Alha and Udal were children of the Dasraj, a successful commander of the army of Chandel king Parmal. They belonged to the Banaphar community, which has its origins in the Ahir castes. and fought against Rajputs such as Prithvi Raj Chauhan and Mahil. Purana states that Mahil a Rajput and an enemy of Alha and Udal said that Alha has come to be of low family (kule htnatvamagatah) because his mother is an Aryan Ahir.
According to the Bhavishya Purana, a text with several interpolated sections that cannot be reliably dated, Alha's mother, Devaki, was a member of the Ahir caste. The Ahirs are among the "oldest pastoralists" and were rulers of Mahoba.
The Bhavishya Purana further adds that it is not only the mothers of Alha and Udal who are Ahirs, but their paternal grandmother from Baksar are also Ahir, who entered the family with a blessing of Devi chandika that come not from wrestling buffaloes but from her nine-year vow to the nine Durgas and hence the Ahirs were natural relatives of the family. Some of this checks out with the Elliot's Alha, where the gopalaka (Ahir) King Dalvahana is called Dalpat, King of Gwalior. he is still the two girl's father, but merely gives them to Dasraj who was a Ahir and Bachraj when Parmal requested him. The Queen Malhna insists that King Parmal reward Dashraj and Bachraj with brides from within the Chandel land. King Dalpat of Gwalior volunteers his daughters Devi (Devaki, Alha's mother) and Birma Udal's mother. Queen Malhna welcomes Devi to Mahoba by placing the nine lakh chain (Naulakha Haar) around her neck and also gives Birma a necklace. King Parmal then gives new Banaphar families a village where they bear and raise their sons named Alha and Udal.
Alha is one of the heroes of the Alha-Khand poem, popularly recited in the Bundelkhand region of India. It may be based on a work Mahoba Khand which has been published with the title Parmal Raso.
Alha is an oral epic, the story is also found in a number of medieval manuscripts of the Prithviraj Raso and the Bhavishya Purana. There is also a belief that the story was originally written by Jagnik, bard of Mahoba, but no manuscript has yet been found.
Karine Schomer depicted Alha in South Asian Folklore as:
Originating in the Bundelkhand Region. it (Alha) recounts the intertwined fates of the three principal Rajput Kingdoms of North India on the eve of Turkish conquest (late 12th century C.E.); Delhi (ruled by Prithviraj Chauhan), Kannauj (ruled by Jaichand Rathor), and Mahoba (ruled by Chandel king Parmal). The heroes of the epic are the brothers Alha and Udal retainers of the Rajput status with exceptional valour, whose cause is the protection of Mahoba and defense of its honour. Called the "Mahabarata of the Kaliyuga", Alha both parallels and inverts the themes and the structures of the classical religious epic.
The (Alha) cycle consists of fifty-two episodes in which the heroes confront enemies of Mahoba or the resistant fathers of prospective brides. It ends with the great historical battle between the kingdoms of Mahoba and Delhi, in which the Chandels were annihilated and the Chauhans so weakened that they could not resist the subsequent attack of the Turks.
- Hiltebeitel, Alf (2009). Rethinking India's Oral and Classical Epics: Draupadi among Rajputs, Muslims, and Dalits. University of Chicago Press. pp. 160–163. ISBN 0-226-34050-3.
Whenever Mahil slurs the Banaphars for their Ahir blood.
- Talbot, Cynthia (2016). The Last Hindu Emperor: Prithviraj Cauhan and the Indian Past, 1200–2000. Cambridge University Press. p. 203. ISBN 9781107118560.
- Hiltebeitel, Alf (15 February 2009). Rethinking India's Oral and Classical Epics: Draupadi among Rajputs, Muslims, and Dalits. University of Chicago Press. p. 133. ISBN 9780226340555.
- Hiltebeitel, Alf (2009). Rethinking India's Oral and Classical Epics: Draupadi among Rajputs, Muslims, and Dalits. University of Chicago Press. pp. 132–133. ISBN 978-0-226-34055-5.
- Peter J. Claus; Sarah Diamond; Margaret Ann Mills (2003). South Asian Folklore: An Encyclopedia : Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka Special -Reference. Taylor & Francis. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-415-93919-5.