The Gujjars of Himalayas

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We are a Family

While traveling in Himalayas in Uttarakhand you will come across these Gujjars camping near the roads with their families and cattle, they are different from the tribes of  Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Nepal. They travel all along the length of Himalayas and Shivalik Range from Himachal Pradesh to Nepal.

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The Cattle

These Gujjars have Cows and Buffaloes grazing around the roads and up in the Grassy lands (Bugyals) at the height near the snow line, these hybrid buffaloes are different from the farm ones, they are short in height, they start migrating on their own towards the colder heights of Himalayas when the weather becomes warm in Shivalik ranges, these animals are intelligent enough to reach their home, protect themselves from carnivorous animals, they make a warning alarm and encircle the younger ones in between by making a protecting ring, these buffaloes eat leaves and grass as well.

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The Lifestyle

The Gujjars are Muslim by faith, Vegetarians by nature, Men wear long shirt and tehmad, always cover their head with turban and most of men have a beard often old ones have it flowing, their ladies wear churidar and shirt along with a jacket and do not veil themselves, the entire family moves together and are monogamous, eldest is the head of family whose words are the law, men do the grazing, sell the milk and milk products in the nearby villages and market were as ladies milch the buffaloes, prepare the curd and butter and toddlers are always in their care, one of the head of such group Mr. Liyakat told that they celebrate all muslim festivals, daughters are married in the known group of Gujjars, almost all are in touch with other groups and their movement, they rarely stay for more than two nights at one place, their language is Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Dogari mixed but different from the Bakharwals of Kashmir who are mainly shepherds and often cross the snow line in Himalayas their houses are called “deras” which are made of mud and forest materials, as far as he remembers he, his grand father and his  fathers were born in open, lived like this grazing the cattle, never stayed at one place but now their children are attend school and rarely youngsters are uneducated, few of them have taken up jobs in wildlife reserve areas, they know the forests of Himalayas more than any body.

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The Nomadic Life

Upon asking about their knowledge on medicinal herbs in Himalayas Liyakat’s reply was that the Gujjars are expert in identifying the ailment in their cattle and their treatment, rarely any of their family members get ill but if there is an emergency they go to the doctors, they live a nomadic life close to the nature peace loving even they treat their buffaloes as their family members and all have names to which the animals respond to, they spend winters in the Shivalik Range in temporary shelters from October till March start moving up the Himalayas from April spend the summer and monsoon up to the height of 12,000 -13,000 ft. near the Alpine grassy lands, retreat down before the snow fall.