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Spoken in Garhwal Division
Total speakers 300,000 (2003)
Language family Indo-European
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2
ISO 639-3 gbm

The Garhwali are a people of the hilly Garhwal Division of Uttarakhand, India. The Garhwali language belongs to the Pahari (Northern) subgroup of Indo-Aryan.

Garhwali is one of the 325 recognized languages of India[1] spoken in Tehri Garhwal, Pauri Garhwal, Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Dehra Dun, Haridwar and Rudraprayag districts of Uttarakhand and in Himachal Pradesh[2]. In the middle period of the course of development of Hindi, there were many "apbhransh" (dialects) of Hindi. Of these, the most popular "apbhransh" of western India was "Saurseni". Saurseni gave birth to three sub-language those were Western-Hindi (in the region around Mathura, Meerut and Delhi), Rajasthani (in Rajasthan) and Pahari (west-sub Himalayan region).

The Pahari sub language is the mother of the Garhwali language along with Kumauni (spoken in the Kumaun region of Uttrakhand) and Himanchali (spoken in Himachal Pradesh). The closest language is Kumauni (or Kumaoni) to its immediate east, in the Central subgroup of the Pahari chain of languages stretching from Himachal Pradesh to Nepal. Garhwali, like Kumauni, has many regional dialects spoken in different places in Uttarakhand. The script used for Garhwali is Devanagari.

The Bangani dialect of Garhwali played a role in Indo-European studies in the 1980s, when Claus-Peter Zoller announced the discovery of apparent traces of a centum language in it. However, George van Driem and Suhnu Sharma later went there to do further fieldwork [5], and claim that it is in fact a satem language, and that Zoller's data were flawed. Zoller does not accept this [6][7], and claims that it was their data that was flawed.


  • Pahari
    • Tehri/Sailani (Gangapariya) - spoken in Tehri Garhwal.
    • Jaunsari - spoken in Jaunsar-Babar area (strongly related to neighbouring Himachali dialects), only limited mutual intelligibility with the other dialects.
    • Srinagari - classical Garhwali spoken in erstwhile royal capital, similar to Pauri.
    • Badhani
    • Dessaulya
    • Lohbya
    • Majh-Kumaiya
    • Bhattiani
    • Nagpuriya
    • Rathi
    • Salani (Pauri)
    • Ravai
    • Bangani
    • Parvati - reportedly not mutually intelligible with other dialects.
    • Jaunpuri
    • Gangadi (Uttarkashi)
    • Chandpuri
    • Jadhi - Spoken in parts of Uttarkashi.

(Linguistically unrelated but geographically neighboring languages include: the Tibeto-Burman language Marchi/Bhotia - spoken by Marchas, neighbouring Tibet.)

Garhwali is a language[3] spoken by four million Garhwali people, mostly living in the Garhwal region of a north Indian state Uttarakhand. Almost all people who can speak and understand Garhwali can speak and understand Hindi also. This is one of the languages which is shrinking very rapidly and becoming out of fashion. Most of the educated people who live in cities hardly speak Garhwali and in most cases parents still speak and understand Garhwali but their children cannot. Garhwali is written in Devnagri script.[4]

In the last few decades there have been many singers like Narendra Singh Negi who have made people interested in Garhwali by their popular songs and videos. On an average there is one movie in four or five years in Garhwali. If you are planning to visit tourist places of this Middle Himalayan Region (Badrinath, Kedarnath, Uttarkashi, Joshimath etc.), your knowledge of Garhwali can be useful.


  1. ^ Ethnologue. [1]
  2. ^ Ethnologue.[2]
  3. ^ Ethnologue. [3]
  4. ^ Ethnologue. [4]

SIL Ethnologue [8]

External links



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