Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Cashmere (variously spelt, but Kashmir according to latest Indian authorities), a country of Northern Hindostan, bordering upon Thibet, is a mountainous region forming part of the Himalayan system. It includes valleys as well as mountains, the best known being the "Vale of Cashmere," celebrated both in history and poetry for its fertility, and for the beauty of its scenery. This valley is surrounded on all sides by the Himalayas, and lies mostly between lat. 33° 30' and 34° 35' N. and long. 74° 20' and 75° 40' E., thus being about 120 miles long and about 80 miles wide, and having an estimated area of 5,100 square miles, being about 5,500 ft. above sea-level. The river which flows through the valley is the Jhelum, and there are two lakes in its course, through one of which it flows before changing its course westward to enter the Punjab. The best roads to the capital, Serinagur or Srinagar, are one of about 130 miles, from Rawal Pindi in the Punjab through the Jhelum valley, and another from Bhimbar, north of Gujerat, by a pass 11,000 ft. above sea-level, over the Pir Panjal range. The floating gardens of the lakes are a conspicuous feature. The valley is renowned for the abundance and variety of its fruit, and the vine is largely cultivated. The capital is upon both banks of the river, which is spanned by seven bridges; and its people are much occupied in shawl-weaving and in lacquer work, besides working in silver and copper. Cashmere became part of the Mogul empire in the sixteenth century, and was overrun by Sikhs in 1819, and its Maharajah is now under the protection of the British Government. It is now in great repute as a health station. The ruling people in Cashmere are high-caste Hindus, who in their upland valleys have better preserved the primitive Aryan type than those of the plains. Thus the colour is even of a lighter brown than amongst the Rajputs, while the women are often fairer than those of Andalusia. The men are of medium height, with slightly aquiline nose, large eyes, often blue or light green, thin lips, chestnut hair, full silky beard, square shoulders, and thick-set frames, but like most Asiatics, falling off in the lower extremities. They wear a flowing woollen tunic and wide pantaloons, and dwell in houses whose wooden roofs and gables present a striking resemblance to the Swiss chalets. The language is a neo-Sanscritic dialect of intricate structure, written in a still more intricate character derived from the Devanagari. Most of the people of the Vale of Cashmere are Mohammedans of the Sunnite sect, though there are numerous Shiah communities in the towns, chiefly weavers. Some are also still Brahmans, while others have joined the religion of the Sikhs. Owing to a succession of calamities - epidemic, earthquakes, famine, and maladministration - the population fell from 800,000 in 1826 to 492,000 in 1873; but since then it has again increased, and now (1890) numbers about 1,500,000.