Through the ages, the evolution of human civilization in the Garhwal Himalayan has been parallel to the rest of Indian sub-continent. Katyuri was the first historical dynasty, which rule over unified Uttarakhand and left some important records in the form of inscriptions and temples. In later period after the downfall of Katyuri’s, it is believed that Garhwal region was fragmented in more than sixty-four principalities ruled by the Chieftain, one of the principal Chieftainship was Chandpurgarh, which was ruled by descendent of Kanakpal. In the mid of 15th century A.D. Chandpurgarh emerged as a powerful principality under the rule of Jagatpal (1455 to 1493 A.D.), who was a descendent of Kanakpal. In the fag end of 15th century Ajaypal enthroned the Chandpurgarh and succeeded in unifying and consolidating various principalities on the region with in a Kingdom and his Kingdom came to known as Garhwal. Subsequently, he had transferred his capital from Chandpur to Devalgarh before 1506 and later on to Srinagar during 1506 to 1519 A.D.
King Ajaypal and his successors ruled the Garhwal for nearly three hundred years even during this period they had faced a number of attacks from Kumaon, Mughal, Sikh, Rohilla. An important event in the history of Garhwal was the Gorkha invasion. It was marked by extreme brutality and the word ‘Gorkhyani’ has become synonymous with massacre and marauding armies. After subjugating Doti and Kumaon, Gorkhas attacked Garhwal and reached as far as Langoorgarh despite stiff resistance put up by the Garhwali forces. But in the meantime, news came of a Chinese invasion and the Gorkhas were forced to lift the siege. However, in 1803, they again mounted an invasion. After capturing Kumaon, they attach Garhwal in three columns. Five thousand Garhwali soldiers could not stand the fury of their attack and the King Pradyumna Shah escaped to Dehradun to organize his defense. But his forces were no match to the Gorkha might. Garhwali soldiers suffered heavy casualties and the King himself was killed in the battle of Khudbuda. The Gorkhas became the masters of entire Garhwal in 1804 and ruled the territory for twelve years.
Gorkha ruled in the Garhwal area ended in 1815 when the British drove the Gorkhas to the West of Kali river, despite stiff resistance offered by them. After defeat of Gorkha army, the Britishers on 21 April 1815, decided to establish their rule over the eastern, half of the Garhwal region, which lies east of Alaknanda & Mandakini river, later on, known as ‘British Garhwal’ and Dun of Dehradun. The remaining part of the Garhwal in the west was restored to King Sudershan Shah who established his capital at Tehri. Initially the administration was entrusted to the commissioner of the Kumaon and Garhwal with his headquarters at Nainital, but later Garhwal was separated and formed into a separate district in 1840 A.D. under an assistant commissioner with his headquarter at Pauri.
At the time of independence, Garhwal, Almora and Nainital districts were administered through commissioner of Kumaon division. In early 1960, Chamoli district was curve out of Garhwal district. In 1969 Garhwal division was formed with its headquarter at Pauri. After curving out of seventy-two villages of Khirsu block of district Pauri Garwhal in 1998 for creation of new district of Rudraprayag, the district is reached in its present form.
Garhwal is smack in the middle of the Himalayas, with Himachal Pradesh in the West and North-West; Tibet in the North; the plains of Western Uttar Pradesh in the South and Kumaon in the East.
Historically, it has been described in the ancient text of Kedarkhand to extend from Gangadwar (modern day Hardwar) in the South to the high mountains in the North, and from the Tamsa (Tons) river in the in the West to Buddhachal (probably the Nanda Devi group of peaks between Garhwal and Kumaon) in the East.
Today it is an administrative division of the raising state of Uttaranchal, comprising the districts of Chamoli, Dehradun, Pauri, Tehri and Uttarkashi.
The history of Garhwal is older than that of the Ramayan and Maha- bharata. It is a land of popular myths, like that of Lord Shiva appearing as Kirat, of Urvashi, Shakuntala and the Kauravas and Pandavas. Worship of Lord Shiva is pre-dominant in this region.
In earliest times, Garhwal was known as Kedarkhand, or the region of Kedarnath. Scriptural texts mention a number of tribes that inhabited the region, such as the Sakas, the Nagas, Khasas, Hunas and Kiratas. The Nagas were a mysterious race whose traces are still to be found in the Hills. The hooded snake was sacred to them, hence their name. (Naga-Snake).
The Khasas were the dominant race in the Garhwal and Kumaon Himalayas till the coming of the Rajputs and Brahmins from the plains.
According to one version, Garhwal derives its name from the fifty two forts, ‘garhs,’ that had come together to form a loose confederacy.
The first recorded name of this region was Kartipur. Later on, according to another tradition, since it was surrounded on all sides by mountains - it came to be known us "Giri - avil", which, by passage of time, got trans- formed into Garhwal.
Bhanupratapa was the first known king and, later on, his son-in-law, Kanakpal took over. Their kingdom was known as Chandpur Garhi. King Kanakpal came to Garhwal from Rajasthan (Gujardesh) of the region Bagarh. He brought with him the Bagerhi language, therefore Garhwali and Bagerhi language, written and spoken, are very similar to each other.