Chapter : 2. Pastoralists in the Modern World

Movements of Pastoral Nomads (In the Mountains)

A. In the Mountains:
(i) The Gujar Bakarwals : Gujjar Bakarwals migrated to Jammu and Kashmir in the 19th century in search of pastures for their animals. Gradually, over the decades, they established themselves in the area, and moved annually between their summer and winter grazing grounds. In winter, when the high mountains were covered with snow and there was lack of pastures at the high altitude they moved to low hills of the Shiwalik. The dry scrub forests here provided pastures for their herds. By the end of April they began their northern march for their summer grazing grounds. They crossed the Pir Panjal passes and entered the valley of Kashmir. With the onset of summer, the snow melted and the mountainsides became lush green. By the end of September the Bakarwals started their backward journey.
(ii) The Gaddi shepherds : Gaddi shepherds of Himachal Pradesh spent their winter in the low hills of Shiwalik range, grazing their flocks in scrub forests. By April they moved north and spent the summer in Lahul and Spiti. When the snow melted and the high passes were clear, many of them moved on to higher mountain meadows. By September they began their return movement. On the way they stopped once again in the villages of Lahul and Spiti, reaping their summer harvest and sowing their winter crop. Then they descended with their flock to their winter grazing ground on the Shiwalik hills. Next April, once again, they began their march with their goats and sheep, to the summer meadows.
(iii) Movement in Garhwal and Kumaon : The Gujjar cattle herders come down to the dry forests of the babar in the winter, and went up to the high meadows - the bugyals - in summer. Many of them were originally from Jammu and came to the UP hills in the nineteenth century in search of good pastures.
(iv) Other Pastoral nomads : Cyclical movement between summer and winter pastures is typical of many pastoral communities of the Himalayas, including the Bhotiyas, Sherpas and Kinnauris. All of them had to adjust to seasonal changes and make effective use of available pastures in different places.

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