Kindom of Kurmanchal (Katyur)
|700 CE.-1200 CE.|
|Common languages||Kumaoni, Sanskrit|
|Today part of||India Afghanistan|
The Katyuri kings were a medieval ruling clan of present-day Uttarakhand, India. They ruled over the region now known as Kumaon from 700 to 1200 CE. They called their state Kurmanchal, the land of Kurma, the second avatar of Vishnu, from which the present name is derived. Their capital was Kartripura.
There have been numerous different claims of origin back to the Kunindas, having found coins from the Kuninda period (Kuninda Kingdom). Rahul Sankrityayan traces their ancestry to Sakas, who were in India before the first century BCE; he further identifies these Shakas with the Khashas. E. T. Atkinson, in the first volume of his book Himalayan Gazetter, proposes that the Katyuris may have been natives of Kumaon, and had roots in the then ruined town of Karvirpur on the bank of Gomati.
This fact is, however, contested by various historians, including Badri Dutt Pandey, who, in his book History of Kumaon, states the Katyuris to be descendants of the Shalivahan ruling house from Ayodhya. Pandey states the Khasas to be the original inhabitants of these Himalayan areas, who settled here before the composition of the Vedas, and the Katyuris to have conquered them, and established their Kingdom.
The Katyuri dynasty was founded by Vashudev Katyuri (sometimes spelled Vasu Dev or Basu Dev); the ancient Basdeo temple in the city - the oldest stone temple in Uttarakhand - is attributed to him. His reign is most commonly believed to be from 850 to 870 CE. The Kingdom was then named Jyotiryana, and had its capital at Joshimath in the Alaknanda Valley. Vasu Dev was of Buddhist origin, but later started following Brahminical practices. The brahminical practices of Katyuri kings in general is sometimes attributed to a vigorous campaign of Adi Shankara (788-820 CE).
Originally from Joshimath, during their reign they dominated lands of varying extent from the "Katyur" (modern-day Baijnath) valley in Kumaon, between 7th and 11th centuries C.E., and established their capital at Baijnath in Bageshwar district; which was then known as Kartikeyapura and lies in the centre of "Katyur" valley. Brahmadev mandi (a trading and business center in a flat area of the then Katyuri kingdom) in the Kanchanpur District of Nepal was established by Katyuris king Brahma Deo (Brahma Dev). Brahmadeo Mandi still exists by this name.
At its peak, the Katyuri kingdom extended from Nepal in the east to Kabul, Afghanistan in the west, before fragmenting into numerous principalities by the 12th century. They were displaced by the Chand Kings in the 11th century AD. Oppressive rule by Bira Dev was one of the reasons for the end of Katyuri dynasty. He used to collect heavy taxes and forced his people to work as his slaves, which led to unpopularity and revolt after his death.
The Rajwar dynasty of Askot in Pithoragarh, was set up in the 1279 AD, by a branch of the Katyuri Kings, headed by Abhay Pal Deo, who was the grandson of Katyuri king, Brahm Deo. The dynasty ruled the region until it became part of the British Raj through the treaty of Sighauli in 1816.
The period of certain Katyuri rulers, is generally determined as below, although there is some ambiguity in respect to exact number of years ruled by each King.
The Katyuri Kings were known for constructing several temples in present-day Uttarakhand and they followed Brahminical practices. Most of the ancient temples in the present-day Uttarakhand are the result of architectural contribution by Katyuri dynasty. Vasu Dev temple at Joshimath, several shelters and small shrines along the route to Badrinath, as well as the Lakulesha, Mahishasuramardhini, Navadurga and Nataraja temples at Jageshwar were constructed by Katyuri Kings. Bhuv Dev (955-970) was follower of Brahminical practices and built several temples at Baijnath and Bageshwar, but the structures are lost and tradition continues. A relatively rare Surya temple, is located at Katarmal, now a remote village near Kosi, which was built by Katarmalla, a lesser known Katyuri ruler and the temple has 44 carved temples around the main temple, but is in a state of neglect after the theft of an important idol. The Katyuri Kings also build a temple known as Manila Devi near Sainamanur.