Garhwali language

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'Garhwali' as spelled in Devanagari.
Native toIndia
RegionGarhwal, Uttarakhand
Native speakers
2.5 million (2011 census)[1][a]
Language codes
ISO 639-3gbm

Garhwali (गढ़वळि, IPA: [gɜɽʱʋɜɭiˑ], in native pronunciation) is an Indo-Aryan language of the Central Pahari subgroup. It is primarily spoken by over 2.5 million Garhwali people in the Garhwal region of the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand in the Indian Himalayas.

Garhwali has a number of regional dialects. It is not an endangered language (Ethnologue lists it as "vigorous"), it is nonetheless designated as "vulnerable" in UNESCO's Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger, which indicates that the language requires consistent conservation efforts.[3]


Ethnologue has catalogued alternate names by which Garhwali is known such as Gadhavali, Gadhawala, Gadwahi, Gashwali, Girwali, Godauli, Gorwali, Gurvali, and Pahari Garhwali.[1] These alternate names of the language may have come from the speakers having more than one name for their language, or variant Romanisations of what is essentially the same name. Gadwallis schollar Gadwall's Kukareithi use Gadwallis or Gaddish for all literary & legal purpose.

Geographical distribution[edit]

Garhwali is spoken primarily by people in Tehri Garhwal, Pauri Garhwal, Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Rudraprayag and Dehradun districts of Garhwal division in the state of Uttarakhand.[1] Garhwali is also spoken by Garhwali migrants to other parts of India including Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh. According to various estimates, there are at least 3.5 million Garhwali migrants living in Delhi and the National Capital Region.

It is difficult to estimate the exact number of Garhwali speakers, as different agencies give different accounts of this number. According to the 2001 Census of Languages in India, there were 22,67,314 Garhwali language speakers, while Ethnologue gave a much larger figure of 29,20,000 Garhwali language speakers in a 2005 report.[2] As per the latest 2011 Census of Languages in India, there are an estimated 24,82,089 speakers,[4] and as of 2022, Ethnologue uses the same estimate.[1]


Princely flag of Kingdom of Garhwal

Historically, in the Middle Indo-Aryan period there were a variety of languages called Prakrits. Of these, Khas Prakrit is believed to be the source of Garhwali.[5][6][7]

The earliest form of Garhwali can be traced to the 10th century, found in numismatics, royal seals, inscriptional writings on copper plates and temple stones containing royal orders and grants. One example is the temple grant inscription of King Jagatpal at Dev Prayag in 1335 CE. Most Garhwali literature is preserved in folk form, passed down orally. However, since the 18th century, Garhwali has developed a literary tradition.[citation needed] Until the 17th century, Garhwal was always a sovereign nation under the Garhwali Kings.[5] Naturally, Garhwali was the official language of the Garhwal Kingdom.

Stage of development[edit]

According to Hindi linguists and other international linguists Gadwallis is developed through the below cycle :- Proto Indo-European => Proto-Indo-Iranian => Proto-Indic => Middle Indic => Gadwallis.

But a scholar from Ganga-Salan Gadwall named Gadwall's Kukareithi suggests a different cycle mentioned below :- Proto Indo-European => Proto-Indo-Iranian => Proto-Caspian => Middle Caspian (Old Kashmiri & Old Gadwallis) => Middle Gadwallis => Modern Gadwallis.

Audio recordings[edit]

The earliest known audio recordings of Garhwali language were done in the monumental Linguistic Survey of India (LSI) led by George Abraham Grierson, a member of the Indian Civil Service and a linguist. LSI documented more than 300 spoken Indian languages and recorded voices and written forms between 1894 and 1928. Garhwali language was featured in Part IV - 'Pahari Languages & Gujuri' of Volume IX - 'Indo-Aryan Languages, Central Group' published in 1916 by Grierson. Recordings include the Parable of the Prodigal Son and of a well-known folk-tale: the fable of the Bundle of Sticks in Garhwali.

Sub-languages and dialects[edit]

Sub-languages and dialects
Name Region Remarks
Srinagaria Srinagar and surrounding areas Regarded as the standard. Also the preferred one of

nobles, poets and the educated class.

Salani Malla, Talla & Ganga Salan Practically the same as Srinagaria.


Chandpur, Devalgarh, parts of Pali It is the language of the Khasiyas.[8]
Lobhya Lobha Patti, Patti Palla Genwar of Pali Closely resembles Rathi.[8]
Badhani Western Badhan Pargana Closely resembles Rathi[9]
Dasaulya Dasauli pargana of Chamoli and adjoining parts of

Paikhanda pargana.

Simply Rathi, with a few local varieties of


Majh Kumaiya Upper Badhan Pargana, Malla Katyur, Talla Danpur It is also known as Dooandhi in Almora.[8]
Bangani Kothigarh, Masmur, Pingal & Garugarh Patti of Mori[10]
Gangadi Uttarkashi, Dunda, Chinyalisaur and parts of Bhatwari. Tranitional between Tehriyali and Rawanlti.

Close to Tehriyali

Rawanlti Purola, Rajgarhi, parts of Mori & Bhatwari.
Parvati Mori
Nagpuriya Rudraprayag, Nagpur pargana, Painkhanda Pargana[8]
Tehriyali Chamba, New Tehri, Ghansyali Mostly spoken dialect of Garhwali and very similar to standard form of Garhwali, Srinagaria.
Gangpariya Lambgaon,jakhnidhar, pratapnagar Spoken in North of bhagirathi valley of pratapnagar area
Jaunpuri Nainbag, Kyari, Thatyur, Mussourie, Dhanaulti Transitional between Tehriyali and Jaunsari



