In this post I shall look at four tribes of Chibhali or Pahari Rajputs, found mainly in the Mirpur-Rajouri-Poonch region, now bisected by the Line of Control. This region is located in the middle of the Pir Panjal Mountains. These mountains form part of the Inner Himalayan region, run from east-southeast to west-northwest across the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh and the disputed territories comprising Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan administered Azad Kashmir, where the average elevation varies from 1,400 m (4,600 ft) to 4,100 m (13,500 ft). The mountains are traversed by the rivers Chenab and Ravi, with the Chenab also forming a culturally boundary, with tribes located in the east of the Chenab remaining Hindu, while those found in the west have generally converted to Islam. So the Kamlak, a tribe I will look in this post, is still Hindu in territories east of the river like Reasi, while largely Muslim in Rajouri. These four tribes are the Bhawpal, Domaal, Kamlak, and Mangral . Two of these clans, the Doomal and Mangral are now entirely Muslim, but Bhawpal and Kamlak still have Hindu branches in the region. With regards to the Mangral, they also have a large presence in Rawalpindi District. All four tribes speak Pahari, but the Mangral dialect is also close Pothohari, reflecting their more western location.
I shall start off with a little known tribe, the Bhawpal or sometime pronounced Bhopal, who are a Rajput clan that are included within a group of tribes that form part of the Chibhali community. Chibhali history starts with the conversion of Dharam Chand Chib, the Hindu Raja of the area in the 15th Century to Islam. As a result of his conversion, many other Rajput clans also converted to Islam. What ever the actual facts of this conversion, it is an important foundation myth for most the tribes in the Pir Panjal region. The Bhawpal, like other Chibhalis, are a clan of Katoch Rajputs of Kangra, in what is now Himachal Pradesh, India, claiming descent from a Bhawpal or Bhopal.
In Pakistani Kashmir, they are found mainly in Kotli District and Bagh District, in villages near the line of control, while in Indian administered Jammu & Kashmir, they are found in Rajauri, Nawshera and Jammu tehsils
The Domaal are well known tribe with a substantial presence in the historic Poonch area. The Domaal are of Rajput status, a claim generally accepted by their neighbours. They are found principally in the divided district of Poonch in Jammu & Kashmir, as well as Rajouri District in Indian-administered Kashmir and Bagh District in Azad Kashmir.
Like most tribes in the region, the Domaal have a number of traditions as to their origin. In one such tradition, there was once a Mala Rajput who went to Kargil. There, he contracted a marriage with a Buddhist woman, and the Domaal are the progeny of this marriage. However, with regards to origin myths, the more common traditions makes the Domaal a branch of the Chib Rajputs. They are said to be descended from two brothers Dharam Chand and Puran Chand (incidently also ancestors of the Muslim Chib). Dharam Chand on a visit to Delhi converted to Islam. For this action, he was excommunicated by members of his tribe. They then chose his younger brother Puran Chand as the new chief of the tribe. He too latter converted to Islam, and took the name Dom Khan. The Domaal are the descendants of Dom Khan, the suffix aal clans signifiying descent. After his conversion, Dom Khan left Bhimber and settled in the village of Rajdhani in Rajouri, although he is buried in the village of Narrouni, still a place of pilgrimage for many Domaals. According to some sources, they account for 35% of the population in Rajauri Tehsil.
The community occupies the southwestern slopes of the Pir Panjal range. Their villages are found along the slopes of hills overlooking a number of tributaries falling into the Poonch River and Chenab River. Perhaps the greatest concentration of the Domaal is in the Manjakot block of Tehsil Rajouri.
Unlike the two previous tribes, the Kamlak make no claim to Chib ancestry. They are in fact a Dogra clan, and have much in common with the Bhao and Sohlan referred to in my earlier blogs. The clan claim that they are the descendants of Raja Azamat Khan Kamlak, who migrated from Budhal to the village of Azamatabad, situated in north Thanamandi Tehsil. They are a Rajputs tribe found mainly in the Rajauri District of Jammu and Kashmir. In Budhal Tehsil, there are still several villages of Kamlak, both Hindu and Muslim, such as Kandi, Dandwal, Rajnagar and Shahpur. Other then Azmatabad, Manyal in Thanamandi Tehsil of Rajouri District is an important Kamlak village. The Hindu Kamlak are a Dogra clan, and they intermarry with neighbouring clans such as the Charak, Chandial and Manhas. Both groups of Kamlak claim a common origin and have some common customs and rituals.
The next tribe we shall look is are the Mangral, sometimes pronounced as Mahngral, Mangarpal. They are closely associated with the history of the town of the Kotli, which was said to be founded by their ancestor Raja Mangar Pal. The Mangrals ruled Kotli State until 1815 when it was incorporated into the State of Jammu by the Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh. Raja Sensphal Khan who founded the city of Sehnsa and was the first Mangral to adopt Islam. Since then the Mangral are entirely Muslim, and found mainly in Kotli, with smaller communities found in both Indian and Pakistani administered Poonch. They are in essence a Chibhali tribe, and have much in common with both the Domaal and Kamlak clans. With regards to their origin, nothing is definite. According to Hutchinson and Vogel, authors of the Punjab Hill States, “Kotli was founded about the fifteenth century by a branch of the royal family of Kashmir. Kotli and Punch remained independent until subdued by Ranjit Singh in 1815 and 1819 respectively.” However, other traditions make the Mangral Chandravanshi Rajputs, descendent from the ancient race of the Yadavas, the clan of Krishna. According to the Chandravanshi tradition, Raja Mangar Pal son of Hani Dev who migrated to present day Sialkot from the Jangladesh region of northern Rajastan in the Twelfth century A.D. Hani Dev’s brother Nirmal Dev continued to live in Jangladesh. Prior to the mid 15th Century Jangladesh was a wild barren area. It was subsequently conquered by Rao Bika a Rathore Rajput and since then has been known as Bikaner. If we accept this tradition, the Mangral and Bhatti have a common origin, but Mangral are always considered Sahu, while only some Bhatti are.
Mangral rule over Kotli lasted for approximately four centuries until they were defeated by the army of the Sikh leader Ranjit Singh. The Mangrals led by Raja Shah Sawar Khan initially defeated the Sikh forces in two battles (1812 and 1814), though at very high cost in loss of life. However, the Sikh army returned in 1815 with 30,000 soldiers and a final battle ensued. Having lost many fighters, the Mangrals agreed to a compromise, giving up control of their city (then based in Baraali near modern Kotli) to Ranjit Singh. The rural areas remained under the control of various Mangral families as jagirs from the Jammu Raj, and they continued to be the landowners and collectors of tax revenues. This arrangement lasted until Pakistan’s 1962 Land Reform Act, whereby the ownership of the land was transferred to the tenant farmers without compensation to the landowners.
The last official count of Indian castes was conducted by the British in their census of India of 1931. At the time they recorded 4,500 adult male Mangrals. According 1911 Census, there were 2,309 Mangral in Rawalpindi District. Mangral’s in Rawalpindi are found mainly in Jawra and other nearby villages in Gujarkhan Tehsil.There are also three Mangral villages in Kahuta Tehsil of Rawalpindi District, namely Galli, Marigala Mangral and Nandna Mangral