Nainital History !

Nainital History !

Category : Tour & Travels

In ancient times, Kumaon was divided into several small princely states and the Nainital region was under different branches of a Khasia family. The Chandraravnsh was the first dynasty to gain consolidated dominion over Kumaon. The founder of this dynasty was Som Chandra from Jhusi, located near Allahabad, who, married the daughter of the Katyuri king around the seventh century then grew into the interiors of Kumaon. In the form of dowry, they were given the lands of Champawat city as well as Bhabar and Terai. By establishing his capital at Champawat, Som Chandra and his descendants gradually began to invade and then conquer the surrounding areas.

Thus Champawat was the nucleus from which the Chandra dominions over the entire Kumaun expanded, but it took many centuries to complete, and Nainital and its surrounding area was one of the last areas to be absorbed. Bhimtal, which is only thirteen miles from Nainital, in the thirteenth century, Triloki Chandra built a fort to protect its borders.  But at that time, Nainital itself was not under Chandra rule, and was adjacent to the western border of the state. During the reign of Raja Udyan Chandra in 1420, the western boundary of the Chandra kingdom extended to the Koshi and Suyal rivers, but Ramgarh and Kota were still under the former Khasia rule. Kirat Chandra, who ruled from 1488 to 1503, and expanded his territory, was finally able to establish authority over Nainital and the surrounding region, which had remained independent for so long.

The Khasia kings made an attempt to regain their independence. In 1560, led by a Khasia of Ramgarh, he enjoyed a brief moment of success, but was subdued by Balo Kalyan Chandra with ruthless seriousness. Little or no effort was made on the administration of the hilly region in this period. All the palaces of Kumaon mentioned in Aina-e-Akbari are located in the plains. During the reign of Devi Chandra, who became king in 1720, Kumaon was invaded by the Raja of Garhwal, but he did not occupy the territory. Twenty years later, the Kumaon hills were invaded again, this time by the Ruhels, with whom a war broke out in the year 1743. While fighting Ruhela sneaked up to Bhimtal, and looted it. However, he was eventually bought over by the Raja of Garhwal, who then formed a temporary alliance with the then king Kalyan Chandra of Kumaon. Another attack, two years later, was repulsed by Kalyan Chandra’s prime minister, Shiv Dev Joshi.

With the death of Kalyan Chandra in 1743, the power of the kings of Kumaun began to wane. The next king became his son Deep Chandra, an extremely weak young man whose interests were purely religious and who devoted himself to the construction of temples. He also built the Bhimeshwar temple located in Bhimtal. However, Shiva Dev Joshi was still the Prime Minister, and Kumaon continued to prosper during his lifetime. In 1764 he was killed by mutant soldiers, and from that date all the plains had become practically independent of the mountainous kingdom of Kumaon. After the death of Shiva Dev Joshi, the affairs of Kumaun became more confused, where there was another erstwhile queen (wife of Deep Chandra), and on the other side Mohan Singh, a young Rautela. Over the next few years, Mohan Singh succeeded in killing Deep Chandra and his two sons in 1777, after killing Rani. He then proclaimed himself king as Mohan Chandra.

The rule of Mohan Chandra, known for the persecution of the Joshi family, lasted until 1779, when Kumaon was invaded by Lalit Shah, the king of Garhwal, who occupied the region and placed his son, Pradyuman, on the throne. Mohan Chandra fled and Joshi, of whom Harkha Dev was now the chief, joined the new king’s principal advisers. Pradyuman attempted to move Garhwal to his newly acquired state of Kumaon and take him to the capital Srinagar. During his absence, Mohan Chandra again surfaced.  There was a war between Chandra and the Joshis, who were loyal to the Garhwal rule. Mohan Chandra was killed, but was replaced by his brother, Lal Singh, and in 1788 the Joshi people were badly defeated near Bhimtal, after which Lal Singh became supreme, killing most of the Joshis.

With the help of the defeated Harkha Dev Joshi, the Gurkhas invaded Kumayun, and succeeded in subjugating it in recent years by taking advantage of the confusion created by the battles of several rival factions across the state. During the Gurkha rule, very little work was done in the area. Their policy was repression, although administration in Kumaon was less severe than in Garhwal. Gorkha domination did not last long. In 1814, the British government drew its attention to Kumaon. The East India Company was interested in the hills, owing to the hemp growing there, a large amount of which passed through the company’s factory in Kashipur. Then the Governor-General, Lord Hastings, attempted to deport Kumaon peacefully, and Gardner was sent from Delhi for negotiations with Bum Sah, the Governor of Kumaon. These negotiations failed and in early 1815, war was declared.

Nepal was defeated in the war and the British attained the suzerainty of Kumaon in December 1815. With headquarters at Almora, Gardner was appointed the first commissioner of Kumaon, but was replaced shortly after by Trail.  Trail, whose administration was practically unchanged by any central authority, remained commissioner until 1830. After him Colonel Govan was made the next commissioner, after which Lushington became the next commissioner in 1839. In 1848, Batten became commissioner, and after him, in 1856, Captain Ramsay became the next commissioner, who later became Major General Sir Henry Ramsay. Sir Henry Ramsay was commissioner for twenty-eight years.

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