Tribes of the Thal Desert: The Tiwana

In this post I will look at Tiwana, or sometimes spelt Tawana. I would ask the reader to look at my other articles on the tribes of the Thal, which gives some background information on the Thal and its inhabitants. Perhaps more then any other tribe, the Tiwana represent the culture and tradition of the Thal desert. They have much in common with the Aheers, with whom they intermarry. What perhaps makes the Tiwana unique however is their insistence that they are Rajputs, a claim not made by other Thal tribes. So who are these Tiwana, and the answer is never simple. According to their own traditions, they are Panwar Rajputs. What is interesting about this region of Punjab is the persistence of claims towards Panwar or Parmar ancestry, despite the fact this region never formed part of the medieval Parmar state. The Tiwanas of the Thal are still found mainly in Khushab district. Another branch of the Tiwana tribe, which was partly Sikh and partly Muslim were found in Samana, which was part of the Sikh ruled state of Patiala. The Muslim Tiwanas left Samana after partition, and are now found dispersed throughout central Punjab. This article will focus of the Khushab Tiwanas, with some reference to the Samana clan.

According to Tiwana tribal traditions, they descend from Rai Shankar, who is also said to be the ancestor of the Sial tribe. So this is there story. Rai Shanker, a Panwar Rajput, lived in Daranagar, which was said to be located midway between Allahabad and Fatehpur, in what is now Uttar Pradesh. Other traditions refer to a a group of Panwars migrating to Jaunpur from Dara Nagar where Shanker was born. Three sons were born to Shanker, who were named Ghaiyyo, Taiyyo and Saiyyo and from whom descend the Sial tribe of Jhang, Tiwanas of Khushab and Ghebas of Pindigheb. According to another tradition, Sial was the only son of Rai Shanker and the ancestors of the Tiwanas and Ghebas were merely related to Shanker by paternal descent. Shanker’s clansmen lived in unity until his death, but afterwards they developed severe disputes and clashes which led to his son Sial migrating to Punjab during the period 1241-46 A.D. during the reign of Alauddin Ghauri, son of Sultan Ruknuddin or Masud Shah Alauddin.

It important to note, that almost all the Panwar clans like the Mekan and Dhudi have traditions that they migrated to Punjab during the early 13th Century. The other Panwar groupings also have traditions of accepting Islam at the hands of a Sufi saint. For the Tiwanas, this occurred when Teu, their ancestor arrived at Ajodhan, now named Pak Pattan, and embraced Islam at the hands of Hazart Baba Baba Fariduddin Ganj Shaker. However, the Tiwanas of the Thal also have traditions that they migrated from Samana, so it is likely the Samana was the original area of settlement. What is also a point to note is that the Samana Tiwana were the only Jat clan in the region which a slight majority of Muslims.

Tiwana of Patiala

Teo’s descendants founded the village of Mataur, near Narwana, in present day Jind District. The village remains’ the centre of Tiwanas who have remained Hindus. A group of Tiwanas left Mataur and settled near Samana, and founded the village of Chinhartal, which situated 15 miles from Patiala. A second group migrated and settled in the Thal desert, from which descend the Khushab branch.

The village of Chinhartal was divided into three different sections (known as patties in Punjabi). These three sections were Nanda Patti, Tiloka Patti, and Gaddo Patti, named after an ancestor. Tiloka patti was the largest patti in the village. Gaddo and his descendants had embraced Islam in A.D. 1533. During the Mughal period, Muslim Tiwana Chaudharis, descendants of Gaddo, Majlis Khan and Wazir Khan, were the prominent chiefs in the Malwa region. With the rise of the Sikhs in Patiala, the Muslim branch of the Tiwanas declined, and were reduced to village headmen. Abar Muhammad popularly known as Abri was the village numberdar right up to partition in 1947. The Muslim Tiwanas of Patiala all emigrated to Pakistan in 1947.

Tiwana of Khushab

The Tiwana rose as major landowners in the Thal in the 18the Century, a position that was confirmed by the British colonial authorities. Mughal authority rapidly collapsed in the Punjab in early 1700s, wth both the Sikhs and Afghans vying for power. In the Thal region, the Tiwana under Malik Sher Khan made themselves masters of Nurpur and the surrounding country, and after the death of the Awan chieftain Gul Jahannia of Warchha, succeeded in establishing a partial authority over the Awans settlements along the base of the Salt range. They also seized Shekhowal and several other villages on the right bank of the Jhelum from the Baloch rulers of Sahiwal. However, the Malik’s attempt was unable to capture Khushab, for although Lal Khan, the Baloch ruler was killed in the defence of the town, the Tiwanas were driven off, and Jafar Khan, the deceased chieftain’s son and successor, remained in possession, until Ranjit Singh absorbed the minor principality.

Tiwana power was now reduced the lands near their most important village, Mitha Tiwana, and here too, faced the rising power of the Sikhs. Ranjit Singh sent a well equipped force against them under Misr Diwan Chand in 1816. The Tiwana Malik was forced to leave Mitha for Nurpur, in the heart of the Thal, hoping that the scarcity of water and supplies might prevent the Sikh army from succeeding. But the Sikh commander, sank wells as he advanced, so that after a time the Tiwana, finding resistance hopeless, abandoned Nurpur, and took refuge with their old enemy, the Nawab of Dera Ismail Khan. The Nawab decided that this was the time to finish his Tiwana rivals, plundered them and turned them out. After this, for nearly two years, Malik Khan Muhammad and his sons wandered from place to place, subsisting on the charity of their neighbours but finding this kind of life insupportable, they determined efforts to recover their former possessions.

The Tiwanas were able to raise a force from the Thal tribes, and after surprise attack, seized Mitha. The Sikh garrison, completely taken by surprise, abandoned the place and fled, and the Maliks were once more masters of the land of their ancestors. This success was however short-lived, as in 1818, the ousted Sikh Governor returned with a strong force, and the Maliks were once again forced into exile. The possessions of tho Tiwana Chiefs were then given in jagir to the famous Sikh general Hari Singh, Nalwa, and were held by him till his death at Peshawar in 1837. Khan Muhammad, the Tiwana chieftain then travelled to Lahore to convince Ranjit Singh that it would be bad policy to drive the Tiwanas to desperation. Tiwanas as loyal subjects of the Sikh could act as intermediaries between them and the Jats of the Thal. They were therefore granted an estate on the west bank of the Jhelum, covering much of the norther corner of the Thal.
Kadir Bakhsh, the new Tiwana chieftain, became close friends with the Dogra warlord Raja Gulab Singh, and became an important courtier of Ranjit Singh. At the death of Hari Singh Nalwa, the Tiwana recovered almost all their lands. The next Tiwana chieftain, Fateh Khan, Kadir Bakhs cousin, took a prominent part in the politics of the Sikh Durbar. However, when the British conquered the Malik Fateh Sher Khan, the son of Fateh Khan, and Malik Sher Muhammad Khan, the son of the KAdir Bakhsh, switched to the British side. The descendants of Malik Sher Mohammad became the Maliks of Mitha Tiwana, the most important of the Tiwana estates. Other important estates of the Tiwana include Hadali, Hamooka,

They are now found mainly in Khushab, where important Tiwana villages include Thatta Tiwana, Mitha Tiwana, Noorpur Tiwana, Girot, Hadali, Hamoka, Kalurkot, Kundian, Jhabrian, Waracha, Sakesar, Megha, and Thai Dandan

Distribution of Muslim Tiwana in Punjab by District According to 1901 Census of India


District Population
Patiala State 3,039
Shahpur (Sargodha & Khushab districts) 2,971
Other districts 316
Total Population 6,326



Tribes of Attock : The Alpial and Jodhra tribes

This is my second postings on the tribes of Attock Region. Readers are asked to look at my article on the Gheba and Khattar tribes, which give some background to the history of the Attock region. In this post I will look at the Jodhra and Alpial, tribes of Rajput status, who have had a profound affect on the districts history.

Below are a list of tribes classified as Rajput by 1911 Census of India:


Attock Tehsil

Pindigheb Tehsil

Fateh Jang Tehsil

Talagang Tehsil












Other Rajput clans of the district include the Hon, Dhamial, Bhakral, Kahut, Khingar, Chib, Minhas, Mangeal, Johad, Adhial, Kurar, Jhottial, Mair-Minhas, Tuh, Hattar, Chanial, Bhatti-Mehra, Bhatti-Kanjal, Bhatti-Jangle, Bhatti-Badhuer and Bhatti-Shaikh


We now look at the Jodhra, the traditional rulers of the Fattehjang area of Attock, close to the Islamabad boundary. They inhabit the south-east of Pindigheb Tehsil, the valley of the Soan extending on the south to the Tallagang border in Chakwal District, and on the north reaching to the watershed which runs across the Tehsil, and along the Fattehjang boundary running up as far as the railway

According to tribal traditions, the get their name from Jodhra, who was converted to Islam by Mahmud of Ghazni and settled in Jammu. The Muslim descendants of Jodhra were forced to leave Jammu, and settled in Sil valley and founded the town of Pindigheb (then called Dirahti) on the north bank. Due to the river changing its course, they then moved their settlement to the south bank, where the current city of Pindigheb stands. Like other Rajput tribes of the region, the Jodhra have multiple origin myths. According to another tradition, their original home was on the banks of the river Ganges, from where they had to leave on their conversation to Islam. All there myths have one thing in common, as Rajput converts to Islam, they had to leave their homeland.

