Government of Uttar Pradesh established two Universities of residential-cum- affiliating nature in December,1973 to serve the cause of higher education and thereby development of the eastern and western part of its Himalayan territory. Garhwal university was established with its headquarter at Srinagar (Garhwal) and the University has been renamed as Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University in 1989 to respect the contribution of the beloved leader who had been instrumental in creation of this university. HNB Garhwal University has now three campuses i.e. at Srinagar, Pauri and Tehri. All the three campuses are having post- graduate and research facility in Geography. Prior to inception of the University, government run degree colleges were functioning at these centers. Dr. S.C. Kharkwal (Pauri), Dr. D.D. Maithani(Tehri) and Dr. kamlesh kumar(Srinagar) were heading the respective departments. Dr. O.P. Singh was the first person to serve on the post of professor from may 1986 to December 1988. After the gap of nearly five years, prof. R.N. Singh chaired the post (1994-2003). Afterwards, Prof. D.D. Maithani acted as the university head of geography department from 2004 to 2012. Later, this post was chaired by Prof. H.P. Bhatt (2012-2015). Prof R S Panwar served as the university head of department of Geography (Srinagar Garhwal) from 2015-2018. Thereafter, 2018 to July 2020, Prof MSS Rawat was head of the respective department. At present, Prof. MS Negi is the university head of the Geography Department. Almost parallel infrastructure has been created at all the three units.
Staff members of the department have contributed considerably to the geographical knowledge through D.Phil dissertations, publications and research projects. The Geography department of this university is privileged for receiving input facilities from the department of central government (Survey of India, ONGC, FRI, GSI, Wadia institute of Himalayan geology, IIRS, Forest Survey of India etc.) located at Dehradun and finds bearing on the work quality.
Most of the studies centered within the regional frame of central Himalaya and more particularly Garhwal Himalaya covering wide range of topics i.e. Geomorphology and Environmental Management, Resources and Economy, Tourism, Natural Hazards and Disaster Management, Population, Rural Settlements, Himalayan Agriculture, Urbanization, Integrated Area Development, Central place and socio economic impact assessment, D.Phil dissertations generally carry two themes, i.e. main theme dealing with the fundamental aspect of the respective subfields of the disciple and the applied part invariably injected degree to the various aspects of Himalayan Geography.
It is noteworthy that Uttarakhand, being a resource rich but environmentally fragile, physically complex, difficult and marginalized region has some specific problems of its development. For proper resource evaluation, mobilization and integrated planning at micro level, various natural, social, economic, demographic and environmental information are prerequisites for decision making process. For this reason, Ph.D. and dissertations address those issues that are specific to the Himalayan region.
GIS is a technology for capturing, storing, checking, integrating, manipulating, analyzing and displaying data which are spatially referenced to future, the department of geography has established a separate ‘Geographical Information System Unit’. Modern techniques like Remote Sensing are being utilized in research work pertaining to study of landforms and, environmental degradation. A number of our faculty member has got specialized training in GIS and Remote Sensing. The Department has established a separate ‘Meteorological Observatory’ at Chauras campus in 2007. The department is equipped with Geomorphology lab, Hydrology lab, Smart Class Room and Seminar Hall.
As regards the number of students both at UG and PG levels, research scholars, faculty members and office staff, Department of Geography stands to be the largest one in the faculty of Arts here. This department has entered the new phase of its development.
The Department supports the very idea of “Go Vocal for Local”. It promotes the establishment of bio villages, Eco tourism and Community Based Natural Resource Management. Department of geography is planning to develop village knowledge centers. The department has also established Technology Demonstration Park in a village to raise the awareness about the new technologies and preserving traditional rural methods simultaneously.
Department will make efforts to conduct training and awareness programs for local communities and will emphasize on “Model Villages”. Establishment of Departmental Digital Library and documentation of culture, indigenous technology and knowledge are some important objectives for forthcoming years.