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For other uses, see Kashmiri (disambiguation).
کٲشُر لُکھ
कॉशुर लुख
Regions with significant populations
 India 5,527,698 (2001)[1]
 Pakistan 124,000 (2004)[2]
Hindi, Urdu, also spoken widely as second language[3]
Related ethnic groups
Other Dard people
Political Map: the Kashmir region districts, showing the Pir Panjal range and the Kashmir Valley.

The Kashmiris (Kashmiri: کٲشُر لُکھ / कॉशुर लुख) are a Indo-Aryan Dardic ethnic group[4] living in or originating from the Kashmir Valley, located in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The bulk of Kashmiri people predominantly live in the Kashmir Valley and also form a majority of the population in the Chenab region's Doda, Ramban and Kishtwar districts. Smaller populations of Kashmiris also live in the remaining districts of the Jammu and Kashmir state. Most Kashmiris today are Muslim but a sizable Hindu community also exists. Other ethnic groups living in the Jammu and Kashmir state include Gujjars, [5] Dogras,[6] Paharis and Ladakhis.[7]


The archaeological and scientific evidence of life in Kashmir goes back to the Neolithic and the Pre-Historic times. The most important piece of evidence for this is the Burzahom archaeological site located on a 'karewa' between the banks of the Dal Lake and the Zabarvan hills, about five kilometers from the famous Mughal garden of Shalimar. After the discovery and excavation of Burzahom, other Neolithic sites were discovered in Kashmir at places such as Begagund, Brah, Gofkral, Hariparigom, etc. all located on karewas mainly in the south-east parts of the Kashmir valley. Burzahom translates as 'place [hom] of birch [burza]' in Kashmiri. Burnt birch found in the excavations showed that birch trees must have been common in the area in the Stone Age. Plentiful food from the forests on the Himalayan foothills, an abundant water supply from the lake, and a raised location protected from seasonal inundation ensured that the Burzahom plateau remained continuously settled from the New Stone Age to the Early Historical period.[8]


Further information: Kashmiri language

Kashmiri (/kæʃˈmɪəri/)[6] (कॉशुर, کأشُر), or Koshur, is spoken primarily in the Kashmir Valley and Chenab regions of Jammu and Kashmir. According to many linguists, the Kashmiri language is a northwestern Dardic language of the Indo-Aryan family, descending from Middle Indo-Aryan languages. The label "Dardic" indicates a geographical label for the languages spoken in the northwester mountain regions, not a linguistic label.[4] UCLA estimates the number of speakers as being around 4.4 million, with a preponderance in the Kashmir Valley,[9] whereas the 2001 census of India records over 5.5 million speakers.[1] There are estimated to be around 124,000 Kashmiris in various parts of Azad Kashmir in Pakistan.[3] Kashmiri is believed to be the only one among the Dardic languages that has a written literature.[4] Kashmiri literature dates back to over 750 years, comparable to that of most modern languages.[10]

Religion and migration[edit]

Further information: Kashmiri Pandit and Kashmiri Muslim

Islam arrived to Kashmir starting with the conversion in 1323 of Rinchan, at the hands of the saint, Bulbul Sha.[11] After conversion to Islam he called himself Malik Sadur-ud-Din and was the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir. He was subsequently killed by the Kashmiris. Since the arrival of invaders and the start of religious conflicts, before the Partition of India, many Kashmir Hindus and Buddhists migrated to other regions.[12][13][14]

Drought of 19th century[edit]

During the year 1800, a severe drought swept across Kashmir, which caused many in the region to migrate out of the Kashmir Valley, and south of the Jhelum River into the Punjab region. Those who migrated entered mainly into agriculture, and by the 1820s, after the drought passed, many of the Kashmiri immigrants returned to the Kashmir Valley. Many, however, remained in Punjab as they had settled comfortably. Some chose to continue migrating southwards.[15]


Kashmiri cuisine and culture has been greatly influenced by Central Asian and Persian culture. Kashmiri culture is defined in terms of religious values, Kashmiri language, literature, cuisine and traditional values of mutual respect. The overwhelming majority of Kashmiris are Muslims and Islamic identity plays a very important role in the daily lives of people. Kashmiris across the religious divide have for centuries shared cordial and friendly ties. Kashmiri poets and writers like Mehjoor, Abdul Ahad Azad, etc. enriched the literature with their poetry.[16] Kashmiri cuisine holds a unique place among different world cuisines. Salted tea or Noon Chai is the traditional drink and is cooked in a samavar, a Kashmiri tea-pot. Kashmir has been noted for its fine arts for centuries, including poetry and handicrafts.[citation needed] Shikaras, traditional small wooden boats, and houseboats are a common feature in various lakes and rivers across the Valley. Kehwa, traditional green tea with spices and almond, is served on special occasions and festivals. Kashmiri weddings are regarded incomplete[citation needed] without the Kashmiri traditional food known as wazwan, which is typically spicy food cooked by the traditional cooks (waz). Wazwan is a multi-course meal in which almost all the dishes are meat-based.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues – 2000, Census of India, 2001
  2. ^ Pakistan – Languages, Ethnologue—Languages of the World.
  3. ^ a b c "Kashmiri: A language of India". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  4. ^ a b c Munshi, S. (2010), "Kashmiri", Concise Encyclopedia of Languages of the World, Elsevier, pp. 582–, ISBN 978-0-08-087775-4 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Minahan.J.B., (2012), Dogras, Ethnic Groups of South Asia and the Pacific: An Encyclopedia
  7. ^
  8. ^ Renfrew, Colin. The Cambridge World Prehistory. Cambridge University Press. pp. 872–876. ISBN 1107647754. 
  9. ^ "UCLA Languages Project: Kashmiri". UCLA International Institute. Retrieved 24 March 2012. 
  10. ^ Ghulam Rasool Malik, Kashmiri Literature, Muse India, June 2006.
  11. ^ Troll, C. (1982). Mahmud of Ghori never entered Kashmir he was defeated soundly by Hindu Kashmir. Islam in india: Studies and commentaries. Stosius Inc/Advent Books Division.
  12. ^ Gottschalk, P. (2012). Religion, science, and empire: Classifying hinduism and islam in british india. (pp. 400, 234-354). USA: Oxford University Press.
  13. ^ Hees, P. (2002). Indian religions: A historical reader of spiritual expression and experience. NYU Press
  14. ^ Bayly, S. (2001). Caste, society and politics in india from the eighteenth century to the modern age (The New Cambridge History of India). (1st & 4th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  15. ^ Kashmiris’ contribution to Ludhianvi culture. The Tribune. Retrieved 25 March 2007. 
  16. ^ Poetry and renaissance: Kumaran Asan birth centenary volume. Sameeksha. Retrieved 2015-08-12. 

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