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Srinagar History, India

The city of Srinagar has a pretty long history – dating back to the heydays of the Maurya Empire. Documented history reveals that the old city of Srinagar (rather modern Pandrethan or ancient Puranadhisthana) was founded by Emperor Asoka in the 1st century BC. Towards the end of the 6th century AD, the old city of Puranadhisthan was abandoned in favor of the new city of Pravarasenapura (modern Srinagar) established by King Pravarasena II.

History of Srinagar and Various Religions

Religions, especially Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam seem to have played an important role in shaping the history of Srinagar. During Asoka’s rule, the city emerged as an important centre of Buddhism. This dominance of Buddhism continued even as the region came under the control of the Kushanas (and the strongest evidence of this is that the Fourth Buddhist Council, which took place during the reign of Kaniska, was held in Kashmir). After the Kushanas, Vikramaditya (of Ujjain) and his descendants ruled the region; this was followed by a brief dark period in the history of Srinagar (and Kashmir) when the Huns seized power.

The rules of kings like Pravarasena, Avantivarman, Jayapida and Lalitaditya saw patronization of both Buddhism and Hinduism and Srinagar (in fact, the entire Kashmir Valley) remained a stronghold of these two faiths until about the 14th century when Muslim rulers invaded the city. Zain-ul-Abidin and Yusuf Shah Chak are among the prominent Muslim rulers, who ruled over the region. Emperor Akbar annexed the Kashmir Valley (of course, including Srinagar) to extend the Mughal Empire.

Following the disintegration of the Mughal Empire after the death of Aurangzeb (in 1707), Pashtun tribes gained control of the region and Srinagar became a part of the Durrani Empire (also referred to as the Afghan Empire).

The city came under the influence of Sikhism when in the year 1814 Maharaja Ranjit Singhji took possession of a major part of the Kashmir Valley, including Srinagar city.

The British Rule

After the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singhji (in 1839), the British forced their successors to sign the Treaty of Lahore in 1846. The treaty granted the British de-facto sovereignty over the Kashmir Valley and they declared it as a princely state, naming Gulab Singh (of the Dogra clan) as its independent ruler for his treacherous role in the undoing of the Sikhs.

History of Srinagar in the Post-Independence Era

Even after India became independent on Aug 15, 1947, the Dogra ruler of the region retained its autonomous status. However, the huge Muslim population of the city posed a threat for the autonomy – they started revolting against the Hindu Dogra ruler and were even helped by Pakistani forces. A major part of Srinagar was captured by the Pakistan Army. Hari Singh, the great grandson of Gulab Singh, had no options left before him but to sign a treaty with the Indian Government and gave his consent to integrate his kingdom into the Republic of India.

As per this treaty, army contingents were air-lifted to Srinagar to defend the city. Things took such an ugly turn that the United Nations was forced to intervene. The UN imposed cease fire but a part of Kashmir is still occupied by Pakistan. The PoK (Pakistan occupied Kashmir) land remains a bone of contention between India and Pakistan even to this day. Although the city of Srinagar is a part of Indian Administration, the city feels the heat of these conflicts.

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