Garhwal Kingdom (Garhwali: गढ़वाळ रजौड़ा; Hindi: गढ़वाल राज्य; Sanskrit: गढ़वाल राज्य), was an independent kingdom in the current north-western Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, India, founded in 823 AD by Kanakpal, the progenitor of the Panwar Garhwali Rajput dynasty that ruled over the kingdom uninterrupted till 1803.
Tehri Garhwal State in a Map of the United Provinces from The Imperial Gazetteer of India
Katyuri dynasty (6th-11th centuries)
|Capital||Devalgarh 1500-1519 |
• 1684–1716 (peak)
• 1946–1949 (last)
|Today part of||Tehri Garhwal district, Uttarakhand, India|
The kingdom was divided into two parts during the British Raj, namely: the princely state of Garhwal and the Garhwal District of British India. During this period, the princely state of Garhwal was one of the States of the Punjab Hills which became part of the Punjab Hill States Agency although it was not under the Punjab Province administration. The princely state of Garhwal or Independent Garhwal consisted of the present day Tehri Garhwal district and most of the Uttarkashi district. This former state acceded to the Union of India in August 1949.
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 the 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. Huen Tsang, the Chinese traveller, who visited the region around 629 AD, mentions a kingdom of Brahampura in the region.
Based on the testimony of inscriptions (the earliest dating back to the 4th century AD), literary accounts, and local traditions it may be suggested that Far Western Nepal and Uttarakhand formed one single polity for centuries under the Katyuri Kings. Therefore, both regions inherit a shared past or collective memory. The Bhārata/Jāgara of Maulā alias Jiyā Rānī, a Katyūrī princess, as narrated in Doti (Now Part Of Nepal) and Uttarakhand (India) is an example of this common heritage.
In the book of Rahul Sanskrityayan, Garwahl (Allahabad 1953) it is written that, "The kings of Kumaon-Garwahl were called, Kedare Khasamandale which means Kedar region as the residence of Khasa people".
The royal dynasty of Garhwal started with Kanakpal. Garhwal Kingdom was founded in 823 AD, when Kanakpal, the prince of Malwa, on his visit to the Badrinath Temple, met Raja Bhanu Pratap, the ruler of Chandpur Garh one of the 52 Garhs of Garhwal. Raja Bhanu Pratap had no sons. The King married his only daughter to the prince and subsequently handed over his kingdom, the fortress town. Kanakpal and his descendants of Panwar 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.
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 Devalgarh as its capital, which he later shifted to Srinagar. 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 defended 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. Monuments erected by her still exist in Dehradun district at Nawada.
The 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. 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. However, in 1770, the Garhwali forces defeated the Rohillas and retrieved possession of the Dun region. .
Lalit Shah invaded and conquered Kumaon, expelling the ruling Chands and placing his own younger son on the throne. This move led to the other Garhwal princes quarrelling with each other and playing into the hands of the expanding Gorkha state and the Kingdom of Nepal, prompting them to invade Kumaon and then take control of most of the hill country, expelling or subduing most of the rajas.
The descendants had ruled over Garhwal in an uninterrupted line till 1803 at the time of attack by the Gorkha Kingdom. Garhwali forces suffered heavy defeat, and 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 Gorkhas. The Battle of Khadbuda took place on Magh 20, 1860 V.S. (January 1804) where the Gorkhalis were under the command of Bada Kaji Amar Singh Thapa, while Garhwali forces had a Gujjar commander, Sardar Ram Dayal Singh of Landhaur, who led 12,000 soldiers of Ramghads, Pundirs, Gujjars and Rajputs. Pradyumna Shah was killed by a shot fired by Kaji Ranajit Kunwar, the grandfather of later Maharaja and Prime Minister of Nepal Jung Bahadur Rana, and his dead body was respectfully covered with a shawl by Bada Kaji Amar Singh to be sent to Haridwar.
