Garhwal Kingdom

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Garhwal Kingdom
गढ़वाल राज्य



1903 map of the United Provinces showing the boundaries of Garhwal Kingdom.
Capital Devalgarh 1500-1519
Srinagar 1519-1804
Tehri 1815-1862
Pratapnagar 1862-1890
Kirtinagar 1890-1925
Narendra Nagar 1925-1949
Languages Garhwali, Sanskrit, Hindi
Religion Hinduism
Government Absolute monarchy
Princely state (1815–1949)
 -  Established 888
 -  Disestablished 1949

Garhwal Kingdom (Hindi: गढ़वाल राज्य was a princely state in north-western Uttarakhand, India, ruled by the Rajput dynasty. It was founded in 888 AD. Later part of the Punjab Hill States Agency of British India, Garhwal Kingdom consisted of the present day Tehri Garhwal district and most of the Uttarkashi district. Garhwal Kingdom acceded to the Union of India in August 1949.Garhwal Kingdom was never ruled by any Mughal king.



Traditionally the region finds mention in various Hindu scriptures as Kedarkhand being home to the Garhwali people. Garhwal kingdom was dominated by Kshatriyas. The Kuninda Kingdom also flourished around 2nd century BC. Later this region came under the rule of Katyuri Kings, who ruled unified Kumaon and Garhwal regions from Katyur Valley, Baijnath, Uttarakhand, starting 6th century AD and eventually fading by the 11th century AD, when they were replaced by Chand Kings in Kumaon, while Garhwal was fragmented into several small principalities.[1][2] Huen Tsang, the Chinese traveller, who visited the region around 629 AD, mentions a kingdom of Brahampura in the region.[3]

Garhwal state founded in 823 AD, when Kanakpal, the prince of Malwa, on his visit to the Badrinath Temple, met the King Bhanu Pratap, a chieftain of Chandpur Garhi. The King later married his only daughter to the prince and subsequently handed over his kingdom, the fortress town. Kanakpal and his descendants of Parmar dynasty, gradually conquered all the independent fortresses (Garhs) belonging to its 52 small chieftains, and ruled the whole of Garhwal Kingdom for the next 915 years, up to 1804 AD.[4][5]


In 1358, the 37th ruler, Ajay Pal, brought all the minor principalities for the Garhwal region, under his own rule, and founded the Garhwal kingdom, with Dewalgarh as its capital, which he later shifted to Srinagar.[6] Balbhadra Shah (r. 1575–1591), was the first Raja of Garhwal to use the title Shah. The capital was shifted to Srinagar, Uttarakhand by Mahipat Shah who ascended to the throne in 1622, and further consolidated his rule over most parts of Garhwal, though he died early in 1631, though his seven year old son, Prithvi Shah ascended to the throne after him, the Kingdom was ruled by Mahipat Shah's wife, Rani Karnavati for many years to come, during which she successfully defend the kingdom against invaders and repelled an attack of Mughal army led by Najabat Khan in 1640, and in time received the nickname of 'Nakti Rani' as she used to chop off the noses of any invader to the kingdom, as the Mughal invaders of the period realised.[7] Monuments erected by her still exist in Dehradun district at Nawada.[8]

Next important ruler was Fateh Shah, remained the King of Garhwal from 1684 to 1716, and is most known for taking part in the Battle of Bhangani on 18 September 1688, where combined forces of many Rajas of the Shivalik Hills (Pahari rajas) fought with Gobind Singh's army, and lost. During his reign, Sikh Guru and the ex-communicated eldest son of Har Rai, Ram Rai settled here, upon recommendations of Aurangzeb, which eventually led to the establishment of modern town of Dehradun. Fateh Shah died in 1716, and his son Upendra Shah died within a year of ascending to the throne in 1717, subsequently Pradip Shah ascended and his ruled led to rising fortunes of the Kingdom, this in turn attracted invaders, like Najib-ud-daula Governor of Saharanpur, who invaded in 1757 along with his Rohilla Army and captured Dehradun.[9]

