Languages, Religion, Tribes and Castes of the Hazara Region

In this post, I will examine the 1931 Census of what was then the Hazara District of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), which is now the Hazara Division. Ethnologically this region is interesting, in that forms a transition zone between the Pashtun dominated areas in the west, the very diverse regions of Kohistan and Gilgit to the north, and the Lahnda speaking areas of Pakistani Kashmir and Punjab to the south and east. I would also ask the reader to look at my post on the 1931 Census of Mirpur District, a region that shares many culture similarities with Hazara.


Hazara is bounded on the north and east by the Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir. To the south are the Islamabad Capital Territory and the province of Punjab, whilst to the west lies the rest of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). The river Indus runs through the division in a north-south line, forming much of the western border of the division. The total area of Hazara is 18,013 km². The region is a classic in-between place, which is influenced by both the tribal Pashtun society as well the more settled village based structure of the Punjab and mountainous culture of the Chibhal. Indeed, Hazara has probably the closest linkages with Chibhal, the Hindko language almost merges into Chibhali. Certain castes such as the Dhund and Gakhar are found in equal numbers in both regions. In this post, I analyse the results of the 1931 Census of India. At that time the region had not seen substantial migration of Pashtuns from other regions of the KPK. Most of the population spoke Hindko, which in 1931 was included in the Lahnda category. I have split the post into three categories, the first bit will give an overview of the languages spoken, the second on religion and finally on caste identity.




Language Population Percentage
Lahnda 625,268 93%
Pashto 29,375  4%
Punjabi 5,436  0.8
Nepali 4,993
Hindi/Hindustani/Urdu 4,113
Gojri 287
Kashmiri 96
Kohistani 79
Others 464
Total 670,117 100%

As these results show, the majority of the population spoke a language called Lahnda in 1931 Census. Its worth mentioning Lahnda itself is an exonyms and even in 1931 was not used by the speakers themselves.The emerging languages of this dialect area are Saraiki, Hindko and Pothohari. Lahnda means “western” in Punjabi, and was a term coined by William St. Clair Tisdall (in the form Lahindā) probably around 1890 and later adopted by a number of linguists — notably George Abraham Grierson — for a dialect group that had no general local name. Locally, the term to describe the language, at least from the late 19th Century is Hindko, and its speakers are known as Hindkowan, literally in Farsi those who speak the Hindko language. Hindko almost merges seamlessly into Chibhali, the two languages acquiring their own unique identity, largely because each was spoken in distinct political units. In the case of Chibhali, it was spoken in the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir and came under the influence of Punjabi and Kashmiri. Dhundi-Kairali, spoken by the Dhund and Karlal tribes of eastern Hazara and western Poonch is an intermediate dialect between Chibhali and Hindko. This dialect is now spoken largely in Abbottabad District, and the adjoining Murree Hills and Galyat areas.

The other two languages that are indigenous to the region are Pashto and Gojri. Briefly about Pashto, it was largely spoken in the  Kala Dhaka region,  home to five major tribes, Bassi khel, Mada khel, Akazai, Hassanzai, and Nasrat khel, all of whom were clans of the Yousafzai. Some Swati clans also continued to speak Pashto. It is worth pointing out most of the Pathans belonging to the larger tribes such as the Jadoon, Tareen and Dilazak were Hindko speaking. In Hazara tribal and linguistic identity often did not match. The other indigenous language was Gojri, which had 287 speakers. As the language of the Gujjar caste, who numbered 98,599, the figure of 987 is extremely small. It is very likely, that the number of Gojri speakers have been undercounted, as many were Gujars at that time were nomadic, this was especially the case in the Kaghan Valley.



Religion Population Percentage
Muslim 636,794  95%
Hindu 24,543 4%
Sikh 7,630
Christian 432
Others 718
Total 670,117 100%

In terms of religion, the Hazara region was largely Islamized by the 1931 census. The region was home to a Hindu minority, many of whom belonged Khatri, Arora and Brahman castes. The region was uniquely home to the Muhial community, traditionally landowning Brahmans.