  Nominative Oblique Reflexive Possessive determiner Possessive pronoun
1st pers. sing. मी मिखण/मिथै म्यारू म्यारू
2nd pers. sing./pl. (तु/त्वे inf), (थांउ f /तीमी sf) (तुम्सणी/तुम्थै inf), (थांऊ f /तुम्सणी/तुम्थै sf) (त्यारू inf), (तुम्हरु sf /थांउझु f) (तुम्सणी sf), (तुम्हरो sf /थांउझु f)
3rd pers. sing. व, वे, ए, सि वीँ, वे, ए, से वीँ, वे, ए, से वीँ, वे, ए, से
1st pers. pl. आमि आम्सणी/आम्थै हम्रो हमारो
3rd pers. pl. तौंल , श्या , सी तौं तौं तौं


Transliteration (English) Standard (Written) Standard (Spoken : Fluent) Standard (Spoken–Variant) Lectal (literary)
Nominative न, ल
Vocative Hey हो हो हो हो
Accusative to सणि, मु अःण्, उँ सणि, हणि, थणि, झणि, खणि, अणि, अ:णि, मु, उ, म् थइँ, थइ, तइ, तै, ते, खइँ, कइँ, कइ, कै, के
Instrumental by अँ न, न्, अँ च, स
Dative I for खुणि क्वँ खुणि, कुणि, कुइँ, क्विं, क्वँ कुतइ, कुतै
Dative II for the sake of बाना बाँ बाना, बान, बान्, बाँ वास्ता, वात्ता, अत्ता, खातिर, लइ, ले, लिज्या,
Ablative From बटि ( बट़् बटि, बट, बऱि, बऱ्, बट़ि, बट़् बटिन, बटिग, न, च, चला
Genitive Of स्य, स्यु, स्यि, स्या स्य ह्य, अ/आ, इ/ई, उ/ऊ, ए/ऐ, ओ/औ रु, रि, रा, कु, कि, का
Locative Onto, on, into, in उन्दु(onto), फुण्डु(on), इन्दु (into), पेटु (in) उँ, पुँ, इँ, प्य्ट़् उन्दु, उन्द, उन्, उँ, फुण्डु, फुण्ड, फुण्, फुन्, पुन्, पुँ, इन्दु, इन्द, इन्, इँ, पेटु, प्याट्, प्य्ट, प्यट़् N/A


Number Numeral Written IAST
0 सुन्ने sunne
1 यऽक yak
2 दुई / द्वी duī
3 तीन tīn
4 चार cār
5 पाँच pā̃c or pā̃
6 छॉ / छै chŏ
7 सात sāt
8 आठ āṭh
9 नउ / नौ naü

Verb conjugation[edit]

Conjugation of the verb दॆख्ण (deykhna) "to look", in all three tenses in Garhwali.

Present tense[edit]

singular plural
1st person





मि दॆखु

mi dykhu

I look









हमल द्याख/ हमुन द्याख

haml dyākh/ hamun dyakh

we look

2nd person





ति दॆखु

ti dykhu

you look









तिल द्याख/ तुमुन द्याख

til dyākh/ tumun dyākh

you look

3rd person





सु दॆखु

su dykhu

He looks





उन द्याख

un dyākh

they look





सॊ दॆखु

sw dykhu

She looks




इ दॆखु

i dykhu

It looks (nu.)





सि दॆखु

si dykhu

It looks (masc.)





सॆ दॆखु

sy dykhu

It looks (fem.)

Past tense[edit]

singular plural
1st person





मि दॆखि

mi dëkhi

I looked





आमील लटोलि

āmīl laṭoli

we wrote

2nd person





ति दॆखि

ti dëkhi

You looked





तीमील लटोलि

tīmīl laṭoli

you wrote

3rd person




तॊ दॆखि

tö dëkhi

He/She looked





तौंल लटोलि

tãũl laṭoli

they wrote




तॆ दॆखि

të dëkhi

It looked (masc. & fem.)




ऎ दॆखि

ë dëkhi

This looked




ऒ दॆखि

ö dëkhi

That looked

Future tense[edit]

singular plural
1st person




मी लटोएंछु

mī laṭoenchu

I will look





आमी लटोएंछौं

āmī laṭoenchãũ

we will look

2nd person





तु लटोएंछै

tu laṭoenchai

you will look





तीमी लटोएंछौं

tīmī laṭoenchãũ

you will look

3rd person





सु लटोएंछन्

su laṭoenchan

he will look





तौ लटोएंछन्

tau laṭoenchan

they will look


There are many differences from Hindi and other Indic languages, for example in the palatal approximant /j/, or the presence of a retroflex lateral /ɭ/.[citation needed] Garhwali also has different allophones.



There are many theories used to explain how many monophthongs are used in the Garhwali language. The Non-Garhwali Indian scholars with some Garhwali scholars (who believe Garhwali is a dialect of Hindi) who follow Common Hindustani phonology argue that there are eight vowels found within the language: ə, ɪ, ʊ, ɑ, i, u, e, o. A Garhwali language scholar Mr. Bhishma Kukreti argues that /ɑ/ is not present in the language instead of it long schwa i.e. /ə:/ is used. Although it can be accepted that southern Garhwali dialects have uses of /ɑ/ instead /ə:/. If we follow his rule of vowel length we found that there are five vowels found in Garhwali. Three are ə, ɪ, ʊ with long forms /ə:/, /ɪ:/, /ʊ:/. The other two are /o/ & /e/ with no vowel length. But there are 13 vowels founded by Mr. Anoop Chandra Chandola[11] as follows /ə/, /ɪ/, /ʊ/, /ɑ/, /i/, /y/, /u/, /e/, /o/, /æ/, /ɨ/, /ɔ/, /ɯ//. His arguments can be accepted as universal (also /ɑ/ which is used only in Southern dialects but borrowed to Standard dialect for distinction purposes) . But Bhishma Kukreti's argument about vowel length is also accepted. Hence we concluded that Garhwali (Standard Garhwali in this mean) has thirteen vowels (/ə/, /ɪ/, /ʊ/, /ɑ/, /i/, /y/, /u/, /e/, /o/, /æ/, /ɨ/, /ɔ/, /ɯ/) where three has vowel length (/ə:/, /ɪ:/, /ʊ:/).

