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Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term "Kashmir" referred only to the valley lying between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal range.[citation needed]  ; since then, it has been used for a larger area that today includes the Indian administered state of Jammu and Kashmir consisting of the Kashmir valley, Jammu and Ladakh ; the Pakistani-occupied provinces of the Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir, and the Chinese-administered mostly unhabited regions of Aksai Chin and Trans-Karakoram Tract.

In the first half of the first millennium, Kashmir became an important center of Hinduism and later of Buddhism; later still, in the ninth century, Kashmir Shaivism arose in the region.[1] The heritage of Kashmir during this period is well documented in Rajatarangini by Kalhana. In 1349, Shah Mirza became the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir and inaugurated the line Salatin-i-Kashmir.[2] For the next five centuries Kashmir had Muslim monarchs, including the Mughals, who ruled until 1751, and thereafter, the Afghan Durranis, who ruled until 1820.[2] That year, the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh, annexed Kashmir.[2] In 1846, upon the purchase of the region from the British under the Treaty of Amritsar, the Dogras´┐Żunder Gulab Singh´┐Żbecame the new rulers. Dogra Rule, under the paramountcy (or tutelage) of the British Crown, lasted until 1947, when the former princely state became a disputed territory, now administered by three countries: India, Pakistan, and the People's Republic of China.