Katyuri Dynasty of Uttarakhand





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Katyuri Dynasty of Uttarakhand

The Katyuri kings were a medieval ruling clan of present -day uttarakhand , India The Katyuri dynasty was founded by Vashudev Katyuri . and they ruled over the region now known as Kumaon from 700 to 1200 CE.



The katyuri kings were the medieval ruling clan of present Uttarakhand that ruled over the region now known as Kumaon from 800 to 1100 AD . The period, seventh-eighth century, has special significance in the history of Uttarakhand as Katyuri, the ruling dynasty has left some important records of their period. It is an acknowledged fact that at the peak of their ascendancy the Katyuri Empire extended from the area bordering Tibet in the north to the foothills of Uttarakhand in the south and from Sutlej in the west to Nepal in the east . The Katyuris are also noted for the establishment of an array of temples in the Kumaon region and were one of the first to use hew stones in their construction instead of bricks. [ref]The actual records of the Katyuris consist of only six inscriptions, five of which are grants engraved on copper and one is a similar record inscribed on stone. Out of the five copper plate inscriptions four are in the possession of the Badrinath Kedar Temple, Badrinath . [ref]They are Pandukeshwar Copper Plate Inscriptions (two in numbers) of Lalitasuradeva, Pandukeshwar Copper Plate grant of Padmata, and Pandukeshwar Copper Plate of Subhiksha Raja Deva and one Baleshwar Copper Plate Grant of Desata. One copper plate inscription of Lalitasuredeva of the year 854 AD has also been cited in the book ‘Select Inscriptions Volume ii, edited by D. C. Sircar. The sixth inscription on stone of Bhudeva is in the temple of Lord Vyageshwar (the tiger lord) or Vakeshwar (the lord of eloquence). The available inscriptions throw sufficient light about the political achievements of the rulers though there is some information on the religious, social and administrative conditions of the age


It is believed that Katyuri was the first dynasty which established their power firmly and ruled both Kumaon and Garhwal. The Katyuri Raja of Uttarakhand was styled ‘Shri Basdeo Giriraj Chakra Churamani. Tradition gives the origin of their Raj at Joshimath in the north near Badrinath and a subsequent migration to Katyur valley in Kumaon. There are no primary sources to trace the origin of this dynasty. Rahul Sankrityayan, traces Katyuri's  ancestry to Saka rulers  and   further identifies these Shakas with the Khasas as   according to folk tradition and folk lore it is believed that Katyuris were descendants of the Khasas .But still it is difficult to trace the chronology of the Katyuri kings, [ref]

  Vashudev Katyuri was the founder of the katyuri dynasty.  Historian K.P Nautiyal is of the view that  Vashudev Katyuri was the founder of Katyuri dynasty who ruled from  850 to 870 CE. He was a pious ruler and follower of Shaivism. His son   Basantana was an equally devout ruler. He had a liberal attitude and donated some villages to the followers of Vaishanivism also. He revived thegrant given by his father to the Vyageshwar temple and built many rest houses on public paths. The line of Basantana seems to have ceased after two generations  and the next king Kharparadeva was an offspring of one of his cousins. There is no information about his rule. His son Tribhuwan Raj Deva was very generous and like his predecessors donated land to the Vyageshwat temple. He was succeeded by Nimbartadeva an equally pious ruler like his predecessors. [ref]

Nimbartadeva is supposed to be the first king who had attained sufficient power and the names of his scions are referred to in the Pandushewar copper plate inscriptions. In the Gazetteer of E. T. Atkinson he is described as a valiant warrior who “defeated his enemies as the rising sun dispels the mist.”Apart from his intrepidity he is extolled for his virtues of generosity, courtesy, truthfulness, liberality and of being a staunch Shaivite. Nimbartadeva was the first Katyuri king who initiated temple architecture. K. P Nautiyal is of the view that the ‘Vimanas’, the tallest structures over the sanctum sanctorum in the famous Jageshwar group of temples were constructed during his rule. His dedication to Lord Shiva is corroborated by the fact that he selected Jageshwar the most sacred site of Kumaon for the shrine.