Other descendants ruled over Garhwal and the adjacent state of Tehri in an uninterrupted line till 1803 when the Gorkha Kingdom invaded Garhwal. Garhwal forces suffered heavy defeat, and King Pradyuman Shah first escaped from Srinagar to Dehradun and then to Saharanpur to organise forces, but was eventually killed in the Battle of Khurbura (Dehradun) in January 1804; while his brother, Pritam Shah, was taken in captivity to Nepal by the Gurkhas, and the Garhwal chiefs were driven into the plains, as Gurkhas began their 12-year long tyrannical rule. Sudarshan Shah son of the later King, spent the next decade at Jwalapur, near Haridwar under British protection.[9][10]

Formation of Tehri Garhwal state[edit]

The occupation of the kingdom by the Gurkhas rule went unopposed from 1803 to 1814 until a series of encroachments by the Gurkhas on British territory led to the Anglo-Nepalese War in 1814. At the termination of the campaign, on 21 April 1815, the British established their rule over the eastern half of the Garhwal region, which lies east of Alaknanda and Mandakini river, which was later on known as British Garhwal and Dun of Dehradun, along with Kumaon, which was merged with British India as a result of the Treaty of Sugauli. The former Kumaon Kingdom was joined with the eastern half of the Garhwal region and was governed as a chief-commissionership, also known as the Kumaon Province, on the non-regulation system.[11] Meanwhile the western part of the erstwhile Garhwal Kingdom was restored to Sudarshan Shah. Since Srinagar was now part of the British Garhwal, a new capital was established at Tehri, giving the name of Tehri state (popularly known as Teri Garhwal).[12]

Sudarshan Shah died in 1859, and was succeeded by Bhawani Shah, who in turn was succeeded by Pratap Shah in 1872.[5][13] The kingdom had an area of 4,180 square miles (10,800 km2), and a population of 268,885 in 1901. The ruler was given the title of Raja, but after 1913, he was honoured with the title of Maharaja. The King was entitled to an 11 gun salute and had a privy purse of 300.000 Rupees. In 1919, Maharaja Narendra Shah shifted the capital from Tehri to a new town, which was named after him, Narendra Nagar.[14]

India's Independence[edit]

During the Quit India Movement people from this region actively worked for the independence of India. Ultimately, when the country was declared independent in 1947, the inhabitants of Tehri Riyasat (Garhwal State) started their movement to free themselves from the clutches of the Maharaja Narendra Shah (Panwar).

Due to this movement, the situation became out of his control and it was difficult for him to rule over the region. Consequently the 60th king of Parmar Vansh, Manvendra Shah, the last ruling Maharaja of the Garhwal Kingdom (1946–1949), accepted the sovereignty of the Union of India. Tehri Riyasat was merged into the Garhwal District of United Provinces (later renamed to Uttar Pradesh) and was given the status of a new district, the Tehri garhwal district. Subsequently, on 24 February 1960, the state government separated one its tehsils which was given the status of a separate district named Uttarkashi. It is currently part of the Garhwal Division of the Uttarakhand state of India which was carved out of Uttar Pradesh in 2000. Former royal palace of the Maharaja of Tehri Garhwal at Narendra Nagar, now houses the Ananda–In the Himalayas spa, estb. 2000.[15]

Under the name of Greater Nepal, some in Nepal have asked for the return of states previously usurped by Nepal that were annexed by the British East India Company. However, little support for this motion exists in these regions.

Garhwali People[edit]

Garhwalis are an Indo-Aryan ethno-linguistic group who primarily inhabit the Garhwal Himalayas which is part of the modern day state of Uttarakhand. Any person who has ancestral Garhwali roots or lives in Garhwal and has a Garhwali heritage is called a Garhwali. They include all those who speak the Garhwali language or any of its numerous dialects.

The culture of the present Garhwal is an amalgamation of influences from the indigenous population coupled with traditions superimposed by various immigrants who settled in the region from time to time. Majority of the people are involved in the agriculture, tourism and the defence industry.

