History of Kinnaur

The erstwhile Chini tehsil of former Mahasu district came into being as an independent district named as Kinnaur from 1st May 1960. Prior to the merger of the state at the eve of independence, Kinnaur valley was a part of erstwhile Bushahr State which had its headquarter at Rampur. In the absence of authentic historical records the early history of the Kinnaur region is obscure and the reference of the Kinnaur or Kannaura and their land is by and large confined to legends and mythological accounts.

According to some historians, in the beginning of the 6th century B.C., India was divided into sixteen great Janpadas and several smaller ones. Among them Gandhara, Kamboj, Kuru, Koshal, Mull, Vajji, Panchal, Sakya were either in the southern Himalayan ranges or had territories extended into Himalayan ranges. Among the states that were flourishing in the sixth century B.C. the Kingdom of Magadha was the first to make a successful bid for supremacy under Bimbisara. Its emperors belonging to Sunga, Nanda and Maurya dynasties carried their banners up to the inhabited parts of inner Himalayan regions.

Chandragupta Maurya brought about its political unification under one scepter, negotiated and alliance with Parvataka (Himalayan king) before empire building. With the help of several frontier tribes such as the Kiratas, Kambojas, Panasikas and Valhika, he built up the great Maurya Empire.

The empire of Ashoka extended up to the natural boundaries of India and beyond that in the west. After the collapse of the Maurya Empire, the Kushansas established an extensive empire within and beyond India in the North–West. Emperor Kanishka’s hegemony spread over Kashmir and Central Asia regions of Kashgar, Yarkand, and Khotan. His hold extended up to the territory of the inner Himalayas and Kinnaur must have been the part of this empire. In the meantime, northern India was divided into a number of small Kingdoms and autonomous tribal states. Under such a divided country the Gupta Empire grew. Samudragupta’s empire included the territories of Rohilkhand, Kumaon, Garhwal, Nepal, and Assam. Its northern boundary was along the high Himalayas. Kinnaur must have been included in it too.

Early in the seventh century, Harsha came to power at Thaneshwar in A.D. 606. During the course of the next four decades, he had established the most powerful empire in India. All the existing Kingdoms of Kapisa, Kashmir, Kuluta, Satadru, Mon-li-pa-lo (Ladakh), and Suwarnagotra(in the high Himalayas) were incorporated in his empire. After the death of Harsha in A.D. 647, the country was once again divided into old principalities of the sixth century B.C. (S.C. Bajpai. Kinnaur: A Restricted Land in the Himalaya, 1991). In the background of the historical conditions described in the preceding para.

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 as Kinnaur became the sixth district of the state of Himachal Pradesh.

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