Parmaras ; Short Introduction History of Uttarakhand


The Parmaras established themselves rulers of Malwa in central India in 9th century, ruling from their capital Dhar. They were able to rule till 1305 when Malwa was conquered finally by Alauddin Khilji. The Parmaras are one of the 4 Agnikula clans of Rajputs. Their origin is uncertain. Various scholars have various views about the origin of the Parmaras. The territory under them was the region north of Narmada and was known as “Kingdom of Ujjain“. The Paramara Dynasty was founded by a chief called Upendra (Krishanaraja) at the beginning of the 9th century. One of the successors of Upendra named Munja was a patron of the poets & scholars and a great poet himself. Munja was able to defeat Chalukya King Taila II for 16 times but was defeated, captured and executed in the 17th attack. His nephew Bhoja who is famous as “Raja Bhoj of Dhar” was philosopher king and a polymath of the Central India. He ascended the throne of Dhar in around 1000 AD and reigned gloriously for more than 45 years. His path was similar to other Rajas, indulging in wasteful struggles with the neighbors. Bhoja is honored as a Model King. Works on astronomy, architecture, poetry, mathematics etc. are attributed to Bhoja. Many scholars compare Bhoja with Samudragupta. Some important works of Bhoja are as follows:

Saraswatikantabharna: A treatise on Sanskrit Grammar

Rajmartanda: a major commentary on Patanjali’s yoga sutra

Samarangana Sutradhara : a Treatise on Civil Engineering

TattvaPrakasha: A treatise on Tantras

Rasarajamriganka: A treatise on chemistry (ores) and drugs.

The Bhojeshwar temple at Bhojpur near Bhopal was established by him. The temple is incomplete and is dedicated to Shiva. The Bhojpur Lake, a beautiful water body neat Bhopal was built during his time by massive embankment closing the outlets in a circle of mountains was one of the greatest work of Raja Bhoj. The dam was later destroyed by Hoshang Shah. It was probably the fear of Bhoja’s organized army that Mahmud Ghaznavi returned via Thar Desert. He was able to defeat the Chauhans of Shkambhari. The enmity with Chandelas took his life as well as glory of his dynasty. The Chalukyas had made an alliance with the Rastrakutas and Kachhchawahas and defeated him. His death in 1053 AD (some sources say 1060-62 AD)) reduced his dynasty as a local power until Malwa was sacked and annexed by the Tomara Clan. Tomaras were defeated by Chauhans and from whom the crown passed to Mohammedan Kings in 1401. Akbar suppressed the local dynasty and incorporated Malwa in Mughal Empire in 1569.

Panwar or Parmar dynasty of Uttarakhand

GARHWAL – the land of many ‘GAHRS’ meaning forts. This region was made up of many small forts which were ruled by chieftains. Therefore, the history of Garhwal before the dynastic rule of the ‘Panwar’ rulers was not known. Kanak Pal was the first ruler of the state of Garhwal in 823 AD. He came from what is now called the state of Maharastra. The name ‘PANWAR’ is made up of two words, ‘PAN’ and ‘MAR’ meaning, “He who crushes enemies”.

Kanak Pal came to Northern India in the early 9th century to help Nepal against the uprising of Tibet. He subsequently settled down in Garhwal and started the rule of the Pal dynasty from 823 AD to 1947 AD, a reign of over 1000 years and 60 descendants. Ajay Pal, the 37th descendant, was able to unify a large part of Garhwal and do away with the reign of the chieftains. Ajay Pal established his rule after defeating the chieftains and set up his capital at Shrinagar, Garhwal. In time, the rulers of Garhwal increased their kingdom size and power. Infact, Garhwal was one of the independent kingdoms on which the mighty Mughals of Delhi had neither any influence or supremacy.

The rulers of Garhwal remained independent and repeatedly expelled the attacks of the Mughal rulers of Delhi. During the rule of Shah Jahan, the Emperor of India in the 17th century, Rajamata Karanwati of Garhwal, the mother and regent of her minor son, Prithiviraj Shah, humiliated Emperor Jahangir by not only defeating his forces but also returning the survivors with their noses lopped off. Later when Raja Prithivi Pati Shah became the ruler of Garhwal, he gave shelter to the bothers of Emperor Aurangzeb in the end of the 17th century. The use of the suffix “Shah” after the name came to be used around this time instead of the “Pal”. This was similar to the Mughul rulers use of the title “Shah” to denote their kingly status. The Garhwal rulers assumed the “Shah” title alongside their name indicating their position of being kings over and independent state.