According to the authors of the Attock District Gazetteer, they first settled in the district about the end of the 15th century as a small band of military adventurers. They conquered the lands located between the Soan and Sil rivers and much of Tallagang, ruling these tracts from Pindigheb. The land at that point was in the possession of the Awans, who were not evicted, but remained on as tenants under the conquering Jodhras. The Jodhras, as Rajputs did not cultivate the land themselves, as this would a breach of their caste rulers. The former owners simply sank to the status of tenants. Ownership of the soil vested in the newcomers who were regarded as independent chieftains paying no revenue to the Sultans of Delhi, other than an occasional present of a horse, mule or hawk by way of tribute, and keeping up large bodies of armed retainers. The Jodhra were close to the Grand Trunk road, and the authorities in Delhi were largely interested in making that the Jodhras did not upset the flow of trade and manpower from Central Asia.The Jodhra were said to have actively developed the resources of the surrounding country, and founded the great majority of the villages in which they possessed rights of various kinds lasting right up to the British period.

With the collapse of the Delhi Sultans, whose nominal rule of the region was ended by the Mughal conqueror Babur in the 16th Century, an attempt was made to exercise control over the Attock tribe. But the Mughals also recognised the Jodhra’s position as semi-independent warlords, and Malik Aulia Khan, was granted an estate by Aurangzeb and held a revenue assignment of Pindigheb, and parts of Chakwal and Fattehjang. This was an attempt by the Aurangzeb to regulate the Attock tribes, but they this did not stop the constant feuding. The Malik ignored central Mughal authority and conquered Tallagang.

With the collapse of Mughal authority after the death of Aurangzeb, the Jodhra under Aulia Khan’s son Malik Amanat Khan reached their zenith.It during his rule that Attock became focus of Sikhs raids. After brief attempt by Ahmed Shah Abdali, the Afghan rule to establish his authority, Attock slipped back into the control of local tribes. By the end of the 18th Century, Sikh superiority was established on the small but warlike tribes of the district, but systematic government was never attempted. The arrival of the Sikh also saw the decline of the Jodhras. At once they lost Tallagang and Chakwal over which they had never really established their authority. Gradually the great power of the Pindigheb family was frittered away. It had always been the centre of the tribe, all the minor families Jodhras claimed descent from a particular malik, and recognized the authority of the Pindigheb Maliks as their feudal overlords. First the Langrial family was allowed to secede. Then the Khunda, Kamlial and Dandi families broke away. Finally with the rise of the Ghebas, the lost control over the Soan river valley.

There are five principal families of the Jodhras. By far the most important is that of Pindigheb. Two branches of the family are recognised as chiefs of the tribe, and at present there are three members of the senior branch and two of the junior. The elder branch are descendants of Aulia Khan, while the second branch descends from Fatteh Khan. The Pindigheb Maliks are closely related by marriage with the Gheba family of Kot. Other then the Pindigheb Maliks, the ther four families are the Maliks of Khunda, Dandi, Kamlial and Langrial.

The Jodhras inhabit the south-eastern portion of the Pindi Gheb Tehsil and the valley of the Swaan River extending, on the south, to the border of Talagang of Chakwal District. Almost all the Jodhra villages are found in Fateh Jang Tehsil of Attock District and Pindi Gheb Tehsil of Attock District, with a few settlements in the Haripur District of Hazara. Their main villages in Pindi Gheb are Khunda, Domial Ahmadal, Ikhlas, Noushehra, Parri, Dandi, Gharibwal, Ganda Kas, Kamrial, Sidrihaal, Kharauba, Kamalpur Sher Jang, Kanat, Mirwal and Saura. In Fatehjang, they are found in Ahmadal, Chauntra, and Langrial, while there also found in the villages of Baldher, Bandi Sherkhan and Akhoon Bandi in Haripur district. The current chief of the tribe is Malik Atta Mohammad Khan of Pindigheb.


The Alpial are a Rajput tribe, found mainly in Attock and Rawalpindi districts. According to tribal traditions, the Alpials claim descent from the Manj Rajputs, and their claim to Rajput origin is generally admitted by neighbouring tribes. There ancestor was said to be a Rajah Alp Khan Manj, and the Alpial are the aals or descendents of this Alp Khan of the Manj tribe. I shall now say a little word on the Manj Rajputs. According to the traditions of the Manj, they are in fact Bhatti Rajputs, descended from Raja Salvahan (Salivahana), father of Raja Rasalu, a mythical figure that was said to ruled over much of Punjab, and founded Sialkot. There origin myths also make reference to a Tulsi Das (sometimes called Tulsi Ram), who was converted (to Islam) by the famous Sufi saint, Hazrat Makhdum Shah Jahaniya of Uchh, who died in 1383 A.D. After his conversion to Islam, Tulsi Ram assumed the name Shaikh Chachu, and the Manj had some influence in the valley of the Sutlej, in what is now Ludhiana and Jalandhar districts. Some six hundred years ago (13th Century) Shaikh Chachu and Shaikh Kilchi, are said to haved settled at Hatur in the southwest of Ludhiana, whence their descendants spread into the neighbouring country; and the Jallandhar traditions refer their conquest of the tract to the time of Ala-ud-din Khilji. After the dissolution of the Mughal Empire, the Manj Rais of Talwandi and Raikot ruled over an extensive territory south of the Sutlej, till dispossessed of it by the Ahluwalia Sikhs and later by Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Coming back to the Alpials, they appear to have settled in their present locality about the same time as the Jodhras and Ghebas that is about the 15th Century, having first wandered through the country now contained in the Khushab and Chakwal districts before settling down in the southern corner of Fateh Jang. Thereafter, it seems little contact existed between the parent tribe in the Sutlej and the Alpials. According to 1931 census of India, their approximate population was 4,500. The author of the 1929 Attock District Gazetteer had this to say about them:

“ Hard-working and excellent cultivators, generally tilling their own land and working laboriously on their wells, they have taken only a small part in the more lurid history of the district. Socially they rank high, intermarrying freely with the Mughals. They are a bold, lawless set of men, of fine physique, much given to violent crime, sturdy, independent and wonderfully quarrelsome. ”

The Alpial have produced the land owning Chaudry of Chakri family, who rose to semi-independence with the collapse of Mughal authority. They managed to keep this status by alternately supporting one of the two faction of the Gheba in the Swaan valley, the Malal Ghebas and the Kot family, and lost several members of their family in the strife. However, with the arrival of the Sikhs, the Alpial lost their independence, and were reduced to the status of landlords. During the period of British colonial rule, the Chakri family provided several a Viceregal darbaris such as Chaudri Ahmad Khan.

The Alpials occupy a compact block of villages on both banks of the Swaan River, in the Thana Chountra circle of Rawalpindi Tehsil, Rawalpindi District and the in the Sil Sohan circle of the Fateh Jang Tehsil,Attock District. They own 32 villages in all, the main Alpial villages being Sihal, Chakri, Ghila Kalan, Pind Malhu, Jhandhu Syedan, Dhalwali Mohra, Adhwal, Chak Beli Khan, Chountra, Chak-Dinal, Dhullial, Sangral, Khilri, Malkaal, Parial, Raika Maira, Hakeemal, Koliam Goru, Dhoke Gujri, Lamyran, Ramdev, Tatraal, Jaswal, Dheri Mohra, Kharri Murat, Gangainwala, Kolian Hameed, Chak Majhid, Gangal, Jada, Dhok Chach, Habtal, Bhutral, Dhok Cher, and Jodh.

Rawal of Pakistani Punjab

In this post, I will look at a little known Punjabi Muslim community called the Rawals. Like the Khatiks referred to in my earlier post, the Rawals as a community form an important part of the Punjabi Muslim diaspora, with many migrating to Malaysia and Hong King in the early 20th Century.

Like most other Punjabi groups, the Rawal have a complex origin. According to tribal traditions, they are of Arab origin. The ancestor of their tribe was an individual named Ryal, after who they are said to get their name, was in the service of the Prophet. Once when alms were being given by the Prophet, no one came forward to receive them, whereupon Ryal accepted them. Over time, Ryal was corrupted to Rawal, after their settlement in India. By the beginning of the 20th, the Rawal were found mainly in what now Indian Punjab were engaged in petty trade. They had much in common with groups such the Bhatra and Ramaiya, who were also engaged in petty trade.

