Kinnaura in India

Joshua Project has identified the Kinnaura only in India






Largest Religion

Main Language



More than 60,000 Kinnaura people inhabit extremely high-altitude locations in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The Kinnaura are the largest ethnic group in the district that gives them their name—Kinnaur District. The Kinnaura inhabit villages between 5,000 and 6,770 metres (16,400 to 22,200 ft.) above sea level, in an area described as having 'mountainous topography, cold climate, dense forests, low rainfall and heavy snowfall'. The Kinnaura people comprise approximately 70 per cent of the total population in the Kinnaur District. They also inhabit part of the Lahaul- Spiti District, 'from Chauhra to Sangla and north along the Satluj River to Morang and several villages of the upper Ropa River Valley'. Small pockets of Kinnaura also reportedly live in the north Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.

The classification of the Kinnaura is complicated. Although the Indian government has granted them status as a Scheduled Tribe, there appear to be at least several different language and people groups within this group called Kinnaura. The Ethnologue, which attempts to list every language in the world, has several listings. In addition to the main Kinnauri language, they list Bhoti Kinnauri (6,000 speakers), Harijan Kinnauri (6,331) and Chitkuli Kinnauri (1,060).


From a religious standpoint, the Kinnaura are an extremely interesting group. Their territory forms the border between the Buddhist and Hindu worlds, and accordingly the Kinnaura's religious belief is a fusion of the two. They acknowledge their strong links to Hinduism by claiming that they originated in the shadow of Lord Brahma. Another legend says that 'they have sprung from the toe of Brahma along with the Yakshas'. Hinduism has gained in popularity in the Kinnaur District in the past few generations, as thousands of Hindus have migrated into north Himachal Pradesh. Previously, Tibetan Buddhism held sway in these remote Himalayan regions. One source notes, 'Kinnaur is a place of curious coexistence of Hinduism and Mahayanist Buddhism. People embracing Buddhism belong to the Nyingmapa, Dukpa, Kargyutpa, and Gelukpa sects. On entering a Buddhist village, one finds a tomb and chorten in various [parts] of the village and also in individual houses, which are meant to ward off evil spirits.' Many Kinnaura people do not see a conflict in their mixture of faith. If asked whether or not they believe in Hinduism they reply 'Yes', and if asked if they follow Buddhism they also reply 'Yes!' Many celebrate both Buddhist and Hindu festivals. The Kinnaura also believe and practise animistic rituals in a bid to ward off evil spirits.

The confusion regarding the Hindu-Buddhist mix among the Kinnaura can be seen in figures from the 1981 census, when 31.29 per cent of Kinnaura stated they were Buddhists, compared to 68.71 per cent who said they were Hindus. This accounts for all Kinnaura people, meaning that not a single person believed in Christ at the time.


A recent survey indicated there are now 140 Christians in Kinnaura District, about 100 of which are from the Kinnaura ethnic group.

Profile Source:   Peoples of the Buddhist World, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  

Expanded PDF Profile

Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2007-08-24
Global Prayer Digest: 2010-08-09
People Name General Kinnaura
People Name in Country Kinnaura
Population in India 66,000
World Population 66,000
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Anuskad, Kanorin Skad, Kanorug Skadd, Kinnara, Kinnauri, Kinnaurse, Kinori, Koonawure, Lower Kinnauri, Melhesti, Milchan, Tibas Skad, Yanuskad
Affinity Bloc Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster South Himalaya
People Name General Kinnaura
Ethnic Code MSY50r
People ID 12487
Country India
Region South Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 21  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country More than 60,000 Kinnaura people inhabit extremely high altitude locations in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, in Kinnaur District..   Source:  Peoples of the Buddhist World, 2004
Total States on file:  5  (up to 20 largest shown)
Himachal Pradesh (65,000) Uttarakhand (600) Delhi (90) Maharashtra (60)
Chandigarh (30)
Total States on file:  5  (up to 20 largest shown)
Himachal Pradesh (65,000) Uttarakhand (600)
Delhi (90) Maharashtra (60)
Chandigarh (30)
Languages & Dialects on file:  30  (up to 20 largest shown)
Kinnauri (44,000) Kinnauri, Bhoti (7,200) Shumcho (2,400) Jangshung (2,200)
Pahari, Mahasu (2,100) Hindi (1,300) Kinnauri, Chitkuli (1,200) Tukpa (800)
Sunam (700) Urdu (600) Mugom (600) Arabic, Mesopotamian Spoken (300)
Bhattiyali (200) Khandesi (200) Mandeali (100) Gujarati (100)
Pattani (100) Panjabi, Eastern (90) Nepali (40) Dogri (40)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Kinnauri 44,000 Kinnauri, Bhoti 7,200
Shumcho 2,400 Jangshung 2,200
Pahari, Mahasu 2,100 Hindi 1,300
Kinnauri, Chitkuli 1,200 Tukpa 800
Sunam 700 Urdu 600
Mugom 600 Arabic, Mesopotamian Spoken 300
Bhattiyali 200 Khandesi 200
Mandeali 100 Gujarati 100
Pattani 100 Panjabi, Eastern 90
Nepali 40 Dogri 40
For Primary Language: Kinnauri

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (1909-1917)
New Testament No
Complete Bible No
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Online Bible (Bibles India) Text / Printed Matter
Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project) Audio Recordings
Primary Religion: Hinduism

Major Religion Percent
36.81 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.17 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
60.20 %
2.76 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.06 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
0.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
Photo Source: Anonymous  
Map Source: Joshua Project / Global Mapping International  
Profile Source: Peoples of the Buddhist World, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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