Chauhan Rajput of Mandawar

In this post I will look at interesting community of Chauhan Rajputs, those of the principality of Mandawar in Rajasthan.Throughout the middle ages, the region that now forms northern Rajasthan was made up of a number of principalities. One such principality was that of the Raos of Mandawar. These Chauhans were commonly referred to as Ranghars, and this term really began with them, and is now widely used for Muslim Rajputs that lived in Haryana and northern Rajasthan. The Roas belong to the Sankat sub-clan of the Kharak branch of the Chauhans. They are a distinct from the Qayamkhani Chauhans, who were also found in northern Rajasthan.

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Map of Rajputana: Source Wikipedia

Origin

The word chauhan is the vernacular form of the Sanskrit term chahamana. Several Chauhan inscriptions name a legendary hero called Chahamana as their ancestor, but none of them state the period in which he lived. The earliest extant inscription that describes the origin of the Chauhans is the 1119 CE Sevadi inscription of Ratnapala, a ruler of the Naddula Chahamana dynasty. According to this inscription, the ancestor of the Chahamanas was born from the eye of Indra. Despite these earlier myths, it was the Agnivanshi (or Agnikula) myth that became most popular among the Chauhans and other Rajput clans. According to this myth, some of the Rajput clans originated from Agni, in a sacrificial fire pit. The inclusion of Chauhans in the Agnivanshi myth can be traced back to the later recensions of Prithviraj Raso. In this version of the legend, once Vashistha and other great sages begin a major sacrificial ceremony on Mount Abu. The ritual was interrupted by miscreant daityas (demons). To get rid of these demons, Vashistha created progenitors of three Rajput dynasties from the sacrificial fire pit. These were Parihar (Pratiharas), Chaluk (Chaulukya or Solanki), and Parmar (Paramara). These heroes were unable to defeat the demons. So, the sages prayed again, and this time a fourth warrior appeared: Chahuvana (Chauhan). This fourth hero slayed the demons. Descendants of these Chauhan Rajput ruled princely states in Western and Northern India until the pre-independence era. The progenitor of Chauhan dynasty was individual by the name Manik Rai (AD 685), who was a lord of Ajmer and Sambhar in what is now Rajasthan.

The Chauhan dynasty flourished from the 8th to 12th centuries AD. It was one of the four main Rajput dynasties of that era, the others being the Pratiharas, Paramaras and Chalukyas. Chauhan dynasties established themselves in several places in North India and in the state of Gujarat in Western India. They were also prominent at Sirohi in the southwest of Rajasthan, and at Bundi and Kota in the east. Inscriptions also associate them with Sambhar, the salt lake area in the Amber (later Jaipur) district (the Sakhambari branch remained near lake Sambhar and married into the ruling Gurjara-Pratihara, who then ruled an empire in Northern India). Chauhans adopted a political policy that focussed on campaigns against the Chalukyas and the invading Muslims. In the 11th century they founded the city of Ajayameru (Ajmer) in the southern part of their kingdom, and in the 12th century captured Dhilika (the ancient name of Delhi) from the Tomaras and annexed some of their territory along the Yamuna River. Prithviraj III has become famous in folk tales and historical literature as the Chauhan king of Delhi who resisted the Muslim attack in the First Battle of Tarain (1191). Armies from other Rajput kingdoms, including Mewar assisted him. However, Prithviraj was defeated in the Second Battle of Tarain the following year. This failure ushered in Muslim rule in North India in the form of the Slave Dynasty, the first of the Delhi Sultanates.