Tribes and Castes


Religion Caste or Tribe Sub-Caste Population
Awan 106,931
Gujjar 98,599
Pathan 54,544
 Jadoon 19,070
   Tareen 935
   Dilazak 906
   Utman Khel 585
   Yousafzai 321
   Bangash 199
   Khattak 140
 Durrani 81
   Afridi 57
   Mohmand 31
   Other Tribes 32,216
Swati 44,511
Dhund 38,983
Sayyad 27,629
Karral (Sardar) 27,117
Julaha (Bafinda)  


Kashmir 13,218
Mughal 11,843
Tarkhan 10,201
Sarrara 9,984
Lohar 9,593
Mochi 9,082
Nai 7,173
Qureshi 6,415
Gakhar 6,017
Mishwani 5,361
Malyar 5,204
Kumhar 5,041
Rajput 5,016
Turk 4,486
Teli 2,811
Shaikh 2,455
Dhobi 2,387
Mirasi 1,799
Mussali  1,142
Khoja (Punjabi Sheikh) 934
Darzi 846
Jhinwar (Jheer) 758
Sonar 383
Qassab 284
Mallaah 250
Paracha 185
Baluch 166
Arain 132
Chamar 120
Jat 58
Penja 49
Rangrez 30
Baghban 25
Bhatiara 18
Other Muslims 18,038
Khatri 8,890
Gurkha 4,173
Brahman 3,306
Arora 2,036
Rajput 689
Bhatia  193
Sonar 44
Chuhra 40
Dhobi 31
Gakhar 28
Jat 13
Kumhar 13
Jhinwar 10
Lohar 7
Mochi 4
Nai 3
Tarkhan 2
Other Hindus 5,779
Brahman 1,693
Khatri 486
Arora 336
Jat 282
Rajput 177
Bhatia 69
Sonar 31
Kumhar 6
Other Sikhs 4,542
Others  1,150
Total Population 670,117

With regards to caste grouping, the British Administration had divided the population by the Land Alienation Act into those who could own land, and those who were ineligible.The tribes of the District, that were notified as agricultural under the Punjab Alienation Act, were the Awans, Bambas, Bibs, Dhunds, Dilazaks, Gakhars, Gujars, Karrals, Malliars, Mishwanis, Mughals, Pathans, Qureshis, Rajputs, Sararas, Swathis, Sayeds, Tareens, Tanaolis, and Turks. The large non-agriculturalist groups included Julaha (Bafinda), Tarkhan, Lohar, Mochi and Nai groups, who were often referred to by the derogatory term kami. The number of kami castes had fallen over the period, as many of families were absorbed into agricultural castes.

Major Muslim Groups

The Awans

The Awans made up one-sixth of the total population in Hazara, and were found almost everywhere other then the Kala-Dhaka. I will not go into two much detail as there origin, other then to say they claim descent from Qutiub Shah, an arab, and a descendent of Ali, who arrived in the region with Mahmud of Ghazni.


Lilla and Phaphra

In this post, I will look at two tribes, namely the Phaphra and Lilla, who live in close proximity to each other in the Pind Dadan Khan region of Jhelum. Both of them have been called Jat, and here I wish to make a point. Both these tribes claim to an extra sub-continental descent, the Phaphra claim to be Mughal, while the Lilla Qureshi. Yet, the definition of Jat is elastic enough in this region for both these tribes to be included in the Jat category. What makes someone a Jat here is whether other tribes of Jat status will intermarry with them. I would also ask the reader to look at my article on the Jalap, which gives some background on the Jats of the Jhelum region.


Phaphra is small tribe of Mughal status, also found in Pind Dadan Khan plains located north of the river Jhelum.

The tribe claims to be Barlas Mughals, and get its name from an ancestor named Phaphra, who settled in the district in the 15th Century. So who exactly are the Barlas, and I shall briefly look at this group of medieval Mongols. According to the Secret History of the Mongols, written during the reign of Ögedei Khan [r. 1229-1241], the Barlas shared ancestry with the Borjigin, the imperial clan of Genghis Khan and his successors, and other Mongol clans. The leading clan of the Barlas traced its origin to Qarchar Barlas, head of one of Chagatai’s regiments. Qarchar Barlas was a descendant of the legendary Mongol warlord Bodonchir (Bodon Achir; Bodon’ar Mungqaq), who was also considered a direct ancestor of Genghis Khan. Due to extensive contacts with the native population of Central Asia, the tribe had adopted the religion of Islam, and the Chagatai language, a Turkic language of the Qarluq branch, which was heavily influenced by Arabic and Persian. Timur, the ancestor of the Mughal dynasty belonged to the Barlas clan, and therefore that would connect the Paphra with the Mughals.

