Garhwal, or Gadhwal, is a region and administrative division of Uttaranchal, lying in the Himalayas. It is bounded on the north by Tibet, on the east by Kumaon region, on the south by Uttar Pradesh, and on the west by Himachal Pradesh. It includes the districts of Chamoli, Dehradun, Haridwar, Pauri (Pauri Garhwal), Rudraprayag, Tehri (Tehri Garhwal), and Uttarkashi. The administrative center for Garhwal division is the town of Pauri.
The region consists almost entirely of rugged mountain ranges running in all directions, and separated by narrow valleys which in some cases become deep gorges or ravines. The only level portion of the district was a narrow strip of waterless forest between the southern slopes of the hills and the fertile plains of Rohilkhand. The highest mountains are in the north, the principal peaks being Nanda Devi (25,661 feet), Kamet (25,413 feet), Trisul (23,382 feet), Badrinath (23,210 feet), Dunagiri (23,181 feet) and Kedarnath (22,853 feet). The Alaknanda River, one of the main sources of the Ganges, receives with its affluents the whole drainage of the district. At Devaprayag the Alaknanda joins the Bhagirathi, and thenceforward the united streams bear the name of the Ganges. Cultivation is principally confined to the immediate vicinity of the rivers, which are employed for purposes of irrigation.
Garhwal originally consisted of 52 petty chieftainships, each chief with his own independent fortress (garh). Nearly 500 years ago, one of these chiefs, Ajai Pal, reduced all the minor principalities under his own sway, and founded the Garhwal kingdom. He and his ancestors ruled over Garhwal and the adjacent state of Tehri, in an uninterrupted line till 1803, when the Gurkhas invaded Kumaon and Garhwal, driving the Garhwal chief into the plains. For twelve years the Gurkhas ruled the country with a rod of iron, until a series of encroachments by them on British territory led to the war with Nepal in 1814. At the termination of the campaign, Garhwal and Kumaon were converted into British districts, while the Tehri principality was restored to a son of the former chief. The British district of Garhwal was in the Kumaon division of the United Provinces, and had an area of 5629 sq. mi. After annexation, Garhwal rapidly advanced in material prosperity. Pop. (1901) 429,900. Two battalions of the Indian army (the 39th Garhwal Rifles) were recruited in the district, which also contained the military cantonment of Lansdowne. Grain and coarse cloth were exported, and salt, borax, livestock and wool were imported, and the trade with Tibet was considerable. The administrative headquarters was at the village of Pauri, but Srinagar is the largest place. It was an important mart, as was Kotdwara, the terminus of a branch of the Oudh and Rohilkhand railway from Najibabad.
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