Istagana succeeded his father in about 810 AD. He was known for his intrepidity and Atkinson has commented, “The edge of his sword slew furious elephants.”On the basis of his statement it can be assumed that some petty rulers from the neighbouring plains must have invaded the foothills of Uttarakhand and Istagana foiled their attempts and killed the elephants in their armies. K P Nautiyal has observed, he was successful in unifying the whole of Kumaon and Garhwal region and crushed all his adversaries. Like his predecessors he was a  great devotee of Lord Shiva and a great builder. The construction of the  of temples in Jageshwar of Navdurga, Mahisamardini, Lakulisa and Natraj can be attributed to him. Lalitasuradeva (835 AD) inherited a vast empire and like his father wa blessed with true grit. He exhibited exemplary courage in the battle field and ht military tactics blessed him with success in various battles. Unfortunately ow” to paucity of material his different campaigns cannot be detailed. It is mentioned , that he was brought into conflict with the powerful Pal king Devapala owing to! imperialistic policy but he did not concede defeat. K. P Nautiyal is of the view  That  Devapala’s father Dharamapala also invaded Kumaon but was not successful his intent.  [ref]

Bhudeva ascended the throne of his illustrious father in 875 AD. His records are veiled with a paucity of evidence. Even the Pandukeshwar grants do not mention his name. It is only in the Bageshwar inscription where he has been referred to. In the Bageshwar inscription he is described as ‘king of kings’. Nautiyal has extolled him as a valiant warrior and on the basis of oral traditions has stated, “His ears were frequently troubled by the sound of jewels emanating from the crowns of rajas (kings) who bowed before him.” He was spiritual in nature and had a great respect for the Brahmins. His contribution towards temple architecture has been widely applauded. The original temple of Bageshwar and some of the shrines at Baijnath constructed in the initial stages, though extant now may be safely attributed to him. He was the last ruler amongst the direct descendants of Nimbarta and was succeeded by collateral rulers.[ref]

Salonaditya (895 AD) was the founder of the new line of rulers. D. C. Sirkar has stated that he had established his claim as a powerful and brave king. He was succeeded by his son Ichchhatadeva in 920 AD. His rule seems to be uneventful and therefore the inscriptions are silent about him. He was succeeded by his son Desatadeva in 930 AD.The next in the line was Padmatadeva who succeeded his father probably in 945 AD. He is famous for his charitable activities and has been compared with Bali, Vaikartana, Dadhichi and Vikramaditya. He is also known for his passion towards architecture and a few shrines in Joshimath, Nala and Bheta (Narayankoti) in Garhwal and some shrines at Baijnath in Kumaon are of his period Padmatadeva was succeeded by his son Subhiksha Raja Deva who unlike his predecessor was a staunch devotee of Lord Vishnu and had deep reverence for Brahmins. His illustrious rule ended in the last quarter of the 10 century AD after which two more kings of the Katyuri dynasty, Dharmadeva and Biradeva came to power. [ref]



The Pandukeshwar copper plate inscription throws some light on the administrative set up of the Katyuris.Perhaps the initial capital of the Katyuri dynasty was Joshimath.  And after the expansion of the state, it would have been established in the Katyur valley later.  On the basis of public opinion, the early Katyur state started from the Sutlej river bank in the west to the south. Katyuri believed in monarchy and implemented the administrative system established by the Mauryas in their kingdoms with the king  at the vertex of the administrative pyramid and was embellished with the title of Parama Bhattaraka Maharajadhiraja Parmeshvara .[ref]

The King  wielded absolute power and was assisted by a council of ministers, which included the Prime Minster (Amatya), a Minister of religious affairs (Mahadanakshapataladhikrta), Minister of War and Peace (Mahasandhivigrahadhikrta) and the Commander-in-Chief (Mahasamanta), The kingdom was divided into many chieftaincies and was ruled by Samantas, feudal lords. For administrative purpose the kingdom was divided into Prantas, Vishayas (provinces) and Kshetras, each governed by Uparika (governor), Vishayapati and Kshetrapala  with village was the smallest administrative unit during the Katyuri rule and was headed by a Mahamanushya. The King assisted by Mahadandnayaka was the chief dispenser of justice Chief Justice). Crimes were negligible and the main cases were of theft, treachery, traitorous behavior or recalcitrance. Other officers in the judicial administration were Doshaparadhika (investigator of crimes), Chauradharnika (apprehender) of thieves, Dandapasika (wielder of punishment) and Dandika (executor of punishment) The Mahapratihara (chief security officer) supervised the security of the king.[ref]


Militaty Set -Up

Katyuri Veervahini is world famous for her bravery.  On the strength of this, the Katyuri kings defeated the invaders coming from north and south and maintained their rule over Uttarakhand for a long time.  The Veeravahini Katyuri army was divided into four parts.

