Ancient History of Uttaranchal
The king of mountains Himalaya is said to consist of five segments i.e., Nepal Kurmanchal, Kedar, Kangda and Ruchir Kashmir. This Mid Himalayan region of Garhwal and Kumaon, which is commonly known as Uttarakhand today was called by the name KEDARKHAND and MANASKHAND in the Purans. According to the famous Historian Mr. Shiv Prasasd Dabral taking the word Uttarapad and khand from Kedarkhand formed the term Uttaranchal. This mountain region however is the same, which was once renowned in its snow-covered form during the Vedic era and sang the saga of glorious deeds of the kings, Saints and Ascetics of the time. It was referred to as Uttarpanchal by the compilers of the Upnishads, Uttarkaushal by Valmiki and Uttarkuru by Ved Vyasa who wrote the epic Mahabharata. It is the same place that was Uattarapatti for Panini and Kautilya; Kiratmandal for Kirats, Khashadesh for the Khas, Kartipur for Katayurs. It was Parvatkaran and Giryavali for the early historian and Uttaranchal or Uttarakhand of the present day politicians. The different parts of the Uttarakhand have been referred to asIlawarat, Brahmpur, Rudrahimalaya, Sapaldaksh, Shivalik, Kurmanchat Karajat Kamaugarh, Kamadesh, Kumaon, SarkarI and Garhwal lover the past 3000 years. The western part of this region that comprising of 52 fortresses has been referred to as Garhwal over past 500 years. Samprat, Chamoli, Pauri, Uttarkashi and Dehradun add to the pristine beauty of the Garhwal region. The eastern region comprising of Almora, Nainital and Pithoragarh districts together known as the Kumaon region. On account of security reason the government has for the past four decades considered only Chamoli and Pithoragarh districts as Uttaranchal, but for the residents of the Uttaranchal this entire hilly region covers an area of 51,125 sq. km and comprising of 15,951 villages, 89 developmental” segments and some adjoining plains as signal geographic social and cultural Unit.
The history of Uttaranchal State can be better understood through the history of Garhwal and Kumaon divisions separately, because they maintained independent identity except the period of Nepali aggression.
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 finds 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 unified 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 as payment for British help, rendered to the Garhwalis during the Gurkha invasion, in the early 19th century.
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. 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.
Evolution of Uttaranchal – Major Milestones in Uttaranchal Formation
Reference: “Uttaranchal – Dilemma of Plenties and Scarcities” by VP Sati and Kamlesh Kumar