Garhwali people are divided into three castes- Garhwali Brahmin, Garhwali Rajput and Shilpkar. Most of the Garhwali Brahmins and Rajputs are of Khas origin and practice the Khas traditions like 'Sautiya Bant', 'Gharjawain', 'Dewar-Bhabhi Vivah' etc. They are closely related to each other. Their surnames are based either on the names of their villages (Bahuguna, Hatwal,naithani from naithanaa village (where puriyaa ji naithaani was born in 27/08/1748 who was the Patorn of pradyumn shah later on rai sahib pandit shree raam naithaani born in family of pandit ragyvar datt naithani on 27/05/1882 ) Uniyal, Semwal, Nautiyal, Petwal etc.) or according to their professions (Aswal,Bhandari, Bisht, Gusain, Negi, Joshi, Rawat etc.). Shilpkars, on the other hand, are composed of various sub-castes and are classified as Scheduled Castes in the Constitution of India....

Garhwali Language[edit]

Main article: Garhwali

The Garhwali language (गढ़वाली भाषा) is a Central Pahari language belonging to the Northern Zone of Indo-Aryan and is native to Garhwal.

Garhwali is one of the 325 recognised languages of India[16] spoken by over 2,267,314[17] people in Tehri Garhwal, Pauri Garhwal, Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Dehradun, Haridwar and Rudraprayag districts of Uttarakhand.[18] Garhwali is also spoken by people in other parts of India including Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

UNESCO’s Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger[19] designates Garhwali as a language which is in the unsafe category and requires consistent conservation efforts.[20]

Influence outside Uttarakhand[edit]

The Maharaja of Garhwal still appoints the Rawal (Chief Priest) for the Badrinath Temple and Kedarnath Temple, after consulting with the Maharaja of Travancore. The Kingdom of Garhwal is located in the northernmost part of India, while Cape Comorin (southernmost point of peninsular India) is located in the former Kingdom of Travancore. He also plays a role in the appointment of Chief Priest to the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Further reading[edit]

  • Tehri Garhwal State Constitution: As Enacted by H.H. Maharaja Manabendra Shah Under the Rajagyan Dated 27 May 1946, by Tehri Garhwal (Princely State), Tehri Garhwal (Princely State. Published by Mafasilite Print. Works, 1946.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ History Pauri Garhwal district.
  2. ^ Rawat|Page 15-16.
  3. ^ Garhwal District – History The Imperial Gazetteer of India 1909, v. 12, p. 165.
  4. ^ [1] Tehri Garhwal official website.
  5. ^ a b Garhwal Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition. Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. .
  6. ^ History Uttarkashi district website.
  7. ^ Karnavati Garhwal Himalayas: A Study in Historical Perspective, by Ajay S. Rawat. Published by Indus Publishing, 2002. ISBN 81-7387-136-1. Page 43-44.
  8. ^ Dehradun district The Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1909 v. 11, p. 212.
  9. ^ a b Dehradun District – History The Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1909, v. 11, p. 213.
  10. ^ Tehri Sate History of Uttaranchal, by Umachand Handa. Published by Indus Publishing, 2002. ISBN 81-7387-134-5. 189.
  11. ^ Robert Montgomery Martin, History of the Possessions of the Honourable East India Company, Volume 1, pg. 107
  12. ^ Tehri – History New Tehri Official website.
  13. ^ Tehri Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition.
  14. ^ History Narendra Nagar
  15. ^ Himalayan Spa for Sybarites By CELIA W. DUGGER. New york Times. July 30, 2000.
  16. ^ "India languages". We make learning fun. Hindikids. 
  17. ^ "Census Data Online". We make learning fun. Hindikids. 
  18. ^ Claus-Peter Zoller (March 1997). "Garhwali. A language of India". Ethnologue. Retrieved 4 September 2010. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ "UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger". UNESCO. Retrieved 11 October 2010. 
  • The History of a Himalayan princely state: Change, conflicts, and awakening : an interpretative history of Princely State of Tehri Garhwal, U.P., A.D. 1815 to 1949 A.D., by Atul Saklani. Delhi : Durga Publications, 1987.
  • Tehri Garhwal – Genealogy and History RoyalArk

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 30°23′N 78°29′E / 30.38°N 78.48°E / 30.38; 78.48