Historical perspective of Kupwara: In the vale of kashmir

The region of Kupwara, nestled in the breath-taking landscapes of the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, has a compelling historical background that has shaped its cultural and socio-political fabric over the centuries. From ancient times to the present day, Kupwara has been influenced by various dynasties, rulers, and historical events, leaving an indelible mark on its historical narrative.

The history of Kupwara can be traced back the ancient and Medieval Periods, with archaeological evidence indicating human habitation in the region since the Neolithic period. The area was strategically located on the ancient Silk Route, connecting the Indian subcontinent with Central Asia, which facilitated cultural exchanges and trade. During the medieval period, Kupwara witnessed the rise and fall of several dynasties and empires. The region came under the influence of the Mauryas, Kushans and Guptas, who left their indelible mark on the architectural and cultural canvas of the region. This was later followed by the imprints of various medieval kingdoms, including the Shahis, Mughals and the Durrani Empire.

The 16th century witnessed the advent of the Mughal Empire and Kupwara became part of the Mughal Empire’s vast dominions. The Mughal emperors recognized the strategic importance of the region due to its proximity to Central Asia and established administrative centers in the area. Kupwara flourished under Mughal patronage, with the construction of forts, gardens, and other architectural marvels. However, as the Mughal empire started waning in the 18th century, Kupwara came under the control of the Durrani Empire, also known as the Afghan Empire. The region experienced significant political and cultural changes under Afghan rule, with the introduction of new administrative systems and architectural styles. The Afghans left their mark on the region, including the construction of forts and the promotion of Persian cultural influences.

With the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, the process of integration of the princely states started and Jammu and Kashmir were one such princely state under the rule of the then Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh. He initially was hesitant and decided to remain independent with-out siding with any of the newly formed states. Taking advantage of this situation Pakistan launched Operation Gulmarg on October 20-21, 1947 with about 20,000 tribesmen (Kabailis). Pakistan also provided the core group of some officers and men from the regular army to form the hard core of the Raiders and assist in planning, co-ordination and control of operations. Fire support from artillery guns, arms and ammunition was also provided. These raiders thus started their marauding and looting spree by taking over the bridges spanning Neelum River on the Hazara road linking Muzaffarabad and Abbottabad (now Pakistan Illegally Occupied Kashmir-PIOK) and occupied the first major town of Muzaffarabad by October 21 and then moved further towards Uri. The first India-Pakistan War had formally begun that day. Major General (then Colonel) Akbar Khan of the Pakistan Army was the master mind who had organised these attacks in the garb of tribal raiders. The raiders had a plan to reach Srinagar from Handwara & Gulmarg axis to capture and control the Srinagar airport. The ultimate aim of these forces was to isolate Srinagar from the rest of India. On 26th October 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh agreed to accession of Jammu & Kashmir state to the Dominion of India by executing an Instrument of Accession under the provisions of the Indian Independence Act 1947. On 27 October 1947, the then Governor-General of India, Lord Mountbatten accepted the accession and following the accession of the state to India, Indian troops were airlifted to Srinagar, the state capital. India airlifted troops and equipment to Srinagar under the command of Lt. Col. Dewan Ranjit Rai, MVC (Posthmous) where they reinforced the princely state forces, established a defence perimeter and defeated the tribal forces on the outskirts of the city. Initial operations included the notable defense of Badgam holding both the capital and airfield overnight against extreme odds where in Maj Somnath Sharma was awarded the prestigious Param Vir Chakra posthumously for his gallantry action and sacrifice during the Battle of Badgam. The successful defence included an outflanking manoeuvre by Indian armoured cars during the Battle of Shalateng. The defeated tribal forces were pursued as far as Baramulla and Uri and these towns were recaptured. With this came into existence the Line of Control and Kupwara being located near the Line of Control, witnessed significant geopolitical changes and conflicts in the subsequent years. The region has been impacted by various political developments and on-going territorial disputes.

Despite the challenges faced, Kupwara has retained its historical charm and cultural heritage. The historical background of the region provides a contextual backdrop for understanding the formation of its religious, social, and cultural identity. The historical influences have shaped the architecture, traditions, and way of life in Kupwara, making it a fascinating destination for those interested in exploring its historical roots.

Ideas, Opinions and Views expressed in articles are Writer’s own and may not be in accord with those of The Morn

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