As their little historic evidence to connect the Phaphra with the Mughals, there is some scepticism as to their claim of Mughal ancestry. British settlement documents from the late 19th and early 20th Century refer refer to them as a “semi-Jat tribe”. As I have already mentioned, the word Jat in the Jhelum region often means a cultivator. The fact that the Phaphra often intermarry with neighbouring tribes such as the Lilla and Gondal, who are considered as Jat often reinforces the perception that the Phaphra are Jat.

According to Phaphra traditions, they came to this district from the direction of Faridkot, in what is now in East Punjab India. They settled in India around 15th Century, slightly earlier then the Mughal takeover of the Punjab. The Phaphra settled here as agriculturists, getting their name from their leader at that time Phaphra. However some other traditions claim he was called Nittharan. According to a family tree kept by Chaudharies of Gharibwal, the largest landowners among the tribe, gives their genealogy as follows:
Harbans or Shah Ibrahim (a descendent of Timur), Tilochar, Shah, Mal, Phaphra, Pheru, Vatra, Jatri, Harsh or Arif, Tulla, Nado, Hardev, Mahpal, and finally Nittharan.

Nittharan is said to have five sons namely; Gharib, (descendants in Gharibwal), Samman (Sammanwal), Ichhcin (son’s name Sau, descendants in Sauwal), Rao (Rawal), and Dhudhi (Dhudhi, and Qadarpur). Some of the earlier names are clearly Hindu, although this does not itself preclude their claim to Barlas ancestry. But there position in Jhelum society was more akin that of the Jats then the Mughals. Their headmen use the title Chaudhary, and their customs are very similar to the Gondals, the largest Jat tribe in their vicinity. The Phaphra are now divided into two rival clans, the Dhudhial, from the village of Dhudhi Paphra and Sadowalia from those who belong to the village of Sadowal.

The Paphra occupy a compact area of about 25 square miles at the foot of the Salt Range, east of Pind Dadan Khan in Jhelum District .The main Mughals Phaphra villages are Chak Danial, Chak Shadi, Chakri Karam Khan, Dewanpur, Dhudi Paphra, Ghareebwal, Jutana, Karimpur, Kaslian, Kot Phaphra, Kot Shumali, Rawal, Sidhandi, Sammanwal, Sadowal, Saowall, Shah Kamir, Qadirpur, Thil, Warnali, and Warra Phaphra, all in Pind Dadan Khan Tehsil of Jhelum District. In Chakwal District they are found in Dhok Virk and Jotana. Mohra Phaphra is a lone Phaphra village in Rawalpindi District. Across the Jhelum, in Mandi Bahauddin District the Paphra are also found in villages of Phaphra, Chak No 29 and Nurpur Piran.

The next tribe I will look are the Lila, who are also found above the Jhelum in Pind Dadan Khan District.

According to their tribal traditions, they originally located in Arabia, being relations of the Prophet on his mother’s side. This would make the Lila’s Qureshi by origin. They then left Arabia under the leadership of an individual named Haris, who migrated to India, with a band of 160 men and settled at a place called Masnad in Hindustan, which they say still exists as a small town or village, though its exact situation is not known. This happened in the time of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni. However, the Lilla did not stay long in Masnad, and moved to Multan. There they became disciples of the pir Ghaus Shah. The Pir warned them that they would prosper as long as they remained united, but that any disagreements within the tribe would lead to their ruin.

Accompanied by Ghaus Shah, the tribe settled in Shahidiwalian, near present day Gujranwala. After they had been settled there for some time the locals of the place began to get tired of the trouble they caused, and made complaint to the Emperor at: Delhi, who ordered that they should be moved on.

