This is my second posting on the lesser known tribes of the Potohar region of Pakistan. I shall look at the Bangial, Bhakral, and Hon. All of these tribes claim ancestry from the Panwar tribe, however with regards to the Bhakral, or sometimes pronounced Pakhral there various other theories as to their origin. Let me start off with a brief note of the Panwar, or sometimes pronounced as Parmar or Puar . The Panwar were dynasty that in early medieval India ruled over the Malwa region in central India. Like the Chauhans, the Panwar are from the fire born or Agnivansh branch of the Rajputs. Quite a number of tribes in Pothohar and neighbouring Chibhal region claim descent from the Panwars, all having some tradition of migration from central India, followed by conversion to Islam at the hands of a particular Sufi saint. Many of these tribes also have traditions of initially settling in the region known as Chibhal. The key figure that appears in the origin story of Chibhali Panwar is Raja Jagdev Panwar, who has an almost semi-mythical. According to tribal myths of, he became the ruler of Malwa after death of his Udayaditya, but he handed over the throne to his brother owing to family-dispute and settled at Jarg, somewhere in present day Okara District. He is said to have slain a demon who used to eat a human-being daily in a fort near Dipalpur, also in Okara. The local king Raja Kankhar bestowed upon him half his kingdom and gave his daughter in marriage. He is said to have struck off his own head on the demand of a witch-wife of the court-bard of Raja Jai Chand of Lambargaon but this was miraculously restored. Jagdev then migrated to the Chibhal territory, where he founded Akhnoor State, ruled by Panwar Dynasty of his descendants for over six centuries. Many of the local Dogra clans claim descent from the Raja such as the Ambarai.
Akhnoor lies in the heart of Chibhal located on the banks of the Chenab River. The territory of Chibhal lies between Tawi River and Jhelum rivers, with the Pir Panjal Mountains forming its northern boundary and gets its name from the Chib tribe (to whom I intend to return in latter blogs). Presently, Chibhal is divided by the line of control, with Mirpur and Bhimber districts within Pakistani Kashmir, and districts of Rajauri, Reasi, and parts of Jammu (including Akhnur) west of the Tawi in Indian Kashmir. The three tribes in this blog all have traditions of leaving the region and settling in plains territory of northern Punjab in Gujarkhan, Jhelum, Chakwal and Kharian. However, the Bhakral (sometimes pronounced as Pakhral) still have a presence in the Chibhal, with villages in Mirpur, Kotli and Rajouri, in the foothills of the Pir Panjaal.
So who are the Bangial, sometimes written as Bangyal, and we have go back to my first post on the Pothohar tribes. The word al means son of in number of dialects that fall within Lahnda. According to the Bangials themselves, they are descended from a Rajah Bangash Khan, a Panwar Rajput, who arrived in the Pothohar region from central India, hence the name Bangash al, shortened to Bangyal. This Bangash Khan is also seen as ancestor by the closely related Baghial tribe. Like many of their neighbours such as the Kalyal, some groups of Bangial consider themselves as Jats, while other see themselves as Rajputs. In Gujranwala, Gujrat and Jhelum districts of Punjab, and Mirpur District of Azad Kashmir, the Bangial strongly identify themselves as Jat, and intermarry with tribes of Jat status, such as the Warriach and Tarar. But as we move towards Dina and neighbouring Gujar Khan tehsils, almost all the Bangial claim Rajput ancestry, so briefly we can summarize, that the Jhelum River divides these two groups. Looking at major Bangial villages in Rawalpindi District by tehsil:
1) Changa Bangial (now actually a fair sized town)
2) Chehari Bangial
3) Dhok Bangial
4) Dhok Chaudrian
6) Pharwal Bangial
7) Sandal Bangial
9) Wasla Bangial
2) Bura Bangial
3) Darihala Bangial
4) Kala Bangial
5) Marri Bangial
6) Pind Dara
1) Maira Khurd
2) Suhot Bangial
Kallar Syedan Tehsil
1) Choa Khalsa
2) Dhok Bangial
3) Nala Musalmanan,
4) Pehr Hali,
5) Sahib Dhamial
6) Sahote Bangyal
In the neighbouring Islamabad Capital territory, they have two villages, namely Jhanga Bangial and Bora Bangial. Outside this core area, Bangial are found in Mirpur District in Azad Kashmir, several villages near the town of Sohawa in Jhelum District, the village of Nambal near Kallar Kahar, Gora Bangial in Attock District, and Bangial in Gujrat District. In addition to Bangial, they occupy a further 11 villages in Gujrat District. A small cluster of Bangial villages, such Bangialabad are found near the town of Darya Khan in Bhakkar District.
The next tribe I am going to look at are the Bhakral, sometimes pronounced as Pakhral and even Pakhreel. Geographically, they are found in Gujarkhan, Chakwal, Jhelum and Gujrat districts of Punjab, and Jammu and Kashmir, they were found in historic Mirpur District of the state, particularly near the town of Naushera, which is the only area of historic Mirpur that is in Indian administered Kashmir. Like many other Chibhali and Pothohari tribes, they can be both of Rajput and Jat status. According to the 1931 Census of India, the last that counted caste, there total population 6,600, which made the largest of the tribes classified as Jat or Rajput. Like the other tribes already referred too, many Bhakral claim to be Panwar Rajputs. However, there are also a number of other traditions as to their origin.
