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An Introduction
By Lt Col B.K.Nautiyal (Retd.)

The history of "Nautiyals” begins from the city of "Dharanagri” in the ancient kingdom of "Dhar Malwa”. "Dhar Malwa” in central India was once upon a time the kingdom of Raja Bhoj, and “Dharanagari” was its capital city. "Dharanagri” is known by the name of Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh now, and it is also a place of Hindu religious significance today. In the ninth century the kingdom was ruled by the "Panwar” dynasty, and "Nautiyals”- by whichever name they may have been known then - were the "Raj Purohits” of the "Raja”. 

Nautiyals are "Aadya Gaur Brahmins” of "Bharadwaj Gotra”. In those days Brahmins did not have surnames like "Bajpai”, "Dubey”, "Misra” or "Nautiyal”, but were addressed by their first name and "Gotra”. "Nautiyals” in general therefore, might have been known as "Bharadwaj Brahmins”, and individually know by their first name and "Gotra" e.g., "Vishnu, Bhardwaj Pandit”, and perhaps the "Raj Gurus” or " Raj Purohits” by some status name. In Tehri state for instance, which was the last independent state of Garhwal, "Nautiyals” were commonly addressed as "Guruji” till only a few decades back.

Sometimes in the year 887 or 888 AD the younger brother of the ruler of "Dhar Malwa”, Prince Kanakpal, was married to the daughter of Raja Bhanu Pratap, the king of Garhwal. Raja Bhanu Pratap was old and he had no son, so while going on a pilgrimage to Badrinath with his wife, he left the rule of his kingdom in the hands of his son-in-law. During the long and arduous journey he fell ill and died. The kingdom of Garhwal thus came under the rule of Panwar dynasty. 

Garhwal was a small state in those days in the interior of today's Garhwal, which was perhaps limited to the area comprising the present districts of Chamoli and Rudraprayag, and may be upto Srinagar. Its capital was"Chandpur Garhi”. This capital was located between Karnprayag and Gairsain in District Chamoli, at a place close to Aadi Badri. The ruins of "Chandpur Garhi” can be seen even today.

When Kanakpal became the de-facto ruler of Garhwal in the year 888 AD, he brought in a member of the "Raj Purohit” family from "Dharanagri” and installed him as his "Raj Purohit” in Garhwal, and thus the first "Nautiyal” arrived in Garhwal. According to Pandit Harikrishna Raturi in his book "Garhwal ka Itihas” (published in 1928) the first of the clan to arrive in Garhwal was "Devidas Neelkanth ji”.

Origin of "Nautiyal” Name

In those days the names of the various "Rajwadas” or kingdoms in India were quite different from what the States are known as today, e.g., Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh etc, and their boundaries too were quite different from those of the States today. Because Ujjain is located in Madhya Pradesh and lies near the boundaries of Gujarat and Rajasthan, some people mistakenly believe the origin of "Nautiyals” to be from Gujarat of today. Some decades- or perhaps centuries- after their arrival in Garhwal, the "Raj Purohit” clan was settled on a hillside close to and overlooking the capital "Chandpur Garhi”, in a place called "Nauti”.  From the name of that place the "Bharadwaj Brahmins” of  "Dharanagri” came to be know by the surname of "Nautiyal”, meaning 'belonging to Nauti’ or 'of Nauti’ in the Garhwali dialect of that period.

Brahmin Settlements 

Over the years after the arrival of the "Raj Purohit” clan from "Dharanagri” their relations and other Brahmin clans from that area too came to Garhwal. The "Raj Purohits” of Raja Bhanu Pratap, and their related clans were already living in Garhwal. In addition, some other Brahmin clans such as "Dimris” came along with Shankaracharya from Karnatak, when he was establishing the Badrinath / Kedarnath temples. All these Brahmin clans were settled on the hills around Chandpur Garhi in "Maithana”, "Khandura”, "Ratura”,  "Thapli”, "Chamola”, "Sema”, "Lakheri”, "Gairoli”, "Sirguro”, "Koti”, and "Dimmar”. These twelve Brahmin villages including "Nauti”, located around "Chandpur Garhi”, became known as "Bara Than”, perhaps meaning ‘barah sthan’ or twelve places, and the clans inhabiting them became collectively known as "Serula Brahmins”. It is likely that they were the only Brahmins in the small kingdom of Garhwal of that time, or may be, in the extremely caste-conscious Hindu society of those days they were the only verified ones. The Raja partook of food cooked only by these castes.

