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Garhwali people

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Garhwali people
गढ़वळि मन्खि
Regions with significant populations
Hindi, Garhwali
Related ethnic groups
Indo-Aryans, Kumaoni people, Khas people

Garhwali people (गढ़वळि मन्खि) are an Indo-Aryan ethno-linguistic group who primarily live in the Garhwal region of the Indian state of Uttarakhand and speak the Indo-Aryan Garhwali language. Any person who has ancestral Garhwali roots or lives in Garhwal and has a Garhwali heritage is called a Garhwali.

They include all those who speak the Garhwali language or any of its numerous dialects, living in Dehradun, Haridwar, Tehri Garhwal, Pauri Garhwal, Uttarkashi, Chamoli and Rudraprayag districts of Uttarakhand, India.

Significant communities of Garhwali diaspora live in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra along with a sizable population overseas. According to various estimates, there are at least 2.5 million Garhwali migrants living in Delhi and the National Capital Region.


In modern usage, "Garhwali" is used to refer to anyone whose linguistic, cultural, and ancestral or genetic origins are from the Garhwal Himalayas. Their ethnonym is derived from the word ‘Garhwal’ or 'Gadwal'. 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 Mayal, who is said to have consolidated 52 principalities to form the kingdom in the 14th century. After this conquest the domain under Mayal 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 Mayal 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.[1]

Garhwal Kingdom

Location of Uttarakhand within India.
Location of Uttarakhand within India.
Location of Garhwal in Uttarakhand.
Location of Garhwal in Uttarakhand.
Portrait of a couple in a village at Uttarakhand,India
Portrait of a couple in a village at Uttarakhand,India

The Kingdom of Garhwal was founded by Mayal Rajputs nearly 1000 years ago at a place called Pauri Gadwal. Earlier Gadwal used to have 52 principalities called Garhs(cluster of habitations). Garh was ruled by a Chief, one of these chiefs, ruler of paudi Gadwal from Mayal dynasty, reduced all the minor principalities under his own sway with the power of his sword, and founded the Garhwal Kingdom. He and his descendants ruled over Garhwal in an uninterrupted line till 1803, when the Gurkhas invaded Kumaon and Garhwal, driving the Garhwal chief into the plains. For twelve years the Gurkhas ruled the country with a rod of iron, until a series of encroachments by them on British territory led to the Anglo–Nepalese War in 1814. At the termination of the campaign, Garhwal Kingdom and Kumaon Kingdom were converted into British districts, while the Tehri principality was restored to a son of deceased king Pradyumn Shah, King Sudarshan Shah. Another part taken by British was called British Garhwal and had an area of 5,629 mi2 (14,580 km2). Garhwal rapidly advanced in material prosperity. Two battalions of the Indian army (the 39th Garhwal Rifles) were recruited in the district, which also contained the military cantonment of Lansdowne. Grain and coarse cloth were exported, and salt, borax, livestock and wool were imported, and the trade with Tibet was considerable. The administrative headquarters were at Pauri, but Srinagar (Garhwal) was the largest city. It was an important mart, as was Kotdwara—the terminus of a branch of the Oudh and Rohilkhand railway from Najibabad. Later it was part of the Punjab Hill States Agency of British India, consisting of the present day Tehri Garhwal district and most of the Uttarkashi district and acceded to the Union of India in 1949.

Garhwali is a martial race as per the British. Although one of the most peaceful cultures in India , they are known to follow orders till the last breathe in war. One interesting fact about the fighting spirit for motherland is that Garhwal Kingdom , when most of India for hundreds of years was under Mughal(muslim rulers) , it was one of the last kingdoms which was never ever captured by a muslim ruler.[2]. No doubt a very high significant of personals in Indian Armed Forces is from Garhwal which includes the Army chief Mr. Bipin Rawat or the National Security Advisor of India Mr. Ajit Doval . The history of Garhwal is older than that of the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The worship of Lord Shiva is predominant in this region. Historically, Garhwal is believed to be the land where the Vedas and the Shastras were composed and the great epic Mahabharata was written.