Rose, the early 20th Century British ethnologist argued the Rawal were really a group of Jogi who had converted to Islam. He argued that the term Rawal was generally used as a synonym for the Jogi, though, strictly speaking, it only denoted Muslim Jogi, who was generally also known as a Jogi-Rawal. The question then is who or what is a Jogi. Jogi, or more correctly Yogi is someone, in tantra traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, is someone who is a practitioner of the tantra (a tantrika). In Classical Sanskrit, the word yogi is derived from yogin, which refers to a practitioner of yoga. Yogi is technically male, and yoginī is the term used for female practitioners. The two terms are still used with those meanings today, but the word yogi is also used generically to refer to both male and female practitioners of yoga and related meditative practices belonging to any religion or spiritual method. The yogi, or by the middle ages the Jogi had become a religious order, living a wondering life as mendicants. In Punjab, the Jogi like in many other parts of India had evolved into a sectarian caste, as distinct from a holy order. Conversion to Islam, which, if we accept Rose, did not stop the Muslim groups to continue to practice as Jogi.

Etymologically, Rawal is a title, the Sanskritised version being Rajakula, meaning lord and used by many feudal families in North India. It could be that Rawal is not a distortion of Ryal, but a title adopted by a group of Jogis, to distinguish themselves from other Jogi groups. Whether they were of Arab origin as their traditions claim, or Jogi converts to Islam, what is clear is that they had close relationship with Hindu Jogi groups in Punjab.

In the early 20th Century, the Rawals had continued the practice of acquiring knowledge from the Hindu Jogis, and many continued to live a nomadic existence. They were a classic community who practised syncretism, combining aspects of Hinduism and Islam. Many left their villages and spent part of their as wondering holy men. By the early 20th Century, many Rawals had taken up the profession of hakims (physicians), practitioners of the unani medicine. The Rawals were also employed in rural Punjab to carry out surgery and eye operations, leaving there villages at the beginning of winter to visit a well-established client network.

The Rawal like the Barwala and Khatik referred to in earlier posts were not granted agricultural status under the Punjab Land Alienation Act. The impact of this decision was that they were unable to own or purchase land. Many Rawal therefore began to migrate to British ruled Malaysia and Singapore. They now form important communities within the Punjabi Muslim diaspora communities in those two countries. The Partition of Punjab in 1947 affected the Rawal even more badly then the Khatik, with the majority found in territory that is now Indian Punjab. The effect of partition has been that almost all the syncretic traditions have been abandoned. Many of the refugee Rawal are now settled in Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Sialkot. Like the Khatik, they are now considered to be a sub-group of Shaikhs.

Distribution of Rawal in Punjab by District According to 1911 Census of India


District Population
Gurdaspur 4,079
Sialkot 3,687
Hoshiarpur 3,265
Amritsar 3,119
Jalandhar 2,554
Gujranwala 1,746
Kangra 1,164
Gujrat 997
Lahore 933
Jhelum 693
Kapurthala State 668
Ludhiana 400
Other districts 1,637
Total Population 24,942


Khatik of Pakistani Punjab

In this post I will look at the Khatik, sometimes written as Khateek caste of Punjab, specifically those Khatiks who converted to Islam. According to the 1901 Census of Punjab, out of a total population of 23,648 about 11,362, almost half the population had converted Islam. They are one of the lesser known of the Punjabi Muslim communities. Outside Punjab, Muslims Khatiks were also found in the Jammu region and western Uttar Pradesh. But my article will focus on the Muslim Khatik of Punjab. Most Khatiks now describe themselves as sub-caste of the Punjabi Shaikhs. What makes the Khatiks interesting is that they have been pioneers in setting up the tannery business in Pakistan, which now is a major exporter of leather goods. Major clusters of the industry now exist in Sialkot and Gujranwala, initiated by long established Khatiks communities, while those in Kasur and Karachi are largely immigrants from what’s Punjab and Haryana in India.

Like many communities, there are various traditions as to the origins of the Khatiks. Traditionally, the Hindu Khatik were tanners and dyers of goats’ skins, while upon conversion to Islam, many Muslim Khatik took on the additional occupation of butchering, and selling goat meat. The Muslim Khatik in the Jalandhar/Ludhiana and Patiala region had two clans, the Rajputs and Ghori Pathan, these being the castes of the individuals at whose hand they had converted to Islam. This conversion had occurred sometime in the later Mughal period, perhaps in the 17th Century, and traditionally, these two groups did not intermarry. The origin of the Khatik community is disputed, but according to William Crooke, they were of Pasi origin, a well-known caste from eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, who had migrated westwards into the Punjab. This migration is likely to have led to a significant numbers to convert to Islam, as migrated into regions with large Muslim populations, which by the beginning of the 20th Century meant, that almost half of the Khatik caste had become Muslim. It is however worth pointing out that most Khatik claim to be of Khatri origin, who were commanded to take up dyeing. According to the British ethnologist Rose, the Hindu Khatik of eastern Punjab had the following origin myth:

“Brahma, they say, assigned to them a goat’s skin, the bark of trees and lac — so they graze cattle, dye the skins of goats and deer, and tan hides with bark and lac”

This linkage with the Khatri is also stressed by Muslim Khatiks, who argue that like most Punjabi Shaikhs, they have Khatri ancestors. It is also possible, that a group of Khatri to take up tanning as occupation, and become outcasted. At present, however, the Hindu Khatik and Khatri are distinct castes.

There are different traditions as to the etymology of the word of Kathik. According to Rose the word Khatik has been derived from the Hindi word khat, which means an immediate killing. They relate this to early days when they used to supply mutton to the various local kings and feudal lords. While other sources claim that the word khatik is said to have originated from the Sanskrit word kathika, which means to butcher or hunt. The Khatik of Punjab used salt and juice of the maddar tree (Calotropis procera) to tan and dye goat and sheep skin. This occupation was entirely in their hands until the arrival of the larger tanneries in the 20th Century.


Distribution of Muslim Khatik in Punjab by District According to 1901 Census of India


District Population
Sialkot 3,287
Gurdaspur 1,162
Hissar 993
Jalandhar 894
Patiala State 807
Gujranwala 677
Hoshiarpur 578
Firuzpur 544
Lahore 458
Ludhiana 372
Amritsar 333
Gujrat 283
Kangra 194
Karnal District 141
Malerkotla State 100
Ambala District 99
Other districts 370
Total Population 11,362


Most of the Khatik population was found in three clusters, around the slopes of the Himalayas, in an area extending from Hoshiarpur in the east to Gujrat in the west. The smaller Khatik population found in Jammu were part of this cluster. A second group were found in an area extending from Jalandhar to Patiala, roughly in what is now the Indian state of Punjab. A final group was concentrated in along the banks of the Yamuna, and were connected to the Khatik of Uttar Pradesh. About 60% of the Khatiks were found in the present states of Punjab and Haryan in India, and like other Punjabi Muslims they had to migrate to Pakistan as a consequence of the Partion of India.

Khatik and the Tannery Business in Pakistan

The Khatik from Indian states of Haryana and Punjab are now found mainly in Kasur and Faisalabad districts of Punjab. A small number of this group are also found in the cities of Karachi and Quetta. Building on their traditional occupation, the Khateek community is regarded as the pioneers of tannery work in Kasur. The Khateeks, who think of themselves as a kinship group, or biraderi, trace their origins to Jalandhar and other cities of eastern Punjab in India. Their self-designation is now Shaikh or Punjabi Shaikh, although both Khateek and Shaikh are used inter-changeably. The name Khateek is now used as clan designation of the Punjabi Shaikh caste. It is possible, in principle, for there to be Khateeks who are not Shaikh and vice versa. In practice, however, the two terms are used interchangeably by the people in question, not only in Kasur, but also in other sites such as Korangi where tanning work is established. The Khateek of Jalandhar arrived in Pakistan at the time of the partition of India in 1947. Various groups of families attempted to set up their traditional industry in various towns and cities, including Kasur, Karachi, and Quetta.

The Khateeks who settled in Kasur initially established cottage industries where all family members, including women, participated in the work. The first proper tannery was established by the Khateeks in Kasur in the 1960s. From then on, the tendency has been towards industrialization, with cottage industries being replaced by factories with bigger productive capacities and with the extensive use of non-family labour. The Khateeks themselves have withdrawn their labour and focus on managing their businesses.
The older established Khatiks of Gujranwala and Sialkot have been joined by many refugee families from Gurdaspur and Jammu, who have also used their traditional skills to establish these cities as important centres of tanning in Pakistan. In fact Sialkot is now the more important centre of tanning then Kasur. Pakistan now is one of the leading manufacturers and exporters of leather products, thanks to the skills and enterprise of the Khatiks. Like those from East Punjab, the Khatik now refer to themselves as Shaikh, with Khatik being referred to simply as a lineage group.

