According to folk etymology, the name “Kashmir” means “desiccated land. In a history of Kashmir written by Kalhana in the mid-12th century, it is stated that the valley of Kashmir was formerly a lake.

However an earlier and well known recorded reference can be found in the writings of a Tibetan Buddhist monk in the 6th Century. Hsien Tsang referred to a state called ‘Kash-mi-lo’ that had existed in the 1st century. In the 18th century, Kashmir was ruled by the Pashtun Durrani Empire.

In 1819, Kashmir was conquered by the Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh. Following the First Anglo-Sikh War in 1845 and 1846, Kashmir was first ceded by the Treaty of Lahore to the East India Company, and shortly after sold by the Treaty of Amritsar to Gulab Singh, Raja of Jammu, who thereafter was given the title Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir.

From then until the Partition of India in 1947, Kashmir was ruled by the Hindu Maharajas of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.