Why has the valley of Kashmir, famed for its beauty and tranquillity, become a major flashpoint, threatening the stability of a region of great strategic importance and challenging the integrity of the Indian state? This book examines the Kashmir conflict in its historical context, from the period when the valley was an independent kingdom right up to the struggles of the present day. Located on the borders of China, Central Asia and the Sub-Continent, the insurgency in the valley has also created serious tensions between India and Pakistan. Drawing upon research in India and Pakistan, as well as historical sources, this book traces the origins of the state in the 19th century and the controversial "sale" by the British of the predominantly Muslim valley to a Hindu Maharaja in 1846. Through an exploration of the implications for Kashmir of independence in 1947, it gives a critical account of why, for Kashmir, self-determination may seem a more attractive option than affiliation to a larger multi-racial whole.