According to Rigveda the earliest inhabitants of Himachal Pradesh were:
Dasas, Nishadas, Dasyus
The Kolis are known as ‘Mundas’ were supposed to be the earliest and original migrants to Himachal Hills. Their powerful King was Shabhara who had ninety nine strong forts in the hill between Yamuna and Beas River.
Mangloids: The mangaloids were supposed to be the second race to enter into Himachal range in around 3rd century B.C. These people are also mentioned as 'Bhotas' or 'Kirats' in ancient Indian literature.
Aryans or Khasas: The Aryans were to be considered as the third race to enter into Himachal. They came to India from North from the area near about the Caspicm Sea in middle Asia. Aryans leave a deep impact not even in the history of Himachal but in all North India. Their language was closely aligned with Sanskrit is known as Pahari. They organized themselves in small political units or villages and called themselves ‘Khasas’ or ‘Mavanas’ literally means Strong men. The non observance of Sanskritic rules by these people had made them ‘Mlechachas’ and barbarian in their behavior.
Now there are mainly two tribes in Northern Himalayan region:
- Aryans/Khas or Mavanas
- Dasyus (Dark skinned people)/ Non Aryans
As the Aryans were superior warriors they emerged as the powerful race in the Himalayan region and organized themselves in various ‘Janpadas’ or ‘Clans’. A clear description of the war between Aryans and powerful King Dasyu has been mentioned into Rigveda. At the end Aryans were the winner and according to Mahabharata they were organized themselves in the four famous Janpadas:
The Audumbaras: According to Mahabharata, Audumbaras were the descendants of sage Vishwamitra who funded the 'Gotra' of the 'Kaushika' group. Their coins have been found from Kangra, Jwalamukhi, Pathankot, Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur region.
- Audumbaras are referred to as 'Shilvas' in 'Vriti' a famous book written by Buddhist scholar 'Chandragomin' in 5th century A.D. The mention of Audmbaras has been made in 'Sataptha Brahamana' a work of 8th century B.C.
- The coins of Audumbaras were inscribed in 'Brahmi' and 'Kharosti' script which clearly depict that they were Shavite (followers of Lord Shiva) in fait. Though the study of coins we can conclude that these coins dates back 1st century B.C. and Audumbaras had trade with Taxila and Gangetic valley. The numismatics shows that in the later phase Audumbaras asserted their independence and formed separate state in 2nd century B.C. called as 'Mitra'.
Trigarta: According to epics it is believed that 'Trigarta' (modern Kangra) came into existence sometime around 8th century B.C. It was founded by Susharma Chandra, an ally of the Kauravas in Mahabharata and attacked 'Virta' the king of Matasya (modern Kalsi of Dehradun distict of Uttrakhand). The original habitat of Susharma Chandra's family is said to have at Multan.
Kuluta (Modern Kullu): The area located in upper Beas valley called as 'Kuluta Desh' in the Rampura, the Mahabharta and the Vishnu Purana. 'Naggar' was considered as the ancient capital of Kuluta.
The Kulindas or the Kunindas: It is mentioned in the Mahabharata that the Kulindas people who lived in the area lying between the river Beas, Satluj and Yamuna i.e. Sirmaur and Shimla Hills and between Ambala and Saharnpur in plains.