Chamoli district is the second largest district of Uttarakhand state of India.It is bounded by the Tibet region to the north, and by the Uttarakhand districts of Pithoragarh and Bageshwar to the east, Almora to the south, Garhwal to the southwest, Rudraprayag to the west, and Uttarkashi to the northwest. The administrative headquarters of the district is Gopeshwar.
Chamoli hosts a variety of destinations of pilgrim and tourists’ interest. Badrinath, Hemkund Sahib, Valley of Flowers and Auli. Chamoli also happened to be a birthplace of “Chipko movement”. Chamoli proved itself “the most spectacular in its natural assets; be it scenery, valley aspects, water-edges, floristic varieties, dramatic landform or the climatic cardinalities”. The district is also inhabited by Bhotiya ethnic group who adhere to Hinduism.
The region covered by the district of Chamoli forms part of the Pauri Garhwal district of the Kumaon till 1960. It occupies the northeastern corner of the Garhwal tract and lies in the central or mid-Himalayas in the very heart of the snowy range described in ancient books as Bahirgiri, one of the three divisions of the Himalayan mountains.
Chamoli, the district of “Garhwal’’ the land of forts. Today’s Garhwal was known as kedar-khand in the past. In puranas kedar-khand was said to be abode of God. It seems from the facts vedas puranas, Ramayna and Mahabharat that these Hindu scriptures are scripted in kedar-khand. It is believed that God Ganesha first script of vedas in Vayas gufa situated in the last village Mana only four km. from Badrinath.
According to Rigveda (1017–19) after Inundation (Jalprlya) Sapt-Rishis saved their lives in the same village Mana. Besides there the roots of vedic literature seems to be originated from Garhwal because the Garhwali language has a lot of words common with Sanskrit. The work place of vedic Rishis are the prominent pilgrim places in Garhwal specially in chamoli like Atrimuni Ashram in Anusuya about 25 km from chamoli town and work place of Kashyap Rishi at Gandhmadan parwat near Badrinath. According to Aadi-Puran, vedvyasa scripted the story of Mahabhrat in Vyas Gufa near Badrinath. Pandukeshwar, a small village situated on the Rishikesh Badrinath high-way from where Badrinath is just 25 km away is regarded as Tapsthali of king Pandu. In Kedar-khand Puran this land is regarded the land of lord Shiva.
The authentic script about the history of Garhwal is found only 6th AD onward. Some of the oldest examples of these are the trishul in Gopeshwar, lalitsur in Pandukeshwar. The Narvaman rock script in siroli the chand pur Gari rock script by king Kankpal authenticates the history and culture of Garhwal.
Some historians and scientists[who?] believe that this land is origin of Arya race. It is believed that about 300 BC, Khasa invaded Garhwal through Kashmir Nepal and Kuman. A conflict grew due to this invasion a conflict took place between these outsiders and natives. The natives for their protection built small forts called Garhi. Later on, Khasa defeated the native totally and captured the forts.
After Khasa, Kshatiya invaded this land and defeated Khasa accomplished their regime. They confined Garhwal of hundreds of Garhi in to fifty-two Garhi only. One kantura vashudev general of kshatriya established his regime on the northern border of garhwal and founded his capital in joshimath then Kartikeypur vashudev katyuri was the founder of katyura dynasty in Garhwal and they reign Garhwal over hundreds of years in this period of katyuri regime Aadi Sankaracharya visited garhwal and established Jyotrimath which is one of the four famous Peeths established by Aadi Sankaracharya. In Bharat varsh other these are Dwarika, Puri and Sringeri. He also reinstated idol of lord Badrinath in Badrinath, before this the idol of Badrinath was hidden in Narad-Kund by the fear of Budhas. After this ethicist of vaidic cult started to pilgrim Badrinath.
According to Pt. Harikrishna Raturi, king Bhanu pratap was the first ruler of Panwar dynasty in garhwal who founded chanpur-Garhi as his capital. This was is strongest Garh for the fifty-two garhs of garhwal.
The devastating earthquake of 8 September 1803 weakened the economic and administrative set-up of Garhwal state. Taking advantage of the situation, Gorkhas attacked Garhwal under the command of Amar Singh Thapa and Hastidal Chanturia. They established there reign over half of the Garhwal in 1804 up to 1815 this region remain under Gorkha rule.
Meanwhile the king of Panwar dynasty Raja Sudarshan Shah contacted east India Company and sought help. With the help of British he defected Gorkas and merged the eastern part of Alaknanda and Mandakini along with the capital srinagar in British Garhwal from that time this region was known as British Garhwal and the capital of Garhwal was set up at Tehri instead of Srinagar. In the beginning British ruler kept this area under Dehradun and Saharanpur. But later on the British established a new district in this area and named it Pauri. Today’s chamoli was a tehsil of the same. On 24 February 1960, tehsil Chamoli was upgraded to a new district. In October 1997 two complete tehsil and two other blocks (partially) of district chamoli were merged into a new formed district Rudraprayag.
Chamoli, carved as a separate revenue district in 1960 out of the erstwhile Grahwal district, lies in the Central Himalaya and constitutes a part of the celebrated ‘Kedar Kshetra’. The District Chamoli is surrounded by Uttarkashi in the northwest, Pithoragarh in the southwest, Almora in the southeast, Rudraprayag in the southwest and Tehri Grahwal in the west. The geographical area of the District is around 7520 km2.
