The last Hindu ruler of Kashmir inspires new novel

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New Delhi, May 8 (PTI) The brave Kota Rani played a critical role at a historic inflection point in Kashmir’s turbulent history and the tale of this last Hindu ruler of medieval Kashmir inspires a new novel.

“The Last Queen of Kashmir”, set in 14th-century Kashmir, by Rakesh K Kaul is a sweeping saga of a civilisation in peril and also the story of one of the greatest queens of the land.

The beautiful and regal Kota had once known love and dreamt of happiness but that was before the murder of her father and before she became Rani.

As invaders and immigrants disturb the tranquility of her land, Kota looks for a way to protect her people but at some personal cost. She weathers the political intrigues and power-play of the court and succeeds in preserving the splendour and diversity of her society.

Kaul says he stumbled upon Princess Kota by accident when he was researching the Dhar clan of Kashmir.

“Who was this Kota Rani? Who was this inspiring symbol of feminine resistance that was central to the social history that Kashmiri Pandit women carried with them over the intervening centuries? The bare facts were easily accessible, but did not justify the banner that Kota represented for Birbal’s wife in 1819; clearly there was much more hidden behind the veil of time. Thus began my 21st-century journey through the detritus of Kota’s 14th century world to try and put the pieces together,” he says.

What Kaul discovered astonished him and challenged every single preconception that he or anybody else might have had about Kashmir.

“What I had tripped upon was a treasure that held the supreme secret for humanity. What shone bright was Kashmir’s beacon to the known world, and Kota was its keeper,” he says.

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