The Katyuri kings were a medieval Hindu Rajput's ruling clan of Khasha origin[note 1] from Joshimath that ruled over the regions in present day regions of Kumaon, Uttarakhand in India and parts of Doti/Sudurpashchim Province in Nepal from 700 to 1200 CE. The founder of this dynasty, King Vasu Dev was originally a Buddhist ruler, but later he started following Hindu practices sometimes attributed to a vigorous campaign of Hindu philosopher Adi Shankara (788–820 CE).
Karttikeyapur (Katyur) Kingdom
|700 CE–1065 CE|
|Capital||Joshimath later shifted to Baijnath, Uttarakhand|
|Common languages||Kumaoni, Sanskrit, Dotyali|
• 700–849 CE
• 850–870 CE
|Basantana Dev (founder of Baijnath)|
• 870–880 CE
• 955–970 CE
• brief period till 1065 CE
• Transfer of capital to Karttikeyapur, Baijnath
|Today part of||India|
King Bhu Dev was known for extensively eradicating Buddhist practices in his kingdom and the Bageshwar stone inscription of Bhu Dev writes himself as "Brahmana Parayana" and "Parama Shramana Rupu" meaning a follower of Brahmans and an arch rival of Buddhist Bhikshus. The Katyuri Kings were known for constructing several Hindu temples in present-day Uttarakhand as later they followed Brahminical practices.
After fragmentation and disestablishment of the Katyuri kingdoms, their offshoots rose as Askot Katyuri Paal Rajwar in Pithoragarh, another Katyuri Paal Doti Rainka in modern Doti district of Nepal, King Brahm Deo's branch state in Sui (Kaali Kumaon)(after whose name Brahmdeo Mandi of Nepal was founded), another Katyuri house at Baramandal, one of them maintained its sovereignty over Baijnath and finally one each Katyuri house in Dwarahat and Lakhanpur.
Most of the scholars agreed upon the Khasha origin of Katyuris. European and Chinese historians believe Katyuris to be natives of Kumaon such as E. T. Atkinson, in the first volume of his book Himalayan Gazetter, proposes the Katyuris to be natives of Kumaon, and traces their roots in the ruined town of Karvirpur on the bank of Gomati. However, historian Badri Datt Pandey proposed descent from Shalivahana ruling house of Ayodhya[note 2] while historian Price Powell claims their origin back to the Kunindas, having found coins from the Kuninda period (Kuninda Kingdom). However, both of the origin theories are seriously doubtful over various internal evidences that shows the Katyuris belonged to the Khasha people that entirely dominated the inner Himalayan belt upto Nepal. The rule of Kunindas were limited only to the foothill tracts and not in the interiors of Uttarakhand and the coins could have reached in the interiors by travel of traders and pilgrims. Another historian Rahul Sankrityayan traces their ancestry to Shakas and further identifies Khashas and Shakas to be a part of the same race. The Shakas were in India before the first century BCE while the Khashas spread over the Himalaya and extensively populated the mountainous regions of Uttarakhand and the later waves of Shakas got diffused into them. Previously, Khashas had strongly established themselves from Afghanistan to Nepal from ancient period and as per internal evidences, they managed the village level theocratic republics like Gram-Rajya and Mandals under various local clans and identities. Katyuri was one of the ruling houses of Joshimath that claimed the sovereignty over other Gram Rajyas of the entire territory. The Katyuris ruled from Joshimath in the Alaknanda Valley and later they shifted their capital to Baijnath.
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 Hindu practices. The Hindu practices of Katyuri kings in general is sometimes attributed to a vigorous campaign of Adi Shankara (788-820 CE).
Later they shifted their capital to Baijnath 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 dynasty of Kumaon extended from Sikkim in the east to Kabul, Afghanistan in the west, before fragmenting into numerous principalities by the 12th century. it is believed that from king Dham Deo and Vir Deo the downfall of this powerful dynasty began. Virdeo used to collect heavy taxes and forced his people to work as his slaves, King Virdeo teased his subjects by his tyranny to the extent that he forcibly married his own maternal aunt Tila (Tilottama Devi). It is said that the Kumaoni folk song "Mami tile dharo bola" became popular from that very day. After the death of king Virdeo a civil war among his sons started. Fierce fight took place among them. Whole of the kingdom was ruined. The people of this very family divided the whole kingdom among themselves, they declared themselves independent kings and established their own kingdoms in various parts of Kumaon,
King Brahmdeo of this family (after whose name Brahmdeo Mandi was founded) established his kingdom in Sui. His first fort lay in Sui and the Rawat king of Dumkot was under him. The second branch started ruling Doti. The third established itself at Askot. Fourth settled down at Baramandal. The fifth maintained its sovereignty over Baijnath and . The sixth branch ruled in Dwarahat, later they were displaced by Chand kings.
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 Sugauli in 1816. Doti, another branch of the Katyuri dynasty, came under Nepal through Gurkha expansion in 1790.
Later one more strong offshoot was Mahuli Mahson Raj, (Basti), Uttar Pradesh. The feudal kingdom stretched (47 kilometers) 14 kose. After Brahm Deo's reign the empire disintegrated, with his grandson Abhay Pal Dego continuing his reign from the kingdom of Askote in Kumaon's Pithoragarh district. Abhay Pal, Deo's two younger sons, Alakh Deo and Tilak Deo set out from Askote in 1305 with a large army and after passing through the Terai region and the plains of U.P, came to Gonda/Gorakhpur. This region was covered in thick jungles and swamps and was inhabited by fierce Bhar tribals. The Ghagra river in the south and Rapti river in the east protected the region from heavy attacks.
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 Uttarakhand are architectural contributions by the 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.