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Jaunsar Bawar
About Jaunsar Bawar

Jaunsar-Bawar is a hilly region about 85 km from Mussoorie, in Chakrata tehsil, in Dehradun district; it represents the geographical region inhabited by the 'Jaunsari' tribe, which traces its origin from the Pandavas of Mahabharata.

Ethnically, Jaunsar-Bawar comprises two regions, inhabited by the two major tribes: 'Jaunsar', the lower half, while the snow-clad upper region is called 'Bawar', which includes, the 'Kharamba peak' (3084 mts.). Geographically adjacent, they are not very different from each other. The Bawar lies in the upper regions of the area, they are a unique tribal community because they have remained cut off from the external world for centuries, leading to the retention of their unique culture and traditions, which have attracted historians, anthropologist and studies in Ethno-Pharmacology to this region for over a century. The Jaunsaris with their facial features clearly distinguish from other people of Garhwal, living nearby.

Jaunsar-Bawar Region

The Jaunsar-Bawar region, is a tribal valley which spreads over an area of 1002 km˛ and 400 villages, between 77.45' and 78.7'20" East to 30.31' and 31.3'3" North. It is defined in the east, by the river Yamuna and by river Tons in the west, the northern part comprises Uttarkashi district, and some parts of Himachal Pradesh, the Dehradun tehsil forms its southern periphery.

Modes of livelihood in this region are animal husbandry and agriculture which in the upper region is mostly for self-sustenance, as merely 10 percent of cultivated area is irrigated. Milk, wool and meat are an integral part of the local economy. Jaunsar-Bawar is the place where even today people don't lock their houses and if somebody left behind in completing any farming activity then all the other villagers would help them.

History of Jaunsar Bawar

In 1829, Jaunsar-Bawar was incorporated in Chakrata tehsil, prior to which it had been a part of Punjab state of Sirmur, till the British defeated it along with Dehradun after the 1814 war with the Gurkhas.

Before the establishment of British Indian Army cantonment in 1866, the whole area was known as Jaunsar-Bawar, and the name continued to be in popular use for the region, till early 20th century. While western Hindi was popular in most of the neighbouting hill areas, 'Jaunsari' language, part of the Central Pahari languages was spoken by most of the people of the region.

Geography of Jaunsar Bawar

Traditionally, Jaunsar-Bawar region is known for its rich reserves of forested areas, in the high hills region, with trees of Pine, Deodar, and spruce, made for it becoming an important destination for the timber even during the British period, when the logs were rolled down the slopes and floated on Yamuna river to Delhi.


The culture of the local Jaunsari tribe is different from other hill tribes in Garhwal, Kumaon and Himachal Pradesh, a fact demonstrated by the presence of polygamy and polyandry in the local traditions, with richer tribesmen practicing polygamy, while their poor counterparts, choose to share a wife (polyandry), though the husbands should be brothers, a fact which is often connected to, the five Pandava brothers in the Mahabharata, marrying Draupadi, from whom Jaunsaries trace their ethnic origin. Though, anthropology studies in the 1990s revealed that these practises were fast phasing out, and is being replaced by monogamy and these practices do not exist now.

An important aspect of their culture are festive sports and dances like the folk dance named 'Barada Nati'/Harul/Raso/ during all festive occasions, like 'Magh Mela' which is the most important festival of the Jaunsaries. It is marked by an animal sacrifice ritual, which celebrates the killing of 'Maroj', an ogre, which according to local legends, stalked the valleys for years.

During festivals, people wear the Lohiya or Thalka, which is a long coat. The dancers - both boys and girls - wear colorful traditional costumes. Bissu is an important festival of Jaunsar-Bawar.

Villages of Jounsar

Bhanjra – Bhanjra is a small village which is about 30 km from Kalsi, and Kalsi is about 40 km from Dehradun: it comes under the Tehsil of Kalsi, Dehradun, Uttarakhand. The name of this village is derived from the name of the person Bija Bhakan, a thakut of Rana families of Himachal, Jaunsar and Babar. The residents and ruler of this village are connected with the Rana dynasty, and in their history they have close relations with rulers of Bhakanua (Himachal), Bastil and Makti (Jaunsar).

Binhar - Binhar is also a small village of Jaunsar Babar,it is situated about 80 km from Dehradun, now it a part of Kalsi tehsil and kath Lakhwar and a village of gram panchayat Bhagi. Sakni - Sakni is a village of jaunsar, near to 'Kalsi' tehsil. Sakni is situated near the 'Sahiya' which is about 9 kms from Sahiya. The total no. of families in Sakni is 20.

Kanbua is a village of Jounsar, near to Chakrata. Kanbua is situated on the top of a mountain, about 10 km from Sahiya, 29 km from Kalsi and 80 km from Dehradun district, Uttarakhand. The village is well-known for the temple of Shilgur-Bijat (Shiva-Vishnu). It is also famous for the sport game kabbadi. The total number of families in Kanbua is 25.


Jaunsar Bawar follows the dialect architecture components. Houses are generally built in stone and timber and roofed with slate tiles. It is usually a two or three storey structure with a linear arrangement of one to four rooms on each floor and is usually sited on a terraced piece of land along the contours of the hill. In many villages in Uttarakhand, due to low temperature range, the housing and other buildings of socio-cultural values are generally shaped like pagodas or have sloping roofs.

The common building material used under construction includes wood (generally deodar, due to its abundance and durability), plain stones and other locally available materials like stone slates and mud. One of the important aspects of architecture in the area is the wooden carvings and the slate laden gabled roofs.

As temple architecture commonly develops from the form of folk houses, the figure of a small temple is not so different from that of a folk house. Therefore, the oldest and simplest temple type in this region is a single storied structure covered with a gabled roof. Since the local deity is Lord Mahasu, most of the temples are dedicated to him. Most prominent temples include Mahasu Temple at Lakhwar, Mahasu Devta Temple at Hanol, Mahasu Temple at Lakhsiyar and newly constructed Mahasu Temple in Bisoi.



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