Uttarakhand > Uttarakhand History & Movements - उत्तराखण्ड का इतिहास एवं जन आन्दोलन

Excerpts from the History of Uttarakhand through Coins

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एम.एस. मेहता /M S Mehta 9910532720:


We are sharing here information about History of Uttarakhand Through coins compiled by Mr B C Joshi.

Excerpts from the history of Uttarakhand through coins  B. C. Joshi      My daughter has interest in collecting the coins. During my last visit to my village in Uttarakhand, she asked her grandmother if she has some old coins. My mother took out a hand made purse of olden days which itself looked like an antique piece. She gave her many coins. Some of them were very old and few of them didn’t even looked like a coin. I too was curious and she explained me that these coins were of ‘Gorkhiya Raj’ Then she narrated some ill famed incident told in folk songs of

I was even more curious and bought a book on history of Kumaon. Here are some excerpt from the history of Uttarakhand from Gorkha period onwards in chronological order viewed through the coins, i.e. History through coins that I want to share. (http://www.uttaranchal.org.uk/coinhistory.php)

Gurkha RuleGurkha Invasion:
      Gorkha army wedged war against Chand Kingdom in the early months of the year 1790, from ‘Kali Kumaon’ under the leadership of Chautariya Bahadur Shah, Kazi Jagjit Pandey, Amar Singh Thapa and Sur Singh Thapa. They were assisted by Pt. Harsh Dev Joshi. After a fierce battle, Gorkha’s succeeded in the war and captured Almora, the capitol of Kumaon on Chaitra Krishna Paksh Purnima (full moon) of samvat 1847 i.e. year 1790.

      Coin from Gorkha rule

      In 1803, Gorkhas took over Garhwal also. Gorkha warrior Subba Amar Singh, Hastidal Chautariya, Bamshah Chautariya and Ranjor Thapa commanded a huge army in the crusade against Gadhwal King Pradyumna Shah and his sons, Kuwar Parakrama Shah and Kuwar Pritam Shah. A 12,000 strong army fought with Gorkhas at the palce known as ‘Khurhbure’ where king Pradyumn Shah was killed. Gradually, Gorkhas captured Dehradoon, Saharanpur, Kangada and Shimla.

The writer can be contacted at highlanderbcj@yahoo.com
M S Mehta

एम.एस. मेहता /M S Mehta 9910532720:
Gurkha Tyranny:
      Gorkha dynasty was known to be very cruel. They introduced land tax @ Rs 1 per ‘beesi’ (20 nali cultivated land) and ‘Manga’ Tax @ Rs 1 per adult person. Rs 2 per family were charged as ‘Dhurahi-Pichahi’ tax. Also Rs 1.6 were taxed from every village as ‘Subangi Dastur’ to meet the expanses of administration. Brahamins were specially taxed Rs 5 per jyula of land and this tax was known as ‘Kushahi’.

      Undated coin from Gorkha rule
Cruel Gurkha Regime:
      Gorkhas is known as an evil administration. They used to horde thousand of people from all over Gadhwal and sold them at Gorkha Chauki, Haridwar. Adult men/women upto the age of 30 were sold for Rs 30 and Rs 10 respectively. For not paying money to Gorkha army officers, whole family was arrested and sold. Gorkhaali used to snatch anything they liked from common man. They would enter anybody’s house and house owner was asked to leave the place. Then they would loot the house and after looting they used to damage the property. Killing a human was as easy as killing a bird for them. It is said that once they introduced a new tax which was refused by the public. They called the ‘Pradhans’ of 1500 villages to explain the taxation system and killed them all to terrorise the public.

      The system of justice was very absurd and weird in Gorkha raj, rather there was no justice at all. During the court case hearings, if there were no witness, ‘Agni-Pariksha’ was carried out for the accused in following manner - Gola - Deep: The accused had to walk for some distance with a red hot iron bar in his hand. If he received burn injury, he was considered guilty.
 Taraju - Deep: The accused was weighed with stones and again he was weighed next day. He found heavier them previous day, he was considered innocent. Losing of weight means guilty.
 Kadai - Deep: Accused had to dip his hands in boiling oil. Guilty if received burn injuries else innocent.       According to Mr Trail, an expert historian of the period, there were some other ‘Agniparikshas’ also, such as, Drowning in the water till another person brought an arrow from some distance. Survival means innocent and if died by drowning, it showed he was guilty. Sometime accused was given poison to eat. If died - guilty, if survived - innocent.       The punishment was also very severe and inhuman. For cheating - death, for murder, death penalty by hanging on the tree. Similarly death penalty was there for killing the cow, touching the hukka of a Brahmin by a ‘shudra’ by chopping head. Sometime they amputed the limb of thieves and put salt and chilly power in the wound.       Finally, Gorkha regime ended in 1815 when Britishers fought a fierce battle and made them to run away from Uttarakhand.           

