When Kashmir Was Under the Rule of the Sikh Empire


A brief story of Kashmir being conquered by the Sikh Empire by Siddique Shahzad on Lahore City.

Ranjit Singh was crowned on 12 April 1801 at Lahore and he rose to be the ruler of a powerful state extending from Tibet to Sindh and from Khyber pass to the Satluj. For a brief half century, from 1799 to 1846, Lahore as the administrative capital of the Sikh Empire.

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From 1814 to 1819, the Sikh Empire sent successive punitive expeditions against the hill states of Bhimber, Rajauri, Poonch, Nurpur, and others. Sikh Empire was attempting to keep control of the routes through the Pir Panjal range and into Kashmir.

The Battle of Shopian took place on 3 July 1819 between an expeditionary force from the Sikh Empire and Jabbar Khan, the governor of the Durrani Empire province of Kashmir. It was the decisive battle in the 1819 Kashmir expedition

Although both sides sustained heavy losses, Jabbar Khan and his army retreated from the battlefield and fled in disorder from Kashmir over the Indus river. When the Sikh army entered the city of Srinagar after the battle, Prince Kharak Singh guaranteed the personal safety of every citizen and ensured the city was not plundered.

The peaceful capture of Srinagar was important as Srinagar, besides having a large Shawl-making industry, was also the center of trade between Panjab, Tibet, Iskardo, and Ladakh.

After taking Srinagar, the Sikh army faced no major opposition in conquering Kashmir. However, when Ranjit Singh installed Moti Ram, the son of Dewan Mokham Chand, as the new governor of Kashmir, he also sent a “large body of troops” with him to ensure tribute from strongholds within Kashmir that might attempt to resist Sikh rule.

The conquest of Kashmir marked an “extensive addition” to the Sikh Empire and “significantly” increased the empire’s revenue.

Ten successive governors administered Kashmir during Sikh regime. One of them was prince Sher singh who carred the Sikh standard across the high mountains into Ladakh. The conquest of Ladakh valley which was strategically very important, made the frontier secure against the expanding influence of China. Sher Singh sent General Zorawar Singh to march towards Tibet. Garo and Rudok were occupied and the Lhasa armies attacked. Tibetian government signed a treaty with Zorawar’s armies.

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