Friday, July 18

History of Himachal Pradesh

The state of Himachal Pradesh was called 'Deva Bhoomi ' or the Land of the Gods. There are evidences of the existence of the pre-historic humans in this region. It is generally believed that large inhabitants of this region had actually migrated from Central Asia and the Indian plains from time to time. The first race to enter Himachal Pradesh was Proto-Australoid followed by Mongoloid and the Aryan. The Rig Veda mentions about Dasyus and Nishads living in this region and their powerful king Shambra who had 99 forts. From the early period of its history, tribes like the Koilis, Halis, Dagis, Dhaugris, Dasa, Khasas, Kinnars and Kirats inhabited it.

The Aryan influence over this area dates back to the period before the Rig Veda. The Aryans with their superior war tactics defeated the local tribes and settled here permanently. The period also saw the establishment of small Janapadas or Republics in Himachal Pradesh. They maintained a good relationship with the Mauryans so that they can remain independent for a long time. They lost their independence with the rise of the Guptas in the North Gangetic plains. After the decline of the Guptas, several small kingdoms ruled this hilly state and established their power in its different regions. Sankar Varma, the king of Kashmir exercised his influence over the regions of Himachal Pradesh in about 883 AD.

Bhimakali Temple Sarahan-History of Himachal Pradesh This region witnessed the invasion of Mahmud of Ghazni in 1009 AD. In about 1043 AD, the Rajputs ruled over this territory. The Mughal rulers erected several works of art as an admiration of this land. The Rajputs, under the leadership of Sansar Chand owned this region in 1773 AD, till the attack by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1804 AD, which crushed the Rajput power here. The Gurkhas conquered this area and ravaged it.

In about the early 19th century AD, the British exercised their influence and annexed the areas of Shimla after the Gurkha War of 1815-16. The British established many hill stations in this region to protect themselves from the extreme heat and dust of the northern plains in the summer. Shimla became the summer capital of India and even today, many old houses and buildings tell the story of English grandeur.

Himachal Pradesh was made a centrally administered territory in 1948 with the integration of 31 hill states and obtained additional regions in 1966. It had the status of a union territory after independence till it was granted statehood in 1971.

Medieval history

In about 883 AD Sankar Varma, the ruler of Kashmir exercised his influence over Himachal Pradesh. The region also witnessed the invasion of Mahmud Ghazni in 1009 AD, who during that period looted the wealth from the temples in the North India. In 1043AD the Rajputs ruled over the territory.

In 1773 AD the Rajputs under Katoch Maharaja Sansar Chand-II possessed the region, till the attack by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in the year 1804 which crushed the Rajput power.

The small kingdom enjoyed a large degree of independence till the eve of the Muslim invasions in northern India. The states of the foothills were devastated by Muslim invaders a number of times. Mahmud Ghaznavi conquered Kangra at the beginning of the 10th century. Timur and Sikander Lodi also marched through the lower hills of the state and captured a number of forts and fought many battles.
The Gorkhas, a martial tribe came to power in Nepal in the year 1768. They consolidated their military power and began to expand their territory.

The Gurkhas who migrated from Nepal captured the area and devastated it. Gradually the Gorkhas annexed Sirmour and Shimla. With the leadership of Amar Singh Thapa, Gorkhas laid siege to Kangra. They managed to defeat Sansar Chand, the ruler of kangra, in 1806 with the help of many provincial chiefs. However Gorkhas could not capture Kangra fort which came under Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1809.

However,Raja Ram Singh, Raja of Siba State re-capture the Siba fort after defeating the army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. After the defeat, the Gorkhas also began to expand towards the south of the state.

British period

This led in the Anglo-Gorkha war. They came into direct conflict with the British along the tarai belt after which the British expelled them from the provinces of the Satluj. Thus British gradually emerged as the paramount powers. In early 19th century the British annexed the areas of Shimla after the Gurkha War of 1815-16. Himachal became a centrally administered territory in 1948 with the integration of 31 hill provinces and received additional regions in the year 1966.

The revolt of 1857 or the first Indian war of independence resulted due to the building up of political, social, economic, religious and military grievances against the British government. People of the hill states were not politically alive as the people in other parts of the country. They remained more or less inactive and so did their rulers with the exception of Bushahr.

Some of them even rendered help to the British government during the revolt. Among them were the rulers of Chamba, Bilaspur, Bhagal and Dhami. The rulers of Bushars rather acted in a manner hostile to the interests of British.

The British territories in the hill came under British Crown after Queen Victoria's proclamation of 1858. The states of Chamba, Mandi and Bilaspur made good progress in many fields during the British rule. During the first world war, virtually all rulers of the hill states remained loyal and contributed to the British war effort both in the form of men and materials. Amongst these were the states of Kangra, Nurpur, Chamba, Suket, Mandi and Bilaspur.