For centuries the Mughal rulers have been using the salt route (also known as Mughal road ) to travel to Kashmir and built many inns after every 10 miles. These inns which included Suka Sarai, Aliabad sarai, Panch Sarai, Pan Sarai and Fethpur Sarai were spacious to accommodate Mughal caravans.
The salt route originated from today’s Pakistan Administered Kashmir and was the busiest route used to enter Kashmir through Pir Panchal pass. As per historians the route from Srinagar to then Gujarat (now in Pakistan) was 300 miles. The route was connected to Lahore at Gujarat.
The route existed much before the arrival of Mughals; however, it gained political and economic importance after it was used by Mughal caravans.
The Mughal rulers have been often travelling to Kashmir after they defeated the Kashmiri ruler, Yaqub Shah Chak, and are credited with constructing some of the most magnificent tourist sites as well. It was in Hirpura at Shopian that army of independent ruler of Kashmir put a stiff resistance to Mughal invaders to push them back. The Mughal forces of Jalal-U-Din Mohammad Akber who were commanded by Qasim Khan had crossed into the valley through Pirpanchal pass in October of 1586. Weakened by internal feuds and sectarian clashes, the army of Yaqoob Shah Chack, the last independent ruler of Kashmir was defeated. The Mughal emperor, Jalal-U-Din Mohammad Akber merged Kashmir into his empire bringing 14 years rule of Chack dynasty here to an end.
Historians credit Akbar’s success not to his military might but to the internal uncertainty which was prevailing in Kashmir at that time. They have opined that Akbar was invited by the Sunni population for intervention into internal affairs of Kashmir and was warmly received by people here.
Akbar’s earlier attempts to rule Kashmir in 1585 were foiled when his force of 500 men under the command of Raja Bhagwan Das had been defeated by the army of Yousuf Shah Chack. The defeat compelled Bhagwan Das to enter into negotiations with Chack and they arrived at a truce.
Yousuf Shah Chack was invited by Akber to Lahore for ratifying the treaty. There Shah was arrested and sent into exile to Bihar. He died in exile and was buried at Biswak village of Patna district. After Yousuf Shah Chack, his son Yaqoob Shah Chack succeeded him. He fought many guerilla wars with Mughal forces but was ultimately defeated by them. He too was sent into exile and died in Bihar. Mughals ruled Kashmir for 167 years. It is said that Akbar visited Kashmir thrice and made a land revenue settlement and built the fort of Hari Parbat.
Jehangir, Akbar’s son, built the Shalimar and the Nishat gardens in Srinagar. Shah Jahan laid the garden of Chashmashai and also built a portion of Shalimar.