Kumauni people

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Indo-Aryans, Rajputs, Brahmins, Garhwali people

Kumauni or Kumaoni are people from Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, India. In colloquial language, people of Kumaon are also referred to as "Pahari" though that is not a specific reference.

They include all those who speak the Kumaoni language or any of its numerous dialects, living in the Almora, Bageshwar, Champawat, Pithoragarh, Nainital, Dehradun, Udham Singh Nagar, districts of Uttarakhand, India.

Significant populations of Kumauni people exist in Uttar Pradesh especially in Lucknow, Allahabad, Bijnor, Kanpur, Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh; Maharashtra, the Punjab, and some regions of Himachal Pradesh like Solan and Nahan. Pahari Rajput/Kumauni people are also in Nepal and North eastern India (Sikkim, West Bengal, Assam and Manipur).


Traditional social structure[edit]

Traditional Kumaoni society consisted of three estates[1] -

  • Shilpkars
  • Brahmins
  • Kumauni/Rajput

Shilpkars the artists shamanic spiritual people, Brahmins were the clergy and , businessmen and artisans, Pahari Rajputs or Kumaoni Rajputs were mostly the administrative, military and land owning estates. They held land in lieu of military service.[citation needed]

Katyuri Raj[edit]

Main article: Katyuri Kings

The Katyuri dynasty was a branch of Kuninda origin founded by Vashudev Katyuri.[1] Originally from Joshimath, during their reign they dominated lands of varying extent from the 'Katyur' (modern day Baijnath) valley in Kumaon, between the 7th and 11th centuries AD, and established their capital at Baijnath in Bageshwar district, then known as Kartikeyapura and located in the centre of 'Katyur' valley.[2] Brahmadev mandi (a trading/business center in a flat area of the then Katyuri kingdom) in the Kanchanpur District of Nepal was established by Katyuris king Brahma Deo (Brahma Dev). Brahmadeo Mandi still exists by this name.

At its peak, the Katyuri kingdom extended from Nepal in the east to Kabul, Afghanistan, in the west,[1] before fragmenting into numerous principalities by the 12th century.[3] They were displaced by the Chand Kings in the 11th century AD. Architectural remains of the Katyur dynasty can be found in Baijnath and Dwarahat.

The Rajbar dynasty of Askot in Pithoragarh was set up in 1279 AD by a branch of the Katyuri Kings, headed by Abhay Pal Deo, who was the grandson of Katyuri king, Brahm Deo. The dynasty ruled the region until it became part of the British Raj through the treaty of Sighauli in 1816.[4] The Doti Kingdom is another strong kingdom of the Katyuri dynasty. They were known as Rainka Maharaj; presently, Doti is a part of Nepal.

Chand Raj[edit]

Main article: Chand Kings

The Chand kingdom was established by Som Chand, who arrived from Kannuaj near Allahabad some time in the 10th century and displaced the Katyuri Kings, originally from Katyur valley near Joshimath, who had been ruling the area starting from the 7th century AD. He[clarification needed] continued to call his state Kurmanchal and established its capital in Champawat in Kali Kumaon, called so due to its vicinity to the river Kali. Many temples built in this former capital city during the 11th and 12th centuries exist today, including the Baleshwar and Nagnath temples.

They[clarification needed] had brief stints with[clarification needed] the Rajput clans in Gangoli and Bankot then predominant there the Mankotis of Mankot, the Pathanis of Attigaon-Kamsyar, Kalakotis, Bargalis, Nagdalis and many other Khas Rajput Clans of the region[clarification needed] . However, they were able to establish their domain there.

One of most powerful ruler of the Chand dynasty was Baz Bahadur (1638–78) AD, who met Shah Jahan in Delhi, and in 1655 joined forces with him to attack Garhwal, which was under its king, Pirthi Shah, 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, named after Lord Golu, a general in his army who died valiantly at war. He also built famous Bhimeshwara Mahadev Temple at Bhimtal. Towards the end of the 17th century, Chand Rajas again attacked the Garhwal kingdom, and in 1688, Udyot Chand erected several temples at Almora, including Tripur Sundari, Udyot Chandeshwer and Parbateshwer, to mark his victory over Garhwal and Doti; the Pabateshwar temple was renamed twice, to become the present Nanda Devi temple.[2] Gyan chand, the king of Kumaun, ascended the throne in 1698. In 1699 he attacked Garhwal, which was under the king Fateh Shah. He crossed the Ramganga river and plundered Sabli, Khatli, and Sainchar. In 1701, Fateh Shah entered in Chaukote (now Syalde region with three parts, Talla Chaukote (lower), Malla Chaukote (upper) and Bichla Chaukote (middle)), and Gewar Valley (the region of Chaukhitiya, Masi and Dwarahat) as reply. The Kumaonis defeated the Garhwalis in the battle of Duduli (near Melchauri in Garhwal). In 1707, the Kumaon forces annexed Juniyagarh in Bichla Chaukot (Syalde), and razed the old fort at Chandpur. Later, Jagat Chand (1708–20), defeated the Raja of Garhwal and pushed him away from Srinagar, and his kingdom was given to a Brahmin. However, a subsequent king of Garhwal, Pradip Shah (1717–72), regained control over Garhwal and retained Doon until 1757, when Rohilla leader, Najib-ul-Daula, established himself there, though he was ousted soon by Pradip Shah.

