State : HIMACHAL PRADESH
Area : 55673 sq. km
Population : 5.2 million
Literacy : 64% Average rainfall 1400 mm.
Prehistory and Protohistory
Many evidences have been came under consideration that nearly 2 million years ago man lived on the foothills of Himachal Pradesh. Some of these places are-
- The Bangana valley of Kangra
- Sirsa valley of Nalagarh
- Markanda valley of Sirmour
The foothills of the state are thought to be inhabited by the people from Indus valley civilization which flourished between the time period of 2250 B.C. to 1750 B.C. People of Indus valley civilization pushed the original inhabitants of Ganga plains also known as Kolorian people towards the north. They moved towards the hills of Himachal Pradesh where they could led a comfortable life and preserve their way of living.
In the Vedas they have been referred as the Dasas, Dasyus and Nishadas while later they have been known as the Kinnars, Nagas and Yakshas. The Kols or Mundas are considered to be the original migrants to the hills of present Himachal.
The second stage of migrants came in the form of Mongoloid people known as Bhotas and Kiratas. Atlast the third and most significant wave of migrants in the form of the Aryans came into being, who left their Central Asian home. These laid down the base for the history and culture of Himachal Pradesh.
Early history of Himachal Pradesh
As per the Mahabharata the present day Himachal Pradesh was constituted of a number of small republics also known as the Janapadas.
Audumbras – They were one of the most ancient tribes of Himachal who resided in the lower hills of Pathankot and Jwalamukhi. They formed a separate province in 2 B.C.
Trigarta – The state was laid in the foothills drained by 3 rivers, namely- Ravi, Beas and Satluj. It is believed that the state was an independent republic.
Kuluta – The kingdom of Kuluta was located in the upper Beas valley which is also known as the Kullu valley. The state capital was Naggar.
Kulindas – The kingdom covered the area between the Beas, Satluj and Yamuna rivers (the area between Shimla and Sirmaur hills). The administration resembled a republic with the members of central assembly sharing the powers of the head.
Guptas – Chandragupta captured the republics of the Himachal by the use of his force though he usually did not rule them directly. Ashoka, his grandson extended his boundaries to the Himalayan region. He introduced Buddhism to the state. He built various stupas here.
Harsha – After the collapse of Guptas and before the rise of Harsha, the area was again ruled by chiefs also known as Thakurs and Ranas. With the rise of Harsha in the 7th century, most of these small provinces acknowledged its allround supremacy though many local powers remained with the chiefs.
Rajput Period – After Harsha’s death (647 A.D.) Rajput states ascended in Rajasthan and Indus plains. They moved to the hills with their followers, where they established small provinces or principalities. Some of these were Kangra, Nurpur, Suket, Mandi, Kutlehar, Baghal, Bilaspur, Nalagarh, Keonthal, Dhami, Kunihar, Bushahar, Sirmour.
The small hill kingdom enjoyed a large degree of independence till the eve of Muslim invasions in northern India. States of the foothills were devastated by Muslim invaders from time to time. Mahmud Ghaznavi conquered Kangra at the beginning of the 10th century. Timur and Sikander Lodi also marched through the lower hills and captured several forts and fought many battles.
Later on as the Mughal dynasty began to break up, the rulers of the hill states took full advantage. The Katoch rulers of Kangra availed of this opportunity and Kangra regained independence status under Maharaja Sansar Chand who ruled for nearly half a century. He was one of the ablest administrators of the region. After he took formal possession of Kangra fort, Sansar Chand began to expand his territory. The states of Chamba, Suket, Mandi, Bilaspur, Guler, Jaswan, Siwan and Datarpur came under the direct or indirect control of Sansar Chand.
Anglo Gorkha War
After the Anglo-Gorkha war the common border shared by the British domain and Punjab became extremely sensitive. Both the Sikhs and British wanted to avoid a direct conflict, but after the death of , the Khalsa army fought numerous wars with the British. In 1845 when the Sikhs invaded the British territory by crossing the Satluj river, the rulers of many hill provinces sided with the british. Many of these hill state rulers entered into the secret communication with the British. After the first Anglo-sikh war, the British didn’t restore the hill territory departed by the Sikhs to their original owners.
Anglo Sikh War
After the Anglo-Gorkha war the common border shared by the British domain and Punjab became extremely sensitive. Both the Sikhs and British wanted to avoid a direct conflict, but after the death of Ranjit Singh, the Khalsa army fought numerous wars with the British. In 1845 when the Sikhs invaded the British territory by crossing the Satluj river, the rulers of many hill provinces sided with the british. Many of these hill state rulers entered into the secret communication with the British. After the first Anglo-sikh war, the British didn’t restore the hill territory departed by the Sikhs to their original owners.
British rule in Himachal Pradesh
The Indian Rebellion of 1857, also known as the First War of Indian Independence and the Sepoy Mutiny was a prolonged period of armed uprisings in different parts of India, against British occupation of that part of the subcontinent.
The first Indian war of independence resulted due to the build up of political, social, economic, religious and military grievance against the British. People of the hill provinces were not politically active as were the people in other states of the country. More or less they maintained distance and so did their rulers with the exception of Bushahr. Some of them even provided help to the British during the time of revolt. Among them were the rulers of Chamba, Bilaspur, Bhagal and Dhami. The rulers of Bushars acted in a hostile manner to the interests of the British. However, the evidence is not clear whether they really aided the rebels or not. The British territories in the hill came under the direct control of British Crown after Queen Victoria’s proclamation of 1858. The provinces of Chamba, Mandi and Bilaspur were at a good rate of progress in various fields during the British rule. During the first world war, nearly all rulers of the hill states remained loyal and served to the British army during the war time. Amongst the states which helped British were the states of Kangra, Siba, Nurpur, Chamba, Suket, Mandi and Bilaspur.
Freedom struggle in Himachal Pradesh
- Praja Mandal launched agitations against the British yoke in the areas which were under the direct British control.
- In other princely provinces agitations were launched for social and political reforms. However, these were directed more against the princes than against the colonial government.
- The Mandi conspiracy was carried out in between the time period of 1914 to 1915 powered by the Gadhr party. Number of meetings were organised in Mandi and Suket in December 1914 and January 1915 and it was decided to assassinate the Superintendent and the Wazir of Mandi and Suket, to loot the treasury. However, conspirators were caught and imprisoned.
- The Pajhota agitation in which the people of Sirmour revolted is considered as an extension of the Quit India Movement of 1942.
- Some of the freedom fighters of the state included Dr. Y.S. Parmar, Padam Dev, Shivanand Ramaul, Purnanand, Satya Dev, Sada Ram Chandel, Daulat Ram, Thakur Hazara Singh and Pahari Gandhi Baba Kanshi Ram.
- The Indian National Congress party was also active in the freedom struggle in the state particularly in Kangra.
- The Chief Commissioner’s province of Himachal came into existence on 15 April 1948.
- Himachal became a part C state on 26 January 1950 with the empowerment of the Constitution of India.
- Bilaspur merged with Himachal Pradesh on 1 July 1954.
- Himachal Pradesh became the Union territory on 1 November 1956.
- Kangra and many hill areas of Punjab were merged with Himachal on 1 November 1966 though its status remained that of a Union territory.
- On 18 December 1970 the Himachal Pradesh Act was passed by Parliament and the new state came into being on 25 January 1971. Thus, Himachal emerged as the eighteenth state of the Indian union.
- Now, Himachal Pradesh has became economically a self reliant state of India.