Chand Kings

Chand Kings

Chand Kings (चंद नरेश) were a medieval "Somavanshi" Rajput ruling clan of Kumaon region of the Uttarakhand state of India, which ruled the region after the decline of Katyuri Kings in 11th century AD., and continued till the rise of the British in 18th century.



The Chand kingdom was established by "Som Chand", who came here from "Jhusi" near Allahabad, sometime in the 10th century , and displaced the Katyuri Kings (कत्यूरी नरेश), originally from Katyur valley near Joshimath, who had been ruling the area from 7th century AD. He continued to call his state Kurmanchal, and established its capital in Champawat in Kali Kumaon, called so, due to its vicinity to river Kali. Many temples built in this former capital city, during the 11th and 12th century exist today, this include the Baleshwar and Nagnath temples. .

Later their capital was shifted to Almora by "Raja Kalyan Chand" in 1563, when he laid the foundation of a town name 'Alam Nagar', which was also called, 'Rajapur' [ [ History of Almora city] ] [ Champawat] British Library.] , a name that still used and has been found inscribed on a number of copper plates of the time [ [ Kumaon] Official website of Almora district. ] .

Mughal historians mention that Chand ruler, "Gyan Chand", visited Delhi Sultanate and received the regions of Bhabhar- Terai up to the Ganga as a grant from then Sultan. The lower hills remained under local chieftains; it was "Kirti Chand" (1488-1503), who first ruled the entire of Nainital district, along with the rest of Kumaon.

In 1581, the Chand King, "Rudra Chand" (1565-1597), son of Raja Kalyan Chand, attacked the Garhwal Kingdom for the first time, though this attack was repulsed by then king, Dularam Sah [ [ Garhwal history] ] , and so were his subsequent attacks. Rudra Chandra was a contemporary of Akbar, and even paid him a visit in Lahore in 1587, as a mark of his obeisance. Akbarnama mentions him as "one of the great landlords of India", and further talks about about his initial hestitation in approaching the court of Akbqr, it was only Raja Todar Mal himself, sent his son Kalyan Das to assure him, did his proceed to meet Akbar. Subsequently, the two met and agreed on a concord [ [ Rudra] Akbarnama of Abu Fazl, Volume 3, chpt. 196.p807, "On 9 Āẓar he received the felcity..."1588] , and thus Ain-e-Akbari, written during period of Akbar, also mentions the "Sarkar of Kumaon", containing 21 Mahals (a geographical unit of the times) and the revenue collected [ [ Sarkár of Kumáon] Ain-e-Akbari Vol II, pp. 289.] .

After death of Rudra Chand in 1597, his son, "Lakshmi Chand", also continued attacks of Garhwal for many years, though he too was repulsed. He also constructed the ‘Bagnath temple’ at Bageshwar in 1602 [ [ Bageshwar] ] .


One of most powerful ruler of Chand dynasty was "Baz Bahadur" (1638-78) AD., who met Shahjahan in Delhi, and in 1655 joined forces with him to attack Garhwal, which was under its king, Pirthi Sah, and subsequently captured the Terai region including Dehradun, which was hence separated from the Garhwal kingdom.

In 1672, Baz Bahadur, started a poll tax, and its revenue was sent to Delhi as a tribute. "Baz Bahadur" also built the Golu Devata Temple, at "Ghorakhal", near Bhimtal [ of Nainital District] The Imperial Gazetteer of India 1909, v. 18, p. 324-325.] , after Lord Golu, a general in his army, who died valiantly at war [ [ Chitai Temple] ] . He also built famous Bhimeshwara Mahadev Temple at Bhimtal [ [ Bhimtal] British Library.] .

Towards the end of 1600s, Chand Rajas again attacked Garhwal kingdom, and in 1688, "Udyot Chand", erected several temples at Almora, including Tripur Sundari, Udyot Chandeshwer and Parbateshwer, to mark his victory over Garhwal and Doti, the Pabateshwar temple was renamed twice, to become the present Nanda Devi temple [ Almora Temples] ] . Later, "Jagat Chand" (1708-20), defeated the Raja of Garhwal and pushed him away from Srinagar, and his kingdom was given to a Brahmin [ [ of Garhwal District] The Imperial Gazetteer of India 1909, v. 12, p. 165-166. ] . However, a subsequent king of Garhwal, "Pradip Shah" (1717-72), regained control over Garhwal and retained Doon till 1757, when Rohilla leader, "Najib-ul-Daula", established himself there, though he was ousted soon by Pradip Shah.