The newer studies (by Gadwall's Kukareithi) reveals a slightly different but easier classification of Gaddish vowels. He writes, "There is no doubt that Gaddish is developed in a very complex and crucial way. It (Gaddish) has taken a lot of elements of all the Indo-European languages. [...] As it comes to vowels, Gaddish has variety of vowels & allo-vowels as well. But my classification of Gaddish vowels is need of time for making Gaddish a standard one."

Gaddish is only language having voiceless vowels. Kukareithi orders Gaddish vowelic alphabets as :- a, i, e, u, o.

  • Most of the times all vowels when come at the beginning of the word pronounced voiceless. This is a characteristic of Vadic lects retained in Standard Gaddish and its western dialects. But developed into a:, i:, u: (voiced) in Standard Sanskrit. In Gaddish, y is voiceless counterpart of "i & e" & w is counterpart of "u & o". ** Although few dialects has no such behaviour regarding gone voiceless when the vowel comes at the beginning. It can happen at any position of vowel.
  • When it comes to long pronunciation of vowels they again behave like Vadic vowels did. Vowel 'a' pronounced "a:", vowel 'i' as "i:", vowel 'u' as "u:", vowel 'e' as "ay" & vowel 'o' as "aw".
  • When the vowels used at any point except beginging or end, pronounced as usual i.e. short sounded. It means 'a' as अ , 'i' as, 'u' as, 'e' as, 'o' as.


There are diphthongs in the language which makes the words distinctive than other. However diphthongs vary dialect by dialect.

Diphthongs (IPA) Example (IPA) Glos
उइ /ui/ कुइ /kui/ anybody
इउ /iu/ जिउ /ʤiu/ Heart, mind
आइ /ai/ काइ /bəkɑi/ After-all, besides
अइ /əi/ कइ /bəkəi/ Balance
आउ /au/ चाउ /bəʧau/ Save (verb)
अउ /əu/ चउ /bəʧəu/ Safty

Triphthongs are less commonly found in the language. The most common word where a triphthong may occur is ह्वाउन [English: may be] /hɯɔʊn/ (in standard Garhwali) or /hɯaʊn/ (in some dialects). However many speakers can't realize the presence of triphthongs. Other triphthongs might be discovered if more academic research were done on the language.


Bilabial Dental Alveolar Retroflex Post-alv./
Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɳ ŋ
plain pb td ʈɖ kɡ
aspirated ʈʰ ɖʱ tʃʰ dʒʱ ɡʱ
Fricative s h
Approximant w l ɭ j
Trill r ɽ

Tenuis consonants[edit]

GPA (Garhwali Phonetic Alphabet) /IPA / Phoneme /IPA alternate/ Phonemic category Example / (IPA Alternate) / (Description) Hindustani language alternate of the word
क /kə/ क् /k/ voiceless velar stop ळ्यो /kaɭyo/ (Literary meaning:- Breakfast) नाश्ता, कलेवा
ग /gə/ ग् /g/ voiced velar stop रु /gərʊ/ (Literary meaning:- Heavy weight) भारी
च /tʃə/ च् // voiceless palato-alveolar affricate चिटु /iʈɔ/ (Literary meaning:- White; masculine) सफ़ेद, श्वेत
ज /ʤə/ ज् // voiced palato-alveolar affricate ज्वनि /ɯni/ (Literary meaning:- Youth) जवानी, यौवन
ट /ʈə/ ट् /ʈ/ voiceless retroflex stop टिपुण् /ʈɨpɯɳ/ (Literary meaning:- to pick; a verb) चुगना, उठाना
ड /ɖə/ ड् /ɖ/ voiced retroflex stop डाळु /ɖɔɭʊ/ (standard) or /ɖaɭʊ/ (in some southern dialects),(Literary meaning:- Tree) डाल, पेड़, वृक्ष
त /tə/ त् /t/ voiceless dental stop तिमुळ /tɨmɯɭ/ ,(Literary meaning:- Moraceae or Fig; a fruit) अञ्जीर/अंजीर
द /də/ द् /d/ voiced dental stop देस /deç/ ,(Literary meaning:- Foreign) [don't be confused with देस /des/; meaning "country" borrowed from Hindustani] विदेश, परदेस, बाहरला-देस
प /pə/ प् /p/ voiceless bilabial stop पुङ्गुड़ु /pʊŋuɽ, (Literary Meaning:- Farm or Field) खेत or कृषि-भुमि
ब /bə/ ब् /b/ voiced bilabial stop बाच /batʃə, (Literary Meaning:- Tongue, Phrasal & other meaning:- Voice) जीभ, जुबान, आवाज़
ल /lə/ ल् /l/ dental lateral approximant लाटु /lʌʈɔ/ (Literary meaning:- idiot or mad or psycho; when used in anger. insane; when used in pity or love) झल्ला, पागल
ळ /ɭə/ ळ् /ɭ/ retroflex lateral approximant गढ़वाळ् /gəɖwɔɭ/ (Literary meaning:- One who holds forts, Generally used for the land of Garhwallis People, or Garhwal) गढ़वाल
य /jə/ य् /j/ palatal approximant dagdaiya /jar/ (Literary meaning:- Friend, commonly used as vocative word) यार
व /wə/ व् /w/ labio-velar approximant बिस्वास /biswɔs/ (Literary meaning: Faith) विश्वास, भरोसा
म /mə/ म् /m/ bilabial nasal मुसु /mʊs/ (Literary meaning: Mouse) मूषक, चुहा
न /nə/ न् /n/ dental nasal निकम् /nɨkəm/ (Literary meaning:- Useless, Worthless) बेकार, व्यर्थ
ण /ɳə/ ण् /ɳ/ retroflex nasal पाणि /pæɳ/ (Literary meaning:- Water) पानी
ङ /ŋə/ ङ् /ŋ/ velar nasal सोङ्ग or स्वाङ्ग /sɔɳ/ (Literary meaning:- Easy) सरल, आसान
ञ /ɲə/ ञ् /ɲ/ palatal nasal ञ्चु /pʰəɲtʃɔ/ (Literary meaning:- Bundle or Bunch) पोटली

Aspirated consonants[edit]

य्, र्, ल्, ळ्, व्, स् and the nasal consonants (ङ्, ञ्, ण्, न्, म्) have no aspirated consonantal sound.