  Undated coin from Gorkha rule

एम.एस. मेहता /M S Mehta 9910532720:
British Rule      This is a 1840 coin of early British period in India. I found this 165 years old coin with other old coins in my ancestral home. One side of the coin depicts Queen Victoria and other side have moulded ‘East India Company’ and ‘Rupee One’ in it. This coin made me curious about British reaching uttarakhand hills and capturing it. While going through the history, I found following excerpts interesting to post here.

British Rule Excerpts:
      During 1787 to 1812, Gorkhas captured nearly 200 villages falling under company rule. Britishers argued with king of Nepal but to no avail. Finally in1814 an army of 8000 under Major Genera Marley attacked Kathmandu, 4000 army under Maj Gen Wood started operation from Gorakhapur and 3500 soldiers attempted to take over Dehradoon under the captaincy of Maj Gen Zileswy. Gorkha army of 300 – 400 in Dehradoon was led by Balbhadra Thapa. Gorkhas fought a fierce battle to crush the British army, which had to be reinforced to 5000, and cannons. Finally English army captured Dehradoon on 30 Nov 1814.

      Lord Hasting then diverted his attention towards Kumaon . He was aware of the Gorkhas misrule and agony of the common public. On 14th Dec 1914, Britishers distributed a declaration in general public that they are aware of the misdeed of Gorkha dynasty and hence they are against Gorkhas. They also humbly sought the support of kumaonis in their tyrest against Nepali rule. This trick succeeded and people tired of Gorkha misrule, took it as a golden opportunity to get free from their clutches. Britishers also invited Pt. Harsh Dev Joshi, a renowned politician of the these days to join them who in turn wrote to all kumaoni soldiers in Gorkha army to join English forces against Gorkhas. This proved very effective and almost all kumaoni soldiers left Gorkha army and joined company forces.

      On 11th Feb, 1815 Col. Gardner took command of the army and moved from Kashipur to conquer Kumaon. They moved ahead capturing the areas and reached Katarmal (Where there is a famous sun temple) on 28th.

      Another contingent of 1500 Soldiers under Capt Harishy marched towards Tamli fort in Kali Kumaon. Later, a fierce battle was fought under the command of Col Nicoles at Vinayathal where Gorkha commander Hastidal and Jayrakha were killed. Thereafter, they launched attack on Almora. The war ended under an agreement with Gorkha supreme commander Bamshah and thus, British rule started in hills.

      East IndiaCompany came to India in 1600 and how they spread the roots of British dynasty in India is known to all of us. Same East India company established a factory in Kashipur. Company officers visiting the hills gasped seeing the beauty of nature in this part of the earth. Mr Gatt in 1802, Mr Moorcraft and Capt Herishy and later Mr Gardner sent detailed report about the land, climate, scenic beauty, natural resources. Lord Moyara also sent a confidential report to company saying,”I see the natural beauty of Kumaon hills and Himalaya even in my dreams. I pray to almighty, let the day come sooner than later when this beautiful country will be ours”. Opposing Gorkha rule was only a pretext to capture this beautiful hilly terrain.


एम.एस. मेहता /M S Mehta 9910532720:
British Parliament before Independence of India:       India was ruled by the Britain for 132 years from 1815 to 1947 and governed through its bureaucracy in the name of King / Queen and British Parliament. The hierarchy of British rule in India was as shown.       The King was the emperor of over 600 native kings and called ‘Raj Rajeshwar’ in India. The Minister for India was the main administrator for the country and he was responsible for British Parliament and Public but not for Indian Public. This basic approach and system of governance gave them a free hand to do anything that favoured Britain irrespective of its repercussion on Indians. The currency was also British.             

A silver coin of 1906 with photo of King Edward the VII embossed in it       Mr. Gardner, who played an important role in winning the war against Gorkhas was made first Commission of Kurmanchal but transferred within six months. He was replaced by Mr. Trail. He was almost a dictator but just to some extent in his verdicts. He deep rooted the British rule in Uttarnchal during that initial period. He worked out a new theory of land ownership in Kumaon and it was “ The East India Company have sovereign rights over lands in Kumaon”.       

The state of Tehri Garhwal was however, handed over to King Sudarshan Shah in 1820. People in Kumaon also wanted the state governance back in the hands of native kings like Tehri Garhwal but Commission Trail strongly denied it. His stern and dictatorial attitude was given the name ‘Trailgardi’.       

        Silver coin of 1916 when Mr. Windhom (?) was the commissioner of Uttarakhand is displayed here. These coins have Rupee One India written in one side and bust of George–V King Emperor on other side.

एम.एस. मेहता /M S Mehta 9910532720:
 Mr Goin (Goyan?) became the Commissioner in 1831. In 1836, the slavery was abolished totally. Selling and buying of men and women was prohibited. Britishers had promised to Pt. Harsh Dev Joshi that prohibition on Cow slaughter would be continued but Commissioner Trail breached it. However, it was confined to cantonments but public of pahar agitated against it.

One Anna (Rupees ¼ ) coin of 1917 and 1936

      In 1987, Mr Bird was sent to examine the administration of Kumaon and Garhwal. In his report, he criticized the administration of Mr Trail and Mr. Goin.

                    Reverse side of the Anna with bust of Goerge–V King Emperor


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