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The Gahadvala or sometime spelled as Gaharwar is a Suryavanshi Kshatriya dynasty that ruled the kingdom of Kannauj for approximately a hundred years, beginning in the late eleventh century. Rajput Rathore clan being descendants of Gahadvala Dynasty.[1][2][3]

Rebuilding the Kannauj Kingdom

The Kannauj kingdom was established in the tenth century by Som Chand, who came from Kannuaj near Allahabad; Chand ousted the Katyuri Kings (कत्यूरी नरेश), originally from Katyur valley near Joshimath, who had ruled the area since the seventh century AD. Chand retained the name of Kurmanchal for the state, and Kurm for the people, leaving the capital in Champawat. Kurmanchal named this region Kumaon.

Foundation of the Gaharwar dynasty at Kannauj

Chandradeva founded the Kannauj Gaharwar dynasty in 1090 A.D.. Chandradeva expanded the kingdom to include Delhi, Ayodhya, and Varanasi (modern Benares). During the rule of his successor, Govindachandra, from 1114 to 1154, the state of Gaharwar reached the pinnacle of its power, occupying much of present-day Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Govindachandra moved his capital from Kannauj to Varanasi. His queen Kumaradevi was a devout Buddhist, and Govindachandra was a patron of both Hindu temples and Buddhist monasteries.

Coin of Govindachandra of Gaharwar dynasty, c. 1114 AD -1155 AD,412 masha, Gold.
Obv: Four-armed Lakshmi seated cross-legged on lotus on obverse side holding a lotus in the upper two hands. Rev: Inscription in Nagari script :'Shrimad-Govindachandra'.

Expansion to include Delhi

During the Rajput Raaj in India, the Gaharwar king, Chandradev, successfully commanded Delhi and annexed it to his State of Kannauj. Delhi was under Pratihara sovereignty at that time, who was being attacked by Rashtrakuta. Chandradev attacked both Rashtrakuta and Pratihara amid their battle with each other, defeated the two enemies now united against him, and took over the state of Delhi. After the dissolution of the Pratihara empire, Chandradev fought off repeated incursions, which laid down the foundation of the renaissance era in Delhi.

Gaharwar dynasty rule of the district is proved by the discovery at Kudarkot of a copper plate grant dated in the reign of Chandradeva. Chandradeva founded the Gaharwar dynasty at Kanyakubja after defeating a chief named Gopala of Tuar clan. His jurisdiction extended over nearly all of what is modern Uttar Pradesh including this district.

Chandradeva was succeeded by Madanpala, who ruled for a very short period. Madanpala was succeeded by his son Govindachandra. Two copper plate grants of Govindachandra, dated respectively Samvat 1161, or A. D. 1104, and Samvat 1174 or 1117 A. D. have been found in Bisahi, two miles north-east of Tehsil Bidhuna. Another copper plate grant of this king dated Samvat 1166 or A. D. 1109 was found at Rahan. Govindachandra seems to have wielded substantial power in the State while he was only a Yuvaraja, or Crown Prince. He defeated the invading Muslims prior to 1109 A.D., for the Rahan plate records that he "again and again by the play of his matchless fighting" compelled the Hammira (i.e. Amir) to "lay aside his enmity". The Rahan plate further described Govindachandra as "terrific" in cleaving the frontal gloves of arrays of irresistible mighty large elephants from Gauda", which shows that Govindachandra must have made some encroachments on Magadha. In short, Govindachandra made himself a power and revised the glories of this region.

Govindachandra was succeeded by his son Vijayachandra in 1155 A. D. Like his father, Vijayachandra also successfully faced Muslim aggressions. As Vijayachandra' reign began, an unmistakable symptom of decline of the Gaharwar power manifested itself in the loss of Delhi, the Tuar rulers there stopped recognizing Vijaychandra as their sovereign and probably aligned with Chauhans of Ajmer.

The full significance of this loss was realised when, about a generation later, the Muslims attacked Delhi and occupied it, rendering the Gaharwar frontier defenceless. Vijayachandra was succeeded by his son, Jaichandra, in 1170 A. D. Jaichandra may be described as the last great king of the Gahadavala dynasty, whose power and extensive jurisdiction struck even Muslim historians. During the reign of Jaichandra, the Chauhans, from Ajmer, had annexed Delhi and were at this time bidding for supremacy in the North under Prathviraja ChauhanIII. The Chandellas were to the south there; at this time, their power was at its height. Additionally, there were repeated Muslim invasions of North-western India, which had already threatened the unity of India.

Prithviraj carried off Samyukta, daughter of Jaichandra. Samyukta's elopement with Prithviraj III, heir to the rival Chauhan Rajput kingdom to the west, is the subject of many romantic tales, although this may have been the seed of the dissension between the kingdoms. Jaichand was destined to be the last Gaharwar king of Kannauj. He sought help from Muslims of North to invade Chauhans of Ajmer-Delhi. After fall of Delhi, the city of Kannauj was also attacked by Muhammad of Ghor in 1194; Jaichandra drowned in the Ganges fighting the battle; his kingdom was conquered and sacked by Muhammad's armies. Some survivors, led by Jaichand's son or grandson Siyaji (Shiv ji), fled west to the Marwar desert region of Rajasthan, where they established themselves as rulers in the early thirteenth century, founding the Rathore clan which ruled the princely state of Marwar or Jodhpur.

