Archaeological sites of Uttarakhand

Archaeological sites of Uttarakhand

Archaeological Heritage of Uttarakhand

  • Himalaya affords an awe inspiring study of nature. Fossil remains from the rocks dated to from 18.3 to 0.6 million years BP show a variety of Stresirhine Primate genera. Cercopithecoid genera, and Hominoid genera, the last one being of special interest to hominid ancestry.
  • Significantly, Kalagarh Basin (District Pauri, Uttarakhand) has also witnessed Hominoid activities some 11 to 10 million years ago.
  • These include Sivapithecus indicus and Ramapithecus punjabicus. T
  • hese hominoids form important links in the evolution of hominids.
  • Recent discoveries of Palaeolithic tools from Potwar (northern Pakistan) dated between 2.4 and 2.0 million years BP, and from Uttarbaini (Jammu and Kashmir, India) dated between 2.5n and 0-5 million years BP suggest that Himalayan region is equally potential as a cradle of earliest hominids in the earth.
  • Chopper-chopping tool tradition, characteristic of Potwar (Pakistan), Jammu and Kashmir, and Himachal Pradesh, have also been found in Uttarakhand.
  • The exact nature of the Palaeolithic assemblage of Uttarakhand needs to be situated in pan Indian context.
  • With this background we will present a summary of the archaeological heritage of Central Himalaya.
  • The geographical area covering Central Himalaya extends from the western border of Nepal in the east of the river Tons, a tributary of the Jamuna, in the west; and from the Terai-Bhabhar region in the line from Dehradun to Khatima-Tanakpur in Nainital District in the south to the western Tibetan border (China) in the north. It is situated between 28° 44′ and 31° 25′ north latitude, and 77°45′ and 81°1′ east longitude.
  • Archaeology of Central Himalaya unfolds successive technological stage of human evolution from Stone to respectively Copper, and Iron Ages during pre-and protohistoric periods.
  • As for the historical period, literary numismatic, and epigraphic sources reveal that between circa second century BC and fifth century AD the Kunindas, the earliest known rulers of Central Himalaya, reigned over this region. In the fourth century AD it was known as Karttripura kingdom, a tributary of the Gupta Emperor Samudra Gupta as we learn from his Parayaga Prasasti.
  • The two Talesvara Copper Plate Inscriptions inform that in the following centuries it was called Brahmapura under the rule of the Paurava-Varmans.
  • Brahmapura is also mentioned in the Vrihatsamhita, and it was visited by the Chinese pilgrim Heiun Tsang (second quarter of the seventh century AD), who mentions it as Po-lo-hi-mo-pu-lo- (rendered is Sanskrit as Brahmapura) Central Himalaya was ruled by the Katyuris from seventh century AD to twelfth century AD.
  • Inscriptions reveal that this region was occupied by the Mallas of western Nepal at least from AD 1191 to AD 1223.
  • It resulted in the liquidation of the Katyuri kingdom. However, inscriptional evidence shows that the Later Katyuris continued to flourish as petty independent principalities in different parts of Central Himalaya, among whom the Raikas of Sira-Doti (western Nepal) were very powerful.
  • Eventually subduing the petty principalities there emerge two independent principalities of Kumaon and Garhwal, respectively under the Chandras and the Pamvaras.
  • In the fall of AD 1743 the Rohilas invaded Kumaon and captured its capital Almora for about six months.
  • However, they left the hills after realizing indemnity.
  • The Gorhkas of Nepal subjugated Kumaon in AD 1791, and Garwhal in AD 1804. In 1815 the British conquered the Gorkhas and occupied the Central Himalaya till 1947 when India achieved freedom.




Excavated sites in and around Uttarakhand

KASHIPUR, District Udham Singh Nagar

  • Kashipur is identified by A. Cunningham with Kiu-pi-shwang-na of Hiuen Tsang, which is rendered into Sanskrit by Julien as Govisana. Cunningham traced remains of a large structure at Bhim-Gaja the highest place at the site.
  • The ASI conducted excavations here in the year 1939-40, 1965-66 and 1970-01 in order to reveal the details of the structure traced by Cunningham.
  • Excavation revealed substantial part of the plan of the temple built in three different phases.
  • Initially, the temple appear to have started as soiled brick built high platform surmounted possibly by sanctum during Gupta period but later, two encircling walls probably in 6th -7th century AD were laid around it covering it finally into an extensive and impressive Panchayatana complex.
  • Since the excavation was aimed to obtained the detail plan of the temple, hence, no attempt was made to reveal the complete cultural sequence of the site, however pottery collected from the site revealed that site remained under occupation from Painted Grey Ware period to the early medieval time.
  • The thick brick debris accumulated against the wall of the temple contained copper coins, copper and glass bangles, copper rings, terracotta and, stone beads, nails and chisels of different period


