Ensconced amidst the most serene places in the northern part of India, the state of Uttarakhand is witness to the most heavenly paradise on earth in this part of the world. With the hills forming the major background here the hills and the flow of the River Ganges renders this a very beautiful region and it is thus rightly called the “Yoga Capital of the World”. Sometime back in the 1960s, R...
Devbhoomi Uttarakhand which forms the crowning glory of India and is home to some of the most panoramic Himalayan ranges and valleys has a very interesting history which can date back to eons ago. From having found its name in the holy Hindu scriptures this place is very rightfully an abode of gods. Ever since the ancient ages this wonderful hill state is also home to the source of Ganga River and is dotted all over with a mythical charm. Its history is extremely dynamic and very interesting. If you are planning on travelling to Uttarakhand or are just curious about what went on before this place gained commercial success then here is everything one needs to know about it.
Archaeologists have found out about the stone age period in certain places within Uttarakhand. These rock paintings are found scattered around in places like Lakhu Udyar in Almora, Kimni village and Gyarkhya cave in the district of Chamoli. Technically speaking these art works date back to the Mesolithic age which indicates the presence of settlements and livelihood here. Other findings of the Stone Age era have been unearthed in the village of Malari in Chamoli whose existence dates back to around 1500 BC i.e. the early Vedic Era. There have also been mentions of ascetics and rishis who used to make their way to these parts of Devbhoomi to perform meditation in the forests here. The Sankha Scripts and the Gupta Brahmi have also mentioned this hill state in their inscriptions. Hundreds and thousand years old of Palaeolithic stone tools have also been found. Other than these megaliths have also shown that these hills and mountains have been serving as the home for humans since the prehistoric ages.
Uttarakhand during the Puranic Period
According the sources during the puranic age this middle Himalayan region used to be mentioned as Kedarkhand and Manaskhand. All the puranic literature dating back to this era was all entirely centred around the holy rover of ganga and its various numerous territories which criss-cross the state. Other early tribes that inhabited the Garhwal and Kumaon regions included Akas, Kol-Munds, Nagas, Paharis or Khasas, Kiratas, Aryans etc.
Uttarakhand Pre Independence
The Garhwali regions of Uttarakhand were a significant part of the Mauryan empire which was unified with it during the 15th century by king Ajay Pal. Initially it had remained consolidated for a period of 915 years whose capital was Srinagar during that time. During the beginning of 18th century the Garhwal parts of Devbhoomi were severely affected and was also faced with severe and devastating famine. Everywhere the people here were faced with new challenges and widespread agony. This was the opportunity that the Gurkhas took to attack these parts and obviously the Garhwalis were defeated. After a long period of suffering by the Gurkhas on the Garhwalis the British came into action in the year 1814 when they raged a war against the Gurkhas and this also marked the end of the bloody Gurkha rule.
British Rule in Uttarakhand
After the British rule crushed the Gurkha rule after the war some parts of Pauri were renamed as the British Garhwal region and Dehradun formed the significant part of British India. These 2 regions were handed over to the Britishers as a return for their help in the Gurkha invasion which took place during the 19th century. Later on Tehri was formed which then went on to become the new state capital. However the British rule in Uttarakhand was done with an iron hand. The unpopular and labour practices here were severely forced upon the local people here. The British also went on to form the Garhwal rifles under their rule who went on to fight against the German forces in France and even continued to get themselves 2 bravery Victoria crosses. This Garhwal battalion was also later on made a part of the Indian National Army who continued to fight valiantly against the British forces. As the flames of the quit India movement gathered importance in Uttarakhand the locals here actively took part in this and get rid of the throne rule and were in complete favour of a unified India. The entire state of current Uttarakhand and Tehri Garhwal were included in the district of Uttar Pradesh in newly independent India.
Evolution of Uttarakhand as a State
In the year 1815 the Britishers decided to form a commissionary by joining the regions of Garhwal and Kumaon which was then renamed as the Kumaon province. Keeping in mind that the lifestyle, beliefs and traditions of the people here are very different from those of the plains they decided to carve out a suitable set of laws and modes of governance. For this purpose Patwari Halka was established which was a small and separate administrative unit which was helpful in the efficient governance of the region. This patwari had the powers of police forces and tax collectors along with the introduction of English language in the region. A separate system for the measurement of the lands was also introduced which suited their need. The Garhwali soldiers also played a vital role in the Indian freedom struggle and the 2 regiments of the Indian army were also named after the Garhwal and Kumaon Regiment to honor their contributions.
Separation from Uttar Pradesh
There are numerous reasons which caused the separation of Uttarakhand from Uttar Pradesh. The very first demand for a separate statehood arose in the year 1897 which was followed by a long struggle and was also costed a lot of sacrifices. Gradually due to the differences in beliefs, traditions, cultures and overall lifestyle of the people of the hills, this demand started gaining a lot of momentum. These culture and traditions of the Kumaon and Garhwal regions were similar to its neighbouring states of Jammu and Kashmir and even Himachal Pradesh than any other parts of Uttar Pradesh. The identity, ethnicity and even their language were very different from the Pahari folks and more similar to Bihar, eastern UP etc. later on in the year 1994, this demand took up a mass form and finally this struggle and sacrifices came to an end in the year 2000 when finally the state was carved out as the 17th state of India.