Collateral Branches

Chand Kings of Kumaon

Another branch escaped to the Kumaon hills, where 300 years later they usurped power in Kumaon by defeating the ruling Katyuri dynasty. The Chand kings mention Rathore as their kul.


Another grandson, Bijai Chand, fled to Kantit in the Mīrzāpur District and, overcoming the Bhar Rāja of that place, founded the family of the Gaharwār Rājas of Bijaipur-Kantit. All the other Gaharwārs trace their lineage to Benāres or Bijaipur. Dahia kingdom is an extension of this line also.

Manda Kings

Kings of Manda trace their line from a younger brother of Jaichandra of Kannauj. The last king was Raja Vishvanath Pratap Singh of Manda, prime - minister of India from 1989 to 1991. Gaharwar, Rathore and Bundela share the Kashyap Gautra, and Gaharwar is considered the original bloodline for both Bundela and Rathore. The Gaharwar era in India was brief, but its impact has lasted through the era of renaissance in India.


All the other Gaharwārs trace their lineage to Benāres or Bijaipur. Another group of warriors that migrated southward from Kannauj came to occupy territory immediately west of Daiya, Manda, and Vijaypur. This line came to be known as Bundela and gave its name to the Bundelkhand that comprises parts of both current Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.


The size and scale of the ancient town can be gauged from the fact that its ruins extend over the lands of five existing villages, occupying a semicircle 4 miles in diameter. While no historic Hindu structures remain intact, the "great mosque", constructed by Ibrahim Shah of Jaunpur in 1406 out of the remains of demolished Hindu temples, is still known to Hindus as "Sita's Kitchen". Brahmins in Bengal and Assam trace their origin to a migration southwards from this city in the ninth and tenth centuries.

Kannauj is located at 27.07°N 79.92°E. It has an average elevation of 139 metres (456 feet)

Return of the Chand Kings

Jaichand's descendants reclaimed power in the area three centuries later; they established their domain in 1563 by overpowering local chiefs and the ruling Katyuri Kings. They had brief battles with the Rajput clans in Gangoli and Bankot, specifically the Mankotis of Mankot, the Pathanis of Attigaon-Kamsyar, Kalakotis and Khush Rajput clans of the region. The Chand Kings mention Rathore as their kul[disambiguation needed].

Raja Kalyan Chand shifted the capitol to Almora in 1563, when he laid the foundation of a town named 'Alam Nagar', also called 'Rajapur', a name that is still used and has been found inscribed on copper plates of the time. Mughal historians mention that the Chand ruler, Gyan Chand, visited the Delhi Sultanate and received the regions of Bhabhar- Terai up to the Ganges as a grant from the Sultan. The lower hills remained under local chieftains; it was Kirti Chand (1488–1503), who first ruled the entirety of the Nainital district, along with the rest of Kumaon.

In 1581, Rudra Chand (1565–1597), son of Raja Kalyan Chand, seized Sira, defeating the Raika king Hari Malla. At this time, he attacked the Gaharwar Kingdom for the first time, though Dularam Sah repelled the attackers, and his subsequent attacks were also thwarted. Rudra Chandra was a contemporary of Akbar, and even paid him a visit in Lahore in 1587, as a mark of his obeisance. Akbarnama mentions Chand as "one of the great landlords of India", and further talks about his initial hesitation in approaching the court of Akbar. It was Raja Todar Mal himself, who sent his son Kalyan Das to open negotiations with Akbar. Subsequently, the two met and agreed on a concord; Ain-e-Akbari, written during the period of Akbar, also mentions the Sarkar of Kumaon, containing twenty-one Mahals (a geographical unit of the times) and the revenue collected.

After the death of Rudra Chand in 1597, his son, Lakshmi Chand, continued the attacks on Gaharwar for many years, though he too was repulsed. He also constructed the ‘Bagnath temple’ at Bageshwar, Bagheshwar in 160.

One of the most powerful rulers of the Chand dynasty was Baz Bahadur (1638–78) AD., who met Shahjahan in Delhi, and in 1655 joined forces with him to attack Gaharwar, which was under rule of its king, Pirthi Sah, and subsequently captured the Terai region including Dehradun, which was hence separated from the Garhwal kingdom. Baz Bahadur extended his territory east to the Karnali river.

In 1672, Baz Bahadur started a poll tax, and its revenue was sent to Delhi as a tribute. Baz Bahadur also built the Golu Devata Temple, at Ghorakhal near Bhimtal, to honor Lord Golu, a general in his army who died valiantly during battle. He also built the famous Bhimeshwara Mahadev Temple at Bhimtal.

