The Advent Of Hinduism & Buddhism
As would be expected of a place where the trails and trading routes of Asia meet, most of the religions of the world have vied for the beliefs of the people of Kashmir. Buddhism and Hinduism reached Kashmir and Ladakh very early in their spread across Asia and from the 9th to 12th centuries AD, Kashmir was a prominent centre of Hindu culture. There are still many Hindu holy sites and temples in Jammu and a lesser number in Kashmir.
Buddhism came to Kashmir as early as the 4th century BC and Ashoka built many Buddhist states throughout the vale, a number of which were still standing at the time of the great Chinese traveller Hiuan Tsang in the 7th century AD. He recorded them in his diary. It is said that 'Nagarjuna', the monk who was credited with bringing Buddhism to Ladakh, resided at the monastery built near Harwan in Srinagar in the 2nd century AD.
Impact Of Islam
By the 14th century Hinduism, after its period of major influence, had been supplanted by Islam, which had come gradually to Kashmir. Sufi teachers began to spread the religion in the 12th century with their synthesis of Hindu thought in the form of 'Sufiism' and the 'Bhakti' movement.
Due to Bulbul Shah, Shah Hamdan and other Sufi saints, Kashmir embraced Islam before any Muslim king invaded it. Muslims now constitute about 90% of the population of the valley and they are mostly of the 'Sunni' sect, with a sprinkling of Shi'ite.
Christian missionaries came to the vale during the British period and their influence continues to this day.
JESUS IN KASHMIR
Search out the Rauzabal or Prophet's Tomb in the oldest part of the city while one is in Srinagar and one will come across the final resting place of Jesus Christ - or so the legend goes.
Following his reappearance after the crucifixion Jesus fled from Palestine, the Kashmir story relates, accompanied by his mother Mary and the disciple Thomas. They passed in Damascus but eventually made their way east to the sub continent where Mary died in Murree, near Rawalpindi in present day Pakistan. Supposedly one can locate her tomb there too.
Jesus and Thomas continued on to Kashmir where Jesus settled in Yusmarg while Thomas went to the south of India. Jesus is, of course, also one of the great prophets of the Islamic faith and in Kashmir his name translates as "Yus Asaf". So Yusmarg is the meadow of Jesus.
After marrying a Kashmiri girl from Pahalgam, Jesus lived out his life in Kashmir, eventually dying aged 85 or more. There are numerous texts and clues pointing, according to interested Kashmiris, to his life in Kashmir. Even the Hemis Gompa in Ladakh is said to have evidence of a visit. And if that's not enough one can also look for the tomb of Moses, he's buried in Kashmir too!