Alphabet /<IPA alternate>/ Phoneme /<IPA alternate>/ Example /<IPA alternate>/ (<Description>) Hindustani language alternate of the word
ख /kʰə/ ख् // खार्यु /ɔryʊ/ (Literary meaning:- Enough, Sufficient) नीरा, पर्याप्त, खासा
घ /gʰə/ घ् // घंघतौळ /ɔŋgtoɭə/ (Literary meaning:- Confusion) दुविधा
छ /tʃʰə/ छ् /tʃʰ/ छज्जा /tʃʰəʤə/ (Literary meaning:- Balcony, Gallery) ओलती, छज्जा
झ /dʒʰə/ झ् /dʒʱ/ झसक्याण /dʒʱəskæɳ/ (Literary meaning:- to be scared) डर जाना
थ /tʰə/ थ् // थुँथुरु /ɯ~tʊr/ (Literary meaning: Chin) ठोड़ी
ध /dʰə/ ध् // धागु /ɔgʊ/ (Literary meaning: Tag or thread) धागा
ठ /ʈʰə/ ठ् /ʈʰ/ ठुङ्गार /ʈʰɯɳʌr/ (Literary meaning: Snacks) स्नैक्स्, नमकीन
ढ /ɖʰə/ ढ् /ɖʱ/ ढिकणु /ɖʱikəɳʊ/ (Literary meaning: Coverlet) ओढने की चादर
फ /pʰə/ फ् // फुकाण /ʊkaɳ/ (Literary meaning:- Destruction) नाश
भ /bʰə/ भ् // भौळ or भ्वळ /ɔɭə/ (Literary meaning:- Tomorrow) कल (आने वाला)


The Garhwali speakers are most familiar with allophones in the Garhwali language. For example, (IPA //) is used as फ in the word फूळ (IPA /pʰu:ɭ/ English: flower) but pronounced as (IPA /p/) in the word सफेद (IPA /səpet/, English: "white").

Allophones of aspirated consonants[edit]

Conversion to tenuis consonant or loss of aspiration[edit]

Almost every aspirated consonant exhibits allophonic variation. Each aspirated consonant can be converted into the corresponding tenuis consonant. This can be called loss of aspiration.

Alphabet /IPA/ Phoneme /IPA/ Allophone /IPA/ Example /IPA/ (Description) Hindustani language alternate of the word
ख /kʰə/ ख् // क् [k] रेण [ukreɳ] (Literary meaning:- pass away or die) गुजर जाना
घ /gʰə/ घ् // ग् [g] ड़ण [ugəɽɳ] (Literary meaning:- to open or to release) खोलना, विमोचन
थ /tʰə/ थ् // त् [t] थुँथुरु [tʰɯ~tʊr] (Literary meaning:- Chin) ठोड़ी
फ /pʰə/ फ् // प् [p] रण [upə:ɳ] (Literary meaning:- to unbind or to undo or to unlace) खोलना, विमोचन (बंधी हुइ चीज़ को खोलना)
Allophone of छ[edit]
Alphabet /<IPA alternate>/ Phoneme /<IPA Alternate>/ Allophone Example /<IPA Alternate>/ (<Description>) Hindustani Language Alternate of the word
छ /tʃʰə/ छ् /tʃʰ/ स़् [ç] न्नी [çəːni] (Literary meaning:- Shed; but used specially for cattle-shed, some southern dialects sometime use छ as a pure phonem so words like छन्नी pronounced as छन्नी or as स़न्नी) छावनी,पशु-शाला
छ /tʃʰə/ छ् /tʃʰ/ च़् [c] छ्वाड़ [cɔɽ] (Literary meaning:- Bank, Side) छोर, किनारा

Allophones of tenuis consonants[edit]

Conversion from voiced to voiceless consonant[edit]

A few of the tenuis consonants have allophonic variation. In some cases, a voiced consonant can be converted into the corresponding voiceless consonant.

Alphabet /<IPA alternate>/ Phoneme /<IPA Alternate>/ Allophone Phonemic Category of Allophone Example /<IPA Alternate>/ (<Description>) Hindustani Language Alternate of the word
ग /gə/ ग् /g/ क् [k] voiceless velar stop कथु [kətuk] ,(Literary meaning:- How much) कितना
द /də/ द् /d/ त् [t] voiceless dental stop सफे [səpet] ,(Literary meaning:- White) सफेद
ड् /ɖə/ ड् /ɖ/ ट् [ʈ] voiceless retroflex stop परचण्ड [pərətʃəɳʈ] ,(Literary meaning:- fierce) प्रचण्ड
ब /bə/ ब् /b/ प् [p] voiceless bilabial stop खरा [kʰərap] ,(Literary meaning:- Defective) खराब

Other allophones[edit]

Alphabet /<IPA alternate>/ Phoneme /<IPA alternate>/ Allophone Phonemic category of allophone Example /<IPA alternate>/ (<Description>) Hindustani language alternate of the word
ज /ʤə/ ज् /ʤ/ य़् [j] palatal approximant जुग्गा [jɯggə] ,(Literary meaning:- Able) योग्य, क़ाबिल
स /sə/ स् /s/ स़् [ç] voiceless palatal fricative (a) सि [çɨ] (Literary meaning:- This), (b) देस /deç/ (Literary meaning:- Foreign) (a) यह (b)बाहरला-देस, परदेस
च /ʧə/ च् /ʧ/ च़् [c] voiceless palatal stop चाप [capə] (Literary meaning:- Anger) कोप, गुस्सा


Garhwali exhibits deep Assimilation (phonology) features. Garhwali has schwa deletion, as in Hindi, but in other assimilation features it differs from Hindi. An example is the phrase राधेस्याम. When we write this separately, राधे & स्याम (IPA:- /rəːdʰe/ & /syəːm/) it retains its original phonetic feature, but when assimilated it sounds like रास्स्याम /rəːssyəːm/ or राद्स़्याम /rəːdçyəːm/.


