Nilmatapurana is the earliest purana of this land, which provides information of early settlers of this land. It mentions that the tribes of Nagas, Pishachas, the Darvas, the Abluisaras, the Gandharas, the Juhundras, the Sakas, the Khases, the Tunghnas, the Mandavas, the Madras, the Antargiris and the Bahirgiris and the Yavanas.
In the above mentioned list there is a reference of two important tribes: one is Sakas and the other is Yavanas. These tribes besides finding mention in Nilmatapurana have also got a well documented physical evidence of their respective existence in Kashmir. The Sakas are known to history as Scythians and kushans and Yavaans and Malechas as Bactrian Greeks and Indo-Greeks.
These tribes are not only mentioned by travelers of Kashmir in various chronicles, but recent archaeological and numismatic researchers have provided us a long list of names of various rulers who occupied it during their respective times. Among foreign notices, ancient Greeks and Chinese were first geographers and historians that confirm the mention of our land.
These records are the first foreign notices of Kashmir. The Grecian geographer Ptolemy makes first mention of it and names it Kaspeiria. PNK Bamzai, the reputed historian of Kashmir, has done extensive researches on foreign accounts of Kashmir. A part of it is reproduced here for better understanding of the ancient Grecian version of Kashmir.
Bamzai in his accounts writes; “From ancient times Kashmir has attracted attention in countries beyond the frontiers of India. The earliest mention of the valley and its adjacent territories is found in Ptolemy’s geography. He places the region of kasperia at”below the sources of the Bidaspes or Hydapes (Vitasta) and of the Sandabal (Chandrabhage) and of the Adris(Iravati).”
In a notice with Stephanos of Byzantium preserved from the Bassarica, a last poem of Dionysius of Sammos, we find a passage with a mention of Kasperia as a tribe. Hekatairs (Circa 549-486 BC) mentions Kaspapyros as a city of Gandharians. Later Herodotus, the father of history, mentioned the city of kaspatyros as the place at which the expedition of Scylax of Koryanda by Darius to explore the course of the Indus, embarked. As Kashmir had close cultural and political relations with Gandhiera (Kabul Valley) in ancient times, it is quite natural that the Kaspapyros of Hekataios and Kaspatyros of Herodotus should refer to Kashmir.
These early classical notices are valuable in as much as they show the antiquity of the name by which the land has been known in India and abroad.
The Chinese records were more detailed and clear. The first clear reference to this land is contained in Heun Tsang,s accounts. Heun Tsang lived in early 7th century AD and arrived here in 631 AD. He entered Kashmir valley via Uri route and left the valley in 633 A.D. by Tossmadian route. Heun Tsang was perhaps the first foreign traveler who visited a number of towns of Kashmir. His accounts mention Baramulla, Tapar, Pattan, Parihaspora, Srinagar, Poonch, Rajori and many other towns. He had been to saffron fields of Pampore then called (Padampora). During his two year stay in Kashmir, he spent most of his time in Jai indervihar which many scholars are identifying with Zaindar muhalla near Habba- Kadal. He mentions the names of several Viharas and Stupas and the identity of these have been established with several ancient sites in Kashmir. His accounts carried information about Kashmir soil, land, people, climate, crops and habits of Kashmiri people.
The Chinese travelers were followed by Muslim and Christian historians wherein, we find more accurate and more detailed accounts of Kashmir. However, it is worth to mention here that when we talk of ancient foreign accounts of Kashmir, we find Greek and Chinese records as earliest records of this land.