'Kashmiri' is a wide term, which has loosely been applied for several streams of immigrants from Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Afghanistan. Other settlers have been claimed form anywhere as far as Greece, where it is claimed Alexander 'The Great' troops were captivated both by the beauty of the landscape and the women, stayed on after the plundering was done, to the Indo-Aryans that mysterious race famed for the holy-books -The Vedas- that held the north of India for such a long time. Looking at the variety of facial features and colouring of the Kashmiri could be evidence to any one of these claims.
Kashmiri Pandits are descendants from the ancient times of the Aryan tribes of the north "the Indus Valley tribes" when the water of the Saraswati river were the sources of life. Unfortunately, after changing its course several times, the saraswati dried up and thus the people known as saraswat brahmins, kshatrayas and vaisas left this place in search of fertile land in the rest of India. Some folk headed into the mountains in the north and reached the valley of Kashmir.
Islam came to kashmir in the very beginning through the ladakh king Rinchen(widely known as Rinchen-Shah) who, ultimately impressed by the simple teaching of sufi islam from Bulbul shah, beloved poet of kashmir and the first muslim faqir to visit the valley, converted to islam to consolidate his reportedly otherwise weak position as a foriegn ruler of the kingdom of kashmir. the sufi teachings which were spreading east from persia through modern day Afghanistan, Pakistan & into North India, Resoneted with the local buddhist and hindu populations. They taught that man should strive to be with god(Experience God directly) and to have no attachments to this world. Sufism became the common ground between all, promoting unity of all being and all religions. King Shahab-Uddin(1354-1373). In kashmir, Hamdani started to preach islam in a peaceful and organised manner and with his followers built many mosques in the valley. The beautiful Papier-Mache mosque, Shah-i-Hamdan, in the old town is dedicated to his memory. Islam continued to spread through the mouths of holy men in the valley, and a series of great islamic kings from sultan Zain-Ul-Abidin in 1420 to the framed mughal rulers who regained throuought northern india from 1586 to 1753 consuldated islam as the state religion.
Gurjar or Gujjar (also tranlaterated as Gujar, Gujara and Gujjer) is an ethnic agriculture and pastoral community of india, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Although traditionally they have been involved in agriculture, Gurjars are a large heterogeneous group that is internally differentiated in terms, culture, religion, occupation and socio-economic status. The historical role of Gujjars has been quite diverse in society, at one end they have been founder of several kingdoms, dynasties, districts, cities and towns and at the other end they are also nomads with no land of their own.
The Bakarwal(also Bakkarwal, Bakharwal, Bakrawala and Bakerwal) community is listed as scheduled tribes along with gujjars in jammu and kashmir in 1991. As a nomadic tribe they spread over a large part starting from pir-panjal range to hindkush to ladakh located in himalayan mountains of south Asia. They are goat herders and shepherds at large and seasonally migrate from one place to another with their herds. They are found in the entire kashmir region between india and Pakistan and in the Nooristan province of north-east Afghanistan.
Hanji's were living in simple doonga boats for centuries calling it home yet the term houseboat as we now understand in relation to tourism can be assigned to this boat built on order of Akbar. We are still centuries away from story of houseboats as we see them today in between we read about Aurangzeb's attempt in around 1655 to build ships to compete with Europeans, Italians. Were sent to build the ship in waters of kashmir.Boatmens was a trade involving in life Abu'l Fazl in his "Ain-e-Akbari" observes that life in kashmir revolves around boats. They are everywhere. This was true evena few decades back. Food rashan arrived in big 'Bahat' boats. Hanji's as a tribe is categorised as semi-nomadic, the people worked in various trades on seasons like growing vegetable and tourism.
Koshur, (Kashmiri Language), Urdu (Official Language) and shina (Gurezi Language) Gojri, Most Kashmiris also speak Hindi and a good proportion speak some English. Even today many educated elderly can understand in communicate in Persian.