The local governor was ordered to expel them and succeeded in dividing the tribe into two factions, which fought a pitched battle. The defeated party dispersed and its descendants are now found near the Chenab, mainly in what’s now Mandi Bahaudin District, while the others, weakened by the struggle, migrated to the Pind Dadan Khan plain, led by Lilla Buzurg, whose is considered the ancestor by all the present Lillas. When Lilla arrived at their present location, the tract was then occupied a tribe of Hal Jats. As I have already mentioned in the section on the Hal, the Lillas proceeded exterminated this tribe, barring one pregnant woman, who had managed to escape. According to the tribal traditions of the Awan, who villages border those of the Lilla, they were first settle the area by the Jhelum, which was a swamp.Despite the claim to Qureshi ancestry, the Lilla are considered as Jats by their neighbours and intermarry with other tribes of Jat status such as the Gondal, Jethal, Phaphra and Wariaches.

The four ancestral villages of the tribe are Lilla Bhera (also known as Mainowana), Lilla Bharwana, Lilla Hindwana, and Lilla Guj, which are said to be named after their founders, Maino, Bharo, Hindo, and Guj. Each of these villages are named after their founders, Maino, Bharo, Hindo, and Guj. The tribe holds about 40 square miles of territory between Pind Dadan Khan town and the Salt Range in the Jhelum District, and form the majority in the villages of Chak Hameed, Jalalpur Sharif, Lilla Handwana, Lilla Goj, Lilla Bhera (also known as Mainowana) and Rawal in Pind Dadan Khan Tehsil. There also a second cluster of Lilla villages on the banks of the Jhelum River in Khushab District, such as Kotla Jagir, Mohibpur and Waheer. While in Mandi Bahauddin District, they are found in Bohat, and further south in Sargodha District, they are found in Bhikhi Khurd, descendants of the second group of Lillas who dispersed to the Chenab.

Description of Major Muslim Communities in India: The Khokhar

In this post I return to the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), and look at one of the lesser known communities, that of the Khokhar. There are in fact two distinct communities of Khokhars in UP, those of Sambhal and Kot. While the Khokhar of Punjab are well known, very little has been written about the Khokhars of UP, and this post will try to provide some information. These two settlements are quite distant from each other, the distance between Sambhal and Kot being almost 500 kilometres. Each group of Khokhars have their own origin stories and I will treat them separate. The Sambhal Khokhar are really a sub-group within Ranghar community of western Uttar Pradesh. Just a brief note about the Khokhars, they are a well known tribe from the Punjab, whose homeland is the the Salt Range

As in common among Punjabi tribal groupings, the Khokhar have a number of origin stories. According to one of tradition, the Khokhars are connected with the Awans, making Khokhar one of Qutub Shah’s sons, the semi-mythical ancestor of the Awn tribe. Many Khokhar groups in the Salt Range now call themselves Khokhar Qutb Shahis, literally descendants of Qutub Shah. Another Khokhar tradition makes them descended from Zahhak , a mythical figure from ancient Iran, who’s descendent Rustam Raja arrived in Punjab sometime in the beginning of the Common Era and was nicknamed Khokhar. What is clear is by the arrival of Mohammad Ghori, the Khokhars were in possession of the Salt Range, and when Ghori tried to conquer the region he was murdered by them. The Khokhars remained rebellious throughout the Delhi Sultanate period, and it is very likely both the colonies of Khokhar now present in UP are result of deportations from the Punjab. I will first look at the Khokhar of Sambhal, who accept a Punjabi origin.

Denzil Ibbetson, the 19th Century colonial scholar of Punjab, commenting on the returns of 1881 Census of Punjab, noted the following in connection with the Khokhars:

Under the head Khokhar only represent a fraction of the Khokhars in the Panjab. The Khokhars are ordinarily considered a Rajput tribe, and most of the Khokhars of the districts have so returned themselves. Many of the Khokhars of western districts again, and all those of the frontier, have been re turned as Jats; while only in the Rawalpindi and Multan divisions are separate figures shown for the Khokhar caste. How far this inclusion is due to Khokhars having actually returned themselves as Rajput or Jat by caste and Khokhar by tribe, and how far to the action of the divisional offices, I cannot say exactly till the detailed clan tables are ready.

Its clear that the Khokhar of Punjab are a quasi-Rajput tribe, their historic homeland is located between the valleys of the Chenab and Jhelum, home such tribes as the Bandial, Ghanjera and Rehan, all of whom are clans of the Khokhar, and I have looked at elsewhere. The most important Khokhar family is that of the Rajahs of Ahmedabad, located in Jhelum District. It is this family that produced the famous Muslim League leader Rajah Ghazanfar Ali Khan.