Like other Pakistanis, many Khatiks have emigrated to the United Kingdom, and form a significant part of the community of British Pakistanis, particularly in the city of Glasgow. Most of these Khatiks have roots in Faisalabad, and they in turn are refugees from Jalandhar and Patiala.

Bharai Caste

In this post I shall look at the Bharain, also known as Shaikh Sarwari, an interesting community found mainly in the Punjab. Bharain started off as followers of Syed Ahmad Sultan, popularly known as Sakhi Sarwar. He was a 12th-century Sufi saint of the Punjab region, and is also known by various other appellations such as Sultan (king), Lakhdata (bestower of millions), Lalanvala (master of rubies), Nigahia Pir (the saint of Nigaha) and Rohianvala (lord of the forests). Sakhi Sarwar is said to have migrated from Baghdad, Iraq, and settled in Shahkot near Multan in 1120 AD. He settled in Dera Ghazi Khan, where he was killed on 1181 AD and buried at the place now known as Sakhi Sarwar. Strictly speaking the Bharais do not form a caste, but are an occupational group or spiritual brotherhood. The Bharain are a therefore what are referred to as a sectarian caste, where membership is based on a devotion of to a saint, and not by birth. Horace Rose, the early 20th Century ethnologist of the Punjab made reference to several castes such as the Dogar, Habri, Rawat, Dom, Rajput, Mochi, Gujar, Tarkhan and last, but not least, Jat joining the Bharai brotherhood. However, after a few generations, most sectarian castes start to take on the characteristics of a regular caste. After a generation or two, marriages only occur within the caste. And this is exactly what has happened to the Bharai.

The Bharai were traditionally priests of the Sultani sect, a syncretic sect with combined elements of Hinduism and Islam, with Sakhi Sarwar traditionally said to have founded the sect. Most Sultanis were members of the Hindu Jat community, but the Bharai were always Muslim, and belonged largely to the Muslim Jat or Muslim Rajput castes. The term Bharai itself is said to be derived from the Punjabi words chauhi bharnā, literally to keep a vigil in the memory of Sakhi Sarwar. The Jat Bharai in central Punjab claim descent from one Garba Jat, a Hindu attendant at Sakhi Sarwar’s shrine, who was in a dream was asked by the saint to embrace Islam. On his conversion he was called Shaikh Garba. The Jat Bharais have several gots: — Dhillon, Deo, Rewal Garewal, Man, Randhawa, Jham, Karhi and Badecha, all very well-known Jat tribes. However, by the beginning of the 20th Century, the Sultani sect saw a severe decline. As a result, many Bharai have been reduced to poverty. The decline of Sultani is very much connected with the sharpening religious tensions in the Punjab, which eventually led to partition of the region. Most Bharai are now day labourers, and heavily stigmatised. There remains a presence of Bharai in Indian Punjab, which is unique for a Muslim community.

There are various theories as to the origin of the word Bharai. Horace Rose, refers to the following legend:

One Bukan Jat was a devotee of Sakhi Sarwar who one day said to him tujhe piri di, ‘the saint’s mouth has fallen on thee’, whence the name Pirhai. Another account says that after leaving Dhaunkal, Sakhi Sayyid Ahmad went to Multan and rested for a while at Parahin, a place south of Shahkot, which was the home of his mother’s ancestors, Rihan Jats by caste. At Multan an Afghan chief had a daughter to whose hand many of the Shahkot youths aspired, but none were deemed worthy. One day, however, the Afghan invited Sayyid Ahmad to a feast and begged him to accept his daughter in marriage. This offer the saint accepted, and the sihra below, which was composed on this occasion, is still sung with great reverence. The mirasi, however, neglected to attend the wedding punctually, and when he did appear, rejected the saint’s present of a piece of blue cloth, 1-1/4 yards in length, at the instigation of the Jats and Pathans, saying it was of no use to him. Hearing this the Sayyid gave it to Shaikh Buddha, a Jat who had been brought up with him, saying: “This is a bindi (badge), tie it round your head, and beat a drum. We need no mirasi, and when yon are in any difficulty remember me in these words: — Daimji Rabdia sawāria, bohar Kali Kakki-wādlia — Help me in time of trouble, thou owner of Kali Kakki ! You and your descendants have come under our protection, panāh, and you shall be called pāndhi.” This term became corrupted into Parahin in time”.

In addition to the story narrated here, there are also several other traditions as to the origin of the Bharai. According of these stories, Sayyid Ahmed incurred the enmity of the Jats and Pathans of Shahkot and left that place for Afghanistan, accompanied by Bibi Bai, Rānā Mian, and his younger brother. Twenty-five miles from Dera Ghazi Khan as they had run out of water. The Sayyid mounted his mare Kali Kakki and at every step she took water came up. His pursuers, however, were close at hand, and when they overtook him the Sakhi was slain, and buried where he fell. The spot is known as Nigaha and a site of a spring in what is otherwise an arid region.

Years later Isa, a merchant of Bukhara, and a devotee of Sakhi Sarwar, was voyaging in the Indian Ocean when a storm arose. Isa asked for the saint’s aid and the ship was saved. On his arrival in India, Isa journeyed to Multan, where he learnt that the saint had been killed. On reaching Nigaha he found no traces of his tomb, but no fire could be kindled on the spot, and in the morning as they loaded the camels their legs broke. Sakhi Sarwar descended from the hill on his mare, holding a spear in his hand, and warned the merchant that he had desecrated his tomb and must rebuild it at a cost of 1-1/4 lakhs Rupees. He was then to bring a blind man, a leper, and a eunuch from Bukhara and entrust its supervision to them. One day when the blind man stumbled near the tomb he saved himself by clutching at some kahi grass where-upon his sight was restored and his descendants are still known as the Kahi. The eunuch was also cured and his descendants are called Shaikh. The leper too recovered, and his descendants, the Kalang, are still found in Nigaha. To commemorate their cures all three beat a drum, and Sakhi Sarwar appeared to them, saying; “He who is my follower will ever beat the drum and remain barahi (sound) nor will he ever lack anything.” Hence the pilgrims to Nigaha became known as Bharais.

Recent scholarship in rural Punjab, for example by Nicolas Martin has shown how marginal the present position of the Bharai is. Most are now in an extremely poor position, and suffer from discrimination.

Badhan / Wadhan, Kanjial and Rachyal tribes

In this post, I will look at three tribes, namely the Badhan, Kunjial and Rachyal, who are found mainly in the southern region of Azad Kashmir, and neighbouring districts of Punjab namely Rawalpindi, Jhelum, Gujrat and Sialkot. In Indian administered Kashmir, there are concentration in Rajouri and the Mendhar Tehsil of Poonch. I will use this post to give a brief description of the Jat population within the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Most of the Jat population was found either in the Duggar Region, about 15% or in the Chibhal Region the remaining 85%. Although the Chibhal region, took its name from the Chib clan of the Rajputs who were the traditional rulers of this area, the Jat population was almost twice that of the Rajputs. The Chibs converted to Islam in mid-17th Century, and other Rajput sub-castes followed suit. It is very likely that most of the Jat also converted at that time. However it is worth pointing out that the Jat and Rajput tribes tended to have a common origin, with CLAIMS TO Rajputhood based mostly on whether a clan had achieved political power or not. Outside Mirpur and Bhimber tehsils, there were several Jat communities in Rajouri (then part of Reasi) and Poonch. Separate from these, were the Jats of the Jammu and Kathua (Duggar) region, who were Punjabi speaking, belonging mainly to the Badhan, Bajwa, Kahlown, Nagra and Randhawa clans, and were really an overspill of the Jats of Sialkot and Gurdaspur. Most of the Muslim Jat villages were located in Ranbir Singh Pura and Bishnah tehsils of Jammu and Samba districts. Below is a breakdown of the total Jat population according to the 1931 Census:









506 16,778




















Poonch Jagir




Other Districts










As the 1931 census shows, most of the Jat population numbering about 122,506, of whatever religion were found in the old Mirpur District, where the Jats formed more than a third of the total population of 344,747. Most of these areas now forms part of Azad Kashmir, except the area around Nawshera, traditionally part of Bhimber Tehsil, which is now under Indian administration. Most of the Hindu and Sikh Jat population was found in the Deva-Batala area, now part of the modern day district of Bhimber. The division of the Chibhal region in 1948 led to the migration of the Hindu and Sikh population, while the Muslim Jats left the area around Nowshera that came under Indian control. Similarly, the Muslim Jats of Jammu and Kathua also immigrated to Pakistan. There is still a small Muslim Jat population in Rajouri and Mendhar in Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir.

