- The earliest known inhabitants of the region were tribals called Dasas. Later, Aryans came and they assimilated in the tribes. In the later centuries, the hill chieftains accepted suzerainty of the Mauryan empire, the Kaushans, the Guptas and Kanuaj rulers. During the Mughal period, the Rajas of the hill states made some mutually agreed arrangements which governed their relations. In the 19th century, Ranjit Singh annexed many of the states. When the British came, they defeated Gorkhas and entered into treaties with some Rajas and annexed the kingdoms of others. The situation more or less remained unchanged till 1947. After Independence, 30 princely states of the area were united and Himachal Pradesh was formed on 15th April, 1948. With the recognition of Punjab on 1st November, 1966, certain areas belonging to it were also included in Himachal Pradesh. On 25th January, 1971, Himachal Pradesh was made a full-fledged State. The State is bordered by Jammu & Kashmir on North, Punjab on West and South-West, Haryana on South, Uttarakhand on South-East and China on the East.
Sources of History—
1. Archaeological Sources—
The importance of Archaeological sources for the history of Himachal Pradesh is varied in the absence of reliable literary sources.
The archaeological sources include stone tools implements coins inscription monuments and sculptures, the places where the excavation have been made include Guler, Dhaliara, Dehra, Masrur all in Kangra district.
Other surveys inducted in the areas of Jawalamukhi, Dehra-Gopipur and Nupur give indication about the early stone age.
Other prospective sites are– Balh Valley, Salanu, Nawahi near Sarkaghat, Siwa Badar in Mandi distt , Nirath, Dattanagar, Sholi, Sarahan, Nirmand, Hatkoti, Chitkul, Naggar, Bajaura, Jagatsukh.
Himachal State Museum was established in 1973-74 at Shimla (first curator- Dr V. C. Ohri). The state museum Shimla and Bhuri Singh museum Chamba contain large collection of coins of Trigarta, Adumbra, Kulutas and Kunindas. The earliest 87 punchmarked coins out of which 25 coins are preserved in the Bhuri Singh museum Chamba and 12 are kept in state museum Shimla found from Arki, 21 coins of Appllodotus have been found in Tappa Mewa village in Hamirpur distt, while 31 coins are found from Jawalamukhi in Kangra district. Some Indo-Greek coins have also been found in Lachori and Saro village of Chamba distt.
A large number of copper plates and other relevant material is preserved in the Bhuri Singh Museum Chamba.
The earliest inscriptions have been found in Pathyar and Kanihara in Kangra district and Soopur from hillock cave inscription of Hatkoti in Shimla and Salanu near Manglor in Mandi district.
3. Stone Inscription–
Stone inscriptions can be divided in four categories- Rock inscription, fountain inscription, slab inscription, sati stone inscriptions. Those inscriptions have been written in various script such as Sharda, Kharoshti, Tankri, Kutila, Nagri, Sankha, Bhotia and Sidhamatrika. The highest number of inscriptions (36) have been found in the Chamba region. The Bhuri Singh Museum Chamba housing these inscriptions.
1. Persian Sources:-
Some of the famous books are Tarikh-I-Yamini or Kitabul-Yamini (1020AD) followed by Khawand Mir’s Habibus Siyar (1523AD) and Farishta’s Tarikh-i-Farishta. The two contemporary chronicles namely the Tabaqat-I-Nasiri and Tarikh-I-Shahi often mention about the rebels finding shelter in the lower parts of Himachal Pradesh.
Ziauddin Barni has also made some reference to the Nagarkot invasion led by Sultan Muhammad-bin- Tughlaq. The siege and the conquest of the fort of Nagarkot by Sultan Firoz-Shah Tughlaq is found in Barani’s and Afif’s ‘Tarikh-i-Feruz Shahi‘, Farishta’s ‘Tarikh-i-Farishta‘. Akbar Bama and Ain-I-Akbari by Abul Fazal, Jahangir’s autobiography ‘Tuzuk-I-Jahangiri‘ are the important source of informations related to the Muslim period of Indian History.
2. Sanskrit Literature:–
The famous among the Sanskrit books are the four VEDAS. The Rigveda speaks about various tribes of Himalayan foothills about 1800 B.C. Besides this Purana, Brahminas, Aranyakas, Ramayana, Mahabharat also have reference about the Himalayan region. In secular Sanskrit Literature Panini’s ‘Ashtadhyayi‘, the ‘Raghuvansham‘ of Kalidasa, Vishakhadutta’s ‘Devichandra Guptam‘, ‘Mudrarakshasha‘, Kalhan’s ‘Rajtarangini‘ are very useful works, through light on the life of the people of this region.
3. Khalsa Literature:—
A fair amount of information is present in the SIKH historical and religious literature. The ‘Guru Granth Sahib‘ the holy scripture of the Sikhs, the ‘Bachitra Natak‘ of Guru Govind Singh, the ‘Janam Sakhis (biographies) of Sikh Gurus.
The amounts left by these foreign and domestic travellers are serving as very important source of information. HIUEN TSANG, the Chinese traveller left the reliable historical references about the Himalayan state, who visited India in 630 AD and remained till 648 AD. The KULUTA, JALANDHARA and SHRUGHNA states are mentioned by him. Among European travellers include William Finch and Thomas Coryat, who visited during the time of Aurangzeb. W. Moorcraft visited in 1820-22.
5. Vamhsavalis (Geneological rolls):—
The geneological rolls include the name of the rulers with tenure and various activities performed during that period. These rolls were prepared by the Rajgurus or Kulpurohits.