Nautiyal” Settlements Outside “Nauti

Before the arrival of Kanakpal, Garhwal was a small kingdom, and beyond its boundaries the rule of small tribal chieftains prevailed. During the rule of Panwars - the descendants of Kanakpal - the territory under the small chieftains kept being assimilated into the kingdom of Garhwal, and its boundaries kept expanding. Thus a time came when "Chandpur Garhi”, the capital, became a corner of the expanded kingdom, and it became imperative to shift the capital somewhere in the center of the expanded kingdom. Accordingly, in 1517 the capital of Garhwal was shifted from "Chandpur Garhi” and established at Srinagar on the East bank of Alaknanda river. 

With the move of the Raja to Srinagar the "Raj Purohit” too moved with him. The custom in those days was that the eldest son of the "Raj Purohit” succeeded him as "Raj Purohit” automatically. Accordingly, Devidatt ji, the eldest son of Raghunath ji, came to Srinagar from Nauti as a "Raj Purohit” and settled there. For about two hundred and eighty two years the capital of Garhwal remained at Srinagar. During this period the descendants of Devidatt ji, as also perhaps some others of the clan from "Nauti”, settled   in Srinagar and on the nearby hills   e.g., "Girgaon”, "Masan Gaon”, Nautiyal Gaon” etc.

Gorkha Invasion of Garhwal

In 1803 AD Gorkhas from Nepal invaded the kingdom of Garhwal. The Raja's army could not repulse the sudden invasion and the Raja was forced to abandon Srinagar and retreat across to the West bank of the Alaknanda River. After repeated defeats at several places Raja Pradyumna Shah (the ruling clan of Panwars had been bestowed with the title of ‘Shahs’ by the Muslim rulers, by which title they became known thereafter) had to finally withdraw to the Doon valley. With the help of local chieftains of Saharanpur and surrounding areas, he raised a fresh army, and in 1804 fought the historic battle with the Gorkhas at Khurbura in DehraDun, where he was killed. Over the next few years when the treasury of the kingdom had exhausted in raising armies and fighting the Gorkhas, his son Raja Sudarshan Shah eventually had to ask for military help from the British. With their help the Gorkha rule was finally brought to an end in 1815 AD. The British military help, however, came with a price. The Raja had to cede half of his kingdom to the British, and thus the kingdom of Garhwal East of Alaknanda/Mandakini Rivers including Srinagar and Chandpur Garhi, and also the Haridwar-Dehradun valley, came under the British rule, while the land West of the Alaknanda/Mandakini Rivers, less the Doon valley, was left as the Raja's kingdom. Garhwal was thus divided into "Tehri Garhwal” and "British Garhwal”- better known as "Pauri Garhwal”- under British rule. Tehri became the new capital of the Raja's kingdom.

During this period of upheaval the Raj Purohit kept moving along with the Raja. A number of other Nautiyal families too came down from the hills to the plains and settled in Rishikesh, Dehradun, Jaunsar, and Nahan etc. The Raj Purohit family finally moved with the Raja to Tehri. 


There is no record of the number of generations of Nautiyals that settled in Garhwal since Devidas Neelkanth ji's arrival. However records of the Panwar ruling dynasty of Garhwal are available- though not wholly accurate-, which accounts for 60 or 65 generations of Panwars since the arrival of Kanakpal. Assuming that some Rajas may not have been direct descendents, and therefore catering for a ten percent margin for such cases, it would account for 54 to 59 generations. This would suggest that there should be 54 to 59 generations of Nautiyals too in Garhwal. The genealogical records available from Nauti however, account for only 13 generations of Nautiyals to date, and there is only a mention of four earlier generations, taking the total to a maximum of 17 generations. The record of 13 generations accounts for almost all Nautiyals of Nauti and a few villages surrounding it. A limited record from Tehri also accounts for only 13 generations who migrated from Srinagar and surrounding villages. From all this it may be inferred that Nautiyals settled in Nauti only 13, or at most 17 generations back. Where the earlier 45 or so generations settle is not known, and this needs further research. They would be easily identifiable even by any other name if they had settled in Garhwal earlier than Nauti, but that is not so. It is therefore possible that the earliest generations did not settle in Garhwal but went back to Dharanagri, or settled in the surrounding plains of U.P., Punjab, or Haryana. This seems quite likely as born out by the fact that the ruling clans of Panwars are even fewer in numbers in Garhwal than Nautiyals. They seem to have kept migrating from Garhwal to U.P., Haryana, and Punjab, where the clan is known by various names such as Panwars, Parmars, Parihar or Pawars, etc. The Raja of Garhwal was given the title of "Shah” by the Lodi rulers in the 16th century, by which name his descendants are still known e.g., Shri Manavendra Shah, our present Member of Parliament from Tehri, who is roughly the 54th or 59th descendant of Kanakpal. Whatever may have happened, the fact is that today a genealogical record of only 13 generations of Nautiyals exists. (See the "Vanshavalis” / Family Trees for details).

