Gaddis ,Gaddinis and their goats
The migratory trail of hill people
This is largely an account of my experience on the spring, northward migration of theGaddi shepherds of Himachal Pradesh; from Kangra over into Bramour, Chamba district.But first I should mention something of who the Caddisare and why they migrate.Gaddi shepherds are not nomads. They have homes,substantial village houses, and they own land which theyor their family cultivate, Their homeland is Gadderan,Bramour tehsil, in the west of Chamba district. Itcomprises the valleys of the upper Ravi and its tributarythe Budil which form a V meeting at Karamukhjust belowBramour. These two rivers here run more or less east-west and divide the Dholar Dhar range to the south fromthe Pir Pinjal to the north. Karamukh, the lowest point, is4,500 ft., the high peaks to the north over 19,000 ft. andthe valley sides and high alps are precipitous andinaccessible. The only road into Gadderan is fromChamba, 50 km of a narrow, untarred, precipitous'fairweather' road The country is surmounted by MountKailashl. 18,500 ft., the seat of Lord shiva and hisconsort Parvati. Gaddis are staunch Shaivites andwherever they may wander, feel an unusually strongcultural and religious involvement with their homeland,also referred to as Shivbhumi, the land of Shiva.
During the last hundred years or so many Gaddis have bought land andbuilt houses on thesouthern slopes of the Dholar Dhar- the northern edge of Kangra valley but whether ornot they stiU have land or relations in Bramour tehsil, they consider themselves asbelonging to Gadderan.
It is thought that there are about 80,000 Gaddi people. About half of these do notown flocks, and are agriculturalists only. Of the 3,000 or so men who accompany theflocks of sheep and goats, some take turns months at a time, in shepherding and incultivation with brothers, uncles or sons. Others are away fron; home throughout the yearexcept for a couple of weeks in the spring and in the autumn when the flocks passthrough their own villages. It is nor the flocks that dictate the annual pattern of theshepherds' 1ives.
The winter pastures are in an approximately horizontal line in the foothills, south of theDholar Dhar , from Nurpur in the west to Bilaspul in the east. Here the flocks spend fouror five months, moving only locally from a base. The terrain is scrub forest, semi-tropical jungle at 2 to 3,000 ft. Traditionally it has .been the extent of available winter grazingthat has controlled numbers and the size of the flocks.