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Indian History

Garhwal Forts

  • 27 Mar 2021
  • 3 min read

Why in News

Recently, a study has identified 193 sites having either intact or ruins of Garhwal forts and fortalices spread along the north, east and southern regions of the Garhwal Himalayas.

  • This is the first of its kind database. A total of 36 major forts and 12 prominent fort clusters have been identified.

Key Points

  • Garhwal Forts:
    • About :
      • A majority of medieval forts in the Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand were strategically built to form clusters.
      • The forts, dating back to the 8th century Common Era (CE), were built at diverse altitude zones like valleys, along the ridges and prominent hilltops, some standing more than 3,000 metres above Mean Sea Level (MSL) in the Garhwal Himalayas.
      • These well networked forts were built either during or after the downfall of the Katyuri dynasty.
    • Importance:
      • Geographically, the forts were built away from one another. But the ruler's back then ensured that they were surrounded with smaller fortalices, which primarily functioned as watchtowers.
      • These fortalices were erected and positioned around 15 km periphery of a major fort.
      • Numerous such fortalices then formed a strategic network, enabling them to relay information, particularly when invaded by enemies.
        • Fire, smoke or similar light signals could have been the common means to convey messages.
  • History of Garhwal:
    • Katyuri Dynasty:
      • History suggests that between 700 CE and 800 CE, the rulers of the Katyuri dynasty divided this region into many small mandals or units for administrative purposes.
      • However, as the dynasty began to politically weaken around the turn of the millennium, these units came under the rule of Garhpatis or chiefdoms, each of whom built individual forts.
    • Foreign Attacks:
      • Since the Garhwal Himalayas are located en route to many religious places, it often came under foreign attacks and faced enemy invasions, mainly led by the Nepalese and the Tibetans.
      • The invasion by Askochalla and Krachalla, two Nepalese kings during 1100–1200 CE, is considered among the first foreign attacks here.
    • Consolidation:
      • By the 15th century, King Ajaypal, the 37th king of the Parmar dynasty, consolidated all these multiple chiefdoms in the region into a single state. This is the present day Garhwal.

Katyuri Dynasty

  • The Katyuri kings were a medieval ruling clan of present-day Uttarakhand, India. They ruled over the region now known as Kumaon from 700 to 1200 CE.
  • The Katyuri dynasty was founded by Vashudev Katyuri (sometimes spelled Vasu Dev or Basu Dev).
  • At its peak, the Katyuri dynasty of Kumaon extended from Sikkim in the east to Kabul, Afghanistan in the west, before fragmenting into numerous principalities by the 12th century.


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