Words/phrases Transliteration Meaning
ढकुली ḍhakuli Hello (lit. praise the lord) Formal.
सेमन्या semanya salutation
कख? kakh? Where?
किलैई? kilaiī? Why?
कन? kan? How?
कैक? kaik? Whose?
कु? ku? Who?
व्ह्वैगै vhwege Done
कथ्गा? kathga? How much?
कन छौ? kan chau? How are you ?
कख जाणा छौ? kakh jāṇā chau? Where are you going?
कि/क्या व्हैगे? ki/ kya vhwege? What happened?
त्यार/त्येरु नौं क्या छ? tyār nãũ kya chha? What is your name?
हिटण दे मि थैं। hitan de mi thai. Let me walk.
कख बटिन अयाॅ छौं तुम? kakh baṭin ayā̃ chau tum? From where have you come?

Problems and issues[edit]

According to the UNESCO Atlas of World's Languages in Danger, Garhwali is in the category of "vulnerable language".[3]

The reasons for this are manifold. Key amongst them is the lack of patronization at the State and Central government levels. Garhwali is regarded as a 'dialect' or 'mother tongue' as per the Census of Languages and is counted as a dialect of Hindi. It has not received patronage at the State level. History has a role to play as well. Historically, Sanskrit was the language of the Garhwal Kingdom court and Garhwali was the language of the people. During the British Raj and in the period after Independence of India, the Garhwal region was included in the Hindi-speaking state of Uttar Pradesh for decades. Further, Uttar Pradesh government's policy of affirmative action through the law of reservation of jobs for the SCST population in Uttar Pradesh is said to have led to increased migration of Hindi speakers from the plains of Uttar Pradesh to the cities of Garhwal to make up for the low percentage of SCST population in Garhwal. These factors are also said to contribute to increased importance of Hindi and reduced prestige for Garhwali language in the minds of the local population.[2]

Today, Garhwali is not used in the official domain. It is not taught at school or college level. Its usage remains limited to home and local use. Further, migration to other parts of India and the ever-increasing pressure of globalization has led to diminishing importance of Garhwali for the local population. Knowledge of Garhwali is not regarded as a special skill and gathering Hindi and English skills for economic and social progress are viewed as critical.[2]

Out-migration for economic reasons has further relegated the language to 'low prestige' status amongst its speakers. Since the creation of Garhwal army regiments during the British rule, temporary out-migration had been the trend. Over the last century, as most of the economic opportunities tended to concentrate in plain areas, temporary out-migration followed by eventual return-migration was witnessed. Since 2000, the situation has changed substantially with many out-migrating permanently along with families from Garhwal mainly to eke out their livelihoods and better future of their children.[12]

I think of my parents' generation, the 'socially mobile' one which grew up in the urban. They listened to Garhwali all their lives from their parents. But their naturalisation was in Hindi (lingua franca of the north Indian urban, including Dehradun) and then English at school. They speak the language either when someone comes from the village, or as a mock-performative thing (like the kidspeak with dadi). By the time you come to our generation, the traces are almost gone.

— Martand Badoni, Outlook Magazine: Garhwali: My Grandmother Tongue[13]

Successive state governments have not done much to stem the tide. The state does not accord Garhwali the status of state language. Hindi and Sanskrit are the official languages of Uttarakhand. State universities did not have Garhwali language departments until as recently as 2014. Garhwali has not received much attention from the academia, and much of the research on the language has been driven by local linguists.[2] In 2017, the state government announced a proposal to adopt English as the medium of instruction for early-age learners (from Class 1) in 18000 government schools, thus ignoring the key role played by the mother tongue or home language in early learning and subject-based learning.[14]

The economic development experience of Uttarakhand continues to mainly centred in three plain districts of the State, and ten hill districts remain far behind in this increasing prosperity of the State. Due to this lopsided development, the pace of out-migration could not slow down from the hill districts of the Uttarakhand after its formation. The pace of out-migration is so huge that many of the villages in Garhwal are left with a population in single digit.[12]

These are some of the factors contributing to the deteriorating health of Garhwali and the declining number of its speakers. While the UNESCO "vulnerable language" category is by far the healthiest category amongst the categories of endangered languages, it does not take long for a language to gradually head towards the category of 'critically endangered'.[2]

Struggle for official recognition[edit]

Since the formation of Uttarakhand in 2000, successive state governments have been slow-footed in promoting and developing the regional languages of Uttarakhand. Like other languages of Uttarakhand, Garhwali, the most spoken language does not have official recognition. In 2010, Hindi was made the official language and Sanskrit the second official language of the Uttarakhand.[15]

Ceding to long-standing demands to make Garhwali the official language of Uttarakhand and to be taught at schools and universities,[16] in 2014 the Uttarakhand state government issued orders to set up departments of Kumaoni and Garhwali languages at Kumaon University and Garhwal University respectively and to introduce Kumaoni and Garhwali language courses at the undergraduate level.[17][18] In 2016, State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) announced that Garhwali, Kumaoni, Jaunsari and Rang languages would be introduced on pilot basis for students in standard one to 10th in government schools Under the 'Know Your Uttarakhand' project.[19] In July 2019, the Uttarakhand government announced that Garhwali language school books would be introduced in primary schools from classes 1 to 5 in a pilot project in 79 schools in Pauri Garhwal district.[20][21]

At the national level, there have been constant demands to include Garhwali in the 8th schedule of the Constitution of India so that it could be made one of the Scheduled Language of India.[22][23] In July 2010, a Member of Parliament from Pauri Garhwal, Satpal Maharaj brought a private member's bill in the Lok Sabha to include Garhwali and Kumaoni languages in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.[24][25] As is the case with most private member's bills, this bill was not discussed in parliament and has since lapsed.[2]


There have been small movements to preserve and develop Garhwali language and culture but primarily, these have been restricted to individuals and communities.

