Zain-ul-Abidin: The ‘Akbar’ of Kashmir
If you ask a Kashmiri about Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin (r. 1420-1470), they will probably tell you he was a ‘Bud Shah’ or ‘Great King’. Often compared to the great Mughal Emperor Akbar, the Sultan earned this popular title for his tolerance, and the stability and prosperity he brought to his kingdom. He patronized Sanskrit and even banned cow slaughter!
This is even more surprising because Zain-ul-Abidin was the son and successor of the notorious Sultan Sikandar Shah, also known as ‘Sikandar Butshikan’ (the iconoclast) for his persecution of Hindus and Buddhists in Kashmir, and the destruction of hundreds of temples, including the famous Sun Temple at Martand in Kashmir.