The use of the tem Pathan in the Fatehpur region where Kot is located often also covers Rajput and quasi-Rajput groups. So the use of the term by the Khokhars of Kot must seen in that way.

Khokhar of Sambhal

The city of Sambhal, now a district headquarters is long associated with the Khokhar tribe, who were substantial landowners throughout the late Mughal and Rohila rule of the region. According to tribal traditions, the Khokhars of Sambhal are said to who have come from the Bulandshahr District and to have settled near Sambhal in the days of the Mughal emperor Babar. The Khokhars first arrived in Bulandshahr, at the invitation of Sikander Lodhi, who was the Sultan of Delhi between 1489 and 1517 It said that these Khokhars came from Koh-Jud, a name used for the Salt Range in medieval Muslim writing in India. Interestingly, Sambhal was one of the capitals of Sikander Lodhi. With overthrow of the Lodhi, there ancestor was given the jagir of Sambhal by the Mughal Emperor Babur. This came with the title of Chadhary, which was hereditary in the family till end of British rule in India in 1947. The Khokhars of Sambhal have always had close relations with the Lalkhani Rajputs of Bulandshar and Aligarh. They are said to have been guest of the Lalkhanis in Bulandshar during their stay there before moving to Sambhal.

Khokhar of Kot

The Khokhars of Kot, a town in Fatehpur District have a very different origin myth. First of all the Khokhars of Kot have been in UP for much longer, according to their traditions, the tribe settled in Kot during the rule of Allaudin Khilji ( r . 1296–1316). They are said to be descended from four brothers, of whom the eldest was Malik Bhil or Babar, who were granted the estate of Kot, which at that time was held by a Bhar Raja. In this eastern region, the Bhar, a local ethnic group were the local rulers. The Khokhars were sent by Ala.-ud-din to supress the Bhars, which they did. The dispute is to the origin of these Khokhars. Unlike the Sambhal branch, the Khokhars of Kot have no tradition of a Punjabi origin. At the beginning of the 20th Century, the Khokhars made strong claims of a Pashtun origin. However, more recently, a small number of Khokhar are claiming an Uzbek origin. What’s interesting is the author of the Gazetteer of Fatehpur makes reference to an inscription making reference to the Khokhar conquest to 590 Hijra (1203/1204 CE). This would be mean that the Khokhars arrived in the region around the reign of Shahabuddin Mohammad Ghori. If we accept either of the traditions, the Khokhars of Kot have long been settled in the Fatehpur region. They were effectively the local rulers, but by the arrival of the British, they landholdings were extremely small. The Khokhars of Kot call themselves Pathans, which in eastern Uttar Pradesh does not donate a ethnicity, rather a status. What is interesting is that over the almost millennia in India, they have maintained the name Khokhar, which is clearly associated with the Salt Range region of Punjab. It is very likely, they are Punjabi Muslim tribe, who served in either in the army of Shahabuddin Mohammad Ghori or Allaudin Khilji. Once settled in eastern UP, as they became large landowners, they acquired the status of being Pathans.
Outside Kot, they are found in the villages of Arhaiya, Urha, Shahnagar, Rahmatpur, Sheopuri, Kali, Ghazipur and Parwezpur.

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, Hayal, Kanjial and Rachyal tribes

In this post, I will look at three tribes, namely the Badhan, Hayal, 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,, 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 Hayal are little known tribe, found entirely in Kallar Syedan Tehsil, who claim Chaughtai Mughal ancestry. They are found in the villages of Burra Haya, Hayal Pindoral and Mohra Hayal. In Mirpur District, Hayyal, who classify themselves as Jats, are found in the villages of Kangra and Chappar.


