Gaddi Himachal - Life and History

Gaddi: Probably the Oldest Tribe of Himachal

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Gaddi are known to inhabit Brahmpur Village somewhere in the 12th Century and happen to be the most traditional communities of Western Himalaya Region. Here’s a friend sharing a story


Gaddis, as I could recall from my childhood memories, used to be our winter guests. As the winter wear started to comfort cold-suffering beings, clad in their typical-most attire, chola (a thick coat of wool tied at the waist with a rope belt), remembering their gaddans (wives) in their love songs, they approach the foothill areas including Kangra and Hamirpur districts of Himachal, driving their flocks of sheep and goat. And not to forget their dogs, gaddi kutte, who follow the flocks like shadow.


Gaddis have always been the mysterious people who were only seen in winters.  It was only when they started to rest their herds in our fields that I started to talk to them, which probably was the start of a bond that made me to wait for them in the winter months. Sleeping in their makeshift homes and eating their food (mostly dominated by goat dairy) brings out many fond memories.


Though I used to enjoy their company, little did I know visiting the foothills in winter is actually a tradition for this wonderful shepherd tribe which inhabits the terrains of the Dhaula Dhar and Pir Panjal ranges of Himachal Pradesh.


Gaddi History | Tribes of Himachal

Gaddi History

Sitting pretty in the Raavi Valley of Chamba District is the Gadderan territory, the enchanting homeland of Gaddis. Brahmpur and Chitrari were the Himalayan regions that probably stood witness to the evolution of Gaddi tribe. Brahmpur, as historians describe, used to be a mystic, peaceful and sleepy village which was happy in his own way of life, unmindful of ages-old temples and hoary past. The beautiful multi-storeyed wooden houses standing on the thatharas and farque walls hold in itself the yesterday glory evident in each stone and wood, which build the Chaurasi Complex. The Chaurasi Complex was named after the Eighty Four Siddhas (devotional land) including the famous Mani Mahesh Temple.

Gaddi Way of Life - Shepherd Dog Tribes of Himachal - Gaddi Community in Chamba shutterstock_175403918

There are four different theories about the origin of Gaddis and their migration to Brahmpur (Chamba).

  1. The earliest account of Gaddi migration came during the reign of Meruvarman, ca. 680 A.D, who needed Brahman priests for the new temples he had erected. The earliest immigrants belonged to the Gautam gotra, closely followed by a family of Sarswat Brahmans of Bhumipal gotra, emigrating from near Bhopal.”
  2. According to second theory, Gaddis have been evolved from some clans of Rajputs and Brahmans who found their home in the upper Ravi Valley during the regime of Ajayvarman (ca. AD 760-780) in the AD eight century.
  3. Third theory which is alive in folklores as “Ujreya Lahore, te baseya Bharmaur” (As the Lahore ruined, inhabited Bharmaur). The folklore hints the destruction of Lahore probably by the Muslim invasion. It is also believed that some Khatri and Rajputs may also have moved to Brahmpur during the reign of Aurangzeb.
  4. According to the last theory, the Yamuna zone of Punjab used to be inhabited by a shepherd and goatherd community, Gadaria (referred to as Kambalia, derived from the word Kambal, blanket in English, later on as they adopted weaving blankets as their new profession). As the word lives, there may also have existed a Hindu Gaddi Community among the Sainis and Muslim Gaddis.