According to Pandit Harikrishna Raturi of Tehri in his book "Garhwal ka Itihas”, there are six sub-castes of Nautiyals. They are: -

1. Dhangan 
2. Palyal 
3. Manjkhola 
4. Gajaldi 
5. Chandpuri 
6. Bausoli 

Very little is heard of these sub-casts now except for "Manjkholas”. It would be interesting to know how these sub-casts came about and whether any of these were the earlier names of Nautiyals, prior to settling in Nauti. 

Features and Traits

There are no distinctive common features in the Nautiyals of today by which they might generally be identified, because time and evolution has blurred whatever distinctiveness there may have been. However, it is seen that some common features and traits in Nautiyal clans from different generation, different families, in widely separate settlements do keep showing up from time to time. These commonalties may throw some light on the features and traits of the ancestors of the clan. These features and traits are more discernible in Nautiyals of Nauti and the nearby settlements. It appears that the earlier generation who came from Dharanagri were relatively tall as compared to other hill folk. They had a wheatish complexion and a well-proportioned body. Their face was long with a squarish jaw, a broad forehead, high cheekbones, and long nose with sharp ridge. They were intelligent of mind, and possessed a sincere and conscientious disposition. They were generally reserved in nature and yet quite sociable. They seemed more involved with the administration of the State and in the field of learning and education. It seems unlikely that they performed much Brahmanic religious duties. 

Distinguished Members

Nautiyals have done well in almost all fields, and earned a name for themselves. Shri Surendra Dutt Nautiyal (Girgaon) was the first law graduate among Nautiyals and the third among Garhwalis. He did his B.A., LL.B. from Allahabad University in 1914. Due to his ability he rose to become the Chief Justice in Tehri State. Shri Leela Nand Nautiyal (Srinagar) did his graduation from Banaras Hindu University in 1916, and went on to become a prominent name among the educationalists of his time in United Provinces (comprising the present States of Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal). In 1946-47 he was appointed Inspector of Schools. He retired from service in 1947 as college principal. Shri Ravi Dutt Nautiyal (Nauti) was the first educationalist among Nautiyals of Nauti, who become Sub Deputy Inspector of school in 1925-30. Shri Bisheshwar Datt Nautiyal (Sidhauli/ Dehradun) was the first among Nautiyals to become an Executive Engineer in the PWD in 1949. He did his Civil Engineering from Thompson Engineering College, Roorkee (Now I.I.T. Roorkee), where he stood fourth in his class. For his outstanding service he was bestowed the title of "Rai Sahib" by the British Government in 1945. 
Shri Suresha Nand Nautiyal (Nauti/ Hailuri) was the first direct Gazetted officer among Nautiyals of Nauti. After graduating in science from Allahabad University in 1918 he appeared and qualified in both the Provincial Services examination of U.P. as also in the Forest Service examination. He chose Forest Service, and after graduating from the State Forest Service College (later designated the Forest Research Institute) Dehradun in 1924, was appointed Assistant Conservator of Forests. After retirement from Forest Service as D.C. Forests in 1949, he was appointed General Manager of the Indian Turpentine, Rosin & Indian Bobbin Company, Bareilly, from where he retired in 1954.

Dr. Dharmanad  Nautiyal (Tehri)was the first MBBS doctor among Nautiyals. He was an eminent physician of his time in Garhwal. He was a graduate of King George's Medical College of 1924 batch and a Gold Medallist of his MBBS class. Among journalists and writers the name of Shri Govind Prasad Nautiyal (Nauti/ Nandprayag) is prominent. He has written a number of essays and articles on the shrines of Garhwal and was also an active correspondent and contributor to several English language newspapers and magazines. Dr. Nand Kishore Nautiyal (Nauti) was among the first Nautiyals to graduate in Veterinary Science in 1936, and the first Nautiyal from Nauti to become a Government Veterinary Doctor.

