Hoteel and Janhal tribes of Azad Kashmir

In this post I intend to look at two tribes, namely the Janhal and Hoteel, who both claim to be Mughals and are found in the Poonch Jagir. The word Mughal is simply the Farsi and Urdu version of the word Mongol, for the two words are only different forms of the same name, probably either entered the Punjab with Ẓahīr-ud-Dīn Muḥammad Babur (14 February 1483 – 26 December 1530), or were attracted to India during the period of Mughal rule (circa 16th Century to 18 Century). For this article, I have relied heavily on Munshi Muhammad Din Fauq’s Tareekh Aqwam Poonch as my main source.

Hoteel

We now take a look at the Hoteel, a fairly compact tribe found only within the historic Poonch Jageer, in the region which is now Bagh District. Like the Douli, the Hoteel claim a Mughal origin, descended from Taimurlane or Amir Timur, the Barlas ruler of Central Asia. There ancestor was a Sultan Khalil Mirza, an uncle of the first Mughal Emperor Babar (14 February 1483 – 26 December 1530). Fourth in descend from Sultan Khalil was a Hot Yar Khan, who is said to have given the tribe its name. He is said of settled in the Poonch region during the rule of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir, while his son Sanjar Khan, the first two be given the surname Hoteel established a principality in the Poonch region, around the settlemet of Bngion. The present Hoteel tribe claims descent from Buj Khan and Bunga Khan, Sanjar Khan’s sons. Their main settlement is Bangion, in present Bagh District of Azad Kashmir. This town gets its name from the Bango Khan, who is said to founded the town. This family tree would make the Hoteel to be members of the Barlas, the tribe of the Mughal Dynasty of India. However, despite this pedigree, the Hoteel do not claim to Barlas, but allege a Chagtai ancestry. I shall just briefly to look at who these Chagtai are. Chughtai’s were Turkic or Tatar nomads of Central Asia, who were followers or descendants of Chagatai Khan, the second son of Genghis Khan, who founded the Chagatai Khanate in 1226, which covered an area of most of what are now the five Central Asian republics. The Chagatai language, which the lingua franca in Central Asia for at least eight centuries and Chagatai Turks take their names from him. There is tradition of Chaghtai migration to India, after the Mughal conquest, so it is just about possible that the Hoteel are by origin Chaghtai.

The Hoteel are found mainly in Bagh District, with important villages of Bangion, Jandala, Qamrota, Pachiot, Tahla and Samrota.

Janhal

Looking now at the Juhnal, or sometimes pronounced Janhal or even Janhaal, they too have a number of traditions as to their origin. According to some traditions, the Junhal are Rajputs, however most Janhal oclaim a Barlas Mughal origin. The Junhal are said to be descended from Mughal troopers who were settled in the mountainous region of Kahuta to keep watch over the hill tribes of Murree and the Dogras who inhabited the slopes of Pir Panjal mountains. Most Janhal families claim descent from two sons of Amir Timur, founder of the Timurid / Mughal dynasty of Central Asia and India, namely Ghayasudin Mansour and Mansour Mirza. Mirza Bhakar Khan, the founder of the Janhal tribe was a decendent of Ghayasudin Mansour, arrived in the Kahuta region during the 16th Century. The tribe gets its name from Mirza Jahan Khan, the Jahan aals, or sons of Jahan that was corrupted to Janhaal or Janhal. Sixth in descent from Mirza Jahan were two brothers, Mirza Bhuga Khan and Mirza Kuna Khan. The descendents of Mirza Kuna are found in Kahuta, where they founded an independent state, while Bhuga Khan’s clansmen crossed the Jhelum and settled in what was then the Poonch state. According to tribal tradition, Bugga Khan married into the locally dominant Rai Zada family, and founded the village of Bugga in Kotli. A decendent of Buagga Khan, Noor Khan founded the town of Norsa, which became a centre of another Janhal principality. Norsa gets its name from Noor Khan Janhal.

Up to the 18th Century, the Junhal were a considerably power occupying a tract of the Jhelum River valley that now forms part of Kahuta Tehsil of Rawalpindi District, and a part of Bagh District. However, their independence was destroyed by the Gakhars, and the tribe was reduced to cluster of villages near the town of Beor in Kahuta Tehsil, where they are still found. The Junhal are now one of a number of agrarian tribes, such as Maldiyal and Douli who claim a Mughal ancestry, and are found in the hill country covering parts of Rawalpindi District and Azad Kashmir.

In terms of the settlements, outside the town of Beor itself, which is still largely Janhal, important villages in Kahuta Tehsil include Bharuthi, Chanor, Janhatal, Khalol, Sail, Sanj, Seri and Sweri. Across the Jhelum river in Sudhanoti District, their villages stretch from a cluster of villages near the river bank such Bloch, Bethok Thalyan, Sahar, Janga Bagla, Kalar, Kharand, Norsa, Gallah, Janhal Chawkian, Pakhonar, Gaam Kotli, Chana Gali, and Poti Chaharian. In Kotli District, there villages include Pooral, Noi, Nigai, Sersawa, Bugga and Bandhoor. Near the line of Control, there are number of Janhal villages such an Manarhol and Tahi, and Tattapani town contains several Janhal families.

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