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Photograph of a Kashmiri family group in the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, taken by an unknown photographer in the 1890s.
Regions with significant populations
 India (Jammu and Kashmir)6,797,587 (2011)*[1]
 Pakistan (outside Azad Kashmir)353,064 (2017)*[2]
 Pakistan (Azad Kashmir)132,450 (as per 1998 census)[3]
Star and Crescent.svg
(Sunni majority, Shia minority)
Related ethnic groups
Other Indo-Aryan peoples

*The population figures are only for the number of speakers of the Kashmiri language. May not include ethnic Kashmiris who no longer speak the Kashmiri language.

Kashmiris (Kashmiri pronunciation: [kəːʃirʲ]) are an Indo-Aryan ethnolinguistic group[5] speaking the Kashmiri language, living mostly, but not exclusively, in the Kashmir Valley.


Main article: History of Kashmir

For the 1954–2019 history, see Jammu and Kashmir (state) § History.

The earliest known Neolithic sites in Kashmir valley are from c. 3000 BCE. The most important sites are at Burzahom.[6][7] During the later Vedic period, the Uttara–Kurus settled in Kashmir.[8][9] In 326 BCE, Abisares, the king of Kashmir,[a] aided Porus against Alexander the Great in the Battle of Hydaspes. After the battle, Abhisares submitted to Alexander by sending him treasures and elephants.[11][12]

During the reign of Ashoka (304–232 BCE), Kashmir became part of the Maurya Empire and the city of Srinagari (Srinagar) was built.[13] Kanishka (127–151 CE), an emperor of the Kushan dynasty, conquered Kashmir.[14] In the eighth century, during the Karkota Empire, Kashmir grew as an imperial power.[15] Lalitaditya Muktapida defeated Yashovarman of Kanyakubja and conquered the eastern kingdoms of Magadha, Kamarupa, Gauda, and Kalinga. He defeated the Arabs at Sindh.[16][17][15] The Utpala dynasty, founded by Avantivarman, followed the Karkotas.[18] Queen Didda, who descended from the Hindu Shahis of Udabhandapura on her mother's side, took over as ruler in the second half of the 10th century.[15] After her death in 1003 CE the Lohara dynasty ruled the region.[19]

In 1339 Shah Mir became the ruler of Kashmir, establishing the Shah Mir dynasty. During the rule of the Shah Mir dynasty Islam spread in Kashmir. From 1586 to 1751 the Mughal Empire ruled Kashmir. The Afghan Durrani Empire ruled from 1747 until 1819. The Sikhs, under Ranjit Singh, annexed Kashmir in 1819. In 1846, after the First Anglo-Sikh War, the Treaty of Lahore was signed and upon the purchase of the region from the British under the Treaty of Amritsar, the Raja of Jammu, Gulab Singh, became ruler of Kashmir. The rule of the Dogra dynasty under the British Crown lasted until 1947, when the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir became part of India. It is now a disputed territory, administered by three countries: India, Pakistan, and the People's Republic of China.

Geographic distribution

See also: States of India by Kashmiri speakers, Kashmiris in Azad Kashmir, Kashmiris in Punjab, and Kashmiri language

There are about 6.8 million speakers of Kashmiri and related dialects in Jammu and Kashmir and amongst the Kashmiri diaspora in other states of India.[20] Most Kashmiris are located in the Kashmir Valley and other areas of Jammu and Kashmir.[21] In the Kashmir valley, they form a majority.

Kashmiri is spoken by roughly five percent of Azad Kashmir's population.[22] According to the 1998 Pakistan Census, there were 132,450 Kashmiri speakers in Azad Kashmir.[23] Native speakers of the language were dispersed in "pockets" throughout Azad Kashmir,[24][25] particularly in the districts of Muzaffarabad (15%), Neelam (20%) and Hattian (15%), with very small minorities in Haveli (5%) and Bagh (2%).[23] The Kashmiri spoken in Muzaffarabad is distinct from, although still intelligible with, the Kashmiri of the Neelam Valley to the north.[25] In Neelam Valley, Kashmiri is the second most widely spoken language and the majority language in at least a dozen or so villages, where in about half of these, it is the sole mother tongue.[25] The Kashmiri dialect of Neelum is closer to the variety spoken in northern Kashmir Valley, particularly Kupwara.[25] At the 2017 Census of Pakistan, as many as 350,000 people declared their first language to be Kashmiri.[26][27]