  • The site was excavated by N.C. Ghosh of Archaeological Survey of India between 1973-75.
  • The excavation brought to light remains of a three cultural phases:
  1. The early phase (1st Century AD to circa 3rd century AD) represented mud brick wall.
  2. The middle phase (circa 4th century to circa 5th century AD) is marked by a floor of brick bats and remains of a Saiviate Temple.
  3. The late phase (circa 7th century to circa 8th century AD) is marked by some residential structures of burn brick bats


JAGAT GRAM, District Dehradun:

  • This ancient site was excavated by, ASI between the year 1952 – 54. Excavations revealed remains of three fire alters and other associated material include inscribed bricks.
  • These fire alter known as Syena chiti in form of flying Eagle shaped belongs Ashvamedha sacrifices perform by their authors.
  • Sanskrit inscriptions in the late third century AD Brahmi characters on bricks used in one of the three Jagatgram altars inform that the king.
  • Silavarman, alias Pona, of Yugasaila, who belonged to the Vrishagana gotra, performed four Asvamedha sacrifices here
  • . Obviously during the third century AD at least western part of Central Himalaya was known as Yugasiala. In Pan Indian context such altars are extremely rare

MORADHWAJ, District Bijnor:

  • Ancient site Moradhwaj was excavated under the direction of Prof K P Nautiyal of Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna University, Srinagar Garhwal in the year 1978 – 81. The excavation revealed three occupational periods.
  • Period I (circa 5th century – 2nd century B C ) is characterized by the occurrence of Northern Black Polished ware along with the associated fine gray and red ware. Houses made of backed bricks and mud wall encircling the habitation were encountered from this period.
  • Period IIA (2nd century BC – 1st century AD) is marked by the pottery similar to one from the other contemporary historical sites in the Ganga plains which include typical sprinklers. Structures in this period are made of backed bricks.
  • Important antiquities includes terracotta human and animal figurines, cart wheels, copper bangles and iron implements from this level.
  • Period IIB , belonging to Kushan time represented by typical pottery and backed brick defense wall. The most noteworthy discovery of this period is a terracotta figure of Buddha and Krishna slaying demon Keshi. In addition remains of a temple consists of sanctum and mandapa with a circumbuletery path and remains of Stupa have also reported from the period.
  • Moradhwaj is a centrally protected monument under jurisdiction of Agra Circle of ASI.

MADARPUR, District Moradabad:

  • The site is located on the bank of small tributary of Ramganga near village Madarpur in Thakurdwara tehsil of Moradabad.
  • 31 copper anthropomorphic figures were discovered in 2000 near a brick kiln from a chance discovery.
  • Excavation at the site was conducted during 2000-01 with a view to know the associated material culture of the copper antiquities and to know the cultural sequence of the site.
  • The excavation has revealed remains of a single culture belonging to Ochre Coloured Pottery culture.
  • Open hearths were exposed during excavation. The antiquities from the site include , terracotta toy cart frame, toy cart wheel, sling ball, stone pestle fragments and querns .
  • The pottery include OCP red ware and associated coarse ware.
  • The OC ware are mostly fine fabric where as the associated ware are of coarse fabric due to addition of sand as tempering material.
  • Many sherds of associated ware are found decorated with cord impression, mostly horizontal bands.
  • Few red ware sherds are found decorated with incised decorations. Sherds of perforated pots are also found from the excavation.

SANANA BASERI, District Almora:

  • The excavations conducted at Magalithic burials site at Sanana Baseri by the Hemwati Nandan Archaeological sites of UttarakhandBahuguna University, Srinagar Garhwal brought to light the remains of the dolmenoid Cist and the Urn Burial. At Sanana nine cist burials were exposed found in clustered suggestive of a graveyard.
  • These graves have been dug into the alluvial terrace to a depth of 1.0m to 1.50m below the surface .
  • The Cist-chamber was covered all around by rectangular or semi-oval protective wall of boulders.
  • Cist chambers consist of three to six upright orthostats placed vertically according to the need and size of the body or the funerary objects.
  • At Baseri, six cist burials including twin cist burials have also been reported.
  • Urn burials contained large sized handmade earthen jars ranging from 48cm to 56cm in diameter have mat impressions or ripple marks on the exterior.
  • In most of these burials were laid outside the periphery of the protective wall of the cist burials.
  • The burials contained tiny fragments of human bones, teeth, and skulls etc. Twenty-four human teeth along with a bead of banded agate were kept in a bowl is important finding.
  • The discovery of skeletal human remains forming disarticulated bones of two skulls, tibia-fibula, parts of upper jaw (maxilla), an lower jaw (mandible) and a few lone teeth buried systematically inside the chamber were worth reckoning.
  • Interestingly, both the skulls were found placed together side-by-side reflecting on the practice of multiple burials.
  • A wide variety of pottery is the characteristics feature of these burials.
  • Most of them are dishes, miniature bowls, vases, globular goblets, and bowls with pedestal base and bowl with flat base which are more akin to true tradition of the Painted Grey Ware of the Ganga-Yamuna Doab.
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