Brief History of District Kinnaur – Himachal Pradesh General Studies

By | November 6, 2016

First Read this: Geography of District Kinnaur

There is nothing much to know about the history of district Kinnaur as it was a part of Mahasu district till May 1, 1960. Chini Tehsil of Mahasu district named Kinnaur became the sixth district of the state of Himachal Pradesh.

Kinnaur had been part of the Rampur Bushahr state. In Mythological and legendry account the Kinners are described as a distinct race of Demigods with a horse’s head and the human body.

Kinnaur is called “Khunu” by Tibetans and in Leh, this area is called Maon. Maon has also been the name of Bushahr state.

The Five Pandavas brothers are said to have spent their 12 years of exile in Kinnaur.

In “Vavu Purana” the Kinners are said to be the inhabitants of the mountain “Mahand”.

Kalidas mentioned about Kinner in his famous book “Kumarasmbhava“.

Khasas, Aryans, Kanait, Jads are people who lived in Kinnaur.

Bhoteas are people who live in me Tibetan border speaks dialects akin to Tibetans.

History of Bushahr Princely State:

There are three main accounts of the founder of Bushahr state.

  1. According to the first account, in the ancient past, three Gods (devtas) appeared in Mathura- Anna Purana Vrindavan, one of them named Deva Puran reached Kamru in Kinnaur and the other two Tapa Puran and Anna Puran stayed at Badrinath and Tehri Garhwal. Deva Puran killed all Ranas and Thakuras one by one and then reached Sarhan where Banasur was a king, deva killed him as well. The Deva Puran brought Pradhuman Singh a Chandervanshi ancestor of Dashratha from Varanasi and he was crowned king at Kamru.
  2. According to the second account, the Bushahr dynasty was founded by “the Pradhuman son of Lord Krishna. He came here to marry the daughter of Banasur. He became chief of the Bushahr and Kinnaur region since Banasur has no male heir.
  3. According to the third account, Pradhuman came from “Kanchannapur” in the south on pilgrimage to the Bhimakali temple at Sarahan. At this time throne of state was vacant due to the sudden death of Raja, with no heir.

Pradhuman who happened to enter the palace first and blessed by Goddess Bhimakali to be king so declared by people their ruler at Kamru which became the first capital of the state.

At the end of the 7th century, Shital Pal Raja of Kullu fled to Bushahr when Chamba Raja Meru Verman attacked him.

Jarsehwar Pal:

  • Jarsehwar Pal recovered the Kullu state from Chamba with the help of Bushahr around 780-800 AD, when Chamba was invaded by Kiras (Tibet).

Raja Chatter Singh:

  • He was 110th from Pradhuman is said to have conquered the entire area of the south of Sarahan and Kinnaur also.
  • Captial of Bushahr was shifted from “Kamru” to “Sarahan” (Shonitpur) at the beginning of the 10th century by Chatter Singh.

Read also: Marriage Types in District Kinnaur

Raj Kehri Singh:

  • He was the son of Chattar Singh, was an “Ajanabahu” like Ram Chandra who could touch his knee while standing upright.
  • Once Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb held a Darbar of the hill Chief which Raja Kehri Singh also.
  • In Delhi, a small cloud shading him all the time in the form of Chhatra (Umbrella). When Aurangzeb asked about this miracle, Raja replied that it was a favor of goddesses of his county, who do so to protect him from the heat of plains, what he had not experienced before. On this emperor, he greatly pleased and conferred the title of” Chhatrapati” upon him.
  • Raja Kehri Singh was a contemporary of Grajayadoke the ruler of Tibet and his commander Guldenchhen who was defeated by Kehri Singh in a battle. After the battle, a treaty was signed. In this treaty, Kailash was made a boundary line between Kinnaur and Tibet.
  • In 1681 a battle took place between Tibet and Ladakh. Ladakh was supported by Mughals and Tibet by Raja Kehri Singh.
  • A treaty was signed in the 17th century between Kehri Singh and the government of Tibet headed by Dalai Lama VI. This treaty declared free trade between Tibet and Kinnaur without payment of tax which continued till the international border was sealed in 1962 after the India-China war.
  • Kehri Singh received Hangrang Valley from Tibet as a Jagir.
  • Kehri Singh was followed by Vijay Singh and Udai Singh.

Read also: Major characteristics of the district Kinnaur

Raja Ram Singh:

  • He shifted the capital from Sarahan to Rampur.
  • During his reign, Raja of Kullu Bidhi Chand invaded Bushahr and annexed the Kothis of Dhawal, Kot Kandi, and “Balramgarh” in outer Seraj.