The Jat of Jammu and Kashmir are further sub-divided into numerous clans called gots or gotras. Technically members of a Jat got are supposed to be descended from a traditional common ancestor by agnatic descent, i.e. through male line only. Another interesting thing about the various Jat tribes in Chibhal is that there name often ends in al, which is patronymic, for example, the sons of Kals, are the Kalyal and so on, very similar to the Arabic Bin or Slavic ovich or ov. The aals started off as clans of a larger tribe, so the Kanjial are a branch of the Janjua, who have now evolved into a separate tribe. Unlike the Jats of the Punjab plains, where one large clan often has several villages, in the Chibhal we have numerous clans often occupying the same village. In my other posts, I have looked at and posted about Jat tribes that have a presence in the Chibhal, such as the Bangyal, Gujjral, Hayal, Kanyal, Kalyal, Bhakral (or Pakhreel), Matyal, Nagyal and Thathaal.


I start off this post by looking at the Badhan, sometimes pronounced as Wadhan, also known as Pakhai, who are generally considered as a Jat tribe, but have also claimed to be Rajput. Like many Punjabi tribes, there are several traditions as to the origin of the tribe. There are in fact two origin stories, one connected with eastern Badhan, those found in Gujrat, Sialkot/Narowal, and historically in Jammu and Gurdaspur, and the western group found in Sudhnoti, Kotli, Jhelum and Rawalpindi (mainly Kahuta). Under the various censuses carried by the British in the early 20th Century, the Badhan of central Punjab generally registered them themselves as Jats, and this included those of Jammu, while in Pothohar and Mirpur/Poonch, most Badhan registered themselves as Rajputs.
I shall off by looking at the traditions of the eastern Badhan first. Among many Sialkot Badhans, Jats, that they were a branch of the mythical Saroa Rajputs and descended from Kala, a resident of Jammu. However, a more common traditions was that the Badhan, there ancestor was descended from of Gillpal (Gilpal), son of a Rajput King, Pirthipal, Raja of Garh Mithila and a Waria (Baryah) Rajput by a Bhular Jat wife. This would make the Badhan a branch of the Gill tribe, and indeed the Sikh Badhan Jatts of Gurdaspur and Jammu do not marry the Gills, as they consider themselves to be a branch of the Gills. Judge or Juj was the second son of Gillpal, was the ancestor of Badhan Gills. The tribe gets its name from Badhan, the great grandson of Juj.

The western Badhan have an entirely different tradition. According to them, there ancestor Badhan was a Janjua Rajput of Kahuta, who settled among the Sudhans. In fact, in the Sudhnoti region of Poonch, the Badhan are often confused with the Sudhans, and a few Badhans actually claim themselves to be a branch of the Sudhans. In Sudhnoti, the occupy several villages near the Jhelum river. A smaller section also claims to be Qutabshahi Awans. What is clear is that in this western region, the Badhan occupy a quasi-Jat status, while among the eastern group, a claim to be Jat is generally accepted.


In Rawalpindi, there are several Badhan villages such as Parhali (in Tehsil Kahuta) and Rawat. In Sudhnuti, important Badhan villages include Basari, Rakar, Neeryan, Sahr Kakota, Noursa, Hamrata, and Kohala.

Distribution of Badhan in Jammu and Kashmir by District According to 1911 Census of India

The bulk of the Badhan population was found in the Poonch Jagir. However, the figures for Mirpur are slightly misleading, as many of Badhan in Mirpur registered themselves as Jats.

District Population
Reeasi 79
Mirpur 1,393
Poonch Jagir 4,607
Muzafarabad 505
Total Population 6,596


Distribution of Badhan who declared themselves as Jat in Punjab by District According to 1901 Census of India


District Population
Rawalpindi 246
Jhelum 248
Total Population 494



The Kanjial are found mainly in Gujrat, Bhimber, Mirpur and Jhelum districts. According to tribal traditions, there ancestor was a Ghalla, a Janjua Rajput, who had three sons, Bhakari, their ancestor, Natha (ancestor of the Nathial) and Kunjah (ancestor of the Kunjial). However, some traditions make Rai Kunjah to be a Bhatti.
In Mirpur, Kanjial villages include Andrah Kalan, Khandora and other villages in the Islamgarh Tehsil of Mirpur.


Finally, I will look at the Rachyal, sometimes spelt Richyal, who are a Jat tribe, found mainly in the Kotli and Mirpur districts of Azad Kashmir. Like the Kahlotra already mentioned, the Rachyal are a clan of Dogras, whose roots like in the Chamba region of what is now Himachal Pradesh. There ancestor was a Ranchan Dev, a Hindu Rajput of the Kashyap gotra, who said to have converted to Islam in the 16th Century. Generally, among the Rajputs of the Himachal region, each clan was connected with a Hindu rishi, who was traditional spiritual ancestor. Looking at Kashyapa, he is one of Saptarishi, the seven famed rishis and considered to be author of many hymns and verses of the Rigveda (1500-1200 BCE). It is likely that the Rachyal are branch of the Katoch Rajputs, as they belonged to the Kashyap gotra.

According to tribal folklore, once the Rachyals converted to Islam they were forced out of Chamba and its surroundings and we see them migrating to Sialkot, Sheikhupura, and Jhang areas of Punjab in Pakistan. The tribe then re-entered the Jammu state via Dhuki village through Sarai-Alamgir (near Kharian, Punjab, Pakistan) which lies in district of Mirpur around three hundred years ago. They then moved to Mangla and eventually to a place called Ladna near now Chakswari. From here the Rachyals spread farther west and the estate of Panyam came into existence. Most of the Rachyal are still found either in Chakswari or Panyam, where several of their villages are found such as Pothi,and Chamba. Some Rachyals villages are found further north near Naar, Rajdhani, Poonch and Rajouri.

Tribes and Castes of Mirpur District, Azad Kashmir

In this post, I will give the breakdown of the population of the old Mirpur District of the princely state Jammu and Kashmir, roughly covering the current districts of Mirpur, Bhimber, Kotli, as well as a portion of Bhimber Tehsil which now forms part of the Nowshera Tehsil of Rajouri in Indian administered Kashmir. The results are from the Census of 1931. Ethnologically, Mirpur region has much in common with neighbouring Pothohar, in particular the Gujar Khan Region, with Jat cultivators, a smaller Rajput aristocracy and a group of castes connected with particular occupation often derogatorily refereed to as Kammi. Traditionally, landownership was associated with particular groups, such as the Jat, while the kammi were largely landless. Almost all the population, including the large ethnic Kashmiri population spoke Mirpur Punjabi, aalso referred to as Pahari or Pothwari. This language is extremely close to the Pothwari spoken in Gujarkhan.

The old district formed the heart of the Chibhal region, with the Tawi forming the eastern portion and Jhelum the west, Punjab in the south and Poonch and the Pir Panjaal in the north. This region formed the easiest route into the Kashmir valley along the Bhimber, Rajouri and Shopian route, also known as the Mughal Road. Over 80% of the population was Muslim, and most of the population spoke Pahari. After the first Indo-Pak War of 1948, the district was divided by the armistice line that later became known as Line of Control. There was also an exchange of population, with Nawshera now about 90% Hindu and Sikh, while the Mirpur Division is now entirely Muslim. About one third of the district was Jat, who belonged to all three religions. Most of the larger clans such as the Kalial, Nagyal and Thathaal had sections which belonged to all three religion.

Brief Description of the Muslim Groups


As I have said more then 80% of the population in the district was Muslim, of whom the Jat formed almost 40% of the districts Muslim population. In Mirpur, Jats still reside in their traditional heartlands of Chakswari, Dadyal, the city of Mirpur and the countryside surrounding Mirpur, which is overwhelmingly Jat. The main Jat villages near Mirpur are Ban Khurma, Chitterpury, Balah-Gala, Kas Kalyal, Khambal, Khroota, Purkhan, Sangot and Dheri Thothal as well as many villages around the Khari Sharif area.The Jat population was in term divided into numerous clans, all claiming descent from a common ancestor. Among the larger clans were Aasar, Bangial, Badhan, Dhamial, Kalyal, Kanjial, Kanyal, Karyal, Khabal, Manjaal, Matyal, Nagyal, Nathyal, Rachyal, Ranyal, Rupyal, Thathaal, Pakhreel and Punyal.


The second largest group were the Rajputs, almost 13% of the total Muslim population. The Chibs were the dominant clan in Bhimber, while the Gakhars (including Sakhaal sub-clan)  and the Mangral in Kotli. Along the Punjab border, there were several communities of Bhao, Panwar and Sohlan. Included within the Rajputs were the Bains, who were heavily concentrated in the Mirpur tehsil, most of which now forms part the Mirpur District.

Major Clans

The 1931 Census of India was the last one that collected information on the various clans of the Rajput community. Below is a list of clans belonging to the Muslim Rajputs:

Tribe Population
Chib 7,376
Mangral 6,827
Ghakkar 5,085
Jaral 3,470
Narma 2,048
Manhas 1,161
Khokhar 1,009
Sao / Sahoo 834
Bains 678
Bhao 569
Chauhan 279
Janjua 218
Salehria/Sulehri 45
Bomba 7
Other Clans 836



The Gujjars came third, making up almost 10% of the population. Most of these Gujjars were connected with those of northern Punjab, speaking Pothwari and not Gojri, the language spoken by the Gujjars of the rest of the state, including the Kashmir valley. Among the larger Gujjar clans we find the Banya,Bagri, Bajar, Bhumbla, Bjarh, Chandpuri, Chauhan, Chechi, Gorsi, Hans, Kallas, Kasana, Khatana, Khepar Poswal and Meelu.


