Frequently associated with the ancient Bharmour kingdom at Chamba, although they played no major role in its governance, the origins of the Gaddi people are lost in time. There are at least four theories for their arrival in that place, often relying on the intertwining of oral history and myth, and in one case on the dubious ethnohistories of the British Raj era. Omacanda Hāṇḍā discusses the dubiety of these and concludes that "Nevertheless, it may be said with due certainty that the present-day Gaddis are the descendants of one of those casteless nomadic shepherds of the Indian plains who once lived around the Barmer area of Rajasthan" and infers this from the similarities of various costumes and accessories.
According to the 2011 Census of India, the Gaddi population was 1,78,130 in Himachal Pradesh and 46,489 in Jammu Kashmir. The Gaddis of Himachal Pradesh had an adult sex ratio of 1014 and literacy rate of 73.3, whereas those of Jammu and Kashmir had a sex ratio of 953 and literacy of 53.5. They are classified as a Scheduled Tribe in both areas under India's reservation system.
- Hāṇḍā, Omacanda (2005). Gaddi Land in Chamba: Its History, Art & Culture : New Light on the Early Wooden Temples. Indus Publishing. pp. 28–32. ISBN 978-8-17387-174-0.
- "Statistical Profile of Scheduled Tribes in India" (PDF). Registrar of Census, Government of India. p. 170. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
- Verma, V. 1996. Gaddis of Dhauladhar: A Transhumant Tribe of the Himalayas. Indus Publishing Company, New Delhi.
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