached Delhi on 25 October to persuade Nehru to lose no time in accepting the accession and dispatching Indian troops to the State. (Sheikh Abdullah corroborates this account in his Aatish e Chinaar (at pages 416 and 417) and records that V.P. Menon returned to Delhi on 26 October with the signed Instrument of Accession.)

The Instrument was accepted by the Governor-General the next day, 27 October. With the signature of the Maharaja and the acceptance by the Governor-General, the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir became a part of the Dominion of India according to the provisions of the Indian Independence Act 1947. Indian troops landed at Srinagar airport in Kashmir on 27 October and secured the airport before proceeding to evict the invaders from the Kashmir valley.

The princely state of Kashmir and Jammu, thus came under Indian suzerainty on 27 October 1947, with a portion of it having passed to Pakistan's control. The Maharaja appointed Sheikh Abdullah as the Prime Minister and, in 1948, appointed his son Karan Singh as the Prince Regent to act on his behalf. Jammu and Kashmir operated as a princely state under Indian control till 1952 when the Constitution of India came into effect abolishing monarchies. Karan Singh then accepted th post of Sadar-i-Riyasat (constitutional Head of State).

See also[edit]


This article incorporates text from the Imperial Gazetteer of India, a publication now in the public domain.