The next community, the Bafinda, whose traditional activity was weaving, differ from the previous three. They were village artisans, practising there traditional occupation of weaving. There was not a single village that did not contain a few houses.

Other Agriculturists

The other large groups associated with agriculture were the Awan, Arain, Maliks and Sudhans, the last two groups were found only in Kotli.

Kashmiri Muslims

By the early 20th Century, the district was home to a substantial community of Kashmiri Muslims. Most of them had switched to speaking Pahari, as this was the language of the dominant Rajputs. By 1931 they numbered 8,554, and in the Mirpur region now formed a distinct caste, in status slightly above the artisan groups, but below the landowning community.

Artisan Castes

About 20% of the district population was made up of castes that were associated with certain occupations such as Tarkhan (carpenters), Jogi (labourers), Lohar (smiths), Nai (barbers), Jheer (water carriers), Darzi (taylors), Khatik (butchers), and Machi (bakers). Slightly seperate from these kammi groups were the Mussali (2,068) and Mirasi (1,235), who like the Chamars and Meghs among the Hindus, were communities of outcastes.

One point on the Badhan and Bhatti, most of both groups registered themselves as either Jat in the case of the Badhan and Rajput in the case of the Bhatti. The Bazigar, were an interesting tribe of peripatetic nomads provided entertainment to settled village communities. They were probably undercounted on account of there nomadic lifestyles.

Major Hindu Communities

Among the Hindus of Mirpur, the Jat, formed a significant elements, with the larger clans being the Aasar, Aassle, Bhatti, Bhangre, Chahal, Gill, Dhoor, Jhal, Kjaal, Nagyals, Nathyal, Ranyal, Pajhaal, Smotra, Thathaal, and Tohre. The Rajputs, mainly Bhao, Charak, Chib and Minhas formed an important element in Bhimber. Three interesting communities that were only found in the region were the Basith, Mahajan and Muhial. The Basith claimed a Rajput status, were generally cultivators and outside Mirpur were only found in Poonch. After the 1948 War, the Basith community was made refugees. The Mahajan or Pahari Mahajan were found in the all the towns such as Koti, Mirpur and Nawshera, and were largely traders. The Mahajan of Mirpur town were a particularly wealthy community. The Muhial Brahmans were the landowners and soldiers of the Pothohar region, and a substantial section found in the Mirpur region. In addition, the district was home to two large Dalit communities, the Megh (weavers) and Chamars.

Major Sikh Communities

Mirpur was the western most region that was inhabited by Jatt Sikhs. The Sikh population of Mirpur differed considerably from those of Poonch and the Kashmir valley, who are largely Brahman. In Mirpur, the Sikhs were divided almost evenly between the Jatts and the Khatri/Arora castes, who were traditionally associated with trade.




Religion Population Percentage
Muslim 277,631 80.5%
Hindu 57,594 16.7%
Sikh 9,432 3%
Christian 82
Jain 8
Total 344,747 100%





Religion Caste or tribe Population
Jat 103,096
Rajput 35,534
Gujjar 26,414
Bafinda 9,958
Kashmiri 8,554
Malik 7,512
Awan 6,507
Mughal 6,467
Tarkhan 6,340
Arain 5,776
Sayyid 5,074
Lohar 4,675
Machhi 4,551
Kumhar (Ghumiar) 4,493
Teli 3,988
Hajjam (Nai) 3,783
Sudhan 2,521
Shaikh 2,106
Mussali (Muslim Shaikh) 2,068
Darzi 1,889
Bhatti 1,664
Jhinwar (Jheer) 1,635
Jogi 1,328
Pathan 1,239
Mirasi 1,235
Dhobi 589
Badhan 532
Rangrez 514
Bazigar 345
Sonar 127
Domaal 97
Khatik 94
Khoja 81
Bharai 61
Dervesh 45
Mochi 45
Qalandar 33
Bakarwal 29
Safiada 9
Turk 7
Banjara 3
Other Muslims 6,928
Jat 14,460
Brahman 11,685
Rajput 7,475
Chamar 6,014
Khatri 3,641
Mahajan 3,365
Basith (Vashith Rajput) 2,817
Megh 1,573
Brahman Muhial 1,565
Barwala 695
Sonar (Soni) 629
Jhinwar (Jheer) 483
Tarkhan 446
Lohar 291
Kumhar (Ghumiar) 239
Gorkha 234
Sadhu 157
Dom 151
Jogi 143
Arora 129
Labana 127
Nai 106
Chhimba 91
Gardi 51
Chuhra 40
Others 931
Jat 4,951
Arora 1,168
Khatri 1,045
Sonar (Soni) 145
Rajput 93
Brahman 68
Kumhar (Ghumiar) 41
Tarkhan 23
Mahajan 16
Jhinwar (Jheer) 11
Megh 10
Christians 82
Jains 8
Total 344,747


Baddun and Barwala Castes of Punjab

In this post, I will look at two little known communities found mainly in north eastern Punjab province, roughly the area stretching from Lahore to the Himalayan foothills of Sialkot and Narowal districts, between the Ravi and the Chenab rivers. Unlike earlier groups looked at, neither the Baddun nor the Barwala have played a major roles in the history of this region. However, they form an important element of the population of the upper Rechna Doab. On account of their lifestyles, they also suffered persecution at the hands of the British colonial regimes, particularly the Punjab Land Alienation Act, which restricted land ownership to certain communities. Its effect on both the Baddun and Barwala was that they were deprived the right to own property, rendering them landless. This legacy still affects both groups, with many members still in poor economic circumstances.



The Baddun or sometimes called Badu are a community of Punjabi Muslims. So how did this community of Punjabi Muslims get the name Baddun. According to their own traditions, the word Baddun is a Punjabi mispronunciation of the Arabic Bedu, or nomad, and until the arrival of the British in 1848, the Baddun were entirely nomadic. Their ancestors are said to have first settled in Sindh, having come from Iraq. They then moved into the Rachna Doab, sometime during the rule of the Mughals. Here in the Rechna, the Baddun became classic peripatetic nomads. In this kind of nomadism, those who move from place to place offering services in specific trades to the settled communities. The Baddun provided work in straw, made pipe- bowls, with their women peddling goods. In addition, they also captured and trained bears, taking them from the hill country of Jammu just north of Sialkot. Most of these bears were latter sold on to the Qalandar communities, which are associated with bear entertainment. However, with partition in 1947, they have discontinued this activity, as Jammu now lies within Indian territory.


The etymology of the word Baddun is most likely from in Arabic bidun, meaning without, or in some cases outside. As peripatetic nomads, the Baddun would be seen as outside the community of settled villagers, therefore bidun or outsiders. A further distinction from the settled villagers was that the Baddun were and are followers of Imam Al-Shafi‘i, as opposed to the settled population who are followers of Imam Abu Hanifa. As Shāfiʿī Sunnis, the Baddun did eat crocodiles, tortoises and frogs, although this is no longer the case, which caused some tensions with other Muslim groups. The Baddun are further divided into three clans, the Wahla, Dhara and Balara, although all three intermarry.




The other community that I will look in this post are the Barwala tribe, historically found in Sialkot, Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur districts. They are largely Muslim, with a Hindu minority. Both groups lived interspersed prior to partition in 1947. In addition to the Hindu Barwala, the Muslim Barwala are said to have close relations with the Hindu Batwal caste. According Arthur Horace Rose, the early 20th Century British administrator and ethnographers, both the Barwala and Batwal are the same community. However, geographically, Batwals were found largely in Jammu and the Himachal region, and were Hindu, while the Barwala were found in the plains stretching from Hoshiarpur to Sialkot, and were largely Muslim.

There are essentially two traditions as to the origin of the Barwala. The traditional occupation of the Barwala was the manufacture of mats and winnowing fans, and the name is probably derived from bara or baria, the kind of grass used as the main raw material. Another tradition is that in Barwala is the mispronunciation of the word. Batwal or batwar, which means a tax collector in the Pahari dialect of Kangra region of Himachal. When the Batwals, migrated from the Himalayan hills of the Kangra and Chamba region, their name was changed to Barwala. While in the hills, the Batwal are largely Hindu, there migration to the plains led to a significant portion also converting to Islam. In this region, other than the manufacture of mats, the Barwala were also the traditional village watchmen. In the plain country, according to Rose, other groups of lower castes who took to the occupation of manufacturing of mats and winnowing fans, were are all included under the generic term of Barwala, if they were involved. Perhaps the most outlandish origin story is that the name of Barwala is said to be a corruption of baharwala or “outsider,” because, like all outcasts, they live in the outskirts of the village.


