The literal meaning of Garhwal is ‘country of forts’ or ‘country of gadh’ (glen). The Kingdom consists of many steep mountain ridges which divide each other by deep glen. This state was ruled by three dynasties, Katyuri dynasty (8th – 11th century), Chand dynasty (14th –15th century) and Shah Dynasty (1815 – 1949 AD). During British Raj, it came under the authority of ‘Punjab Hill States Agency’. Garhwal is situated currenctly in the Tehri Garhwal and Uttarkashi district. It was merged with the Union of India in August 1949.
Garhwal area was ruled by various kingdoms from ancient period to independence. It was also mentioned in Hindu texts, one of which says that Kedarnath area was home to aboriginal Hindu people. This region was under Kuninda Kingdom from 2nd BCE to 3rd AD. Later, from 6th AD to 11th AD, it came under the Katyuri Kings or Kumaon. Thereafter, Kumaon was replaced by Chand Kings who ruled over the fragmented principalities of Garhwal. Huen Tsang mention in his travelogue about this region and named it as Brahmapura in 629 AD. The earliest known dynasty which ruled this region was Katyuris.
The origin of Garhwal kingdom can be traced from ancient Panwar clan of Agnivansha Rajputs. They arrived from Gujarat in 688 AD. Kanak Pal from Gujarat got married to the daughter of Kedarnath’s King. He fell in love with the beauty of the hills and decided to retire in this region. This led to the gradual process of shifting petty nobles and other members of the state to this region. Raja Som Pal, twenty third successor of Kanak Pal succeeded in establishing hegemony over the Garhwal territory.