Several causes are attributed to this defeat. Garhwal was perpetually in political turmoil since the time of Raja Jai Krit Shah and this was sapping the vitality of the kingdom. Nature also played havoc in the form of a famine before the Gorkha onslaught from 1795-1795. Garhwal had not yet recovered from the famine when a devastating earthquake struck the region.
Twelve-year Gorkha occupation (Gorkhyani)Edit
The Garhwal kings went into exile in British territory as the Gorkhas began their twelve-year rule over Garhwal region.
The Gorkhas ruled Garhwal with an iron fist. Their excessive taxation policy, iniquitous judicial system, slavery, torture and lack of civilised administrative set up made the Gorkha rulers extremely unpopular amongst their subjects. Cultivation declined rapidly and villages were deserted. During the Gorkha rule, a revenue settlement for Garhwal was undertaken in 1811. The rates were so high that the land-owners found it difficult to honour, and the Gorkhas sold hundreds of their family members into slavery in satisfaction of the arrears. If a person or his family members were not purchased as slaves in auction, such people were sent to Bhimgoda near Har Ki Paidi, Haridwar for selling. The Gorkhas are said to have established a slave market at Das Bazar in Haridwar. Harak Deb Joshi, a prominent minister from the Kumaon court wrote letters to Fraser, the resident at Delhi describing the atrocities committed by the Gurkhas on the Garhwali people. British writer and explorer Captain F.V. Raper (of the 10th Bengal) has written an eye-witness account of it in the Asiatic Researches (vol. xi.):
At the foot of the pass leading from Harkapairi is a Gurkhali 'chauki' or post, to which slaves are brought down from the hills and exposed for sale. Many hundreds of these poor wretches, of both sexes, from three to thirty years of age, are annually disposed of in the way of traffic. These slaves are brought down from all parts of the interior of the hills, and sold at Hardwar at from 10 to 150 rupees.— British writer Captain F.V. Raper
Scottish travel writer and artist, J.B. Fraser wrote:
The Gurkhalis ruled Garhwal with a rod of iron and the country fell into a lamentable decay. Its villages became deserted, its agriculture ruined and its population decreased beyond computation. It is said that two lakhs, (200,000) of people were sold as slaves, while few families of consequence remained in the country ; but, to avoid the severity of the tyranny, they either went into banishment or were cut off or forcibly driven away by their tyrant.— Frazer, British Garhwal - A Gazetteer - Volume XXXVI
It is said that the Gorkha Governor of Kumaon, Bam Shah stopped sale of slaves in Kumaon. However, Hasti Dal Chautariya the Gorkha Governor of Garhwal did not stop slave trading in Garhwal.
The Mukhtiyar (prime minister) of Nepal, Bhimsen Thapa imposed a general restriction on human trafficking in Garhwal, Sirmur and other areas in 1812 A.D. Anti-bribery regulations were issued against regional governors and declared it illegal to give or take any form of bribes or gifts from people. He established Hulak (postal) system through a relay of porters up to Yamuna river in Garhwal. Regulations issued on July 1809 states:
In areas west of Bheri river and east of Jamuna river, make an estimate of the amount required for payment to Hulaki porters employed for the transport of mail on the basis of sum sanctioned in the previous order and the sum required according to arrangements made this year for different areas and submit a report accordingly.
The royal court sent the following orders regarding abolition of slave trading:
Let not there be injustice in any matter. We had sent orders previously also banning the sale of the children of the subjects, but it seems that the practice has not been abandoned. You are, therefore, ordered to maintain checkposts and do whatever is necessary to put an end to the practice. Any person who is caught while trafficking in human beings shall be punished according to the previous order.