The Akhil Garhwal Sabha, a citizen's group in Dehradun aims to raise awareness amongst young Garhwalis about Garhwali language and culture. From 2012 onwards, it has been organising an annual 2-week Garhwali language workshop in which it provides training in the language and presents the interesting specificities of the language to the learners in Dehradun.[26] It has also been the organiser of a series of 7 days cultural programmes called Kautig Uttarakhand Mahotsava from 1998 onwards to promote traditional folk dances and traditions of Uttarakhand. It publishes a monthly Garhwali newspaper called Rant Raibar. On the initiative of the Akhil Garhwal Sabha, the Uttarakhand state department of culture published a comprehensive dictionary of the Garhwali language which has Hindi and English meanings of the Garhwali words. A team of authors led by eminent Garhwali scholars Achalanand Jakhmola and BP Nautiyal sourced Garhwali words spoken in all areas of Garhwal and compiled them in a most comprehensive lexicon of the language.[27]

Winsar Publishing Company is an organisation that has dedicated a large part of its publications to Garhwali language and literature.[2]

The first Garhwali language app called 'Chakhul Garhwali Dictionary' that lists Garhwali words as well as information on Garhwali culture, traditions and heritage was launched in 2015.[28]

In 2017, the Delhi state government announced its intention to create 12 regional language academies under the government's Art, Culture and Languages Department including an academy for Garhwali language.[29] In 2018, the Uttarakhand state government announced plans to launch a State Cultural Centre as a hub of all cultural activities in Dehradun which would have an auditorium, six art galleries, a library, a museum, an amphitheatre and a place for symposiums and seminars to promote Uttarakhand's traditional 'Pahari' language and culture.[30]


Modern day Garhwali has rich literature in all genres including poetry, novels, short stories and plays.[31] Earlier, Garhwali language was present only as folklore. It had practically no literature. Though according to Saklani, a regular literary activity throughout the known history of Garhwal has been reported with most of such efforts related to the orthodox themes of religious matters, poetics, astronomy, astrology, and ayurveda, etc. Most of these works were the copies of the ancient texts, however, few original works related to history, poetry, religion, and architecture are also said to exist. It was only in the 20th century, due to the influence of English language, modern literary forms and themes were adopted. This literature was written both in Hindi and Garhwali.[32]

The oldest manuscript in Garhwali that has been found is a poem named "Ranch Judya Judige Ghimsaan Ji" written by Pt. Jayadev Bahuguna (16th century). In 1828 AD, Maharaja Sudarshan Shah wrote "Sabhaasaar". In 1830 AD, American missionaries published the New Testament in Garhwali. The Gospel of St. Matthew in Garhwali was printed at Lucknow in the year 1876.[8] Pandit Gobind Prasad Ghildyal, B.A. translated the first part of the Hindi Rajniti into Garhwali, and this was printed at Almora in 1901.[8] Several specimens of Garhwali were also found in Pandit Ganga Datt Upreti's 'Hill Dialects of the Kumaon Division'.[8] Pandit Ganga Datt Upreti also collected and published 'Proverbs & folklore of Kumaun and Garhwal' in 1894.[33] The principal forms of Garhiwali Grammar were first published in Dr. Kellogg's Hindi Grammar (2nd edition, London, 1893).[8] The first and comprehensive research work about the Garhwali language, its various dialects, where is it spoken, number of speakers, grammar, vocabulary, phrases and specimens was done in Part IV - Volume IX of the Linguistics Survey of India.

The five local Hindi newspapers of Garhwal of the early 20th century helped to bring about cultural and political awakening in Garhwal. The early writers keen to project and nurture the cultural heritage of Garhwal. These papers were conscious of the cultural-exclusiveness of the region and nurtured the feeling for 'Garhwal nationalism'. Atma Ram Gairola wrote in a poem that Garhwalis of both the parts (State and British) are extremely proud of the fact that 'we are Garhwalis'. Writers like Chandra Mohan Raturi and Tara Dutt Gairola asked the young writers to write only in the 'Garhwali' language, because one could write more sweetly, poignantly and judiciously in one's own mother tongue. These poets and writers brought renaissance in the Garhwali literature. Collections of various oral-folk-literary traditions, like ancient folk songs, Mangal, Bhadiyali, Panwara etc. were also made available during this period.[32]

Some of the famous writers of Garhwal of that era were Sudarsan Shah, Kumudanand Bahuguna, Hari Dutt Sharma (Nautiyal), Hari Krishna Daurgadutti Rudola, Urvi Dutt Shastri, Bal Krishna Bhatt, Mahidhar Dangwal, etc. Few writers writing in Garhwali were Chandra Mohan Raturi, Satyasaran Raturi, Atma Ram Gairola, Sanatananand Saklani, Devendra Dutt Raturi, Suradutt Saklani, etc. Some of the historians were Mola Ram, Miya Prem Singh, Hari Dutt Shastri, Hari Krishna Raturi, Vijaya Ram Raturi.[32][34]

Contemporary literature[edit]

Garhwali literature has been flourishing despite government negligence. Today, newspapers like "Uttarakhand Khabarsar" and "Rant Raibaar" are published entirely in Garhwali.[35] Magazines like "Baduli", "Hilaans", "Chitthi-patri" and "Dhaad" contribute to the development of the Garhwali language.