The Chand kings also defeated the Rajwars of Askot, though the latter were allowed to hold their land on the payment of a tribute [ [] The Imperial Gazetteer of India 1909, v. 6, p. 14. ] .

The hill station of Binsar, 30 km from Almora was summer retreat of the Chand kings [ [ Almora] Almora city official website. ] .

In the coming years, Jagat Chand’s successor, "Debi Chand" (1720-6) took part in the wars of Rohillas of Rohilkhand, and was defeated the British troops .


In 1744, Ali Mohammed Khan, the Rohilla leader, sent a force into the Chand territory and penetrated through Bhimtal in the Nainital district to Almora; the resistance of Chand army, under its ruler, "Kalyan Chand", was weak and ineffective, and Almora fell to the Rohillas, who stayed here for seven short months, though they were ultimately driven out, an exit made possible by paying them a sum of three lakh rupees, and hastened by the harsh terrain of the region.

This peace didn’t last long as after just three months, unhappy over his lieutenants, Ali Mohammed Khan attacked again, though this time, he was stopped right at the entrance to the hills, at "Barakheri", and defeated; and he made no further attempts to conquer the Kumaon kingdom, nor did the Muslim rulers of Delhi, and this remained the first and the last attack by Muslim rulers on the region. Reconciliation subsequently came into effected; troops from the hills, under "Dip Chand", fought side by side with the Rohillas at Third Battle of Panipat in 1761 .

In 1760, he renamed the old Parbateshwer temple as Dipchandeshwar temple

During British rule, then divisional commissioner of Kumaon, George William Trail, got the statue of the Nanda Devi, was relocated at ‘Udyot Chandeshwar’ temple, from the 'Malla Mahal' (Upper Court) of Chand kings, where present collectorate exists, and in time, the temple started being called the ‘Nanda Devi temple’. The 'Talla Mahal' (Lower Court) of Chand rulers, now houses the District Hospital [. [ Devi Temple Nanda Devi Temple] website of Almora city.] .

Though due to internal strife, in the coming thirty years the kings lost most of the land they had previously ruled, in the plains, and retained only the Bhabhar region.

In 1779, a subsequent Garhwal king, "Lalit Shah", who also captured the Kumaon region from a usurper, who was then ruling Kumaon. Lalit Shah made his son "Parduman Shah", the king of the Kumaon territory, and after a few years, on the death of his brother in Srinagar, Parduman Shah even held the seat of a combined kingdom of Kumaon and Garhwal for a year, before choosing to go back to Srinagar, in the familiar grounds of Garhwal.

In early 1790, the Gurkhas invaded the Kumaon hills and Almora, under their powerful chief ‘Prithvi Narayan’; they advanced by crossing River Kali, through Gangoli; and the Chands, under the titular Chand Raja, were driven to the Bhabhar and finally expelled.

The Tarai and Kashipur were ceded to the British by the Nawab of Awadh in 1801, along with the rest of Rohilkhand.

The Nepalese rule last for a ruthless [ [ Cruel Gurkha Regime]] twenty-four years, the end came because of their repeated intrusion into the British territories in the Tarai since early 1800, which Lord Moira , the Governor-General of India, deciding to attack Almora in December 1814, which marked the beginning of the Anglo-Nepalese War . After the war, the old Lal Mandi fort, near Almora (present cantonment), was renamed ‘Fort Moira’ [ [ Almora] British Library. ] .

"Harak Deo Joshi", the minister of the last Chand Raja, took the side of the British, a force of 4500 men marched from Kashipur in February, 1815. Champawat was first taken in March from Pilibhit side through Kali river, and within two months, a strong British army under Colonel Nichols, attacked and captured Almora, on April 26, 1815, [ [ of Almora District] The Imperial Gazetteer of India 1909, v. 5, p. 245-246.] . Truce was called the same day, and with the ratification of Treaty of Sugauli on 4 March 1816, Kumaon and Garhwal, thus became a British territory.


The first capital of Chand rulers, Champawat, in the stronghold popularly known as Kali Kumaon, is now a district headquarter town, and hold many remnants of once powerful Chand reign, including a medieval fort, Baleshwar temple, Nagnath Temple, etc. Other temples of their reign are Golu Devata Temple, at "Ghorakhal", near Bhimtal, and Bhimeshwara Mahadev Temple at Bhimtal.


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