Of the myriad destinations in British India and abroad that residents or visitors to Kashmir could have sent mail, it is perhaps surprising just how few names actually crop up on extant J&K covers. The list that follows is accreting only slowly now, so towns not listed here (and several that are) might be regarded as “scarce” postal markings in the J&K context. A few of them are merely mid-route (transit) markings; we did not have the presence of mind early enough to make the distinction.
India: Adampur, Agra, Ajmer, Akra,
Allahabad, Ambala, Amritsar, Attock,
Bareilly, Batala, Benares, Bhagowal, Bhera, Bombay, Bungah,
Calcutta, Cawnpore, Chamal, Chandausi,
Gujarat, Gujranwala, Gurdaspur,
Hararipur, Hazara, Hazro, Hoshiarpur,
Jhelum, Jullundar (and Alawalpur),
Karachi, Karnaul, Khatra, Kidderpore, Kohat, Kotagiri, Kullu,
Lahore, Lakkhanwal, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Lun Miani,
Madras, Mhow, Mian Mir, Multan, Murree (and Ghora Dhaka),
Pangahi, Panipat, Pauri, Pathankot, Peshawar (and Peshawar City), Phugwara,
Pind Dadan Khan, Poona,
Qila Didar Singh,
Shahpur, Sialkot (and Sialkot City), Simla,
... 66 and counting.
By far the most common is of course the Amritsar-via-Sialkot route, followed by...not sure. Maybe Pind Dadan Khan? And then what does one say about otherwise prominent venues for which there is no published attestation so far? Though the narrow gauge line from Ambala up to Simla via Kalka was not completed until November 1903, an Edwardian affair, one might still have imagined Simla to have figured heavily in J&K stamp doings during our period, especially given its relative proximity. Simla had been, after all, the declared summer capital of the British Raj since 1864, and the trendy spot for Victorian intrepids of the very sort who would send cards from “Cashmere.” But we are left with very little.
Note added: We can finally attest to instances of Simla-Kashmir postal connections. A party in Wales despatched a letter to Srinagar on 7 June 1888 to a certain Arthur E. Sandbach (the central figure of an extensive correspondence familiar to J&Kers). The letter did arrive at Srinagar, but the gentleman had made a well-earned escape to the US Club at Simla, where the letter caught up with him on 3 July 1888. Still, this letter does not count for us on a technicality, for it bears no Kashmir stamp. A sighting that does count, however, is a Srinagar-Simla cover mentioned by George Harell in India Post 41 120 (2007), which was on V[alue]P[ayable] service in 1885.
If a year seems peculiarly barren of covers (such as 1884), ask whether old D.P.(Masson) was visiting England or Malaysia that year. If a large town seems peculiarly barren of covers when smaller venues have many, ask whether Masson happened to have banking contacts in the one and not the other to send him letters from the bank’s wastepaper basket.
It may be of some interest to know something of the sizes of these postal towns during our period. Here are some population figures as reported in the 1891 census, as reproduced in Constable’s Hand Atlas of India 1893:
England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, Prussia, and Austria[-Hungary] are all well represented by mailings to or from Kashmir. There is a true paucity of other material. New York, known by only a few covers, may be the sole extant representative of the western hemisphere. The Orient? Other?
Destination New York. This letter needed precisely one month (10 Feb to 10 Mar 1889) to travel from Bombay to New York via London. This is the latest use of the embossment in blue that we have seen (noting that the green started to supersede the blue six years earlier in 1883).