In 2010, the Sahitya Akademi conferred Bhasha Samman on two Garhwali writers: Sudama Prasad 'Premi' and Premlal Bhatt.[36] The Sahitya Akademi also organized "Garhwali Bhasha Sammelan"(Garhwali Language Convention) at Pauri Garhwal in June 2010.[37] Many Garhwali Kavi Sammelan (poetry readings) are organized in different parts of Uttarakhand and, in Delhi and Mumbai.[38]

Notable writers[edit]

  • Abodh Bandhu Bahuguna – (1927–2004) Known for his contribution to modern Garhwali writing including plays, poems, and essays. Some writings include Gaad, Myateki Ganga, and Bhumyal.
  • Atmaram Gairola
  • Ravindra Dutt Chamoli
  • Bachan Singh Negi – "Garhwali translation of Mahabharata and Ramayana"
  • Baldev Prasad Din (Shukla) "Bata Godai kya tyru nau cha" (Garhwali Nirtya-natika)
  • Beena Benjwal – "Kamedaa Aakhar"
  • Bhagbati Prasad Panthri – "Adah Patan" and "Paanch Phool"
  • Bhajan Singh 'Singh' – "Singnaad"
  • Bhawanidutt Thapliyal – "Pralhad"
  • Bholadutt Devrani – "Malethaki Kool"
  • Bijendra Prasad Naithani "Bala Sundari Darshan", "Kot Gaon Naithani Vanshawali", "Ristaun ki Ahmiyat", "Chithi-Patri-Collection"
  • Chakradhar Bahuguna – "Mochhang"
  • Chandramohan Raturi – "Phyunli"
  • Chinmay Sayar – "Aunar"
  • Dr. Narendra Gauniyal – "Dheet"
  • Dr. Shivanand Nautiyal
  • Durga Prasad Ghildiyal – "Bwari", "Mwari" and "Gaari"
  • Harish Juyal 'Kutaj' – "Khigtaat"
  • Govind Chatak – "Kya Gori Kya Saunli"
  • Harsh Parvatiya – "Gainika nau par"
  • Jayakrishna Daurgadati – "Vedant Sandesh"
  • Jayanand Khugsaal – "Jhalmatu dada"
  • Kanhaiyyalal Dandriyal (Kavi/Poet) – "Anjwaal", "Mangtu", "Nagraja" (in 2 parts)
  • Keshavanand Kainthola – "Chaunphal Ramayan"
  • Lalit Keshwan – "Khilda Phool Hainsda Paat", "Hari Hindwaan"
  • Lalit Mohan Thapalyal – "Achhryun ku taal"
  • Leeladhar Jagudi – (1944) Writer and novelist. PadmaShri
  • Lokesh Nawani – "Phanchi"
  • Madan Mohan Duklaan – "Aandi-jaandi saans"
  • Mahaveer Prasad Gairola – "Parbati"
  • Pratap Shikhar – "Kuredi phategi"
  • Premlal Bhatt – "Umaal"
  • Purushottam Dobhal
  • Sadanand Kukreti
  • Satyasharan Raturi – "Utha Garhwalyun!"
  • Shreedhar Jamloki – "Garh-durdasa"
  • Sudaama Prasad Premi – "Agyaal"
  • Sulochana Parmar
  • Taradutt Gairola – (1875– 1940) Known for his contribution to the folk-lore of Garhwal and for writing modern Garhwali poetry including 'Sadei' (सदेई).
  • Virendra Panwar – "Inma kankwei aan basant"(Poetry)"Been(critic)Chween-Bath(interviews)Geet Gaun Ka(Geet)kathga khauri haur(Translation of Hindi story Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank to Garhwali)
  • Vishalmani Naithani "Chakrachal", "Kauthik", "Beti Buwari", "Pyunli Jwan Hwegi", "Matho Singh Bhandari Nirtya Natika", "Meri ganga holi ta mai ma bauri aali", "Jeetu Bagdwal", etc. scripts writer.
  • Narendra Kathait has also enriched Garhwali language by writing world class literature in Garhwali language. The literature written by him is as follows.
  • Poetry Collection – "Tabari Ar Abari", "Tup-Tap", "Pani"
  • Satire Collection – "Kulla Pichkari", "Lagyan Chhaan", "Ados-Pados", "Hari Singho Baggi Fast", "Aar-Parai Ladai", "Samsya Khadi Cha", "Naaraz Ni Huyaan", "Bakki Tumari Marji",
  • Drama Dr. Asaram", "Panch Parani Pachis Chhawin",


In media[edit]

Garhwali folk singers like Narendra Singh Negi, Preetam Bhartwan, Chander Singh Rahi , Anil Bisht, Kishan Mahipal, Manglesh Dangwal, Santosh Khetwal, Gajendra Rana, Kalpana Chauhan, Anuradha Nirala, Pritam Bhartwan, Rohit Chauhan, Meena Rana, Jeet Singh Negi, Jagdesh Bakrola and many more have renewed interest in the Garhwali language by their popular songs and videos.[citation needed]

Anuj Joshi is one of the prominent Garhwali film directors.[citation needed]

The very first Internet radio of Kumaon/Garhwal/Jaunsar was launched in 2008 by a group of non-resident Uttarakhandi from New York. It was launched to give exposure to Uttarakhand folk music and to bring the melody from the heart of Himalaya to the global screen. Gaining significant popularity among inhabitants and migrants since its beta version was launched in 2010. This was named after a very famous melody of the hills of Himalaya, Bedupako Baramasa O Narain Kafal Pako Chaita Bedupako[39]