Defeat of the Gorkhas and split of Garhwal KingdomEdit
The occupation of the kingdom by the Gorkhas went unopposed from 1803 to 1814 until a series of encroachments by the Gorkhas on British territory led to the Anglo-Nepalese War in 1814. Sudarshan Shah, son and heir of the defeated ruler of the Kingdom of Garhwal who was in exile in British territory, saw his chance and entered into an alliance with the British in 1812. When the expected war erupted, he joined forces with them in the conquest of the hill territories. At the war's end on 21 April 1815, as a result of the Treaty of Sugauli, the British annexed half of the Kingdom of Garhwal (Pauri Garhwal) and converted the other half (Tehri Garhwal) into a subsidiary princely state.
Formation of the princely state of GarhwalEdit
Sudarshan Shah, the heir to the Kingdom of Garhwal received approximately half his ancestral territories, limited to western Garhwal region and received recognition as Raja of a new princely state of Garhwal. 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.
Sudarshan Shah died in 1859, and was succeeded by Bhawani Shah, who in turn was succeeded by Pratap Shah in 1872. 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.
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 Panwar 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 of 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 Narendranagar, now houses the Ananda–In the Himalayas spa, established 2000.
Flag of GarhwalEdit
The flag of Garhwal was known as Badrinath ji Ki Pataka or Garuda-Dhwaj. It was in use since pre-1803 as a symbol of Garhwal State; and continued to be used from 1803-1949 as the symbol of princely state of Garhwal, (a.k.a. Tehri Garhwal / Garhwal Raj). After 1949, this flag is the symbol of Royal family and Badrinath Jyu. The colour scheme is two equal stripes of white (top) and green (bottom) horizontally placed and the symbol used was Garuda (the celestial vehicle of Lord Vishnu). White stands for purity, peace, tranquillity with snow as an additional meaning for Himalayan state. Green stands for agriculture, greenery, prosperity and progress. According to Filcher11 (1984), the colours represent the snow of the Himalaya and the forests of the state. In the centre the crest of the coat of arms is placed - an eagle with expanded wings (Garuda) is the vehicle of Lord Badrinath/ Vishnu with emphasis on Garhwal being God’s own abode.
"As Garuda is where Lord Vishnu is, it celebrates association of Garhwal with Lord Vishnu. As Lord Himself has a role sustaining the world, the state of Garhwal is sustained by support of God. It is in a pose with expanded wings which shows readiness and preparation to soar high. Thus it gives a meaning of divinity, majesty and ambitious preparedness with readiness to embark on great undertakings."
This verse was used with special fervour in Garhwal due to the Flag being Garuda-Dhwaj. The verse was used by ruler of princely state himself while bidding farewell to state forces.
Rulers of GarhwalEdit
Mola Ram the 18th century painter, poet, historian and diplomat of Garhwal wrote the historical work Garharajavansh ka Itihas (History of the Garhwal royal dynasty) which is the only source of information about several Garhwal rulers.
|1||Kanak Pal||688 - 699||21||Vikram Pal||1116 - 1131||41||Vijay Pal||1426 - 1437|
|2||Shyam Pal||699 - 725||22||Vichitr Pal||1131 - 1140||42||Sahaj Pal||1437 - 1473|
|3||Pandu Pal||725 - 756||23||Hans Pal||1141 - 1152||43||Baadar Shah||1473 - 1498|
|4||Abhigat Pal||756 - 780||24||Son Pal||1152 - 1159||44||Man Shah||1498 - 1518|
|5||Saugat Pal||781 - 800||25||Kaadil Pal||1159 - 1164||45||Shyam Shah||1518 - 1527|
|6||Ratan Pal||800 - 849||26||Kam Dev Pal||1172 - 1179||46||Mahipat Shah||1527 - 1552|