Uger Singh:

  • Before Uger Singh there had always been a long-standing hostility between Sirmaur and Bushahr.
  • Raja Uger Singh married a daughter of Sirmaur house which normalized relation between the two
  • Another Rani of Uger Singh was from Dhami from whom he had a son Mohinder Singh.
  • Raja Uger Singh died in 1811 and succeeded by his eight-year-old son Mohinder Singh.
  • Taking advantage of a minority of Raja Mohinder Singh, Gurkhas invaded the state and forced Raja to flee away along with his mother to the forests of Kinnaur.
  • When Britishers attacked Gurkhas in 1814 Bushahr’s Wazir “Tikka Ram and Badri Dass” provided good leadership to the local army and supported Britishers.
  • Under the leadership of these two leaders, a battle was fought at Chholtu Bridge which proved a big setback to Gurkhas.
  • By liberating the state from Gurkha, Britishers granted a sanad to Raja Mohinder Singh.
  • All territory was restored to Raja except Rawin and Kotgarh which were later transferred to Keonthal in exchange for Shimla by Britishers.

Read also: Census 2011 of District Kinnaur

Raja Shamsher Singh:

  • He gained the throne in 1850 after the death of his father Mohinder Singh.
  • During his reign, Wazir was more powerful. Best known among them were Manohar Dass and Ran Bahadur.
  • Ran Bahadur claimed the independence of DodraKwar which was turned down by Tikka Raghunath.
  • During his reign, Britishers also started interference in the state administration and in the appointment of Wazir.
  • Britishers appointed Mankush Das and then Shyam Lal (Tehsildar of Nurpur) as an administrator.  This new arrangement reduces the power of Raja.
  • In the revolt of 1857, Raja showed his displeasure against Britishers and decided not to support Britishers to suppress the revolt of 1857.
  • For this Lord William Hay the deputy commissioner of Shimla-cum-agent of hill states wanted to punish Shamsher Singh but Sir John Lawrence the Chief Commissioner of Punjab did not consider this idea praiseworthy.
  • In 1859, Fateh Singh an illegitimate brother of Shamsher Singh started a revolt against revenue payment in cash which was introduced by Munshi Ram Lal in 1854.
  • Farmers decided to leave their fields uncultivated till their demand was not accepted.
  • G.Barnes, the superintendent of Shimla hill state arrived at Bushahr to settle the dispute. Farmer’s demand was accepted.
  • In 1887, Raja Shamsher Singh was forced to abdicate the throne in favor of his only legitimate son Tikka Ragunath Singh.

Read also: Places of religious, historical or archaeological importance and tourist interest in District Kinnaur

Tikka Raghunath Singh:

  • Tikka Ragunath Singh escapes from Bushar to Sirmaur in 1883 because he did not want to marry a princess of Mandi, but he accepted it later.
  • He died in 1889 and survived by an infant who died eleven months after the death of his father.
  • After the death of Raja and his child, Shamsher Singh was still alive and wanted to regain the throne. But Britishers appointed Rai Shahib Mangat Ram (manager of Kumharsain state) as a chief wazir with the full power of a ruler.
  • Shamsher Singh feared the extinction of his linage and adopted Surender Shah a younger brother of Gharwal ruler.
  • Although Padam Singh was the son of Shamsher Singh, being a son from a concubine (not from Rani) was considered illegitimate.
  • Britishers first recognized Surender Shah as an adopted son but later canceled the recognition.
  • In 1898-99, when the superintendent of Shimla visited Bushahr, Raja Shamsher Singh refused to meet him for which he was fined Rs. 1000/- as punishment.

Raja Padam Singh:

  • In 1914, Britishers agreed to recognize Padam Singh as the legitimate heir of Shamsher Singh.
  • A struggle was launched in Rampur Bushar for its merger with India.
  • In 1948, the meeting was organized at Sarahan which was presided over by master Anu Lal who was a freedom fighter.
  • Police arrested the leader including Anu Lal but very soon agitated people liberated their leader at Gaura.
  • Baldev Singh was Diwan of State, moved toward Rampur with force, where a battle took place and now Raja Padam had no option but to accept the merger of the state with the Indian union in April 1948.
  • Raja Padam Singh has two sons Raja Vir Bhadra Singh and Devinder Singh.

Read also: Fairs and Festivals of District Kinnaur

Crops of District Kinnaur:

  • Barley is called Tag and Maize is called Chhahaa in Kinnaur.
  • Rice has been an important crop in the village of Kilba.
  • Cumin and Saffron are produced in Sangla Valley and Ribba valley is famous for Grapes.
  • Kaghzi almonds are also grown here.

Food Habits of District Kinnaur:

  • Food in Kinnaur Breakfast and dinner are called “Khaoo” and Lunch is called “Shill”.
  • The brew obtained from barley is called “Chhang” extensively used in Hangrang valley.
  • Ghanti” is the other name of liquor obtained from barley and other cereals.

Read also: History of District Lahaul-Spiti

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