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History of Himachal Pradesh

History of Himachal begins from the early dawn of human era. Stone tools discovered in Bangana valley, Markaeya valley, Satluj valley and Doon valley reveals that man make his appearance in the early Palaeolithic to the upper Palaeolithic period.

Himachal also yielded evidences of proto historic, which comes in the forms of pottery shreds and burials. The Indus valley civilisation discovered at Ropar, Kiratpur etc; situated in Satluj basin the suggest the extension of civilisation along the bank of Satluj and PGW and megalithic burials are also are also reported in different parts of Himachal also attest the survival of culture during different period.

History of Himachal Pradesh finds some base only with the advent of Mauryan dynasty. There are ample references in the Puanas and other ancient literature suggesting several tribes inhabiting the Himalayan region. Jain sources state that when Chankya, the Prime Minister of Chandergupt Maurya, failed to uproot the Nand ruler, he took up help from hill ruler (pavvoraya) and besieged Patliputr, and the Nand ruler had to surrender. However, the hill ruler was killed with the help of a vish-kanya to avoid division of the kingdom. Thus, Chandergupt Maurya could also annex the territory of that ruler to his dominion. The extension of the Mauran power in Himachal Pradesh is also established by the numismatic findings in several parts of Himachal. A hoard at Arki in Solan district was found in AD 1969. Yet another hoard is reported from Una and some stray coins from other parts also.

A rock inscription of the Ashokan period found at Kalsi on the bank of Yamuna valley through which a trade route also passes from the plain of Uttar Pradesh to Central Asia along the banks of Yamuna indicates the extension of Mauryan Empire in this hilly region. After the downfall of Mauryan dynasty, the entire hilly region came under the hill tribes.

After the Mauryas the valley came under the rule of Kunind tribe, which is attested by the findings of a large number of coins of this tribe in this region. Alexander Cunningham noticed the sizable number of Kunnet population in the region and he identified them with the Kunind tribe. Later, the Kunind probably merged with Yodhey. In the 4th century AD, Samudragupt in his Allahabad pillar inscription enumerated the Yaudhey, locating them probably along the frontier of his empire but there is no mention of Kunind. Yodhey coins were also discovered in Uttrakhand, Nahan, Mandi, Rampur in Himachal Pradesh. Cunningham also reported Yodhey coins all over the country between the Yamuna and Satluj.

In 319-20 AD, Gupt dynasty was founded in Magadh by Chandergupt-1. His son Samudragupt who also ascended the throne in 350 AD, records an elaborate account of his political and military achievement in Allahabad pillar inscription. Inscription refers that the Gupt Empire extended in the north and north-west up to Punjab along with the Himalayan foothills. After the downfall of Gupt Empire, the northern part of the country was captured by the Harsh, the boundary of his territory were up to Kashmir. In this period, several petty chiefs came in power and setup their rule by acknowledging the imperial power. With the end of Harsh’s rule, Pratihars rulers extended their empire in the northern part of India and appointed their Governors in these parts, as revealed by the inscription found on the toran of the Durga image at Hatkoti . The temple architecture and sculptural art also held up the influence of Pratihar style in the valley. Pratihars were considered as the patron of art and builder of many temples in the northern part of India. It was during the Pratihar rule that Shankracharya visited Badrinath. Legends hold that Shankeracharya himself founded the temple of Durga at Hatkoti. After the collapse of Pratihar rule, the regional Governors declared their independence and became the rulers of hilly regions.