Geology The geology of the region shows that the Himalayas are the young mountains in the world. During early Mesozoic times, or the secondary geological period, the land mass now covered by them was occupied by the great geosynclinal Tethys sea. The probable date of the commencement of the elevation of the Himalayas is about the close of the Mesozoic period, but the unraveling of the story of their structure has only just begin, and in many cases no dating of the rocks is yet possible, though they include ancient and relatively recent crystalline intrusive, rocks and sediments allied to the peninsular part of India. The section of the range in the district is deeply cut into by the headwaters of the Allaknanda river, this trunk stream seeming to have reached a latter stage of development than its tributaries. This much, however, is known that there has been intense metamorphosis. In some parts uplift has been considerable since the mid-pleistocene period, in others there are great stretches of high but subdued topography and elsewhere there are the deepest gorges. The direction of folding in these mountain masses is generally North to South. The geological feature of the district form two major divisions which lies North and south of an imaginary line extending east-southeast between the villages of Hilang in Joshimath and Loharkhet in the adjoining District of Pithoragarh. The Northern division, which is occupied by higher ranges and snow covered peaks consist entirely of medium to high grade metamorphic rocks and is intruded by later volcanic rocks. The Division to the South, occupied by ranges of lower altitude, consists essentially of sedimentary and low grade metamorphic rock also intruded by later volcanic rocks. Geologically very little is known of the first division which consists of rocks such as quartzites, marbles and various types of micaceous schists and gneisses which a few sporadic occurrences of garnet, graphite, iron, kyanite, mica and vein quartz. The division to the south of the imaginary line is better known geologically and consists of rocks such as gneisses, limestone, phyllites, quartzite, sericite-biotite schists and slates.
Minerals The minerals that are found in the district are the following-
Asbestos This is of the amosite variety and can be used for the production of asbestos, cement bricks, laboratory asbestos sheet and paper, but is not considered to be of economic importance.
Magnestic – This is of an average quality is crystalline in nature, and is found associated with crystalline dolomites and sometimes with soapstone. The Magnesium carbonate found here is also of average quality and its mineralisation has also been reported to occur in the district.
Soapstone or Steatite – This white saponaceous stone resembling pipe clay is obtained in as lenticular body and is associated with mineral pyrites, which adds a color to it, and in places with magnesite. it can be mined for use as filler in soap and in the cosmetic industries. In the past various utensils were made of it which, when polished, had the appearance of marble.
Copper – The copper mines in the district are extensive and of reputed during the period of Hindus and The Gorkhas rules. All the rich mines have since being exhausted and at present they do not offer a fair field for the employment of capital.
Iron – Small and sporadic occurrence of iron are known to occur in several parts of district but are of hardly any economic important. Iron ore, rich in haematite, and magnetic ore, with haematite and siderite, also occur in the district.
Graphite – In the past this mineral, also known as plumbago, found mostly in patti Lohba, was used as a dye but no large deposits have been noticed for a long time.
Gold – Although no gold mines has been discovered in the district, the sands of Alaknanda and the Pinddar are said to be auriferous to a limited extent.
Gypsum – This mineral is found on the bank of some river and was used in the past for the manufacture of saucers and bowls. when ground to a fine powder it is known as Plaster of Paris and can be used for a number of purposes.
Lead – Deposits of this metal were fairly numerous in the past but it is found in somewhat inaccessible places and has long since ceased to be worked.
Slate – This dense, fine grained metamorphic rock, which is produced from a fine clay, can be split into thin, smooth plates and is quarried throughout the district. It is suitable for roofing purposes, the thin dark blue slates being somewhat inferior in quality.
Limestone – By burning this mineral, lime is procured which can be used as mortar. There are two distinct ranges of lime stone hills in the district, the first, north of the Alaknanda in Nagpur, the second, running from Lohba patti to the Pinddar and again to the Alaknanda in patti Bacchansyun in district Garhwal. Reserves of dolomite exists in the district and tufaceous deposits are also found near several Nullahs.
Building Stone – Stone which can be used for building purposes is available in most parts of the district. Sand stone is found in abundance in the lower hills. Gneiss and chlorite schists which are available throughout the district are frequently used for building purposes.
Sulphur – This yellow mineral, also known as brimstone is found in the district as green sulphate of iron and is obtainable from iron pyrites and copper mines, its presence being characterised by a small as of rotten eggs. Sulphur springs also occur in many parts in the district.
Bitumen – The brownish white natural sulphate of alumina known as Shilajit is found in rocks at a fairly high altitude and occur in small lumps which generally have an admixture of red sand and micaceous stone embedded in them. It is used in Ayurvedic medicine and during the season when there is an influx of pilgrims, it fetches good income to those who deal in it.
Some other minerals found in the district are Antimony, Arsenic, Lignite or Brown Marble, Mica and silver.
Physiographically the district, which lies in a region of tectonic or folded and overthrust mountain chains, has strata are structurally marked by complex folds, reverse faults, overthrusts and nappes of great dimensions, all these as well as frequent earthquake of varying intensity give region to believe that the region is still unstable. Although any movement or tremor of the Earth’s crust in the district is not produced by volcanic activity, the Chaukhamba peak a pair to be the crater of an extinct volcano.