Srinagar

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Srinagar is the summer capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It lies in the Kashmir Valley, on the banks of the Jhelum River, a tributary of the Indus. The city is famous for its gardens, lakes and houseboats. It is also known for traditional Kashmiri handicrafts and dried fruits.

 

The city is said to have been named by the King Pravarasena II over 2,000 years ago, named it Parvasenpur. The city was then a part of the Maurya Empire, one of the largest empires of the Indian subcontinent.[citation needed] Ashoka introduced Buddhism to the Kashmir valley, and the adjoining regions around the city became a centre of Buddhism. In the 1st century, the region was under the control of Kushans, based out of modern Pakistan and Afghanistan. Several rulers of this dynasty strengthened the Buddhist tradition.[citation needed] Vikramaditya (of Ujjain) and his successors probably ruled the regions just before the city fell to the control of the Huns-a nomadic tribe from central Asia in the 6th century, and Mihirkula was the most dreaded ruler of the city and the valley.

 

Srinagar became the capital of Kashmir around 960 CE.

 

The independent Hindu and the Buddhist rule of Srinagar lasted until the 14th century when the Kashmir valley, including the city, came under the control of the several Muslim rulers, including the Mughals. It was also the capital during the reign of Yusuf Shah Chak, an Independent Kashmiri ruler who was tricked by Akbar when Akbar failed to conquer Kashmir by force. Yusuf Shah Chak remains buried in Bihar in India. Akbar established Mughal rule in Srinagar and Kashmir valley.

 

With the disintegration of the Mughal empire after the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, infiltrations to the valley from the Pashtun tribes increased, and the Durrani Empire ruled the city for several decades. Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab province annexed a major part of the Kashmir Valley, including Srinagar, to his kingdom in the year 1814 and the city came under the influence of the Sikhs. In 1846, the Treaty of Lahore was signed between the Sikh rulers and the British in Lahore. The treaty inter alia provided British de facto suzerainty over the Kashmir Valley and installed Gulab Singh as an independent and sovereign ruler of the region. Srinagar became part of his kingdom and remained until 1947 as one of several princely states in British India. The Maharajas choose Sher Garhi Palace as their main Srinagar residence.

 

After India and Pakistan’s independence from Britain, villagers around the city of Poonch began an armed protest at continued rule of the Maharaja on 17 August 1947. In view of the Poonch uprising, certain Pashtun tribes such as Mehsud and Afridi from mountainous region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of Pakistan and with its collusion, entered the Kashmir valley to capture it on 22 October 1947. The Maharaja, who had refused to accede to either India or Pakistan in hopes of securing his own independent state, signed the instrument of accession in exchange for refuge on 26 October 1947, as Pakistani-backed tribesmen approached the outskirts of Srinagar. The Accession was accepted by India the next day. The government of India immediately airlifted Indian troops to Srinagar and prevented the tribesmen from reaching the city.

 

In 1989, Srinagar became the focus of the Kashmiri uprising against Indian rule and the Indian military, who had occupied Kashmir since 1947, and the area continues to be a highly politicized hotbed of separatist activity with frequent spontaneous protests and strikes (“bandhs” in local parlance). On 19 January 1990, the Gawakadal massacre of at least 50 unarmed protestors by Indian forces, and up to 280 by some estimates from eyewitness accounts, set the stage for bomblasts, shootouts, and curfews that characterized Srinagar throughout the early and mid-1990s. Further massacres in the spring of 1990 in which 51 unarmed protesters were allegedly killed by Indian security forces in Zakura and Tengpora heightened anti-Indian sentiments in Srinagar.

 

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