A process of language shift is observable among Kashmiri-speakers in Azad Kashmir according to linguist Tariq Rahman, as they gradually adopt local dialects such as Pahari-Pothwari, Hindko or move towards the lingua franca Urdu.[28][24][29][25] This has resulted in these languages gaining ground at the expense of Kashmiri.[30][31] There have been calls for the promotion of Kashmiri at an official level; in 1983, a Kashmiri Language Committee was set up by the government to patronise Kashmiri and impart it in school-level education. However, the limited attempts at introducing the language have not been successful, and it is Urdu, rather than Kashmiri, that Kashmiri Muslims have seen as their identity symbol.[32] Rahman notes that efforts to organise a Kashmiri language movement have been challenged by the scattered nature of the Kashmiri-speaking community in Azad Kashmir.[32]


The Kashmiri language is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India.[33] It was a part of the eighth Schedule in the former constitution of the Jammu and Kashmir. Along with other regional languages mentioned in the Sixth Schedule, as well as Hindi and Urdu, the Kashmiri language was to be developed in the state.[34]

An example of early Sharada script in the Bakhshali manuscript (left); Stone Slab in Verinag in Perso-Arabic script (right)

Persian began to be used as the court language in Kashmir during the 14th centuries, under the influence of Islam. It was replaced by Urdu in 1889 during the Dogra rule.[35][36] In 2020, Kashmiri became an official language in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir for the first time.[37][38][39]

Kashmiri is closely related to Poguli and Kishtwari, which are spoken in the mountains to the south of the Kashmir Valley and have sometimes been counted as dialects of Kashmiri.

Krams (surnames)

See also: Kashmiri Muslim tribes from Hindu lineage

Kashmiri Hindu priests in the 1890s
Kashmiri Hindu priests in the 1890s

Kashmiri Hindus claim to be Saraswat Brahmins and are known by the exonym Pandit.[40] The Muslims living in Kashmir are of the same stock as the Kashmiri Pandit community and are designated as Kashmiri Muslims.[41] Kashmiri Muslims are descended from Kashmiri Hindus and are also known as 'Sheikhs'.[42][43][44] Both the Kashmiri Hindus and Muslim society reckons descent patrilineally. Certain property and titles may be inherited through the male line, but certain inheritances may accrue through the female line. After Kashmiri Hindus had converted to Islam they largely retained their family names (kram) which indicated their original profession, locality or community.[45] These include:


Kashmiri Samovar and Noon Chai

Main article: Culture of Kashmir


Main article: Music of Jammu and Kashmir § Kashmir

Some traditional types of music of Kashmir are Chakri, Henzae, and Ladishah.

A traditional dance form usually performed by women on occasions like marriages and similar social functions is Rouf.[53]


Main article: Kashmiri cuisine

Rice is the staple food of Kashmir.[54] Meat and rice are the popular food item in Kashmir.[55]

Noon Chai or Sheer Chai and Kahwah or Kehew are beverages of Kashmir.

Kashmir is also known for its bakery tradition. Sheermal, baqerkhayn (puff pastry), lavas (unleavened bread) and kulcha are popular baked goods.[56]

See also


  1. ^ Formally, "Abisares" was the ruler of Abhisaras, the people of the Poonch and Rajouri districts. Historian P. N. K. Bamzai believes his domain included Kashmir.[10]


