Wednesday, August 6

History of Uttarakhand


The history of Uttarakhand sings the glorious past of the territory. Uttarakhand has a long history of its genesis, and evolution, that highlights the great emperors, such as the Kushanas, Kudinas, Kanishka, Samudragupta, Katuria, Palas, Chandras and Pawaras.

Talking about the history of Uttarakhand, it can be said that Uttarakhand finds reference in many holy Hindu scriptures. But the history of Uttarakhand can be best understood through the history of Garhwal and Kumaon:


# The ancient history of Garhwal says that it had once been a part of the Mauryan Empire.
# The history of Garhwal began as a unified whole in the 15th century, when king Ajai Pal merged the 52 principalities of the Garhwal region.
# Garhwal remained a consolidated kingdom for about 300 years, with Srinagar as its capital.
# But during the British Period, the territories of Pauri and Dehradun went under the British domain: the two region were given to the Britishers in return of their help during the Gurkha invasion in the 19th century.


    * The history of Kumaon can be traced back to the Stone Age.
    * Moreover, the early medieval history of Kumaon started with the Katyuri dynasty that ruled from 7th to the 11th century.
    * Under the Katyuri dynasty, as the ancient history of Uttarakhand suggests, art and architecture flourished tremendously. Many new architectural buildings and designs flourished during this period.
    * However, like all kingdoms that fall after a period of time, Katyuris also lost to the Chands of Pithoragarh.
    * The history of Uttarakhand bears witness to the many temples that were built under the Chands of Pithoragarh.

Thus, it can be said that the history of Uttarakhand is, indeed, a record of the genesis and evolution of Uttarakhand.

 Stone Age

The evidences of the people living in the Stone Age has been found in the state of Uttarakhand in India. The archaeologists opine that there were human settlements in and around the Kumaon region in Uttarakhand from a very ancient time.

The ruins have been unearthed from the various places of the Uttarakhand especially from the rock shelter at Lakhu Udyar which form the testimonials of the civilization dating back to the Stone Age. The paintings that were discovered from this region certainly belong to the Mesolithic period.

The state of Uttarakhand includes the mighty Himalayas which till date serve as the refuge to the hermits in the form of caves and rock shelters. The geologists believe that the Himalayas bear "recent" origin, but nevertheless, they house fossil remains of late Miocene, Pliocene as well as early Pleistocene fauna and to add more to it, there are remnants of the earliest hominids like the Ramapithecus. This again points towards the men of the Stone Age in Uttarakhand.

There have been no paleontological or archaeological investigations in this area. So very little is known of the prehistoric Himalayas treasure. But evidences are there which are enough to prove that the Stone Age man use to live in this part of the world.

    * In Uttarakhand the chief bulk of rock art has been detected in the region near the source of the Suyal, a tributary of river Koshi ling in the Almora district. There are at least 12 sites which house paintings or pale pigment tinges on the rocks. While in the remaining sites, the art of rock is seen in the form of engravings
    * arrangements of dots
    * cup-marks

The chief theme of these paintings are generally the group-dances. The dancers are depicted to be in long rows holding their hands together. They often are seen in long aprons along with heavy headgears. At times you will find the men as well as women along with the goat-like animals but without any weapons.

The figures depicted in the paintings of the Stone Age of Uttarakhand are micropgraphic. They are usually painted in light red, brick red, crimson, white or blackish-green. The animals like ox, goat and fox are frequently found.

 Hindu Legends

The Hindu legends in Uttarakhand have built up centering river Ganga which is the principal river in northern India. The source of Ganga lies in the Gangotri Glacier.

In the Hindu legends of Uttarakhand you will find mention of the divine origin of Ganga. As the legend goes, sage Bhagiratha, by the power of his penance could succeed in making the river to come down off her heavenly abode in order to bless the ashes of his forefathers.

The story of Bhagiratha Prayatna has been mentioned in the Hindu legends of Uttarakhand like the :

# Mahabharata’s Vana Parva
# Bal Kand of Ramayana
# Brahmanda Purana
# Padma Purana
# Bhagwat Purana

The region included in the state of Uttarakhand is often referred to as the “Devbhoomi” since it is related to so many Hindu legends and the people believe that this place is the abode of God. The mention of the Devboomi has been there in the :

    * Ramanyan
    * Mahabharata
    * Agnipurana
    * Skanda Purana
    * Matsya Purana
    * Brahmanda Purana
    * Vishnu Purana
    * Divi Purana
    * Bhagvad Purana

Among the places included in the Hindu legends of Uttarakhand mention may be made of the :

    * Deoprayag : here the Alaknanda river joins the Bhagirathi, the other main source of Ganga.
    * Gangotri : it is seen to follow mountainsides along the Bhagirathi Valley.
    * Gaumukh : the true source of the Ganga. This is a giant ice cave having an altitude of 13,500 feet.
    * Badrinath: a prime pilgrimage center of the Hindus
    * Deoprayag : the sangam
    * Rishikesh: the ultimate point in the Himalaya just before Ganga steps down to the plains.
    * Haridwar : the point where Ganga touches the plains.


The land of Uttarakhand has witnessed the rulers from great many dynasties over a long period of historical times. The most notable of these rulers are:

# King Som Chand of the Chand dynasty from Rajasthan who founded the kingdom in the 7th century that later became Kumaon. 9th-11th century saw the Katyuri Dynasty.
# In 869-1065, Khas chieftains went against the Chand dynasty and succeeded.
# In 1065, Vir Chand gets back to Champawat and secured the lost kingdom.
# In the 12th century, Mallas of Dullu in western Nepal broke down the Katyuri kingdom.
# In 1358, King Ajay Pal of the Parmar dynasty ascended the throne of Chandpur.
# In the 1500s, Mughal rulers came here; Garhwal maintained her independence while Kumaon started paying tribute.
# In 1591, there was Battle of Gwaldam .
# In 1631, Mahipat Shah was no more. Queen mother Karnavati succeeded the throne for her young son, Prince Prithvi Pat Shah.
# In 1638, King Baz Bahadur Chand sits on the Kumaoni throne. Then the Kumaon was a tributary state of the Mughal Empire.
# In 1650, King Prithvi Pat Shah became adult and ascended the throne.
# The years of 1667-1715 marks King Fateh Shah's reign.
# 1716-72 marks the rule of Pradip Shah.
# 1780-1781 was the rule of Lalit Shah's eldest son, Jai Krit Shah.
# In 1803-04, there was the Gurkha attack.

Among the most successful rulers in the historical days of the Uttarakhand, mention should be made of those who belonged to the dynasties of Kushanas, Kudinas, Katuris, Mauryas, Chandras, Pawaras and the Pauravas.