19th Century Great Games and Indomitable Dogra Warriors

Great Games were a series of geo-political activities between the Russian Empire and the British Empire from 1838 to 1907. They still continue today, albeit with different players.

In the 19th century they were driven by expansionist agendas and led to massive territorial, political and socio-economic changes in the region that lay between the two empires. The sandwiched region included today’s Central Asia, Afghanistan, India’s and Pakistan’s northern frontiers, today’s Xinjiang and Tibet.

The Russian empire had an eye on the most coveted British colony – India. The British had reached India by sea and the Russians wanted to march through the land and they went about devouring everything that came on the way.

For the many Great Game exploratory expeditions that happened then, Kashmir was the entrance to the mainland. From beyond Kashmir started the wilderness for the British camping in Srinagar and from beyond Kashmir started India for Russians camping in Bokhara. It’s designed that way by geography.

During the Great Games period, Kashmir was ruled over by Dogras, a warrior race of the north western Himalayas and its adjoining Indus Basin. Dogras were responsible for some of the most dynamic, high altitude-victories in the Himalayan and trans-himalayan region.

The propaganda of the Great Games ensured that their legacy be demeaned and their history of warfare remains one of the least studied in the subcontinent until today.

Venus Upadhayaya journalist Author


Venus Upadhayaya is a Senior Reporter, India and South Asia for The Epoch Times. She was born in Jammu and her ancestral home is in a village in the lower shivalik ranges that are also home to the Dogra/Pahadi culture. Her ancestral home has always fascinated her and this series is her journey to discover her roots. She's also a Research Fellow at the National School of Leadership.

Published Date

April 7, 2023

"You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty."

– Mahatma Gandhi