  1. ^ "Abstract Of Speakers' Strength of Languages And Mother Tongues – 2011" (PDF). Census India (.gov). 2011. Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 August 2020. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  2. ^ Kiani, Khaleeq (28 May 2018). "CCI defers approval of census results until elections". DAWN.COM. Archived from the original on 15 September 2020. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  3. ^ Shakil, Mohsin (2012), Languages of Erstwhile State of Jammu Kashmir (A Preliminary Study)
  4. ^ "Canada 2021 Census Profile". Census Profile, 2021 Census. Statistics Canada Statistique Canada. 7 May 2021. Retrieved 3 January 2023.
  5. ^ Gupta, Jyoti Bhusan Das (6 December 2012). Jammu and Kashmir. Springer. p. 14. ISBN 978-94-011-9231-6.
  6. ^ Singh 2008, pp. 111–3.
  7. ^ Kennedy 2000, p. 259.
  8. ^ Rapson 1955, p. 118.
  9. ^ Sharma 1985, p. 44.
  10. ^ Bamzai 1974, p. 68.
  11. ^ Heckel 2003, p. 48.
  12. ^ Green 1970, p. 403.
  13. ^ Sastri 1988, p. 219.
  14. ^ Chatterjee 1998, p. 199.
  15. ^ a b c Singh 2008, p. 571.
  16. ^ Majumdar 1977, pp. 260–3.
  17. ^ Wink 1991, pp. 242–5.
  18. ^ Majumdar 1977, p. 357.
  19. ^ Khan 2008, p. 58.
  20. ^ "Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues - 2011" (PDF). Retrieved 2 July 2018. The precise figures from the 2011 census are 6,554,36 for Kashmiri as a "mother tongue" and 6,797,587 for Kashmiri as a "language" (which includes closely related smaller dialects/languages).
  21. ^ "Koshur: An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri". Kashmir News Network: Language Section ( Retrieved 2 June 2007.
  22. ^ Bukhari, Shujaat (14 June 2011). "The other Kashmir". The Hindu. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  23. ^ a b Shakil, Mohsin (2012). "Languages of Erstwhile State of Jammu Kashmir (A Preliminary Study)". University of Azad Jammu and Kahsmir. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  24. ^ a b Kachru, Braj B. (3 July 2002). "The Dying Linguistic Heritage of the Kashmiris: Kashmiri Literary Culture and Language" (PDF). Kashmiri Overseas Association. Archived (PDF) from the original on 19 June 2018. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  25. ^ a b c d e Akhtar, Raja Nasim; Rehman, Khawaja A. (2007). "The Languages of the Neelam Valley". Kashmir Journal of Language Research. 10 (1): 65–84. ISSN 1028-6640. Additionally, Kashmiri speakers are better able to understand the variety of Srinagar than the one spoken in Muzaffarabad.
  26. ^ Kiani, Khaleeq (28 May 2018). "CCI defers approval of census results until elections". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  27. ^ Snedden, Christopher (15 September 2015). Understanding Kashmir and Kashmiris. Oxford University Press. p. 33. ISBN 978-1-84904-622-0.
  28. ^ Kaw, M. K. (2004). Kashmir and It's People: Studies in the Evolution of Kashmiri Society. APH Publishing. pp. 328–329. ISBN 978-81-7648-537-1. In parts of Pakistan, as a Pakistani scholar, Rahman observes (1996:225-226), "there are pockets of Kashmiri-speaking people in Azad Kashmir [Pakistan-occupied Kashmir] and elsewhere ..." Rahman adds that the process of language shift is in progress among Kashmiri speakers in Pakistan too, as: most of the them [Kashmiris] are gradually shifting to other languages such as the local Pahari and Mirpuri which are dialects of Punjabi...Most literate people use Urdu since, in both Azad and Indian-held Kashmir, Urdu rather than Kashmiri is the official language of government.
  29. ^ Hock, Hans Henrich; Bashir, Elena (24 May 2016). The Languages and Linguistics of South Asia: A Comprehensive Guide. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG. p. 811. ISBN 978-3-11-042338-9. In Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, Kashmiri speakers are shifting to Urdu (Dhar 2009)
  30. ^ "Up north: Call for exploration of archaeological sites". The Express Tribune. 4 June 2015. Retrieved 24 October 2020. He said Kundal Shahi and Kashmiri languages, which were spoken in the Neelum Valley, were on the verge of dying.
  31. ^ Khan, Zafar Ali (20 February 2016). "Lack of preservation causing regional languages to die a slow death". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 25 October 2020. Dr Khawaja Abdul Rehman, who spoke on Pahari and Kashmiri, said pluralistic and tolerance-promoting Kashmiri literature was fast dying, as its older generation had failed to transfer the language to its youth. He said that after a few decades, not a single Kashmiri-speaking person will be found in Muzaffarabad...
  32. ^ a b Rahman, Tariq (1996). Language and politics in Pakistan. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-577692-8.
  33. ^ "Scheduled Languages of India". Central Institute of Indian Languages. Archived from the original on 24 May 2007. Retrieved 2 June 2007.
  34. ^ "The Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir (India)" (PDF). General Administrative Department of the Government of Jammu & Kashmir (India). Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 May 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2007.
  35. ^ Weber, Siegfried (1 May 2012). "kashmir iii. Persian language in the state administration". Encyclopaedia Iranica. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  36. ^ Bhat, M. Ashraf (2017). The Changing Language Roles and Linguistic Identities of the Kashmiri speech community. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 75. ISBN 9781443862608.
