Katyuri kings:History of Uttarakhand

The Katyuri kings were a medieval ruling clan of present-day Uttarakhand, India. They ruled over the Kumaon region from 800 to 1100 AD. They called their state Kurmanchal, the land of Kurma, the second Avatar of Vishnu, which gives the region its present name, Kumaon.


Historians such as Badri Dutt Pandey believe the Katyurs were originally from Ayodhya. Others, however, trace their origins back to the Kunindas, having found coins from the Kuninda period. Rahul Sankrityayan traces their ancestry to Kshasha and Shaka stock, who were in India before first Century BCE.

Now called Kumaon, the name is derived from Kurmanchal; the land of Kurma and Uttarakhand is also referred to as “Abode of Gods” or Deva Bhumi.


The Katyuri dynasty was founded by Vashudev Katyuri, also called Vasu Dev or Basu Dev, according to traditions, but his name is not found in any inscriptions and ancient Basdeo temple at Joshimath is attributed to Vasu Dev.Vasu Dev was of Buddhist origin, but later became staunch follower of Brahminical practices and the brahminical practices of Katyuri kings in general is sometimes attributed to a vigorous campaign of Shankaracharya (788-820 CE). Originally from Joshimath, during their reign they dominated lands of varying extent from the ‘Katyur’ (modern day Baijnath) valley in Kumaon, between 7th and 11th centuries C.E., and established their capital at Baijnath in Bageshwar district; which was then known as Kartikeyapura and lies in the centre of ‘Katyur’ valley.Brahmadev mandi (a trading / business center in a flat area of the then Katyuri kingdom) in the Kanchanpur District of Nepal was established by Katyuris king Brahma Deo (Brahma Dev). Brahmadeo Mandi still exists by this name.

At its peak, the Katyuri kingdom extended from Nepal in the east to Kabul, Afghanistan in the west, before fragmenting into numerous principalities by the 12th century. They were displaced by the Chand Kings in the 11th century AD. Oppressive rule by Bira Dev was one of the reasons for the end of Katyuri dynasty.[7] He used to collect heavy taxes and forced his people to work as his slaves, which led to unpopularity and revolt after his death.


The Rajbar dynasty of Askot in Pithoragarh, was set up in the 1279 AD, by a branch of the Katyuri Kings, headed by Abhay Pal Deo, who was the grandson of Katyuri king, Brahm Deo. The dynasty ruled the region until it became part of the British Raj through the treaty of Sighauli in 1816. The Doti Kingdom was another strong offshoot of Katyuri dynasty. They were known as Rainka Maharaj, presently Doti is a part of Nepal.


The period of certain Katyuri rulers, is generally determined as below, although there is some ambiguity in respect to exact number of years ruled by each King.

  1. Vasu dev
  2. Basantana Dev (850-870 CE)
  3. Kharpar Dev (870-880 CE)
  4. Abhiraj Dev (880-890 CE)
  5. Tribhuvanraj Dev (890-900 CE)
  6. Nimbarta Dev (900-915 CE)
  7. Istanga (915-930 CE)
  8. Lalitasura Dev (930-955 CE)
  9. Bhu Dev (955-970 CE)
  10. Salonaditya (970-985 CE)
  11. Ichchhata Dev (985 -1000 CE)
  12. Deshat Dev (1000 -1015 CE)
  13. Padmata Dev (1015-1045 CE)
  14. Subhiksharaja Dev (1045-1060 CE)
  15. Dham Dev and
  16. Bir Dev (Very short period)


The Katyuri Kings were known for constructing several temples in present-day Uttaranchal and they followed Brahminical practices. Vasu Dev temple at Joshimath, several shelters and small shrines along the route to Badrinath, Lakulesha, Mahishasuramardhini, Navadurga and Nataraja temples at Jageshwar were constructed by Katyuri Kings. Bhuv Dev (955-970) was follower of Brahminical practices and built several temples at Baijnath and Bageshwar, but the structures are lost and tradition continues. Most of the ancient temples in the present day Uttarakhand are the result of architectural contribution by Katyuri dynasty. A relatively rare Surya temple, is located at Katarmal, now a remote village near Kosi, which was built by Karatamalla, a lesser known Katyuri ruler and the temple has 44 carved temples around the main temple, but is in a state of neglect after the theft of an important idol.

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