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Gilgit (Urdu/Burushaski: گلگت, Hindi: गिलगित) is the capital city of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. Gilgit City forms a tehsil of Gilgit, within Gilgit District. Its ancient name was Sargin, later to be known as Gilit, and it is still called Gilit or Sargin-Gilit by local people. In the Burushaski language, it is named Geelt and in Wakhi and Khowar it is called Gilt. Ghallata is considered its name in ancient Sanskrit literature or the name comes from Turkish name gilit or kilit. Gilgit City is one of the two major hubs in the Northern Areas for mountaineering expeditions to the Karakoram and other the peaks in the Himalayas, the other hub being Skardu.
The Dards and Chinas appear in many of the old Pauranic lists of peoples who lived in the region, with the former also mentioned in Ptolemy's accounts of the region. Two famous travellers, Faxian and Xuanzang, traversed Gilgit according to their accounts.
|“||The former rulers had the title of Ra, and there is reason to suppose that they were at one time Hindus, but for the last five centuries and a half they have been Muslims. The names of the Hindu Ras have been lost, with the exception of the last of their number, Shri Buddutt. Tradition relates that he was killed by a Muslim adventurer, who married his daughter and founded a new dynasty, since called Trakhàn, from a celebrated Ra named Trakhan, who reigned about the commencement of the fourteenth century. The previous rulers—of whom Shri Buddutt was the last—were called Shahreis.||”|
The rulers of Hunza and Nager also claim origin with the Trakhàn dynasty. They claim descent from a heroic Kayani Prince of Persia, Azur Jamshid (also known as Shamsher), who secretly married the daughter of the king Shri Badat. She conspired with him to overthrow her cannibal father. Sri Badat's faith is theorised as Hindu by some and Buddhist by others. However, considering the region's Buddhist heritage, with the most recent influence being Islam, the most likely preceding influence of the region is Buddhism. Though the titular Sri and the name Badat denotes a Hindu origin of this ruler.
Prince Azur Jamshid succeeded in overthrowing King Badat who was known as Adam Khor (literally man-eater), often demanding a child a day from his subjects, his demise is still celebrated to this very day by locals in traditional annual celebrations. In the beginning of the new year, where a Juniper procession walks along the river, in memory of chasing the cannibal king Sri Badat away.
Azur Jamshid abdicated after 16 years of rule in favour of his wife Nur Bakht Khatùn until their son and heir Garg, grew of age and assumed the title of Raja and ruled, for 55 years. The dynasty flourished under the name of the Kayani dynasty until 1421 when Raja Torra Khan assumed rulership. He ruled as a memorable king until 1475. He distinguished his family line from his step brother Shah Rais Khan (who fled to the king of Badakshan and with whose help he gained Chitral from Raja Torra Khan), as the now-known dynastic name of Trakhàn. The descendants of Shah Rais Khan were known as the Ra'issiya Dynasty.
|“||The period of greatest prosperity was probably under the Shin Ras, whose rule seems to have been peaceable and settled. The whole population, from the Ra to the poorest subject lived by agriculture. According to tradition, Shri Buddutt's rule extended over Chitral, Yassin, Tangir, Darel, Chilas, Gor, Astor, Hunza, Nagar and Haramosh all of which were held by tributary princes of the same family.||”|
The area had been a flourishing tract but prosperity was destroyed by warfare over the next fifty years, and by the great flood of 1841 in which the river Indus was blocked by a landslip below the Hatu Pir and the valley was turned into a lake. After the death of Abas, Sulaiman Shah, raja of Yasin, conquered Gilgit. Then, Azad Khan, raja of Punial, killed Sulaiman Shah, taking Gilgit; then Tair Shah, raja of Buroshall (Nagar), took Gilgit and killed Azad Khan. Tair Shah's son Shah Sakandar inherited, only to be killed by Gohar Aman Khushwakhte, raja of Yasin of the Khushwakhte Dynasty, when he took Gilgit. Then in 1842, Shah Sakandar's brother, Karim Khan, expelled Gohar Aman with the support of a Sikh army from Kashmir. The Sikh general, Nathu Shah, left garrison troops and Karim Khan ruled until Gilgit was ceded to Gulab Singh of Jammu and Kashmir in 1846 by the Treaty of Amritsar, and Dogra troops replaced the Sikh in Gilgit.
Nathu Shah and Karim Khan both transferred their allegiance to Gulab Singh, continuing local administration. When Hunza attacked in 1848, both of them were killed. Gilgit fell to the Hunza and their Yasin and Punial allies, but was soon reconquered by Gulab Singh's Dogra troops. With the support of Gohar Aman Khushwakhte, Gilgit's inhabitants drove their new rulers out in an uprising in 1852. Gohar Aman Khushwaqte then ruled Gilgit until his death in 1860, just before new Dogra forces from Ranbir Singh, son of Gulab Singh, captured the fort and town. The city was briefly held by Mehtar Aman-ul-Mulk of Chitral for a few months in 1876, eventually the Mehtar agreed to leave Gilgit after Maharaja Ranbir Singh agreed to pay him an annual subsidy and the rule of Jammu was restored. Gilgit came under British rule in 1889, when it was unified with neighbouring Nagar and Hunza in the Gilgit Agency.
- Tribes of the Hindoo Koosh by John Bidduph published by Sang-e-Meel -Publications Page 20
- Drew, Frederic (1875) The Jummoo and Kashmir Territories: A Geographical Account E. Stanford, London, OCLC 1581591, republished a number of times
- The Gilgit Agency, 1877-1935 by Amar Singh Chohan, Atlantic Publishers & Distributors 1984, p4
- Between the Oxus and the Indus by Reginald Charles Francis Schomberg, 1976, p249
- Recent Research on Ladakh 4 & 5: Proceedings of the Fourth and Fifth by Henry Osmaston, Philip Denwood, 1995 Motilal Banarsidas, p226
- History of Northern Areas of Pakistan by Ahmad Hasan Dani, 1989, p163
- Imperial Gazetteer of India. Provincial Series: Kashmir and Jammu, ISBN 0-543-91776-2, Adamant, p107
- Between the Oxus and the Indus by Reginald Charles Francis Schomberg, 1976, p144
- Dissertation page 21
- Recent Research on Ladakh 4 & 5 by Henry Osmaston, Philip Denwood, Motilal Banarsidass Publ. 1995, p229
- History of Civilizations of Central Asia By Ahmad Hasan Dani, Vadim Mikhaĭlovich, Motilal Banarsidass Publ 1999, p216-217
- Tribes of the Hindoo Koosh by John Bidduph published by Sang-e-Meel -Publications Page 20 and 21
- Gilgit - Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 12, p. 238