Jaunsar-Bawar is a hilly region, 85 km from State capital of Uttrakhand, 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 predominant 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 light eyes, fair skin and facial features clearly distinguish from other people of Garhwal, living close by.
The Jaunsar-Bawar region, spreads over 285440 Acres and 359 revenue villages, and lies between 77.45′ and 78.7 East to 30.31′ and 31.3 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 forms its southern periphery.
Historical Background Little is known about the prehistoric settlement in this region. The whole of the tract was covered by dense forests and virgin pastures at the period far beyond the reach of human reckoning. It was included in Kedarkhand through which the five Pandavas with Draupadi passed on their way to the inner recesses of the snowy Himalayaa (the peak of Mahapanth). There are many evidences of Mahabharat period in the name of villages social custum of the people and their Gods and Shrines. The temple of Lakhamandal and Hanol have similar legends. The first settlers of this tract were the early swarm of Aryans whose descendants are the present Khasas. They came through the foot-hills of the Hindu-kush, Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. They started cultivation after clearing the forests and left poorer land as pastures. The most rudimentary type of cultivation coupled with hunting pastoralism, was practised at that time. It seems that they picked their permanent fields after year of trial and error.
The early history of this tract can be traced from 3rd century B.C. when King Ashoka erected a rock edict on the right bank of the river Yamuna (near Kalsi). This rock edict is believed to be the boundary marked between the dominions of the Scythian Nagas of the hills and the Rajas of the plain. A mound near Haripur is said to cover the grave of Raja Rasalu, the son of the SeythianSalivahan, founder of Sialkot and the reputed ancestor of the kings of Garhwal and Katyur.
During the Middle Ages Chakrata region constituted the part of the princedom of the Rajas of Sirmur and Nahan estate. The first written record of history of the region is available after the death of Raja Kineth Singh of Sirmur in 1775, when KurnPrukash, his son, succeeded to the throne. Later, it was conquered by the Gurkhas in 1804 and again by the British in 1815, under which it remained till 1947. In 1825 this tract was merged to Dehradun district and its administrative structure was based on Dastur-ul-amal (local code of common law) drawn up by the Sayanas (village headman) under the supervision of Ross and Robertson. It was a backward and scheduled District Act of 1874, and later under the Govt. of India Act of 1935, it became a partially excluded area. It was only after the adoption of the constitution of India in 1950 that it came under direct government control as one of the tehsil of Uttar Pradesh, now in Uttarakhand.
For administrative purposes tehsil Chakrata has been divided in to 39 collection of villages known as Khats (hill sector) under the recognised headman called as SadarSyana. The four most influential Sayanas of this tehsil are known as Chauntras who constitute a senate called Chauntroo. After the implementation of U.P. Panchayat Raj Act 1951, all the rights of Sayanas and Chauntras have been abolished, though they still have considerable influence on the village organisation.
Culture The culture of the local Jaunsari tribe is distinct from other hill tribes in Garhwal, Kumaon and Himachal Pradesh, a fact demonstrated by the presence of polygamy and polyandry in the local traditions. 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 named BaradaNati/ Harul/ Raso/ during all festive occasions, like Magh Mela which is the most important festival of the Jaunsari 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.