A brief History of Srinagar
This more than 2000 years old city with a written history and a vital link connecting the Silk Route is incomplete without its geographical beauty, rich cultural heritage, historical architecture, age-old traditions & beliefs, indigenous food habits, handicrafts, and never-ending hospitality.
In 2021, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) picked up Srinagar City as part of the creative city network under the Crafts and Folk Arts category.
The history of Srinagar would be incomplete without discussing the city's earliest settlement, known as 'Shahr-e-Khass' or Downtown. It is home to exquisite masjids, shrines, temples, antique buildings built in a close-knit community, and the main seven bridges that connect the two sides of the Jhelum River. All of them depict the rich history and fascinating stories of this ancient city and its inhabitants.
Srinagar was founded by King Pravarsena II of the Vakataka dynasty about 2000 years ago. Srinagar has been ruled by great monarchs of tremendous empires over the centuries, including Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh rulers. Between the 3rd and 1st centuries BCE, King Ashoka of the Mauryan empire, a renowned proponent of Buddhism, introduced Buddhism to the valley. In Srinagar's Harwan city, there is evidence that the town was ruled by the Kushans in the first century AD.
The region was dominated by Hindu monarchs until the 14th century. However, huge conversions occurred in the 14th century, and the majority of the population converted to Islam. Muslim preachers, who mainly traveled via the Silk Route, had some local followers who had converted their religion. Historians believe that Srinagar became the capital of Kashmir during the reign of Yusuf Shah Chak, Kashmir's final indigenous monarch. Previously, the city's capital was known as 'Pandrethan.' Mughal King Akbar mischievously imprisoned Chak, which resulted in the Mughal conquest of Kashmir.
When the last Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb, died in 1707, Srinagar fell into the hands of the Durranis. Srinagar remained the city in 1814, when the Sikhs governed the region under Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Following the First Anglo-Sikh War, the Treaty of Amritsar was signed in 1846 between the British East India Company and Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu, bringing the state of Jammu and Kashmir under British control.