In the year 2017 Rachit Pokhriyal launched Pineflix to fill in the garhwali language content gap for the people of Uttarakhand, with its first Garhwali Short film releasing on 19 August 2018. Since then they have created films on various topics highlighting hardships of local people of uttarakhand and other social issues for awareness. [40]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Upreti, Ganga Dutt (1894). Proverbs & folklore of Kumaun and Garhwal. Lodiana Mission Press.
  • Anoop Chandra Chandola. "A syntactic sketch of Garhwali" [unpublished Ph.D. dissertation], University of Chicago, 1973.
  • Govind Chatak-"Garhwali bhasha", Lokbharti Prakashan, Dehradun, 1959.
  • Govind Chatak- "Madhya Pahari ki Bhashik Parampara aur Hindi", Takshila Prakashan, Delhi, 2000.
  • Gunanand Juyal-"Madhya Pahari bhasha (Garhwali Kumaoni) ka anushilan aur uska Hindi se sambandh", Navyug Granthagar, Lucknow, 1976.
  • Haridutt Bhatt 'Shailesh'- "Garhwali bhasha aur uska sahitya", Hindi Samiti, UP, 1976.
  • Abodhbandhu Bahuguna- "Garhwali bhasha ka vyakaran", Garhwali Prakashan, New Delhi.
  • Rajni Kukreti- "Garhwali bhasha ka Vyakaran", Winsar Pub., Dehradun,2010.
  • Govind Chatak- "Garhwali Lokgeet", Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 2000.
  • Saket Bahuguna- "A sketch of Garhwali grammar with a focus on grammatical gender" [Unpublished M.Phil. dissertation], Department of Linguistics, University of Delhi, 2015.
  • Yashwant Singh Kathoch- "Uttarakhand ka Naveen Itihaas", Winsar Pub, Dehradun, 2006.
  • Pati Ram Bahadur- "Garhwal:Ancient and Modern", Pahar Publications, 2010.
  • Bachan Singh Negi – "Ramcharitmanas, Sreemad Bhagwat Geeta" – Garhwali translations, Himwal Publications, Dehradun, 2007.
  • Part IV - Volume IX of The Linguistics Survey of India - 'Pahari Languages & Gujuri' [9]


  1. ^ Official census results conflate some speakers with Hindi.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d Garhwali language at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Chapter 6: Garhwali an Endangered Himalayan Language by Dr. S.K. Bhatt, National University of Singapore Publication: Language Policy, Ideology and Educational Practices in a Globalised World: Selected papers from the PLIDAM 2014 Conference on "Policy and ideology in language teaching and learning: actors and discourses" by Delombera Negga, Monika Szirmai, Daniel Chan
  3. ^ a b "UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger". UNESCO. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  4. ^ "Census of Languages 2011" (PDF).
  5. ^ a b Yashwant Singh Kathoch (2006). Uttarakhand ka naveen itihaas. Dehradun: Winsar Publications.
  6. ^ Bhajan Singh (1997). Garhwali Bhasha aur Sahitya; Garhwal aur Garhwal. Pauri: Winsar Publications.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 March 2012. Retrieved 14 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Grierson, George Abraham (1917). Linguistic Survey of India - Volume IX - 'Indo-Aryan Languages, Central Group' - Part IV - 'Pahari Languages & Gujuri'. p. 330.
  9. ^ a b "Linguistic Survey of India Vol 4 - 9".
  10. ^ In Search of Kentum Indo-Europeans in the Himalayas. pp. 108–109.
  11. ^ Chandola, Anoop Chandra (1963). "Animal Commands of Garhwali and their Linguistic Implications". Word. 19 (2): 203–207. doi:10.1080/00437956.1963.11659795.
  12. ^ a b "OUTMIGRATION FROM HILL REGION OF UTTARAKHAND: Magnitude, Challenges and Policy Options Rajendra P. Mamgain and D.N. Reddy (Sponsored by S.R.Sankaran Chair(Rural Labour), National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj" (PDF).
  13. ^ "Garhwali: My Grandmother Tongue". Outlook. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  14. ^ "Why Uttarakhand must not use English for teaching in govt schools". Hindustan Times. 13 July 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  15. ^ "Sanskrit is second official language in Uttarakhand". Hindustan Times. 19 January 2010. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  16. ^ "Garhwali and Kumaoni Language: Why not the part of eighth schedule of Indian Constitution". Archived from the original on 23 March 2012. Retrieved 4 July 2011.
  17. ^ "Kumaoni, Garhwali languages on university 2014-15 syllabi", The Times of India
  18. ^ "Kumaoni, Garhwali languages on university 2014-15 syllabi - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  19. ^ "Schoolkids to learn Garhwali, Kumaoni languages". The Times of India. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  20. ^ "Uttarakhand introduces Garhwali school books in primary classes". Hindustan Times. 10 July 2019. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
  21. ^ "Uttarakhand: Garhwali language made compulsory in Pauri schools". India Today. 24 July 2019. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
  22. ^ [1] Archived 23 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ [2] Archived 23 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ [3] Archived 27 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ Joshi, Sandeep (21 August 2011). "Make Kumaoni, Garhwali State languages, says Satpal Maharaj". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  26. ^ "Fast vanishing Garhwali language finds conservers". The Times of India. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  28. ^ "Techie launches Android app to conserve Garhwali". The Times of India. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  29. ^ "Delhi govt all set to launch 12 regional language academies - The Indian Wire". The Indian Wire. 28 July 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  30. ^ "Uttarakhand govt steps in to revive fading 'Pahari' culture". Hindustan Times. 15 April 2018. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  31. ^ [4] Archived 16 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ a b c Saklani, Atul (1987). The History of a Himalayan Princely State. New Delhi: Durga Publications. p. 21.
  33. ^ "Pandit Ganga Datt Upreti - Proverbs & folklore of Kumaun and Garhwal / collected by Pandit Ganga Datt Upreti". Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  34. ^ Vol. 6. pp. 479–87.
  35. ^ "Ten years of uttarakhand khabar sar". Archived from the original on 2 July 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2011.
  36. ^ "Recognising the hidden talent | iGoa". Archived from the original on 24 September 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2011.
  37. ^ "Garhwali and Kumaoni Languages shoule be the part of Eighth Schedule". Archived from the original on 23 March 2012. Retrieved 4 July 2011.
  38. ^ [5] Archived 23 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  39. ^ Dr. Shailesh Upreti (23 February 2011). "First e Radio of Uttarakhand". official. bedupako. Retrieved 28 June 2008.
  40. ^ (9 September 2018). "Video: पहाड़ की खूबसूरत वादियां और एक बेहतरीन पहाड़ी गीत..देखिए ये नई पेशकश". Rajya Sameeksha (in Hindi). Retrieved 6 September 2023.

External links[edit]