There are many evidences of the existence of pre-historic man in the Himalayan region. There is little doubt that two million years ago at least one form of man lived on the Himachal foothills, the area bound by the Banganga-Beas of Beas valleys of Kangra, the Sirsa- Satluj valleys of Nalagarh-Bilaspur and the Markanda valley of Sirmaur.
The pre-historic culture came to Himachal from South and settled down in Central and Southern slopes. This is represented today by Koli, Hali, Doms, Channals etc. and their language is Kolarian. Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti are their primary concentration.
In prehistoric time outside the Indus valley, the Indo-Gangetic plain was inhabited by Proto- Australoid or Munda speaking kolarian, when the people of Indus valley spread through and they pushed forward the kolarian people. They fled to northward and entered Himachal valley.
In the Vedic period they were called Dasas, Dasayus or Nishadas. In post Vedic literature they were mentioned as kinnaras, Nagas and Yakshas. Kols also known as munda who were perhaps the earliest and original migrant to Himachal Pradesh. Their powerful king was Shambara who had 99 strong forts in the hills between the Yamuna and the Beas rivers. The Mongoloid people called ‘Bhotas‘ and ‘Kiratas‘ in Indian literature, who came around 3rd millennium B.C. occupied the sub-Himalayan region in the pre-historic times and at present settled in the highest region of Himachal Pradesh. Mongoloids were the second race to enter this area. The third race to enter the Himalayan regions were the ‘Aryan’ or ‘Khasas‘, who entered India from North (via Kashgir to Kashmir) and settled in mid-mountains, from Kashmir to Nepal.
It is generally accepted that in the prehistoric period the Aryans left their central home, one branch of Aryan crossed the Pamir, entered to Kashmir and then HP. The branch came to be known as the Khashas (kshatriya). These khashas was war like tribe. When they settled permanently they organized themselves into family and villages, their head was called Mavi or Mavana, with the passage of time these Mavanas developed into tribal republic which was called Janapadas. Other branch of Aryans which is known as Indo-Aryan, when they left central Asia, they moved southward and came to Iran then they cross Hindkush came to Indus valley which they called Sapta-shindhu or land of seven rivers. They over run who used to live in fortified cities in very civilized manner. Now they crossed Punjab and moved up to foothill of Himalayas. The dark skinned dwellers, whom the Aryan called Dasayus offered a strong resistance under the leadership of Shambara who was defeated after fighting a war of 40 years and destroy 99 fort.
In later years some Vedic saints and sages with their disciples came to the Himachal Valleys: Renuka Lake in Sirmaur in connected with Jamdagni, The Vashishtha kund in Manikaran (kullu) connected with Rishi Vashishta, Beas cave in Bilaspur connected with sage Vyas. Hatkoti in Jubbal areas (Shimla) connected to Pandavas.
There is reference in the Mahabharta about four famous Janapadas existing at that time in the Himalayas, namely: ‘Audumbara‘, ‘Trigarta’, ‘Kuluta’ and ‘Kunindas‘.