History of the Garhwal Region While Uttaranchal is an amalgamation of the two regions of Garhwal and Kumaon, the two regions are distinct in their history, culture and ethnicity. The Garhwal Himalayas has long been the locale for the mythology of the Puranic period. The traditional name for the Garhwal was Uttarakhand and it is attributed to have been part of the Mauryan Empire. However, it is with the 8thc spiritual reformer, Shankaracharya, that the region is linked. Adi Shankara was responsible for setting up the math at Joshimath, and the adjoining shrines of Badrinath and Kedarnath rose to prominence in this period. The period of Garhwal as one unified territory began in the 15th century, when the king Ajai Pal merged the 52 principalities, each with their own garh or fort. Garhwal remained an independent kingdom for almost 300 years with its capital at Srinagar, till Pauri and Dehradun were ceded to the British crown in the 19th century as payment for help to defend Garhwal against the Ghurkha invasion.