Towards the end of the 17th century, Chand Rajas again attacked the Gaharwar kingdom, and in 1688, Udyot Chand erected several temples at Almora, including Tripur Sundari, Udyot Chandeshwer and Parbateshwer, to mark his victory over Gaharwar and Doti, the Pabateshwar temple was renamed twice, becoming the present day Nanda Devi temple. Later, Jagat Chand (1708–20), defeated the Raja of Gaharwar and pushed him away from Srinagar, and his kingdom was given to a Brahmin. However, a subsequent king of Gaharwar, Pradip Shah (1717–72), regained control over Gaharwar and retained Doon till 1757, when the Rohilla leader, Najib-ul-Daula, established himself there, though he was ousted soon after by Pradip Shah.

The Chand kings also defeated the Rajwars of Askot, though the latter were allowed to hold their land on the payment of a tribute. The hill station of Binsar, 30 km from Almora was the summer retreat of the Chand kings.[4] Jagat Chand’s successor, Debi Chand (1720-6) took part in the wars of Rohillas of Rohilkhand, and was defeated by the British troops.


In 1744, Ali Mohammed Khan, the Rohilla leader, sent a force into the Chand territory and penetrated through Bhimtal into the Nainital district of Almora. The resistance of the Chand army, under its ruler, Kalyan Chand, was weak and ineffective, and Almora fell to the Rohillas who stayed here for seven short months, before departing with a payment of a lakh rupees, though this was hastened by the harsh terrain of the region.

This peace did not last long; as after just three months, unhappy with his lieutenants, Ali Mohammed Khan attacked again, though this time, he was stopped and defeated at the entrance to the hills, Barakheri. He made no further attempts to conquer the Kumaon kingdom, nor did the Muslim rulers of Delhi, and this remains the first and the last attack by Muslim rulers on the region. Reconciliation subsequently came into effect; troops from the hills, under Dip Chand, fought side by side with the Rohillas at the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761.

In 1760, he renamed the Parbateshwer temple Dipchandeshwar.

During British rule, the divisional commissioner of Kumaon, George William Trail, moved the statue of the Nanda Devi to the ‘Udyot Chandeshwar’ temple, from the 'Malla Mahal' (Upper Court) of the Chand kings, where the present collection exists. In time, the temple started being called the ‘Nanda Devi temple’. The 'Talla Mahal' (Lower Court) of Chand rulers, now houses the District Hospital. Due to internal strife, in the ensuing thirty years the kings lost most of the land they had previously ruled in the plains, and retained only the Bhabhar region.

In 1779, a subsequent Garhwal king, Lalit Shah, also captured the Kumaon region from a usurper who was then ruling Kumaon. Lalit Shah made his son Parduman Shah, the king of the Kumaon territory, and after a few years, on the death of his brother in Srinagar, Parduman Shah even held the seat of a combined kingdom of Kumaon and Garhwal for a year, before choosing to go back to Srinagar, the familiar grounds of the Garhwal.

In early 1790, the Gurkhas invaded the Kumaon hills and Almora, under their chief, Prithvi Narayan; they advanced by crossing the River Kali, through Gangoli; and the Chands, under the titular Chand Raja, were driven to the Bhabhar and finally expelled. The Tarai and Kashipur were ceded to the British by the Nawab of Awadh in 1801, along with the rest of Rohilkhand.

The Nepalese rule last for twenty-four years, and ended as a result of their repeated intrusion into the British territories in the Tarai since early 1800. This prompted Lord Moira, the Governor-General of India, to attack Almora in December 1814, which marked the beginning of the Anglo-Nepalese War. After the war, the old Lal Mandi fort, near Almora and the present cantonment, was renamed ‘Fort Moira’.

Harak Deo Joshi, the minister of the last Chand Raja, took the side of the British, and with a force of 4,500 men marched from Kashipur in February, 1815. Champawat was first taken in March from the Pilibhit side through the Kali river, and within two months, a strong British army under Colonel Nichols, attacked and captured Almora, on April 26, 1815. A truce was called the same day, and with the ratification of the Treaty of Sugauli on 4 March 1816, Kumaon and Garhwal thus became a British territory.


Champawat, the first capital of Chand rulers, in the Kali Kumaon stronghold, is now a district headquarters town. Remnants of the once powerful Chand reign include, among others, a medieval fort, Baleshwar temple, and Nagnath Temple, along with other temples in the region. The late Prime Minister of India Maharaja Vishwanath Pratap Singh, belonged to this dynasty, from the State of Manda. His elder brother Justice Chandra Shekhar Prasad Singh (assassinated 1982) was judicial luminary of the High Court Allahabad and held the title of Raja Bhadur Daiya.

The dynasty today is represented by four bloodlines ruling three states in Eastern Uttar Pradesh: Manda, Vijaypur Kantit, Daiya and Padrauna. Descendants in eastern "Bihar" are found in Sukhasan-chakla Madhepura.

See also