  37. ^ "The Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Act, 2020" (PDF). The Gazette of India. 27 September 2020. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  38. ^ "Parliament passes JK Official Languages Bill, 2020". Rising Kashmir. 23 September 2020. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  39. ^ ANI. "BJP president congratulates J-K people on passing of Jammu and Kashmir Official Language Bill 2020". BW Businessworld. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  40. ^ a b Brower & Johnston 2016, p. 130: "Kashmiri Hindus are all Saraswat Brahmins, known by the exonym Pandit (the endonym being Batta), a term first reserved for emigrant Kashmiri Brahmins in Mughal service. Their surnames (kram) designate their original professions or their ancestors' nicknames (e.g., Hakim, Kaul, Dhar, Raina, Teng)."
  41. ^ Kaw, M. K. (2001). Kashmiri Pandits: Looking to the Future. APH Publishing. p. 223. ISBN 978-81-7648-236-3. The Kashmiri Pandits are the precursors of Kashmiri Muslims who now form a majority in the valley of Kashmir...Whereas Kashmiri Pandits are of the same ethnic stock as the Kashmiri Muslims, both sharing their habitat, language, dress, food and other habits, Kashmiri Pandits form a constituent part of the Hindu society of India on the religious plane.
  42. ^ Kaw, M. K. (2001). Kashmiri Pandits: Looking to the Future. APH Publishing. p. 223. ISBN 978-81-7648-236-3. The Kashmiri Pandits are the precursors of Kashmiri Muslims who now form a majority in the valley of Kashmir...Whereas Kashmiri Pandits are of the same ethnic stock as the Kashmiri Muslims, both sharing their habitat, language, dress, food and other habits, Kashmiri Pandits form a constituent part of the Hindu society of India on the religious plane.
  43. ^ Bhasin, M.K.; Nag, Shampa (2002). "A Demographic Profile of the People of Jammu and Kashmir" (PDF). Journal of Human Ecology. Kamla-Raj Enterprises: 15. Retrieved 1 January 2017. Thus the two population groups, Kashmiri Pandits and Kashmiri Muslims though at the time constituted ethnically homogenous population, came to differ from each other in faith and customs.
  44. ^ Bhasin, M.K.; Nag, Shampa (2002). "A Demographic Profile of the People of Jammu and Kashmir" (PDF). Journal of Human Ecology: 16. Retrieved 1 January 2017. The Sheikhs are considered to be the descendants of Hindus and the pure Kashmiri Muslims, professing Sunni faith, the major part of the population of Srinagar district and the Kashmir state.
  45. ^ Brower & Johnston 2016, p. 130.
  46. ^ The Journal of the Anthropological Survey of India, Volume 52. The Survey. 2003. Retrieved 2 December 2010. The But/Butt of Punjab were originally Brahmin migrants from Kashmir during 1878 famine.
  47. ^ a b Explore Kashmiri Pandits. Dharma Publications. ISBN 9780963479860. Retrieved 2 December 2010.
  48. ^ a b c Brower & Johnston 2016, p. 130: "Sheikh: local converts, subdivided into numerous subgroups. Most largely retain their family names, or patronyms (kram), indicating their original profession, locality or community-such as Khar (carpenter), Pampori (a place), Butt and Pandit (Brahmin), Dar (kshatriya)-but with increasing Islamization, some have dropped these"
  49. ^ a b c d e f g h i Proceedings - Indian History Congress, Volume 63. Indian History Congress. 2003. p. 867. Retrieved 30 December 2016. ...the Muslims also retained their Hindu caste-names known as Krams e.g. Tantre, Nayak, Magre, Rather, Lone, Bat, Dar, Parray, Mantu, Yatoo.....
  50. ^ a b c d e f g h i Lawrence, Sir Walter Roper (2005). The Valley of Kashmir. Asian Educational Services. p. 304. ISBN 978-81-206-1630-1. Among the leading Krams may be mentioned the following names:— Tikku, Razdan, Kak, Munshi, Mathu, Kachru, Pandit, Sapru, Bhan, Zitshu, Raina, Dar, Fotadar, Madan, Thusu, Wangnu, Muju, Hokhu, and Dulu.
  51. ^ Schofield, Victoria (2003). Kashmir in conflict. I.B. Tauris & Co. p. 4. ISBN 1860648983. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  52. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Agrawal, Premendra (20 August 2014). Accursed & Jihadi Neighbour. Commercial Services. p. 86. ISBN 9788193051207. Retrieved 5 April 2023. Meaning of surnames found on the Kashmiri Pandit tree: Bakaya, Sapru, Bakshi, Munshi, Wazir, Chalkbast, Bhan, Langar or Langroo, Wattal, Bazaz, Taimini, Mattu, Chak, Zalpuri, Khar, Hazari, Zutshi, Razdan, Tikhu, Kathju, sopori, Thussoo, Haksar, Raina, Waloo or Wali, Wantu/Wanchu, Gamkhwar, Kakh, Mushran, Sharga, Handoo, Gurtu, Kitchlu, and Ganjoo.((cite book)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  53. ^ "Folk Dances of Kashmir". Archived from the original on 13 May 2012. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
  54. ^ Bamzai, Prithivi Nath Kaul (1994). Culture and Political History of Kashmir. M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd. p. 243. ISBN 9788185880310. Rice was, as now, the staple food of Kashmiris in ancient times.
  55. ^ Kaw, M.K. (2004). Kashmir and Its People: Studies in the Evolution of Kashmiri Society. APH Publishing. p. 98. ISBN 9788176485371. But perhaps the most popular items of the Kashmiri cuisine were meat and rice.
  56. ^ "Kashmir has special confectionary". 13 March 2008. Retrieved 25 March 2012.



Scholarly books[edit]


Journal articles[edit]

Primary sources[edit]

Media related to Kashmiri people at Wikimedia Commons