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 Manawar Tawi, an important source of the Chenab, 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)  in Mirpur and the Mangral in Kotli. Other important clans were the Jaral in Bhimber, Narma and Thakyal in Kotli and the Sahu in Mirpur. Along the Punjab border, next to Jhelum and Gujrat, there were several communities of Bhao, Panwar and Sohlan. The Minhas and Sahoo were largely concentrated in Mirpur tehsil. Included within the Rajputs were the Bains, who were heavily concentrated in the Mirpur tehsil, most of which now forms part the Mirpur District. The Bhatti, who were closer to the Jat in customs, as they tended to be owner-cultivators were seperately enumerated, and in 1931 numbered 1,664. Another quasi-Rajput group were the Badhan, who numbered 532. In the case of the Badhan, it is very likely among them many would have declared themselves as Jats. In neigbhouring Gujrat and Jhelum Districts, the Badhan are simply a Jat tribe.

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. Important Gujjar villages include Pramekot, Rahimkot, Riat, Dadyal, Bhalot Chowk (Mirpur), Mandi Village (Dadyal),Sahalia (Dadyal) Saliah (Dadyal), Kund (Dadyal), Khoi Ratta, Anderla Kothera, Shaheen Abad, Dakkhana, Phalini, Khor, Ghayeen, Kerjai, Barali Gala, and Nidi Sohana, all in Kotli District.


The Bafinda, whose traditional activity was weaving, differ from the previous three, in that they were not traditionally landowners. The name Bafinda, or Bafand, is derived from the Persian word baften, meaning cotton dresser. When cotton cultivation stopped in Kashmir with the advent of foreign-made fabrics, they largely shifted to carpet weaving but now are engaged in many vocations. In 1931, they were still village artisans, practising there traditional occupation of weaving. There was not a single village in the Mirpur region 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. The Arain population of Jammu and Kashmir were equally divided between Jammu and Mirpur regions, and they were usually found in most Rajput villages, often working as tenants. The Awan villages such as Mohra Malkan and Ghaseetpur Awan were found mainly near the Jhelum, while a similar number were found in Kotli. While Maliks were found in eastern most part of Kotli, and were said to have been settled in the region on the orders of Emperor Akbar. Finaly, the Sudhan were found along the border with Poonch District, many of whom were claiming a Pathan origin. It is possible that some Sudhan would have declared themselves as Pathan in 1931 Census, thereby inflating the figure for that caste.

Kashmiri Muslims

By the early 20th Century, the district was home to a substantial community of Kashmiri Muslims. 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. Most of them had switched to speaking Pahari, as this was the language of the dominant Rajputs. Its interesting to note that in 1931, only 759 people in the district spoke the Kashmiri language.

Major Clans of the Kashmiri Muslims

The 1931 Census of India also collected information on Kashmir Muslim castes. In Mirpur District, by 1931 these divisions were getting blurred, as there was a high degree of intermarriage between various groups of Kashmiri.

Tribe Population
Mir 2,463
Bhat 1,616
Dar 994
Lone 677
Shaikh 338
Rather 205
Wyene 138
Ganai 111
Paray 76
Magre 41
Tantre 40
Hajjam / Khalifa 14
Khwaja 13
Pandit 8
Other Clans / Kashmiri Miscellaneous 1,820


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.

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.

Other Groups

In addition to the groups described, the district was home to castes such as the Sayads and Mughals, traditionally associated with land holding and the Khojas or Punjabi Shaikhs, who were converts from the Hindu Khatri caste. Like the Kashmiri, the Khoja were largely traders and merchants. One final Muslim group that deserves a brief note are the Domaal, a Rajput caste traditionally associated with Poonch. Finally, the Pathans in the district were largely migrants, about 117 in 1931 still spoke Pashto, although the figure was probably higher. Unlike the Kashmiri, the Pathan groups had only recently established themselves in the district. Some of those who resgistered themselves Pathans maybe members of the Sudhan tribe.In 1932, the numbered 1,239.

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 Clans of the Hindu Rajputs

Bellow is the population of the Hindu Rajput clans in the district. The majority belonged to Chib tribe, as was the case among Muslim Rajputs.

Tribe Population
Chib 6,118
Manhas 387
Narma 49
Charak 33
Bhao 17
Chauhan 10
Salehria/Sulehri 10
Jaral 6
Other Clans 836


Major Sikh Communities

Mirpur was the western most region that was inhabited by Jatt Sikhs. The Jatt Sikhs and Jat Hindus shared the same clans, and intermarried with each other. 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



Census of Jammu and Kashmir State 1931