But the beginning of the 20th Century, many Barwala in the Sialkot and Gurdaspur areas had begun to till land, largely as tenants and field labourers of the Rajputs, whose caste traditions prevented them from cultivating with their own hands. In the traditionally feudal setup of early 20th Century village Punjab, the Barwala were required to attend upon village guests, fill pipes, bear torches, and carry the bridegroom’s palanquin at weddings and the like, and receive fixed fees for doing so. The post of village chaukidar was also heredity within particular Barwala communities. The Barwala community is sub-divided into clans or gots, who traditionally did not intermarry. In Sialkot the Barwala gots are














Distribution of Muslim Barwala in Punjab by District According to 1901 Census of India


District Muslim
Amritsar 15,772
Sialkot 14,960
Gurdaspur 11,363
Gujranwala 6,089
Lahore 5,676
Chenab Colony 2,672
Hoshiarpur 2,344
Jalandhar 2,198
Kapurthala State 672
Gujrat 373
Other districts 350
Total Population 62,466


1901 Census of the Province of Punjab and adjacent princely States

In this post, I am setting out the results of the 1901 Census of Punjab, which included the present day Pakistani province and the Indian states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal and Delhi.




Religion Population Percentage
Muslim 12,183,345  49%
Hindu 10,344,469  42%
Sikh 2,102,896  8.5%
Christian 66,591
Jain 49,983
Buddhist 6,940
Zoroastrians 477
Jews and Uspecified 36
Total 24,754,737 100%





Religion Caste or tribe Population
Hindus 10,344,469
Jat 1,594,869
Chamar 1,181,873
Brahman 1,105,952
Chuhra 947,943
 Arora 587,128
 Rajput 432,341
Kanet 387,308>
 Khatri  381,576
 Jhinwar (Kashyap)  291,124
Tarkhan / Barhai  238,915
Ahir  202,385
Kumhar 193,278
Ghirath  169,667
Gujar  169,244
Dagi and Koli  129,403
Sunar/Soni (Tank Kshtriya)  154,739
Nai  143,257
Bania 126,285
Faqir 119,076
Lohar 113,100
Mali 111,822
Saini 106,011
Dhanuk 77,343
Chhimba 62,595
Domna 58,230
Julaha 57,472
Kamboh 56,297
Megh 49,449
Mahtam 48,586
Ror 44,771
Rathi 38,473
Jogi and Rawal 34,692
Labana 34,514
Bhat 34,509
Mahajan Pahari 30,575
Bawaria 27,854
Bazigar 27,852
Kori 26,146
Sansi 25,445
Mirasi 24,399
Noongar 23,007
Gadariya 22,386
Gaddi 21,512
Sood 20,420
Hali 18,570
Odh 18,179
Dhobi 17,916
Kalal (Kalwar) 17,240
Bishnoi 17,114
Bhatia 16,949
Aheri 13,647
Kayastha 12,439
Khateek 12,286
Jaiswara 12,058
Thori (Nayak) 11,822
Chanal 11,744
Barwala 11,189
Brahman Muhial 10,180
Darzi 9,882
Saryara 9,216
Thakkar 8,750
Taga /Tyagi 8,376
Lodha / Lodhi 7,683
Bharbhunja 7,162
Purbiya 6,295
Chhang 6,209
Gurkha 5,956
Banjara 5,421
Mochi 5,310
Nat 4,099
Bohra 4,076
Nayak 4,037
Ghai 3,950
Rebari 3,889
Teli 3,882
Thathera 3,842
Marechha 3,537
Bahti 3,501
Agari 3,444
Maniar 3,356
Mallaah 3,031
Sirkiband 3,003
Barar 2,958
Dhaugri 2,935
Meena 2,850
Darain 2,785
Kacchi 2,775
Bhanjra 2,621
Reya 2,285
Beldar 2,732
Thavi 2,122
Karal 1,853
Sepi 1,830
Raj 1,701
Kanjar 1,563
Arain 1,596
Bhabhra 1,580
Rawat 1,531
Rehar 1,469
Bangali 1,362
Penja 1,360
Daoli 1,266
Dhusar – Bhargava 1,250
Sewak 1,233
Kanchan 1,208
Hesi 1,154
Bhatra 1,095
Bhojki 1,071
Pasi 1,041
Sehnai 930
Kurmi 913
Shorgir 783
Tamboli 716
Sapela 676
Makh 631
Gandhila 601
Dosali 492
Rangrez 489
Gagra 488
Ghosi 486
Barah 482
Garri / Gayri 480
Bhand 476
Machhi 451
Patwa 449
Hadi 441
Bott (Bhotia) 418
Kashmiri 386
Bahrupia 382
Kapri 370
Satti 336
Niaria 317
Maratha 310
Saiqalgar 275
Dogra 230
Baghban 191
Dabgar 186
Attar 176
Marwari Bania 136
Chirimar 125
Perna 106
Kikan 100
Lilari 96
Pahari 81
Pujari 76
Pakhiwara 74
Bhil 61
Batera 58
Bari 51
Cheenighar 39
Sikhs 2,102,896
Jat 1,389,530
Tarkhan (Ramgarhia) 147,475
Chamar 76,229
Arora 65,307
Khatri 54,735
Kamboh 43,886
Lohar 30,935
Chhimba 28,856
Jhinwar 25,845
Nai 25,058
Labana 22,884
Chuhra 22,769
Saini 20,480
Sonar 19,235
Mahtam 19,183
Rajput 17,903
Kumhar 15,948
Faqir 10,699
Mazhabi 9,762
Kalal (Ahluwalia) 7,579
Julaha 6,511
Bhatia 6,356
Brahman 5,337
Karal 2,559
Bahrupia 2,377
Banjara 2,023
Bhat 1,948
Gujar 1,870
Mahajan Pahari 1,567
Bawaria 1,285
Bazigar 1,285
Kanet 1,036
Bania 917
Raj 916
Ghirath 895
Brahman Muhial 827
Mali 799
Dhobi 781
Darzi 666
Aheri 627
Saryara 528
Chhang 457
Bhatra 423
Bhabra 398
Thathera 381
Sood 326
Saiqalgar (Sikligar) 285
Ahir 217
Sangtarash 159
Sansi 159
Daoli 102
Nayak 81
Odh 78
Thori (Nayak) 73
Nat 69
Bhand 67
Dogra 64
Makh 55
Niaria 35
Teli 25
Muslims 12,183,345
Jat 1,962,252
Rajput 1,347,347
Arain 1,005,188
Julaha 592,786
Baloch 467,843
Gujar 460,410
Awan 421,112
Mochi 409,677
Kumhar 359,889
Shaikh 321,408
Teli 318,598
Tarkhan 294,096
Pathan 263,897
Faqir 255,864
Sayyad 244,227
Machhi 240,983
Mirasi 222,959
Chuhra 217,805
Nai 207,822
Lohar 206,371
Kashmiri 193,088
Meo 146,652
Jhinwar 142,208
Dhobi 128,487
Qassab (Qasai) 118,644
Khokhar 107,939
Khoja (Punjabi Shaikh) 99,238
Mughal 98,282
Maliar 81,093
Dogar 75,080
Kamboh 73,878
Mallaah 70,223
Bharai / Shaikh Sarwari 65,678
Barwala 62,466
Chhimba 60,051
Mussali / Muslim Shaikh 57,410
Qureshi 52,951
Kutana 49,982
Jogi and Rawal 41,030
Kharal 40,296
Changar 39,354
Ulema 34,099
Pacheda 31,117
Darzi 28,969
Sonar (Tank Rajput) 28,565
Ghakhar 26,259
Dhund (Abbasi) 23,591
Daudpotra (Abbasi) 20,384
Rangrez 20,160
Lilari 20,027
Penja 19,679
Rawat 17,374
Satti 17,094
Mahtam 15,076
Bhatiara 13,942
Jhabel 13,278
Khateek 11,362
Kahut 10,804
Kakkezai 10,793
Raj 10,486
Chamar 10,332
Kanchan 8,984
Odh 8,583
Janjua 8,361
Maniar 7,907
Kalal 7,563
Khattar 7,411
Kunjra 6,913
Nat 6,330
Kanera 5,893
Pakhiwara 5,590
Taga / Tyagi 5,214
Paracha 4,564
Khanzada (Jadaun) 3,971
Banjara 3,728
Harni 3,575
Labana 3,531
Ghosi 3,543
Gaddi 3,294
Bodla 3,184
Noongar 2,894
Ahir 2,816
Khakha 2,765
Sansi 2,536
Bhat 2,487
Aheri 2,449
Gagra 2,433
Ghullam 2,405
Sudhan 2,291
Niaria 2,162
Kathia 2,099
Baddun 1,896
Lilla 1,691
Baghban 1,602
Kehal 1,531
Batwal 1,477
Qalandar 1,449
Bharbhunja 1,385
Thathera 1,374
Perna 1,270
Bhand 1,162
Toba 1,140
Dabgar 1,127
Khumra 1,109
Arab 1,098
Barar 1,025
Kangar 915
Domna 902
Kanjar 889
Garri / Gayri 826
Kayastha 822
Kamangar 783
Kharasia 773
Darugar 728
Marath 689
Gadariya 661
Phapra 632
Turk 563
Bawaria 468
Dogra 448
Bisati 439
Mohipota / Mohipotra 431
Thori (Nayak) 392
Brahman 386
Patwa 363
Karal 350
Chirimar 341
Sirkiband 330
Tanoli 309
Sahnsar 305
Mali 294
Qizilbash 294
Saiqalgar 280
Lodha / Lodhi 268
Bazigar 254
Bangali 252
Attar 216
Pasi 215
Bhatia 213
Jhojha 202
Sattiar 198
Arora 189
Khushabi 185
Saini 180
Kanet 176
Khatri 161
Hijra 157
Bohra 150
Sapela 149
Gandhila 145
Chanal 139
Kamachi 137
Shorgir 124
Tamboli 123
Cheenigar 101
Kapri 99
Sangtarash 81
Tibetan Musalman 79
Nayak 79
Makh 68
Sehnai 68
Bhabhra 65
Qarol 61
Bahrupia 37
Ladakhi 32
Rehar 29
Ghok 18
Hazara 12
Jains 49,983
Bania 35,807
Bhabhra 11,249
Faqir 107
Jain Miscellaneous 2,653
Buddhist 6,940
Jad 1,945
Kanet 1,342
Hasir 372
Joba / Jora 233
Chhazang 71
Tarkhan 31
Lanba 22
Chhimba 15
Lonpa 7
Oh 6
Long Changpa 3
Champa 3
Christian 66,591
Zoroastrians 477
Jews and Unspecified 36
Total 24,754,737




