PRE HISTORY of Uttarakhand

PRE HISTORY of Uttarakhand

  • Literally North Country or Section in Sanskrit, the name of Uttarakhand finds mention in the early Hindu scriptures as the combined region of Kedarkhand (present day Garhwal) and Manaskhand (present day Kumaon).
  • Uttarakhand was also the ancient Puranic term for the central stretch of the Indian Himalayas.
  • It is well known for the presence of a multitude of Hindu pilgrimage spots.
  • The Pauravas, Kushanas, Kunindas, Guptas, Katyuris, Raikas, Palas, the Chands, and Parmaras or Panwars, Sikhs and the British have ruled Uttarakhand in turns
  • The region was settled by the Kol people, a population speaking a language that belongs to the Munda language family.
  • The Kol peoples were later joined by Indo-Aryan [Khas] tribes that arrived from the northwest by the Vedic period.
  • At that time, present-day Uttarakhand also served as a haunt for Rishis and Sadhus. It is believed that Sage Vyasa scripted the Mahabharata here as the Pandavas are believed to have traveled and camped in the region.
  • Among the first major dynasties of Garhwal and Kumaon were the Kunindas in the 2nd century B.C. who practiced an early form of Shaivism.
  • They traded salt with Western Tibet. It is evident from the Ashokan edict at Kalsi, near Dehradun in Western Garhwal that Buddhism made inroads in this region.
  • Shamanic religions are practiced by the Kol peoples and Folk Hinduism would emerge as a Hindu tradition distinct from Hindu orthodoxy.
  • However, Garhwal and Kumaon were restored to nominal Brahmanical rule due to the travails of Shankaracharya and the arrival of migrants from the plains.
  • In the fourth century, the Kunindas gave way to the Naga Dynasties. Between the 7th and 14th centuries, the Katyuri dynasty of Khas origin dominated lands of varying extent from the Katyur (modern day Baijnath) valley in Kumaon.
  • Other peoples of the Tibeto-Burman group known as Kiratas are thought to have settled in the northern highlands as well as in pockets throughout the region, and believed to be the ancestors to the modern day Bhotiya, Raji, Buksha, and Tharu peoples.
  • Cultural history of Uttarakhand is an outcome of many years of keen observation of the linguistic and cultural phenomena of the whole Himalayan region, right from Ladakh in the west to Bhutan in the east and an intensive study of ancient Indian literature and of the historical incidents that have taken place in the central Himalayan regions, particularly in the land termed as Uttarakhand.
  • Mahākālī / Śāradā in the east, and from Bhotantic Himalayan regions in the north to Tarāī-Bhābar area in the south, considered to be a “cultural area” of Uttarakhand.

Garhwal History

  • The Garhwal Himalayas have nurtured civilization from the wee hours of history. It appears to have been a favorite locale for the voluminous mythology of the Puranic period.
  • The traditionai name of Garhwal was Uttarakhand and excavations have revealed that it formed part of the Mauryan Empire.
  • It also nds mention in the 7th-century travelogue of Huen Tsang. However, it is with Adi Shankaracharya that the name of Garhwal will always be lhiked, for the great 8th-century spiritual reformer visited the remote, snow-laden heights of Garhwal, established a math Joshimath) and resorted some of the most sacred shrines, including Badrinath and Kedarnath.
  • The history of Garhwal as one united whole began in the 15th century, when king Ajai Pal merged the-52 separate principalities, each with its own garh or fortress. For 300 years, Garhwal remained one kingdom, with its capital at Srinagar (on the left bank of Alaknanda river).
  • Then Pauri and Dehradun were perforce ceded to the Crown

Kumaon History

  • Humankind has been around in Kumaon for a very long time. Evidences of Stone Age settlements have been found in Kumaon, particularly the rock shelter at Lakhu Udyar. The paintings here date back to the Mesolithic period.PRE HISTORY of Uttarakhand
  • The early medieval history of Kumaon is the history of the Katyuri dynasty.
  • The Katyuri kings ruled from the seventh to the 11 th century, holding sway at the peak of their powers over large areas of Kumaon, Garhwal, and western Nepal.
  • The town of Baijnath near Almora was the capital of this dynasty and a center of the arts. Temple building flourished under the Katyuris and the main architectural innovation introduced by them was the replacement of bricks with stone.
  • On a hilltop facing east (opposite Almora), is the temple of Katarmal.
  • This 900-year-old sun temple was built during the declining years of the Katyuri dynasty.
  • The intricately carved doors and panels have been removed to the National Museum in Delhi as a protective measure after the 10th-century idol of the presiding deity was stolen.
  • After an interregnum of a couple of centuries, the Chands of Pithoragarh became the dominant dynasty.
  • The Chand rulers built the magnificent temple complex at Jageshwar, with its cluster of a hundred and sixty-four temples, over a span of two centuries.
  • Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the evocative carvings are complemented by the beautiful deodar forest around it.


Rock Art/Rock Shelters History of Uttrakhand

  • Painted rock shelters and petroglyphs are other noteworthy prehistoric monuments of Central Himalaya, which add new dimensions to the prehistory of this region.
  • The painted rock shelters are found in a dozen odd sites in Almora District and two sites in Chamoli, the important ones are Lakhu- Udiyar and Lwethap in Almora District and Dungri in Chamoli District.
  • Lakhu-Udiyar rock shelter is protected monument by Uttarakhand Government.
  • Significantly, in the entire Himalayan range prehistoric rock shelters are reported from Central Himalaya alone.
  • The rock engravings depict geometrical patterns, Faunal and floral patterns and schematic alignments of depressions.
  • Rock paintings of Central Himalaya are simple, mostly stylized and done in solid and give the optical impression of silhouettes. Colours used are black different shades of red and white.
  • Digital photographs of rock painting from Kumaon reveal interesting use of colours and add considerably to our knowledge of communication skill of their authors.
  • The artist have been successful in showing deliberate superimposition, organization of space and animation.
  • Digital view also shows that a large number of motifs, hitherto identified as stylized human figures are in fact enigmatic symbols and do not conform to any particular object whether stylized or real.
  • Undoubtedly, such representations give new insight into understanding prehistoric human behaviour.
  • These painting depict anthropomorphic figures, zoomorphic figures, symbols and some enigmatic patterns.
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