The Garhwali language (गढ़वळि भाख/भासा) is primarily spoken by the Garhwali people of the north-western Garhwal Division from the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand in the Indian Himalayas. The Garhwali language is classified as a Central Pahari language belonging to the Northern Zone of Indo-Aryan languages. Garhwali is one of the 325 recognised languages of India[3] spoken by over 2,267,314[4] people in Tehri Garhwal, Pauri Garhwal, Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Dehradun, Haridwar and Rudraprayag districts of Uttarakhand.[5]

Garhwali was the official language of the Kingdom of Garhwal since the 8th century. Garhwal was always a semi-sovereign kingdom under the Garhwali Kings. Naturally, Garhwali was the official language of the Garhwal Kingdom for hundreds of years under the Panwar (Shah) Kings and even before them, until the Gurkhas captured Garhwal and subsequently the British occupied part of Garhwal, which later came to be called British Garhwal.

The language has many regional dialects including:[6] Srinagari, Tehri (Gangapariya), Badhani, Dessaulya, Lohbya, Majh-Kumaiya, Bhattiani, Nagpuriya, Rathi, Salani (Pauri), Ravai, Parvati, Jaunpuri, Gangadi (Uttarkashi), Chandpuri. Srinagari dialect is the literary standard while Pauri is generally regarded as the sweetest.

However, due to a number of reasons, Garhwali is one of the languages which is shrinking very rapidly. UNESCO's Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger designates Garhwali as a language which is in the unsafe category and requires consistent conservation efforts.[7]


The food is simple, subtle and nutritionally balanced. Characteristically the diet is grain and cereal based one. A variety of millet preparations, flatbread and rice which are earthy mainstay of meals are eaten with lentil and pulse based gravies and curries - the main source of protein. A huge repertoire of indigenous green leafy and other vegetables add fibre, vitamins and minerals to the diet.

Local deities

Chandrabadni Devi Temple: this place is in Tehri garhwal and one can reach the temple either from Kandikhal en route Srinagar-Tehri, from where it is an 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) walk to the temple or from Jamnikhal en route Dev Prayag-Tehri via a link road up to Jurana (9 kilometres (5.6 mi)) and then take a bridle path (1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi)) up to the temple. A big fair is held in April every year. Adding to the various religious and culture performances, the view of the snowcapped Himalayas is soul lifting. A visit to the shrine is an experience to cherish.[8]

Umra Narayan: placed between the mystic and peaceful hills of Rudraprayag lies the Devine temple of Lord Umra Narayan (Isth Dev of gram sann). According to mythology this temple was built during the time of Adi Shankracharya and it is believed that it was built by his holiness Adi Shankracharya when he was on his way to Lord Badrinath's temple. The temple now has been renovated and is 5–7 kilometres (3.1–4.3 mi) away from the main city of Rudraprayag with Maa Alaknanda flowing tranquily nearby. It is also believed that most of the Isth Devas of Garhwal regions are incarnations of Lord Vishnu (Narsingh dev ji) or sometimes Vishnu itself.

Koteshwar Mahadev: is located about three km inside the 'heart' of Rudraprayag, Koteshwar Mahadev Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This place is presumed to be the same spot where Lord Shiva had stopped for meditation on his way to Kedarnath. According to a local mythology this temple has its presence since the time of bhasmasur (the Deadly Asur/demon who got a boon/vardan from lord Shiva that whosoever's head will be touched by him, will be turned into bhasma or ashes. Seeing the powerful effects of this boon he tried to bhasam lord Shiva Lord Shiva kept on hiding from place to place and finally came to this place which was a cave, lord Shiva resided here for some time meditating lord Vishnu and finally lord Vishnu helped him by killing the demon. The temple is filled with amazing energy/aura and one can feel it. Few drops of water keeps on dropping in lords lingam seeping through the hill.

Dhari Devi: The temple of Dhari Devi is situated on the banks of the river Alaknanda. One has to travel 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from Srinagar (Pauri Garhwal) on Srinagar-Badrinath highway to Kaliya Saur, then trek down another half a kilometre towards Alaknanda river. The upper part of Goddess Kali is worshipped here and the remaining part in Kalimath. As opinion of villagers the face of the idol changes as a girl, a woman and an old lady as the progress of time. This idol is in the open. Many times villagers and some philanthropists have tried to build a roof for Maa, but every time it has been destroyed. Local myths say that Maa Likes to shower her blessings in the open. As per Srimad Devi Bhagwat there are 108 shakti peethas in India and this holy shrine is one of them.

