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For the dog breed, see Bakharwal Dog.
TheBakerwals of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. In Jammu & Kashmir, these nomadic people are cow/buffalo herders (esp. Gujjars) and goat/sheep herders (esp. Bakharwals/dhangar). However, the two groups are very closely associated and intermarry, and commonly referred to as the "Gujjars and Bakarwals." Photographed in Rajouri, Jammu & Kashmir, India. Photo by Paul La Porte; from
Significant populations in: Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab (India)
Language Gojri, Kashmiri, Urdu, Dogri.
Religion Islam, Hindu

Bakarwal (or Bakharwal) is a nomadic tribe based in the Pir Panjal and Himalayan mountains of South Asia. They are mainly goatherds and shepherds. They are called as Dhangar in rest of India.


'Bakarwal' is derived from the Gojri/Urdu/Punjabi/Kashmiri/Dogri terms, bakra meaning goat or sheep, and wal meaning "one who takes care of". Essentially, the name "Bakarwal" implies "high-altitude goatherds/shepherds".

The Bakarwals belong to the same ethnic stock as the Gujjars, and inter-marriages don't take place among them.[1] Although, Bakarwals have same gotra or clan like Gujjars, many local shepherds, who may not necessarily belong to the community, are often termed as Bakarwal.

Geographical distribution[edit]

Bakarwals are spread throughout the northern part of the Himalayan Range. the states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab (India) in India. In Pakistan, Bakarwals are found in the hilly northern parts of Punjab (Pakistan) as well as parts of the North West Frontier Province.

In Jammu and Kashmir in India, Bakarwals are found in all three regions of the state including Jammu (comprising the districts of Jammu, Kathua, Udhampur, Poonch, Rajouri and District), the Kashmir Valley (comprising the districts of Srinagar, Baramulla, Kupwara, Pulwama, Budgam and Anantnag) and Ladakh (comprising the district of Ladakh and Kargil).

In Pakistan, Bakarwals inhabit the Northern Areas (Gilgit, the Hunza Valley and Baltistan) and Azad Kashmir (Mirpur and Muzaffarabad).

They are also found in the PRC controlled regions of the state, namely Aksai Chin and the Shaksgam Valley.

Social status[edit]

As of 2001, the Bakarwal were classified as a Scheduled Tribe under the Indian government's reservation program of positive discrimination.[2]


  1. ^ Kapoor, A. K.; M. K. Raha; D. Basu; Satwanti Kapoor (1994). Ecology and man in the Himalayas. M. D. Publications. pp. 43–44. ISBN 978-81-85880-16-7. 
  2. ^ "List of Scheduled Tribes". Census of India: Government of India. 7 March 2007. Retrieved 27 November 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Prashad, Ram (1992). Tribal Migration in Himalayan Frontiers: Study of Gujjar Bakarwal Transhumance Economy. Vintage Books. ISBN 81-85326-46-0. 
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