I will explore each of the origin myths of the tribe. They all involve an ancestor by the name of Bhakari, and the Bhakrals are the aal or family of Bhakari. Dispute is to the origin of this Bhakari. Among the Gujarkhan and Chakwal Bhakrals, almost all of whom consider themselves as Rajputs, Bhakari there ancestor was a descendent of Jagdev Panwar of Akhnoor. He is said to have converted to Islam, and left Akhnoor for Nowshera, now located in Rajouri Distrit. Here they founded two villages, Bunnah and Compla Mohra. Groups of Bhakral, accompanied by the Budhal left the Chibhal region and crossed the Jhelum river and settled in what is now Chakwal District. There original settlement was Sabah Mohra, from where they spread to Gujarkhan, Jhelum and Gujrat. Sabah Mohra family were traditionally considered chiefs of the tribe, but with the arrival of the Sikhs in the late 18th Century, the family lost its influence. The Bakhral are clearly of Chibhali origin, having left that hilly region between the Tawi and Jhelum, sometime in the 15th Century, accompanied by the Budhal (looked at in latter post).
However, some groups of Bhakral have a tradition that they are a sub clan of the Minhas, which also suggests Jammu / Chibhali background. Like Jagdev Panwar, Jambu Lochan ancestor of the Jamwal/Minhas also appears in the origin story of many of the tribes. . This tradition refers to a Bhakral migration from Jammu, after the treaty of Amritsar in 1846, which handed over the Chibhal territory to the Dogra ruler Gulab Singh Jamwal. It is said that they were in fact four brothers who moved from the Chibhal to the Pothohar and Hazara territory, and from whom descends the entire tribe. However, there is no recorded evidence of recent migration from Chibhal region to Pothohar, thereby it is more likely that any migration took place sometime ago. In Gujrat, the Bhakral who are of Jat status have a completely different origin myth. According to the Gujrat story, there ancestor was a Ghalla, who had three sons, Bhakari, their ancestor, Natha (ancestor of the Nathial) and Kunjah (ancestor of the Kunjial). Ghalla belonged to the Janjua tribe. In light of these multiple origin myth, the best that can be said is that Bhakral began as a group in foothills of the Pir Panjaal. Groups migrated at different periods, settling in various regions of north western Punjab.
Bhakral in Punjab
In terms of distribution, the Bhakral are found mainly in Jhelum, Chakwal, Gujar Khan and Mirpur regions. In Rawalpindi District, Bhakral villages are found in every tehsil, barring the mountainous tehsils of Murree and Kotli Sattian. In Rawalpindi Tehsil include Aujariala, Chak Bhakral, Dhala, Karkan Sohawa, Kartal Bhakral, Ghari Kalan, Larri Malana, Loona, Mohri Rajgan, Sihala, Thatha, Sohawa, Sagri Khurd, Kirpa and Meda Halim, in Kahuta Tehsil, their villages include Chak Begwal, Jocha Mamdot, and Nathot and in Kallar Syedan Tehsil they are found in Bhakral and Tirkhi. Coming to Gujar Khan, important Bhakral villages include Bhatta (in the hamlet of Dhok Bhakral), Dera Muslim, Dhoke Rajgan, Dhoong, Hoshang, Jairo Ratial, Kahali Bhakral, Kamtrilla, Mohra Bhakral near Darkali Mamori, Mandhar, Mastala, Partali Kalan and Partali Khurd While in Chakwal, the village of Sabah Mohra is said to be the first settlement of the Bhakrals in Pothohar, and remains an important centre of the tribe. Other villages include Chomar, Chontrian, Dhok Mehdi, Dheri Rajgan, Dhoda, Ghazial, Khokhar Rajgan, Jandala Pakhral, Mauza Pagh, Nachindi, Ratta Mohra, Panjdhera and Potha. Many of the Bhakral in Chakwal classify themselves as Jats. In addition, their are also number of Bhakral settlements including and around the village of Bhakral, such as Darkali Sher in Kallar Kahar Tehsil. In Jhelum District, they are found Langar Pakhral, Munde Bhakral and Pail Bannay Khan. In the Islamabad Capital Territory, they are found in the villages of Kartal Bhakral, Sihala, Panwal Bhakar, Dhoke Baba Hust, Kirpa Tamare and Banigala. In Gujrat District, the Bhakral are found in the village of Amra Kalan (tehsil Kharian).
Outside Punjab, there are smattering of Bhakral found in Hazara and Azad Kashmir. As the area around Naushera, once part of Mirpur District was the site of the worst fighting in the Indo-Pakistan war of 1948, most of the Musllm population moved to Azad Kashmir. The villages of Bunnah and Compla Mohra were abandoned. In Mirpur District, the Bhakral are still found in the villages of Chandral, Mohar and Sorakhi. In neighbouring Kotli District, they are in the village of Suiyan Sharif near the town of Sehnsa in Kotli
In Hazara, the villages of Chumb Rajput, Chattar and Channam found in District of Abbottabad.
I shall finally look at the Hon or Hun or sometimes also pronounced as Hoon. Like the first three tribes looked at, the Hon claim to be Panwar Rajputs, claiming descent from a Raja Judgeo. There migration is said to have occurred in the latter Middle Ages, and they intermarry with other tribes that claim Panwar ancestry. However, the name Hoon sounds unmistakable like the way Hun is pronounced in Indian languages, and it possible the Hon may be descended from the Huns, who invaded and settled in the Pothohar region in the 5th Century.
The Hon are closely connected through marriage with other Panwar tribes of the Rawalpindi District, such as the Baghial and Bhakral. They are found in Rawalpindi, Attock and Jhelum districts of the Punjab. In addition, a few are also found in the old Hazara Division of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Important Hoon villages are Hoon Dhamial, in Rawat Union Council, Islamabad Capital Territory, Katheel Hoon and Shahpur in Kahuta Tehsil, of Rawalpindi District, and Hoon Bhattian in Kotli Sattian Tehsil of Rawalpindi District. In Jhelum District, Hon Kalyal and Hon are important villages. The village of Hon in Fateh Jang Tehsil of Attock District is also an important centre of the tribe, in that district.