Raos of Mandawar

After the defeat of Prithviraj III, branches of the Chauhans remained independent or semi-independent. One such state was that of Mandawar, which remained independent till the territory was handed over to the Rajah Bakhtawar Singh of Alwar in 1803. The state was said to have been founded by Kanhadeva , an uncle of Prithviraj III. He had 18 sons, from whom descend a number Chauhans. He was known also known as Kaka Kanha, and constructed the Saraneshwara Shiva temple. Kaka Kanha’s son Bhimadeva was given the principality of Isagarh and Mathin. Bhimadeva had four sons, out of them eldest was Lakhan Singh, who was made ruler  at Mathin. Mathin was later known as Mandawar. Lakhan’s son Haladeva faced Timur’s attack on Mandawar in which Haladeva was killed. His son, Chander became Muslim and was gifted with Mandawar in Jagir and given the Rao title by Timur.

 

According another account, the city of Mandawar was founded in 1170, by Rao Madan Chauhan. Halaji, fifth in descent from Madan had three sons Hansa, whose grandson Chand became a Muslim and received the title of Rao. When Chand of Mandawar, the head of the family, became a Muslim, Mandawar ceased to be regarded as the principal seat, but was superseded by Nimrana.In the later half of the 18th century, during the chaos following the death of Aurangzeb (1707), Pratap Singh, a Rajput adventurer, created the State of Alwar in 1775.  The Chauhan Roas of Mandawar therefore sank to the status of zamindars.

Rath Territory

The territory of the Chauhan Raos is known as the Rath. It was one four divisions of the Alwar State and lies on the north-west border. With the conversion of Chander to Islam, the position of head of the Chauhans of the Rath passed Rao Rajdeo, the Rao of Nimrana, who was 6th in descent from Rao Madan Pal, founder of Mandawar about 1170. The Chauhans of Rewari, Mahindargh and Hisar all traced their ancestry to the states of Mandawar and Nimrana in the Rath territory.  Captain Powlett author of the Alwar gazetteer, writing in the late 19th Century, said the following:

It is the country of Chauhan Rajputs, the head of whom claims to be the living representative of the famous Pirthvi Raj, king of Dehli, who fell in battle with the invading Musalmans. The Chauhans have continued to maintain their independence throughout the period of Alwar rule.

There are some contradictory traditions as to the lineage of the Rath Chauhans. The Chauhans of southern Haryana all have traditions that are immigrants from the Rath, and may be divided into two branches, the Nimrana and Sidhmukh or, as they call themselves, Bārā Thāl. The Nimranas who are descendants of Raja Sangāt, a great-grandson of Chahir Deo, brother of Pirthvi Raj III, are sub-divided into two clans, Rāth and Bāgauta, both of which came from Gurgaon, the former tracing their origin to Jātsāna. A historic name or Rewari is Bighota, which likely the Bagauta region. The Nimrana Chauhan Ranghar were found in villages throughout southern Haryana.

According to Chauhan traditions, Rajah Sangat Singh had 19 sons, from his older wife, among them were Harsh Dev Chauhan and Sahesh Mal Chauhan arrived in what is now Rewari District in Haryana. While his son Lah Chauhan, was made the ruler of Rath, was a son of raja Sangat Singh Chauhan by the younger Rani whose two sons became inheritors of Raja Sangat Singh’s territory of Rath with its headquarter at Mandhan when other 19 sons from the other wives were required to quit the kingdom as per the promise of Raja Sangat.

About Mandawar, the Alwar gazetteer has the following to say:

It has already been mentioned that Mandawar is the seat of the Musalman Rao of a great Chauhan family. The traders are of the Mahur clan, which supplanted the Khandelwal, formerly established at Mandawar. The ruin of the Khandelwal and the rise of the Mahur is attributed to the curse of a fakir, whom the former, notwith- standing their wealth, sent to be entertained by the latter. Khanzadas formerly occupied a hamlet of Mandawar, but abandoned it on discovering the intention of the Rao to destroy them. Besides the Rao’s residence, the buildings of note are mosques and tombs. One of the mosques has an inscription showing that it was constructed in Akbar’s time. Close to the town in the hills is a large and ancient tank known as the Sagar Sah. ( 140 ) When, many years ago, it was broken down the neighbourhood suffered much from the subsidence of water in wells. It was, however, restored in 1859, but requires cleaning out. There is a Thana, as well as a tehsil, at Mandawar.

