Featured Places | History (Category: , Altitude: )

Literary and archaeological sources coupled with the local tradition reveal that the Kumaon region containing the naturally formidable belts of forests and intricate system of mountain folds has been the land of endless invitations and immense interests. Since ancient times while traversing the fertile terraces and valleys in this region having all the essentials for subsistence, the early settlers always found a permanent home here.

In the socio-cultural development of this region the elements of struggle, compromise and assimilation kept on playing their role distinctly and it is of interest to see the clangorous elements maintaining through the ages their dominance and the silent ones surrendering for their existence after initial struggle.

The first to find a refuge in Kumaon and thus become its maiden dwellers were the Kol -an ethnic group of Munda origin. Scholars believe that their migration was consequent upon the defeat inflicted by the Dravidians of the Sindhu valley. The Mongoloid Kiratas coming from northwest vanquished Kol and in turn were forced to flee to remote highlands and the Tarai Bhabar where they absorbed the Kols fully.

Traces of Munda dialect spoken by Kols still survive in names of rivers, streams and villages in the Kuamon hills. Walking down the corridor of time the representatives of the ancient Kol occupied the lowest rung in the hierarchical status in Kumaoni society while the Jauharies, Darmis, Byansis etc of the border region, the Vanrajis of Askot, Lool Routs of Lohagahat and the Tharus and Boxas of the Tarai region were identified as the representatives of the Kiratas.
Passing through the hazy corridors of pre and proto historic times- the vestiges of which still lie preserved in the forms of painted rock shelters, megaliths, cup-marks etc all over - the Kumaon hills start surfacing as a geographical expression around 6th century AD. From among the plurality of micro-cultures and societies sheltered across the Himalayan region sine the time immemorial an ethnic group called kunindas were probably the first to assert themselves as the rulers of much of the area corresponding to modern Kumaon.    
Around 6th century AD another house, known to the history by the name of katyuries, succeeded them. Yuan-chwang (Huen-tsang) the celebrated Chinese traveller of 7th century AD while visiting parts of Kumaon also came across a certain 'female kingdom'. It appears that despite the consolidating forces ever on rise the multiplicity of small principalities under the lords of different ethnic groups also kept holding its sway for long.

The Chequred history of Katyuri dynasty, spoken about at length in Jagars, which are long ballad poems sung during the traditional rituals of spirit possession séance, starts getting overlapped around 8th century AD by yet another regional power called chandas. By 13th and 14th century AD they are seen as an imperial power in offing, holding a sway even in the foothill regions from the most ancient Himalayan settlement of Champawat. Later (by 16th cent.AD) they shifted the centre of power from Chapmawat to Almora -a small fortified settlement which in the successive centuries was destined to grow as the capital city of Kumaon. Before passing into the hands of British, finally in the year 1815, the kingdom of Kumaon also saw a brief interlude (from 1790 to 1815) of gross tyranny and oppression under the Gurkhas of adjoining Nepal.

While the vicissitude of history was thus busy enriching the land in terms of heritage, art, culture and traditions the munificence of nature had already bestowed it with the best of her designs.

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