(1) पदातिक          (2) गजारोही

(3) अश्वारोही          (4) ऊष्ट्रारोही

With all the militaty  supervised by the King himself . The military department was headed by the Mahasamanta who also jed the army during war. Gadhapatis (masters of the fort) and Kotpalas (keepers of the fort) served probably under the command of the Mahasamanta. Uma Prasad Thapliyal has given a list of 73 forts in Garhwal and 48 in Kumaon. The forts were generally provided with tunnels which facilitated escape during time of emergency. The tunnels often terminated at a river bed  and in normal times royal ladies used them for going to the river Ruins of such tunnels are visible even today at Chandpur Gadh, Deval Gadh, Bhairon Gadh, Gujdu Gadh, Badhan Gadh and Nala Gadh etc.[ref]



Katyuri Architecture


The katyuri kings were  known for constructing several temples in present-day Uttrakhand. as the Katyuri period is known as the golden era of architecture in Uttarakhand. The Katyuris had a high sense of aesthetics and the credit of building a major portion of the temples and sculptures in the region goes to them.  One of the leading temples constructed by the rulers of katyuri dynasty includes the Vasudev temple at Joshi mutt Manila Devi temple near Almora katarmal temple  Lakuahela  Mahishasuramardhini Navdurga and Natraja temples at Jageshwar along with several Shelters and small shrines  along the route to Badrinath are some of theier Architectural marvles[ref].  Primarily they were influenced by the Gujarat and the Rajputana style with some elements of south Indian origin.. The most remarkable period  which has left a deeper marks on temple architecture begins after the 10‘ and 11" centuries AD. The temples of this period are fashioned more or less on the Pratihar style.. During the Katyuri period, the temples of Kumaon and Garhwal remained highly receptive to assimilate varied elements from different parts of the country. The pediments, the Kakshasana or seat of mandap (hall), the niches and the porches at Baijnath, Dwarahat, Katarmal, Adi Badri and Bageshwar speak of the Pratihara-Solanki style . TheKatyuri shrines reflect a synthesis of art, the ideals of ‘dharma’, beliefs, values and the way of life cherished under Hinduism. They are a link between humans, devotion and sacred space. They leave a lasting impression and sweep the pilgrims into a world of thought and insight into human life [ref]


For the state land revenue was the major source of  income  .  Apart from this, there was also good income from forests and mineral wealth for the state .  On behalf of the state, an officer named 'Kshetrafal' used to make efforts for agricultural progress, the work of an officer named 'Prabhattar' was to measure the land duly.  To maintain the land records, there was a separate official named 'Upcharik' or 'Pattakoshcharika'.  The measurement of land was done on the basis of seeds sown in the land.  In the Katyuri period, in addition to the Dronbamap, the description of the land containing Nalibamap seeds is available.   Forests and mineral wealth were monopolized by the state during this period.  Officers named Khandpati and Block Defense Sthanadhipati were appointed for their protection and for arranging industries related to them.  Probably becaue of the high demand  during this period for iron, copper, gold powder, bhojpatra, ringal and bamboo in the plains. all these items were traded and exported which became an important source of income generation along with  wool and woolen clothes for the state . [ref]



The 11t Century saw the  decline of Katyuri dynasty owing to the rivalries inside the clan  and the lack of strong leadership .But the ultimate downfall of of theories happened in the late 11th century when they were attacked by the rulers of malla dynasty between 1191 and 1223 and towards the end of the eleventh century the Chand rulers  successfully invaded the Garhwal and dhoti  regions resulting in the establishment of the Chand Dynasty in Uttarakhand region . And with this the great kathuri empire Got disintegrated into many small principalities   (eight princely states) , namely Baijnath Katyuri, Dwarahat and Doti (in Nepal), and Baramandal, Askot, Sira, Sora and Sui (Kali Kumaon). [ref]


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