Champawat district General information

Champawat district is a district of Uttarakhand state in northern India. The town of Champawat is the administrative headquarters.

Champawat District is part of the eastern Kumaon Division of Uttarakhand. It is bounded on the north by Pithoragarh District, on the east by Nepal, on the south by Udham Singh Nagar District, on the west by Nainital District, and on the northwest by Almora District.


The district of Champawat constituted in the year1997 is situated between 29 degree 5 minutes and 29 degree 30 minutes in northern altitude and 79 degree 59 minutes and 80 degree 3 minutes at the center of eastern longitude. The Ram Ganga River acts as a border between Champawat and Pithoragarh in north while Jabgura and Pannar rivers in south and west act as a border between Champawat, Udham Singh Nagar and Almora districts simultaneously. The long chain of mountain in southwestern region acts as a border between the district Champawat and Nainital district. It is important from the defence point of view as in the east Kali river acts the international border between Nepal and India. The geographical coverage of Champawat is about 1613 sq. km. It includes two Tahsil and four development blocks and 691 revenue villages.

            The district owes its name to King Arjun Deos daughter Champawati. Earlier this district was a part of district Almora. In 1972 the Champawat Tahsil of Almora district was transferred to Pithoragarh. On 15th Sep, 1997 Champawat district was given an independent identity.

            Since the time in memorial Champawat district is having it’s own importance in terms of religious and social aspects. It is believed that Champawat district is the source and origin of religion and culture of Uttarakhand. In the ancient time this region was the origin of Naga, Kinnar and Khas Raja’s. The available historical pillars, manuscripts, archeological collection and folk-lore describe the greatness of the area during the period of Maha Bharata.  Barahi Temple of Devidhura, Tarkeshwar Mandir of Champawat, Vanasur Fort of Vishung, Baleshwar Mandir of Champawat, Sapteshwar Mandir of Sipti and Ghatotkasha temples are believed to be of the great period of Maha Bharat. The ample evidence is also available about the Katiyur dynasty, and its prosperity in ancient times. There is a belief that the king Brahma Deo was having his capital at Suie and his contemporary King Raja Arjun Deo was having his capital at Daman Kot. The marriage of the daughter of the King Arjun Deo with Sam Deo opened a door for Chandra dynasty in this region. In around 1790, with the establishment of the Gorkharaj, the Chandra Vansha came to its end. In 1814, the Britishers forced the Gorkhas to leave the place. In the history of Indian independence the history of the warriors of this region has been written in golden letters for their sacrifices.


            Champawat mainly consists of mountain ranges, large valleys, uneven landscapes, breaked cliffs, rivers and rivulets. The important rivers are Ladhia, Sharda, Lohawati, Panaar. Jagbura and Ramganga. All these rivers amalgamate with Kali River at Pancheswar. Only the Sharda river which goes to Terai area flows through. on the basis of geographical distribution it can be divided in three main parts. First one,  the 35 villages of Tanakpur (Purnagiri) Tehsil fall in Terai area and are important from the view point of plain and agricultural land and a warm area of an average height of 200 to 250 meter, having abundance of water and good soil. Second one is Shivalik which is situated at a height of 250 to 1200 meter. It represents a sloping and uneven topographical land consisting of dense forests. Third one is hilly area the average height of 1500 mts ( from 1200 to 2200 mts).


            The climate of the district is very differential. Terai area is hot whereas the hilly region is comparatively cold. High mountain ranges are covered with snow. The climatic condition of Terai and plains are similar, the seasonal rain is very high (about 20 cm. yearly). Summers are too hot and winters are too cold and foggy in Terai region. The climate of Shivalik is more or less same but the lower region of Himalayas experience cold climate throughout the year. In summers, Champawat district is pleasant. The temperature varies from 1 degree Celsius in the year to 35 degree Celsius. Summer months are May, June and July whereas Dec and Jan are very cold.


            Around 65 percent area of the district is covered with fauna and flora. Rest 35 percent is used s agricultural, non-agricultural and grazing land. Besides the hills, the plains are vegetated with plenty of exotic and traditional variety of plants such as Ecliptus, Babool, Teak, Sagon, Jamun, Bans, Bail, Madar etc. The 900-1800 metres slope of the southern hills is full of Chir trees. Besides this, the region is having various useful plants for human beings such as Amla, Ayer Tun and Khatic. The forest of the region is blessed with various kinds of wild life including tiger, elephant, Cheetal, Barahsingha, deer etc. Various kind of beautiful birds particularly Sarso, a sovereign bird is found every year during winter season is the specialty of the region.


            Many ores, minerals, soils and rocks are available in the hills of Champawat. According to geological survey of India this region is having ample of lime, magnexide, soapstone, gypsum. Apart from these various ores and minerals are also available in this region such as ognexide, quanite, graphite etc. as per the GSI report.