Census of India 1901 [Vol 17A] Imperial tables, I-VIII, X-XV, XVII and XVIII for the Punjab, with the native states under the political control of the Punjab Government, and for the North-west Frontier Province Table XIII Part II A – The Castes and Tribes of the Punjab by Districts and States

Narma and Sohlan Rajput

In this post, I look at two related tribes, the Narma and Sohlan. Both are branches of the famous Parmar Rajputs, who ruled much of central India, from their capital at Ujjain. Once the Parmar state was destroyed, groups of Parmar migrated to different parts of India, including the foothills of the Pir Panjaal.


Starting off with the Narma, they are a clan of Paharia Rajputs, whose territory extends from Mirpur and Kotli in Azad Kashmir to Gujrat and Rawalpindi in Punjab. According to tribal traditions, they are Agnikula Rajputs descendant of Raja Karan. This Raja Karan was said to be from Ujjain or Kathiawar, although the Thathaal tradition is he was the ruler of Thanesar in Haryana. My post on the Nonari also explores this mysterious figure found among the traditions of many Punjab tribes. The Narma, therefore are Panwar Rajputs, who ruled Malwa and Ujjain, their famous kings names were Raja Bikramjeet and Raja Bahoj. During the invasions of Mahmood of Ghaznai the Narma were said to be living in the Haryana. Naru Khan 8th descent of Raja Karan accepted Islam and the tribe were named after him; Naru or Narma Rajputs. They were land owner of several villages within Haryana; the chief men of this tribe were known by the title Rai, and this title is still used by their descendants presently. Most Narma Rajputs have accepted Islam, although some remain Hindu. The Panwars are said to have thirty four branches, named after places, titles, language and person’s names like Omtawaar were known as the descendants of Omta, similarly the descendants of Naru became Naruma and then Narma.


Naru and Narma

There might be a common ancestory between Naru and Narma, they both claim their ancestor name was Naru, who accepted Islam and given new name Naru Khan during the invasion of Mahmood of Ghazna, and he lived in Haryana area. However, the Narma claim that they are of Panwar Rajput ancestry, while Naru origin stories make reference to Chandravanshi origin (Please see my article on the Pothohar tribes on Rajput sub-divisions). Coming back to the Narma, their origin myth refers to a Rai Pahre Khan, seven generations from Naru Khan who came from Kaithal in Haryana to what is now Jhelum district and founded two villages Fatehpur and Puran. A descendent of Pahre Khan, Rai Jalal Khan relocated to Senyah. As a tribe, the Narma are distributed over a large territory with Gujrat in the east, Rawalpindi in the west, and Mirpur and Poonch in the north, with Panjan in Azad Kashmir being a centre of the tribe.


The Narmas in Gujrat say that they have nine clans which are as follows:

1. Sadrya

2. Adryal

3. Sambrhyal

4. Haudali

5. Jalali

6. Alimyana

7. Joyal

8. Umrali

9. Hassanabdalia.

Narma Rajputs in Indian administered Kashmir

In India administered Kashmir, they are found mainly in villages near Naushehra in Rajauri District. There main villages include Jamola and Gurdal Paine.

Narma Rajput in Azad Kashmir

Important Narma villages in Azad Kashmir include Khoi Ratta, Narma, Panjan, Dhargutti, Palal Rajgan, Panjpir, Prayi, Charohi, Rasani, Sabazkot, Sanghal, Senyah, and Tain all in Kotli District.

In Bagh District, their villages include Sirawera, Dhoomkot. Kaffulgarh, Ghaniabad, Bees Bagla, Sarmundle, Mandri, Bhutti, Nikkikair, Awera, Dhundar, Cheran, Makhdomkot, Chattar, Adyala Paddar, Lober, and Patrata.

While in Bhimber District, they are found in the villages of Haripur (Samani Tehsil), Jhangar (Bhimber Tehsil), Makri Bohani (Bhimber Tehsil), Broh (Bhimber Tehsil), Khamba (Bhimber Tehsil), Thandar (Bhimber Tehsil), Siyala (Bhimber Tehsil), Garhone (Bhimber Tehsil), and Chadhroon (Bhimber Tehsil).

Narma Rajput in Punjab

In Punjab, they are found in the districts of Gujrat, Jhelum and Rawalpindi. The villages of Puran and Fatehpur in Jhelum District are said to be their earliest settlements. In Rawalpindi, they are found in Jocha Mamdot ,Sood Badhana and Narmatokh Kangar villages.


Sohlan is said to have emigrated from Malwa in the middle ages, settling in the foothills of the Pir Panjal mountains, and converting to Islam. The Sohlan established a principality based on the town of the Khari Sharif and during the time of the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughals the reigning authorities never levied taxes in the Solhan ruled areas, in lieu of peaceful passage to Kabul. There are however other traditions which connect the Sohlan clan with the royal family from Kishtawar; with Raja Sohlan Singh quarrelling with his relations and settling in Khari, and expelling the Gujjar population. Legend also has it that Mangla Devi an ancestor of the tribe and after whom Mangla is named after was the first person from the tribe to convert to Islam. This site has now been inundated by the construction of the Mangla Dam in Mirpur District. After the collapse of the Mughal Empire, the Sohlan areas came under the rule of the Sikhs. This rule lasted until 1846 when Sohlan inhabited areas north of the Jhelum river were handed over to the Gulab Singh Dogra in an agreement with the British as part of the Treaty of Amritsar. As result of this treaty, Sohlan territory was effectively partitioned, with Sohlan south of the Jhelum coming under direct British areas, in what became the district of Jhelum and sub-district of Gujar Khan. Despite this separation, both the Chibhal territory of Jammu State and British Pothohar continued to share common cultural traditions, with minor dialectial differences between Pothwari and Pahari languages.


Presently, the Sohlan are found chiefly in the Mirpur District of Azad Kashmir, with small numbers found in Jhelum, Gujar Khan, and Rawalpindi.

Starting with Mirpur District, their villages include Bani (Mirpur), Dalyala, Ghaseetpur Sohalian, Koonjarai Nawab, Mehmunpur, and Sahang. Sohlan villages in Mirpur are located mainly around the town of Khari Sharif which has historically been ruled by this clan. Since the development of the Mangla Dam, old Jabot Village, which was also an important Sohlan village was submerged underwater causing many families to move to Khari Sharif, and establishing the village of New Jabot. The Sohlan village in Jhelum District are located north of the city of Jhelum near the border with Mirpur, the principal settlement being Sohan. Other villages include Gatyali or Patan Gatalyan, Chak Khasa, Pakhwal Rajgan, Chitti Rajgan, Pind Ratwal Tahlianwala, Dhok Sohlnan, Piraghaib and Langerpur. They are closely connected to with both the Bhao and Chibs, who are their neighbours, and with whom they share good many customs and traditions. Outside this core area, Sohlan villages include Sahang and Dhok Sohlan in Tehsil Gujar Khan district, Morah Sohlan, Pehount in the Islamabad Capital Territory and Naar Mandho in Kotli District.