It is important to mention here that in today's context, being a veterinary doctor or a Sub Deputy Inspector of Schools may sound insignificant, but in the 20's and 40's when almost all gazetted posts in the Government were held by the British such achievements as above were commendable for an Indian, and, positively remarkable for Garhwalis. Very few Garhwalis could afford good education, and fewer still were able to rise to these levels of achievement in that era. 

The name of Shri Dev Ram Nautiyal(Nauti / Karnprayag) stands out prominently for his untiring work of over 40 years in the cause of the world famous "Nanda Devi Raj Jaat”. This traditional "Jaat”or "yatra” of Garhwal starts from the Nanda Devi temple at Nauti village once every 12 years. This pilgrimage was started from the time of Raja Kanakpal in which the Raja and his Raj Purohits took part. It is covered barefoot by the devout, over a distance of 180 KMs and over heights of17,500 ft, to the Nanda Devi mountain.  It culminates back at Nanda Devi temple at Nauti after 9 days.  Nautiyals from world over, both men and women, who have the time, energy, and resources, as also members of the erstwhile ruling clan of Panwars, join this   pilgrimage. In the last "Jaat” in the year 2000, about 40,000 pilgrims from Garhwal, Kumaon, and other parts of India, as also some from the West, took part in the Jaat. Of these, nearly 14,000 pilgrims completed the arduous trek.

In the defence forces the names of Brigadier Sita Ram Nautiyal and Brigadier Uma Shankar Notyal (Nahan / Dehradun) stand out prominently. Brig Sita Ram Nautiyal   was the first Nautiyal to rise to the rank of Brigadier in the Corp of Engineers. Brig Uma Shankar Notyal did his M.B.B.S. from Foreman Christian Medical College, Lahore in 1943. He joined the Army Medical Corps in 1946, where he rose to the rank of Brigadier. Shri Parsu Ram Nautiyal (Masan Gaon) was a prominent Hindi storywriter who initially worked in the film industry in Bombay in the 40's and later joined the Bangla film industry in Calcutta. Shri Sateshwar Prasad Nautiyal (Sidhauli / Kanchula / Dehradun) was the first Nautiyal to do a M.Sc. in Geology from the Banaras Hindu University in 1939. He joined the Geological Survey of India and rose to become its Director General. He was later deputed to head the Mineral Exploratory Corporation of India. After retirement in 1972 he was appointed Director of the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology. In 1989 he was appointed the Vice Chancellor of Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University.

Not to forget the daring among Nautiyals, the first to attempt rafting down the Alaknanda River was also a Nautiyal. Shri Anand Kumar Nautiyal (Nauti / Hailuri) was the first to launch an expedition down the Alaknanda river on a wooden raft on 11th September 1966, with the aim of reaching Haridwar, 234 kms downstream. The expedition started from near Birahi village on the Badrinath road with Anand Nautiyal (leader) and Rajendra Sood on the raft, backed by a ground support team on the road. Unfortunately, on the way the raft smashed against a rock face by the fast current and both Anand Nautiyal and Rajendra Sood lost their lives. The event was widely covered by the print as well as film media and all major newspapers carried the news. The Films Division covered the news under the title “The Alaknanda Tragedy”. Ten years later in 1977 a Czech canoeist Expedition "Ganga 77” attempted the feat again with sophisticated equipment, but that attempt too failed and two members of the Expedition lost their lives almost at the same place. Though foreign teams have been continuing to attempt this feat since then with much sophisticated equipment, none has succeeded yet. 
There are many other Nautiyals who have achieved greatness and name in their own fields, but due to lack of information and space it has not been possible to include all names here, though additions will keep being made as more information comes in.


The history of Nautiyals is over 1100 years old. In a way their history is intimately interlinked with the history of Garhwal itself. Whereas as Raj Purohits in the kingdom of Garhwal they must have been instrumental in shaping its history, so also, that same history has also influenced the history of Nautiyals.

Information and suggestions on the subjects are welcome. These may be forwarded to this site, or e-mailed to bknautiyal@sancharnet.in