History of Munsiari

History of Munsiari

The history of Munsiari is actually the history of its tribes, who have been living here since time immemorial. It is believed that the Barpatias were the original inhabitant of this place. They were a nomadic tribe, who lived in different parts of Johar Valley.

Munsiari in Distance Past   

As we have said, the area around Munsiari was inhabited by Barpatia tribe. They are possibly of Khasa origin and had migrated from Central Asia in distant past. Before the Shaukas came to Munsiari region, they mostly earned their living by doing business with Tibet. Later they were marginalized by the Shaukas, who took over their trade from them. The Barpatias were thus relegated to the position of land tillers and backwards.

Munsiari until 1959

We do not exactly know when the Shaukas first migrated to the Johar Valley. However, it is certain that they are part of larger Uttarkhand Bhotiya community and made money by doing business with Tibet. They maintained large number of pack animals solely for transporting goods to and from Tibet. In late August, they would start from Tibet with their animals loaded with wool, borax, gold dust, turquoise and rock salt to travel across the hills to reach the Gangetic plains. From there, they would buy silk, spices and jaggery and set off for the hills by March. Munsiari was an important outpost on this route and hence a significant place even then.

Munsiari after 1959

Unfortunately, the trade with China was hampered as the Chinese invaded Tibet. After the 1962 Indo China War the borders were sealed and the trading was totally stopped. However, this had a positive effect on Munsiari town.

As the Shaukas were not trained for any other profession, they were faced with a very uncertain future. Without the basic raw materials, which they used to import from Tibet, the carpet industry too came to a standstill. Soon they sold their animals and began to migrate to other parts of the country. Thus many Shauka villages lay abandoned. Many of them settled in Munsiari town, which had by then developed as an important sub divisional town.

Munsiari after 1960

Before 1960, Munsiari was part of Almora district and a trading outpost on the ancient trade route to Tibet. When Pithoragarh district was carved out Almora in the beginning of 1960, Munsiari became a part of it. Very soon it developed into a flourishing sub divisional town. The government not only built good roads, but also set up administrative offices, hospitals, schools etc. However, the real development started only after 1992.

Munsiari after 1992 till Present

Until 1992, Munsiari was a restricted area and people wanting to visit the town or areas around it were required to get inner-line permit.  It discouraged tourism to a large extent. Once the restriction was lifted in 1992, the town became a popular destination for tourists, nature lovers and adventure seekers. This has led to the growth of a flourishing hospitality industry, which in turn caused the economy to flourish. Today, Munsiari has become one of the most popular tourist spots in this region.

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