On the periphery of what had been the three major kingdoms there had arisen a number of small states. These were kingdoms such as Nepal, Kamarupa (Assam), Kashmir, Utkala (Orissa), the kingdoms of the eastern Chalukyas and the Gangas along the east coast and that of the Chaulukyas (also known as the Solankis) of Gujarat in western India.
The foothills of the Himalayas lent themselves admirably to such small kingdoms, owing to the nature of the country. The ninth century saw the rise of a number of hill states, some of which maintained their identity until recent years, despite their wars with each other and the frequent raids from the men of the plains. States such as Champaka (Chamba), Durgara (jammu), Trigarta (jalandhar), Kuluta (Kulu), Kumaon and Garhwal managed to remain outside the main areas of conflict in the northern plains.
Kashmir had come into prominence in the seventh century, and through gradual expansion and conquest it controlled a major part of northern Punjab. Meanwhile the Arabs were advancing up the Indus valley, and in the eighth century a king of Kashmir asked for assistance from the Chinese to repel Arab attacks on the Punjab. The reign of Lalitaditya in the same century took the armies of Kashmir into the Ganges valley, and in the Punjab they pushed back the Arab forces.
In subsequent centuries the kings of Kashmir consolidated their position in the mountainous areas and the upper Jhelum valley, leaving the Punjab to fend for itself. Many irrigation works were undertaken : embankments and dams were built on the main rivers a difficult engineering task since the rivers of Kashmir are the fast-flowing, unruly upper reaches of the Punjab rivers - and these brought a large area of the valley under cultivation, which was in effect a stabilizing factor in Kashmir politics since the need to move out into the fertile regions of the plains became less pressing.
The tenth century saw the ascendancy of two famous queens, who, in spite of much opposition, were determined to direct the affairs of state. In this they had to contend with a new phenomenon which was to dominate Kashmiri politics for a hundred years - the existence of bodies of troops with fixed and unswerving political loyalties. There were two rival groups, the Tantrins and the Ekangas, who between them made and unmade kings and queens. Queen Sugandha used the Ekangas against the Tantrins effectively, but was unable to control them and was deposed in 914 A.D. Her defeat meant almost unlimited power for the Tantrins, and none of the succeeding rulers was able to assert his position.
Finally, the damaras or feudal landowners had to be called in to destroy the power of the Tantrins, which they did with such success that the rulers of Kashmir were faced with the new problems of curbing the power of the landowners as is evident from political events during the rule of Queen Didda. The twelfth century in Kashmir is associated with the writing of the famous history of the kingdom, the Rajatarangini by Kalhana, generally counted amongst the best of the Indian historians. The work is of a quality which is rare as it displays a remarkable clarity and maturity in historical analysis.
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