 

The legends of around Ali Baksh a Rao of Mandawar are subject to a khayal, a type of folk play common in medieval Rajasthan.

In Alwar, the Chauhan Ranghars were found in the twenty villages of  which the most important were Basni, Mulpur, Karwa, Baspur, Basni, Mainpur Mandawar, and Silgam. The Chauhan Ranghar of Rewari were a branch of the Mandawar Chauhans.

 

Partition

After partition in 1947, the Muslim Chauhans of the Rath region, and neighbouring Haryana all migrated to Pakistan. They are now found through out southern and western districts of Pakistani Punjab.

 

 

 

Padha Caste of Pakistani Punjab

An interesting community of Muslims of Punjab is that of the Padha. They are a group of Saraswat Brahmans, that converted to Islam during the rule of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Conversion to Islam among Brahman groups was rare, the Padha being interesting exception. I would also ask the reader to look at my post on the Rawals, who have very similar background. The Padha, like some other Brahmins, and Khatris after their convertion to Islam in the Punjab region had adopted the title Shaikh. The Muslim Padha are therefore a sub-group within the larger Shaikh community of Punjab.

To get some background on the Padhas, we need to explore who the Saraswats are. They are a sub-group of Brahmins, who trace their ancestry to the banks of the Rigvedic Sarasvati River. The Saraswat Brahmins are mentioned as one of the five Pancha Gauda, the five major divisions of the Brahmin communities. Rose, the early twentieth Century British ethnologists describes the Sarawats as essentially the Brahmans of Punjab.

The  Muslim Padha claim descent from a sub-group of the Sarawat called the Nagarkotia, or the Saraswat of the Kangra region, now in Himachal Pradesh, but closely connected with the Punjab. These Saraswats were the Brahmins of the Katoch dynasty that ruled Kangra. According to the traditions of this caste, they were divided into 13 functional groups by Dharam Chand, the Rajah of Kangra. One of these of 13 groups were Upadhya or readers of the holy books. Captain A. H Bingley, the colonial soldier and ethnologist writes:

The Dogra Brahmin may thus be roughly divided into two ‘praying’ Brahmins and ‘ploughing’ Brahmins. The former, called Padha, are generally sacredotal in their functions; they caste horoscopes, officiate at marriages

 

The name Padha is really a shortened version of Upadhya which means teacher or guru in Sanskrit. There traditional occupation was teaching students in gurukula, a tradition that most Padha’s continued to practice until partition.  The etymology of the term Upadhaya is that word is a combination of two different words upa and adhyaya which means an undertaker of higher study. Groups of these hill Brahmans migrated to the foothills of Punjab, which now forms the border between Himachal and Punjab. During the rule of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, several families are said to have converted to Islam. However, most Padha’s remained Hindu, in the Duns or foothills that forms the border between Himachal and Punjab.

Coming back to the Padhas, Pandit Harikishan Kaul, the author of the 1911 Census report wrote the following about them:

Padhas are all Muhammadans who were converted sometimes back from Brahmans; and have been returned chiefly from the Ambala, Hoshiarpur Districts and Patiala State. They are well versed in the Hindi system of teaching arithmetic and are still seen in the cities coaching boys of both Hindus and Muhammadans

While Rose the author of the 1901 Census of Punjab wrote the following about them:

The Padha are described in Ambala as a caste, originally Jogis, but purely secular and now endogamous

Like Rawals, a community of similar origin, partition led to the migration of most Padha to Pakistan. Partition also led to changes in cultural practices among the Padhas.

 Padha Population According to the 1911 Census of India

District/ State Population
Patiala State 72
Hoshiarpur 37
Ambala 20
Other 7
Total 136

The likely number of the Padha was greater, as many had registered themselves as Shaikhs.