|7||Saali Pal||850 - 857||27||Sulakshan Dev||1179 - 1197||47||Prithvi Shah||1552 - 1614|
|8||Vidhi Pal||858 - 877||28||Lakhan Dev||1197 - 1220||48||Medni Shah||1614 - 1660|
|9||Madan Pal||788 - 894||29||Anand Pal||1220 - 1241||49||Fateh Shah||1660 - 1708|
|10||Bhakti Pal||895 - 919||30||Purv Dev||1241 - 1260||50||Upendra Shah||1708 - 1709|
|11||Jay Chand Pal||920- 948||31||Abhay Dev||1260 - 1267||51||Pradeep Shah||1709 - 1772|
|12||Prithvee Pal||949 - 971||32||Jayram Dev||1267 - 1290||52||Lalit Shah||1772 - 1780|
|13||Medni Sen Pal||973- 995||33||Aasal Dev||1290- 1299||53||Jayakrit Shah||1780 - 1786|
|14||Agasti Pal||995- 1014||34||Jagat Pal||1299 - 1311||54||Pradyumna Shah||1786 - 1804|
|15||Surati Pal||1015 - 1036||35||Jeet Pal||1311 - 1330||55||Sudarshan Shah||1815 -1859|
|16||Jay Pal||1037 - 1055||36||Anant Pal||1330 - 1358||56||Bhawani Shah||1859 - 1871|
|17||Anant Pal||1056 - 1072||37||Ajay Pal||1358 - 1389||57||Pratap Shah||1871 - 1886|
|18||Anand Pal||1072 - 1083||38||Kalyan Shah||1389 - 1398||58||Keerti Shah||1886 - 1913|
|19||Vibhog Pal||1084 - 1101||39||Sundar Pal||1398 - 1413||59||Narendra Shah||1913 - 1946|
|20||Suvayaanu Pal||1102 - 1115||40||Hans Dev Pal||1413 - 1426||60||Manavendra Shah||1946 - 1949|
Last Maharaja of Garhwal KingdomEdit
Manabendra (Manavendra) Shah was the last Maharajah of Tehri Garhwal before the princely state joined the newly independent India in 1947. He succeeded to the throne when his father Narendra Shah abdicated throne (on health grounds) on 26 May 1946. Manavendra Shah known as 'Bolanda Badri' (living incarnation of Lord Vishnu) was the 61st guardian of the temple of Badrinath in Garhwal. After serving on the Burma front during the Second World War, Manavendra Shah ruled the 4,800-square mile only Tehri Garhwal kingdom from 1946 until 1949, but was proud of having been one of the first to sign the Instrument of Accession, which he had helped to negotiate, with the Indian government. After Indian independence, he was a long-serving member of the Indian parliament, first as a Congress party MP and later as a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP. He represented Tehri eight times in the Lok Sabha. Manavendra Shah also served as ambassador to Ireland from 1980 to 1983.
His son Manujendra Shah campaigned unsuccessfully to succeed to his father's Lok Sabha seat representing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2007. Manujendra Shah's wife, Mala Raj Laxmi Shah, is the current BJP MP from Tehri Garhwal. In 2017, she and her husband, Manujendra Shah, passed on the royal baton to their daughter, Kshirya Kumari Devi in a ceremony on Vasant Panchami at the palace in Narendranagar to anoint her as heir to the royal legacy.
The exact origin of the word 'Garhwal' is unknown, though it is believed to be derived from the title ‘Garh-wala’ (Owner of Forts) given to the ruler Ajay Pal, who is said to have consolidated 52 principalities to form the kingdom in the 14th century. After this conquest the domain under Ajay Pal is said to have been called ‘Garhwal’, possibly due to the numerous forts in the region.
The name of the region and its people prior to Ajay Pal is unknown though some historians like Atkinson have alluded to ‘Khas-des’ (Land of the Khasas) and Sircar has stated that ‘Stri-Rajya’ (Kingdom of Women) as the ancient name of Garhwal and Kumaon. However, we have no proof to corroborate these claims. The earliest reference to places in this region are in the Skanda Purana as 'Kedar Khand' and in the Mahabharata as 'Himvat' to describe the area that contained Gangadwar (Haridwar and Kankhala), Badrinath, Gandhamardan, and Kailash.
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