British Raj[edit]

Almora Bazaar, c1860

The region was annexed by the British in 1815 and was governed for seventy years on the non-regulation system by three administrators: Mr. Traill, Mr J. H. Batten and Sir Henry Ramsay. The Kumaon Regiment, established at Ranikhet in 1813, still gets its recruits from the Kumaonis of the Kumaon division and the Ahir from the plains.[3]

There were widespread opposition to British rule in various parts of Kumaon. The Kumauni people, especially the Champawat District, rose in rebellion against the British during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 under the leadership of Kalu Singh Mahara.[4]

In 1891 the division [clarification needed] was composed of the three districts of Kumaon, Garhwal and the Tarai, but the two districts of Kumaon and the Tarai were subsequently redistributed and renamed after their headquarters, Nainital and Almora.[citation needed]

Gandhi's advent sounded a death knell for the British in Kumaon. After becoming aware of the excesses of the British Raj, the people became defiant and played an active part in the Indian movement for independence.[citation needed]

Gandhi was revered in these parts, and on his call the struggle of Saalam Satyagraha, led by Ram Singh Dhoni, was started which shook the very roots of British rule in Kumaon.[5]


Main article: Kumaoni language

UNESCO designated Kumaoni as language in the unsafe category which requires consistent conservation efforts.[6]

Dr. Sweta Sinha (2007)- "The Phonetic and Phonological Analysis of Kumauni", M.A. dissertation submitted to Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.



After harvesting season people mostly relax, rejoice, dance and sing, and thus a festival is generated. At the transition of the sun from one constellation to another Sankranti is observed. Each Sankranti has a fair or festival connected to it somewhere in Kumaon. Fooldeyi, Bikhauti, Harela, Ghee Sankranti, Khatarua, Uttaraini and Ghughutiya are the most-observed Sankranties throughout the region. Other festivals have the bearings in the moon and thus the dates change frequently in the Gregorian Calendar. Basant Panchami, Shiv Ratri, Holi, Samvatsar Parwa, Ram Navami, Dashra, Batsavitri, Rakshabandhan, Janmastmi, Nandastmi, and Deepawali are some of the auspicious occasions.[7]

Dasshera or Bijaydashmi[edit]

Main article: Vijayadashami

Dasshera festival starts in Kumaon with the performance of Ramlila, which is itself unique as it is based on the musical rendering of the katha or story of Lord Ram based on the theatrical traditions set by Uday Shankar while on his stay in Almora. These traditions were further enriched by Mohan Upreti and Brijendra Lal Sah. Known as the Almora or Kumaon style, Ramlila has been recognised by UNESCO as one of the representative styles of Ramlila in India.[8]


Kumaoni theatre, which developed through its 'Ramleela' plays,[9] later evolved into a modern theatre form through the efforts of theatre stalwarts like Mohan Upreti and Dinesh Pandey and groups like 'Parvatiya Kala Kendra' (started by Mohan Upreti) and 'Parvatiya Lok Kala Manch'


  • Trans World Radio (USA) – 7320 Hz (Shortwave)[10]


Main article: Kumaoni cuisine

Kumaoni food is simple and comprises largely of vegetables and pulses. It is highly nutritious to enable survival in the hard environment of the hills and cold climate.

Vegetables like potato (aaloo), radish (mooli), colocacia leaves (arbi ke patte, papad), pumpkin (kaddoo), spinach (palak) and many others are grown locally by the largely agrarian populace and consumed in various forms. The popular preparations are:

  1. Aloo ke Gutke (आलू के गुटके) – Potato wedges sauteed with whole coriander & cumin seeds with other spices in mustard oil.
  2. Paalak ka kaapa (पालक का कापा) – gravy made from Spinach paste and flour batter. Garlic fried in desi ghee (Clarified Butter) is used for tadka.
  3. Bhaat (भात) – Cooked Rice.
  4. Sisone ka saag (सिसोंण का साग) (vegetable of tender shoots of Stinging Nettle or Urtica dioica)
  5. Maduwe ki roti (मंडुवे की रोटी) (flat pan bread made of Eleusine coracana flour) served with ghee.
  6. Jholi-Bhaat (झोली भात) – radish slices in a gravy made from curd/buttermilk and chick pea flour.
  7. Chains (चैंस/चैंसे) gravy made of roasted coarse ground Black Gram coked in an iron pot with spices & served with rice & "Ghee"
  8. Gabhe ki subzi (गाबे की सब्ज़ी)Colocacia leaves cooked with chick pea flour and spices.
  9. Gaderi ki Sabzi (गडेरी की सब्ज़ी) - thick gravy vegetable made of Colocacia rhizomes & spices.
  10. Dubke (डुबके) thick gravy made of overnight soaked coarsely ground pulses like Kulth(कुल्थ)/Gahat(गौहत) (Horse Gram) Bhatt/भट (Black Soybean), Chick Pea etc.
  11. Bhatt ki chudkani (भट की चुटकाणी) - Small black soybeans Cooked with spices in an iron pot.
  12. Bhaang ki chatni - sauce/paste made up of roasted Cannabis seeds ground with condiments & added Lemon Juice for sour taste.
  13. Madira/Jhangora (मादिरे/झंगोरा) ki Kheer - Sweet pudding made of dehusked Echinochloa seeds & Milk.

Pulses like gauhat (kulthi, Horse Gram) are cooked singly or with colocacia and potatoes. Black soybean (bhatt) is made into a very popular gravy called chudkani and dubke[clarification needed] (served with steamed rice as ras-bhaat). Rice is a staple of the area, and wheat is also consumed in large quantities. Cereals like mandua with rice and wheat are popular.

See also[edit]