Kalimath: Kalimath (originally known, and still sometimes referred to, as Kaviltha) is a village which is regarded as a divine place and shakti peeth. It lies at an altitude of around 6,000 feet (1,800 m) on the river Saraswati in the Himalayas, surrounded by the peaks of Kedarnath in Rudraprayag District of Uttarakhand, India. Kalimath is situated close to Ukhimath, and Guptakashi. It is one of the "Siddha Peeths" of the region and is held in high religious esteem. The temple of Goddess Kali located here is visited by a large number of devotees round the year and specially during the "Navratras". There are 108 Shakti Peethas in India and this holy shrine is one of them as per Srimad Devi Bhagwat. The upper part of Goddess Kali is worshipped in Dhari Devi and the remaining part in Kalimath Religious tradition is that Kalimath is where Kali killed the demon Raktavija and had gone under the earth. Kalimath is only the place where goddess Kali is worshipped along with her sisters Laxmi and Saraswati. There is a temple of the goddess Kali, which is visited by a large number of devotees throughout the year, and especially during the Navratras. A peculiar thing about the temple is that there is no idol that is worshipped here, instead, the Sri Yantra, is the object of devotion. On one day each year the goddess is taken out and Puja is performed at midnight, with only the chief priest present. The temple is other ancient temples to Laxmi, Saraswati, Gauri Shankar and many antique Shivlings, idols of Nandi, Ganesh etc. An eternal holy flame always burns in the temple of Laxmi. Bhairava Mandir is also located very near. Barti Baba is credited for preserving the sanctity of this holy shrine. All the people who met him and the locals say that he had direct connection with Maa Kali. The guru and Member of Parliament, Satpal Singh Rawat (Maharaj), has set up a small Dharamshala very close to the temple. Pilgrims can stay there. The village is the birthplace of Kalidas, a Sanskrit poet.

Jwalpa Devi Temple: Jwalpa devi temple in Pauri Garhwal region near a market known as Patisen. Jwalpa devi temple is situated on the bank of holy river Nawalika. Temple is one of the shakti peeth of goddess dedicated to Maa Jwalpa which is worshipped by local people there.

Garhwali people, Kumaoni people, Pahari people
Villagers from Uttarakhand

List of Garhwali people

This is a list of some famous people with Garhwali heritage:

Film and television



Beauty pageants


  • Navi Rawat (born Navlata Rawat) (American actress, born to Garhwali father)


Folk music

Hindi rock


Social work

Science and research

Indian Armed Forces

Gallantry awards

Prominent names




Business and industry






  • Mir Ranjan Negi (former goalkeeper of Indian men's national hockey team; former coach of Indian women's national hockey team that won the Gold at 2002 Commonwealth Games, of Chak De India fame)


  • Madhumita Bisht (born Madhumita Goswami) (Badminton player, Arjuna Award 1982, Padma Shri))




See also


  1. ^ Rawat, Ajay S. Garhwal Himalayas: A Study in Historical Perspective.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "India languages". We make learning fun. Hindikids. Retrieved 14 May 2013.
  4. ^ "Census of India - Statement 1". 6 February 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  5. ^ Claus-Peter Zoller (March 1997). "Garhwali. A language of India". Ethnologue. Retrieved 14 May 2013.
  6. ^ "Garhwali". Ethnologue. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  7. ^ "UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger". UNESCO. Retrieved 14 May 2013. Search 'Garhwali'
  8. ^ "Chandrabadni Devi Temple". Retrieved 14 May 2013.
  9. ^ "Dehradun's Manish to represent India in Japan's Asian Walking Championship 2017 - Himalayan Buzz". Himalayan Buzz. 12 February 2017. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  10. ^ "Pawan Suyal Profile - Cricket Player,India|Pawan Suyal Stats, Ranking, Records inCricket -NDTV Sports". Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  11. ^ "7 Popular Cricket Players from Uttarakhand - Himalayan Buzz". Himalayan Buzz. 14 March 2016. Retrieved 20 June 2018.

External links

This page was last edited on 23 October 2019, at 23:01
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