Khichi Chauhans of Punjab

In this post, I will look at the clan of the Khichi Chauhans, a tribe that was centred and still found in the Neeli Bar region. The Neeli Bar is a geographical region in Punjab, Pakistan. It consists of the uplands between the rivers Ravi and Satluj. “Bar” is the name given to areas in Punjab which were thick forests before the arrival of the modern canal irrigation system. Its soil is very fertile, as this plain is formed by the mud that has been collected by rivers flowing from the Himalayas. This region consists of the districts Sahiwal, Okara and Pakpattan . In my post on the Kathia, I give a bit more on the conditions and history of the tribal communities found in this region of Punjab. The Khichi family of Mailsi, are often referred to as the classic feudals of Punjab, having dominated local politics of Mailsi for the last seventy years since independence from the British. The current Member of the Punjab Assembly is for Mailsi is Muhammad Jahanzeb Khan Khichi. However, most present day Khichi are largely farmers.

Khichi, sometimes spelt Khichee, are a branch of the Chauhan clan of Agnivanshi Rajputs (please look at posting on Tribes of Potohar for a definition of Rajput). I shall start off by giving some brief information on the Chauhans. The Chauhan kingdom became the leading Rajput state in Northern India under Prithviraj III (1165–1192), also known as Prithviraj Chauhan or Rai Pithora . The Chauhan state collapsed after Prithviraj was defeated by Mohammed of Ghor in 1192 at the Second Battle of Tarain, but the Chauhans remained in Ajmer as feudatories of Mohammed of Ghor and the Sultans of Delhi until 1365, when Ajmer was captured by the rulers of Mewar, finally ending Chauhan rule. This also led to the dispersal of the Chauhans, with some migrating towards Punjab. The Chauhan kingdom collapsed after Prithviraj was defeated by Mohammed of Ghor in 1192 at the Second Battle of Tarain, but the Chauhans remained in Ajmer as feudatories of Mohammed of Ghor and the Sultans of Delhi until 1365, when Ajmer was captured by the rulers of Mewar. According to Khichi tribal traditions, the descend from Manak Rai, a semi-mythical Chauhan ruler of Ajmer. Manik Rai was said to be the brother of Dula Rai, the Chauhan king of Ajmer. In 684 CE, he fled from Ajmer after Dula Rai was killed by their enemies, and regained control managed of the area around Sambhar Lake with the blessings of the goddess Shakambh. The Khichi claim descent from Ajai Rao, the second son of Manik Rai, the legendry seventh century ruler of Sambhar in Rajasthan.

While the main Chauhan state was extinguished by 1365, cadet branches such as the Khichi, split up, some groups nmoving to the central Indian region of Malwa such as Asalgarh in Nimar. After being driven from Asalgarh, the Malwa Khichi founded the principality of Khilchipur, which lasted till the end of British rule in India and formed part of the Bhopal Agency under the administration of the Central India Agency. Another branch moved to Gagraun, in central Rajasthan, where they became tributaries of the Jhala Rajputs. The Khichi of Chota Udaipur state claim descent from this branch of the Khichis.

The Khichi of Punjab have slightly different origin story. According to their traditions, they claim descent from a Khichi ruler of Ajmer. Driven out of Delhi by one of the Sultan of Delhi, his descendants Sisan and Vidar migrated to Multan. The Khichis then fought with the Joiyas, then paramount in the region, expelling them from the Sutlej valley near the where the town of Mailsi is located. At sometime following their settlement in the Neeli Bar, the tribe converted to Islam. According to tribal traditions, they founded the villages of Shitab Garh, Sargana, Sheer Garh, Haleem Khichi, Aliwah, Tarki, Omar Khichi, Dhoda, and Fadda. One of their tradition refers to their conversion at the hands of the Sufi Bahaudin Zakaria of Multan. They then established a state based in the town of Mailsi, which finally conquered by the Sikhs in the 18th Century. Another branch established a state near the town of Gugera. Mailsi however remains the centre of the tribe. In addition to Punjab, branches of the Khichi tribe are still found in Rajasthan, especially in Jaisalmer, in India, who have remained Hindu, and have very similar origin stories as the Khichi of Punjab.

Groups of Khichi began migrating northwards, and the largest concentration of the Khichi are found in the Bhera Bar, a portion of the Kirana Bar located near the town of Bhera in Sargodha District. Khichi villages include Khichi Jagir, and Daulutpur Khichi in the Sahiwal Tehsil of Sargodha District, Khichi in the Talagang Tehsil and Khichi in Chakwal Tehsil of Chakwal District, and Khichi in Pind Dadan Khan Tehsil of Jhelum District. According to the 1901 Census of India, the Khichi were distributed in the following districts.

Khichi Rajput Population According to the 1901 Census of India

District Population
Chenab Colony 1,870
Multan 1,563
Montgomery 1,342
Bahawalpur 921
Shahpur 838
Jhang 733
Firuzpur 717
Mianwali 514
Other Districts 1,632
Total Population 10,130

Most of the Khichi population is still concentrated in the regions where they were found in 1901. The Khichi of Multan District were found near the town of Mailsi, which is now in Vehari, while the bulk of the Mianwali Khichi were found in the Bhakkar Tehsil, which is now a separate district.
Major Khichi Villages By District

Bhakkar District

1) Basti Cheena,

2) Chah Khichi

3) Khichi Kalan,

4) Khichi Khurd

5) Jhok Khichi

6) Wadhay Wali

Layyah District

1) Chak 459 TDA

2) Chak 465 TDA

Chiniot District

Chani Khichi

Faisalabad District

Chak106JB Khichian,

Shakeel Ahmed Khichi,

Chak 275 Mudooana

Hafizabad District.

Dera Mian Ali Khichi

Khanewal District

Khichiwala

Mandi Bahauddin District

1) Chakori

2) Sanda

Sargodha District

Chak No. 132 NB (Silanwali Tehsil),

Chak No. 139 SB (Silanwali Tehsil)

Okara District

Dholi Khichi,

Jawaya Khich

Nota Khichi

Sialkot District

Rahimpur Khichian

Khichi of Mailsi Region

But the greatest number of Khichi villages are still found in Mailsi region of Vehari District and include Sargana, Aliwah, Fadah, Halim Khichi, Umar Khichi, Shergarh, Shatabgarh, Tarki, Kilanj, Dhamakki, Dhodan and Jiwan Khichi. The Khichi have dominated the local politics in Vehari District, providing many of the members of the National Assembly.

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