            The district is rich with natural perennial rivers and rivulets. Because of  Lohawati, Jagbura, Ramganga, Kali and other rivers the scarcity of water has never been felt, but due to uneven geographical condition the major portion of water drains off through small rivers and rivulets. Only about 9 percent of total land is termed as agricultural irrigated land of the region. The major portion of land is dependent on the rain water only, which has adverse effect on agricultural production. Despite plenty of resources the habitants of the area are dependent of the rain  water. In the villages women usually cover a long distance for collection of drinking water. Due to rapid growth of the population in urban and the semi-urban area, the average land holding has decreased.


            In this district 65 percent of the area is under forest and net sown area is less than 10 percent. Only about 9% of the sown area is irrigated and agriculture is manly rainfed. Consequently, it is at subsistence level and only traditional crops are grown.

            Around 82 percent of workers are engaged in agriculture and there are negligible workers in household or non household industry. On a very limited sown area a large number of people are dependent.

            Although 68 percent of the villages have been electrified. But quality of power supplied is poor. There is 372 Km road length available for one lakh population and 477.5 km on every 1000 sq. km area. The nearest rail head is Tanakpur a distance of 75 km. One bank branch is available for more than 8000 population. There are total 27 Bank Branches available

            It would be obvious from the above description that the economy of the distt. is based on agriculture and to some extent on minor forest produce and vegetable production. Lack of agricultural land and resources has always been a reason for the poor economic status of the rural poor. A large number of males are serving in the armed forced of the country. The family economy is more of less dependent on the money order system. The females of the region have to look after their family. The agriculture production is less as compared to the effort put in. The economic condition of Champawat and Lohaghat is comparatively better due to seasonal production of fruits. A few males are involved in conventional traditional work for the maintenance of livelihood, such as pottery, carpentry, blacksmith etc. Few villagers are also involved in animal husbandry. There are no small or medium scale industry in the region. As a result majority of population of the youth are unemployed. The region is well connected with hills and the plains through highways which has given rise to small shops and dhabas. Quite a few people are engaged in this business.

            Champawat district is characterized by money order economy as a large number of males are working outside in big cities like Delhi, Lucknow, Bombay etc. either in the armed forces or other jobs since there are no employment opportunities in the district. Therefore, there is a large number of women headed households. The district is economically and socially backward with acute poverty and society ridden with outmoded traditions and even superstitions. The status of  women is coupled with discrimination against girls child. The women suffer from all kinds of social disabilities and at the same time handling each and every responsibility of domestic work as well as collection of fuel and fodder and in large cases drinking water from distant places. All these factors adversely effect educational development of girls especially of poorer sectors of society and those living in remote areas.


            The nearest railway station is 75 km. away from Champawat at Tanakpur. The urban and semi urban towns are well equipped with roads. Distt. Champawat is also linked with Udham Singh Nagar distt. and Nainital dist. through Pakka road. On the other hand some villages of the distt are scattered and not linked with any kind of road infrastructure. As a result it is very difficult to reach in some of the villages. Many villages have not been able to have minimum basic needs of education and health due to remoteness. In the field of telecommunication the urban area of the distt is equipped with the modern telecom facilities whereas the rural areas are still untouched with this facility. Due to lack of electricity many families are using lantern. The number of hospitals are not sufficient. The drinking water facilities are also not adequate. Women have to trek long distances for fetching drinking water.


            Being a newly formed and remote district no important Research Institution is situated in the district. Only a Krishi Vigyan Kendra of Pantnagar Agricultural University exists at Lohaghat. There is one Polytechnic running at Lohaghat. There are three ITIs also at Tanakpur, Champawat & Khetikhan.


76 kms. from Pithoragarh headquarters, Champawat is situated 1615 meters. above sea level. Champawat, once the capital of the rulers of the Chand dynasty,  is    famous       for its natural beauty and well known temples.  The ancient fort, now houses headquarters of the Tehsil office. A historical spot, Champawat has many well known temples of high artistic value. The Baleshwar temple is the noted attraction of Champawat. The Nagnath temple at Champawat is also an excellent example of ancient architecture of Kumaon. 4 - 5 kms. from Champawat is the   'Ek Hathiya Ka Naula', which is said to have been constructed in just one night by the one handed artisan. The story of Golla Devta is also associated with Gorilla Chaur of Champawat.     It was in Champawat that Lord Vishnu is said to have appeared as 'Kurma avatar' (incarnation as tortoise). This hill is also known as Mt. Kandev.  There  is  a  small  fort  at   Champawat.   Jim Corbett had  come  to  this region in the first decade of the twentieth century in order to hunt for man eating tigers.

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