From the subscriptions to documents confirming the grants of lands free of revenue to the Garhwal temples we gather that Hastidal Sah (with some interruptions) and Sardar Bhakti Thapa were connected with its government form 1803 to 1815…
From Raper’s account of his journey to survey the Ganges in 1808 we gather a few more particulars.. He met Hastidal Sah at Haridwar and describes him as a man of about forth-five years of age, of middle stature, pleasing countanace and desirous in every way to aid him. A few days afterwards Raper was introduced to Hastidal’s successor, Bhairon Thapa, who is described as the very reverse of friendly and only anxious to impede his progress, though eventually they parted good friends. Raper also notices the excessive rigour of the Gorkhali rule in Garhwal and writes:
At the foot of the pass leading to Har-ka-pairi is a Gorkhali post, to which slaves are brought down form the hills and exposed for sale. Many hundreds of these poor wretches, of both sexes, from three to thirty years of age, are annually disposed of in the way of traffic. These slaves are brought down from all parts of the interior of the hills and sold at Haridwar at from ten to one hundred and fifty rupees each.
Mr J. B. Fraser computed the number sold during the Gorkhali occupation at 200,00 but we may hope that this is an exaggeration. Where a delinquent were unable to pay the fine imposed, the amount of which, be it remembered, rested entirely at the arbitrary discretion of the Gorkhali officer in charge of the didistrict, he was sold into slavery tighter with his family. Parents driven to desperation sold their children and, under certain circumstances, uncles sold their children and, under elder brothers, their younger brothers and sisters. Bhairon Thapa was sent to the siege of Kangra and was succeeded at Srinagar by his son Sreshta Thapa, who had formerly held office in Kumaon. Hastidal seems to have fallen into disgrace because his brother, Rudrabir Sah, executed a treaty with Sonsar Chand of Kangra which was displeasing to the Thapa faction. For an account of Garhwal immediately after the British conquest when it had been for some twelve years under Gorkhali governors we have some information in the journals of Mr. J. B. Fraser and others. Raper, writhing in 1814, says:
The people are most vehement in their complaints against the Gorkhalis, of whom they stand in the utmost dread, but from the slavish habits and ideas they have contracted ti is doubtful if a spirit of resistance or independence could be excited amongst them. The villages in Garhwal afford a striking proof of the destruction caused by the Gorkhalis: uncultivated fields, ruined and deserted huts, present themselves in every direction. The temple lands alone are well tilled.
Mr. Fraser writes of the Dun that under the Garhwali Rajas it yielded to government a revenue of a lakh of rupees a year; but the Gorkhalis, having much ruined it, never realized more than Rs. 20,000 per annum. On his march thence to the sources of the Ganges, the general appearance of the country was that of one that had been subject to all the horrors of war. Deserted and ruined villages lined the road and frequent patches of terrace cultivation now becoming overgrown with jungle alone showed where hamlets had once stood. He again writes: The Gorkhalis ruled Garhwal with a rod of iron and the country fell in every way into a lamentable decay. Its villages became deserted, its agriculture ruined and its population decreased beyond computation. It is said that two lakhs (200,000) fo people were sold as slaves, while few families of consequence remained in the country; but, avoid the severity of the tyranny, they either went into banishment or were cut off or forcibly driven away by their tyrants, yet some of the individual rulers of these conquerors were mild and not disliked. Bam Sah and Hasitidal, the governors of Garhwal, were disposed to indulgence; and in some situations the country towards the close of the Gorkhali rule was again improving and getting reconciled to its new state. Ranjor Singh Thapa was also a well-disposed man and a mild governor, and inclined to justice, but the executive officers were severe. Their manners as conquerors were rough, and they despised the people they had conquered, so that at some distance form the seat of government exaction went on, insults and scenes of rapine were continually acted, and the hatred of the people to their tyrants was fixed and exasperated: the country was subdued and crushed, not reconciled or accustomed to the yoke; and though the spirit by the danger of avowing such sentiments, a deliverance from the state of misery groaned under was ardently, though hopelessly, wished for.
But a day of reckoning arrived for the oppressors and the following extract would excite our pity for the Gorkhalis, if we did not know that it was but the natural outburst of a savage and oppressed people and a punishment well earned by deeds of rapine and cruelty.