Affordable Access

Van Gujjars: The Persistent Forest Pastoralists

Berghahn Books
Publication Date
  • Van Gujjars
  • Indian Himalaya
  • Conservation
  • Nomads
  • Social Sciences
  • Agricultural Science
  • Anthropology
  • Political Science


During the last decade the condition of life has changed in many ways for the pastoral Van Gujjar who have their winter camps in the interior of the forests of the Shiwalik foot hills of Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal in northern India. While the Gujjar in most of northern India are a very large and ethnically as well as religiously diversified population, the pastoral Gujjar in this particular area are all Muslims and constitute a rather homogenous, specialised community based on the production of buffalo milk from pastoralism in state forest. Although most other pastoral communities in the Himalayan region have a village base where they practice agriculture for part of the year, this is not so for the Van Gujjar, who live scattered in temporarily erected huts, made from forest materials, in both their winter and summer pastures in the interior of the forests. During summer they migrate to the spruce forests and alpine meadows of Uttaranchal or to the Shimla hills in Himachal Pradesh. I visited the Gujjar of this area for the first time in 1987 and conducted the main part of my fieldwork among them in 1989-1992. What I found in 1987 was a non-literate, not very well known, pastoral people living with their herds at the periphery of local Indian society. Socially and politically marginalised and heavily exploited by both forest officials and middlemen, they appeared to have all odds against them (Gooch 1992).

There are no comments yet on this publication. Be the first to share your thoughts.