King Sudarshan Shah established his capital at Tehri town and afterwards his successors Pratap Shah, Kirti Shah and Narendra Shah established their capital at Pratap Nagar, Kirti Nagar and Narendra Nagar respectively. Their dynasty ruled over this region from 1815 to 1949. During the Quit India Movement people of this region actively participated for the independence of the country. Ultimately when the country was declared independent in 1947, the inhabitants of Tehri Riyasat started their movement for getting themselves freed from the clutches of Maharaja. Due to the movement the situation became out of his control and was difficult for him to rule over the region.The 60th king of Pawar Vansh Manvendra Shah accepted the sovereignty of Indian Government. Thus in 1949 Tehri Riyasat was merged in Uttar Pradesh and was given the status of a new district. Being a scattered region it posed numerous problems for expediting development. Resultantly on 24th February 1960 the U.P. Government separated its’ one tehsil which was given status of a separate district named as Uttarkashi.

British Rule (1815 to 1947)

In 1811, Sudarshan Sah, the deposed ruler of Garhwal, had promised to give the British the Dehradun valley and Chandi should they drive the Gurkhas out of Garhwal. When the Gurkhas moved out of the region, Sudarshan Sah was living in great poverty in Dehradun.

In the year 1815, W. Fraser was authorized to hand over to the Raja the parts of Garhwal situated to the west of the Alaknanda river, except Dehradun valley and Rawain pargana lying between the rivers Alaknanda and Bhagirathi. As a result, in July that year, Fraser directed the inhabitants of the area lying to the east of the Mandakini river as far as Rudraparyag, and to the east of the Mandakini river above that point, to consider themselves under the authority of the commissioner of Kumaon.

G.W. Traill, an assistant commissioner, was sent to Garhwal to introduce British authority in that province and to conclude a settlement of the land revenue. In 1818, Traill complained of the disorderly state of the Rawain pargana, the inhabitants having been relieved of their fear of both the Gurkhas and the British being accused of having taken to their old occupation of plundering the pilgrims to Gangotri and Kedarnath. The area was formally annexed to Tehri in 1824, though attempts to control the inhabitants were not very successful till a later period.

In the meanwhile, there arose a boundary dispute between the states of Bushahr and Tehri-Garhwal over the claim to Undra Kunwar taluka which had been included in the grant made to the Raja of Garhwal by Fraser. On the other hand, Pritam Sah, the uncle of the Raja, after his release from prison in Nepal through the good offices of Gardiner, claimed the zamindari rights in the parganas of Garhwal and Dehradun ceded to the British by the Gurkhas.

Traills’ administration of Garhwal came to an end in 1835. His tenure was acknowledged by the English historians to have been marked by a just and progressive administration though many decisions were taken on an arbitrary basis.There were also charges of misuse of power by the officials. On the whole, this period was one during which the foundations of the present style of development in Garhwal were laid.

After Traill’s departure from the scene, there came a brief pcriod of wavering uncertainty and comparative misrule. According to Bird (as cited by Walton, 1910), “The system of government had been framed to suit the particular character and scope of one individual.

Traill left the province orderly, prosperous and comparatively civilized but his machinery was not easily worked by another hand. There was no law and the law giver had been withdrawn. The Board of Commissioners and the Government, who had remained quiescent while the province was in the hands of an administrator of tried ability and equal to all emergencies found it necessary to reassert their control and to lay down specified rules.”

Batten succeeded Traill in 1836 and remained in charge till 1856. In the year 1839, the province of Kumaon was divided into two districts of (British)Garhwal and Kumaon, each under a senior assistant commissioner having the same powers as the collector has in the plains. Beckett was in charge of Garhwal district when the Great Revolt broke out in 1857. However, it did not have a significant impact on this peaceful region. The passes into the hills and entrances to the valleys were carefully guarded. Forces were sent wherever there was likelihood of any disturbance. Some freedom fighters tried to take over Srinagar but were quickly overpowered by a company of Gurkhas sent from the garrison at Almora.

Independence Struggle

The people of Garhwal were gradually sucked into the struggle for freedom that had gained considerable momentum in most parts of India, particularly at the beginning of the 20th century. Garhwal produced patriots like Sridev Suman, H.N. Bahuguna and Chander Singh Garhwali. The Congress party gained a strong foothold in the hills. As the climax of the freedom movement approached, more and more Garhwalis came forward to make sacrifices for throwing off the British yoke. The struggle for independence was more marked in places like Dehradun, Rishikesh, Srinagar, Tehri, Uttarkashi and Pauri. Pandit Nehru and other national stalwarts used to visit Dehradun to provide leadership and guidance to the people of Garhwal in this movement.

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