 

 

Lilari / Neelgar (Leelgar) Caste of Pakistani Punjab

This post will look at the Lilari caste in Punjab, sometimes pronounced as Nilari, a sub-group with the Shaikh biradari of that province. They are also known as nilgar (neelgar) or leelgar from lil or nil, an Urdu/Hindi term for indigo and gar, meaning the makers of indigo. Historically, the Lilari were found mainly in eastern Punjab and Haryana, and considered themselves as members of the Shaikh community, and refer to themselves as Multani Shaikh.

The Lilari are sub-group within the Rangrez caste. Both the Rangrez and Lilari were dyers and both were artisans and not menials, being chiefly found in the towns and are really branches of the Chhimba caste. The distinction with the Rangrez is that the Lilari would only dye, as the name implies, indigo; while the Rangrez dyed in all country colours except indigo. Indeed in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, the Rangrez are said to have three subdivision, the Lalgar, Nilgar and Chhipi, and not seen as distinct caste. The basis of these social divisions is occupation. In this social hierarchy, the Chhipi are placed in the lowest position, because they dyed and printed clothes, whereas the Lalgarh and Nilgarh generally prepare colour from indigo. The Lilari in Punjab however had become quite distinct from the Rangrez, although both groups were Muslims.

The Lilari is an occupational term, used for those who were stampers or dyers, but by the beginning of the 20th Century, they had also turned their hand to tailoring or washing. They are a classic functional caste, based on their traditional occupation, which is dyeing. Although most members have now abandoned their traditional occupation, the caste name persists. The British ethnographer Rose made reference to the several territorial divisions among the Chimba groups, include the Lilari, e. g., in Patiala there were three:

the Sirhindis (endogamous), the Deswals and Multanis, who intermarry, as is also tho case in Jind. In Gurgaon the Desi Chhimbas are said to be converts from the Tank and Rohilla.

This showed who the Lilari are of very mixed background. However, the Lilaris themselves claim to be originally Arabs of Multan, who made their way along the Sutlej, settling in Narnaul and Mahendragarh tehsils of Patiala State and the neighbouring Jind state. From there spread to what is now Haryana, where about a third were found at the beginning of the 20th Century. Most of Lilari in Haryana referred to themselves as Sirhindi, from the ancient city of Sirhind that was the centre of Muslim power in eastern Punjab and Haryana during the middle ages. The Lilari were followers of Hakeem Luqman, who is said to thought there ancestor the art of dyeing.

In Punjab (including Haryana), the Lilari groups were organized in guilds and overtime these guilds formed themselves into castes. The Lilari were further divided by language, those in Haryana spoke Haryanvi, while those in central districts of old Punjab spoke Punjabi.

The partition of India had a profound impact of the Lilari, with many becoming refugees. Most Lilari are now found in southern Punjab, in Multan and Muzaffargarh, and Ghotki in Sindh. Furthermore, industrialization has seen the end of traditional dyeing practices. Increasingly, the term Lilari is falling out to use, replaced with the term Shaikh. I would ask the reader to look at the Youtube channel of Mohammad Alamgir, who has interviewed members of the Lilari community now settled in Pakistan.

Lilari Population According to the 1921 Census of India

 

District / State
Population
Hissar 3,415
Rohtak 2,271
Gujrat 2,152
Karnal 2,101
Patiala 1,899
Sialkot 1,895
Gujranwala 1,768
Lahore 1,560
Amritsar 1,508
Gurgaon 1,412
Rawalpindi 1,182
Jind State
1,077
Jhelum 1,008
Firuzpur 1,008
Hoshiarpur 828
Ambala 792
Gurdaspur 629
Sheikhupura 626
Jalandhar 470
Nabha 347
Ludhiana 330
Kangra 280
Other Districts 1,840
Total Population 30,051

Turk biradari of Uttar Pradesh

In this post I will look at the Turk biradari, community found mainly in the Rohilkhand region of Uttar Pradesh and Udham Sing Nagar district of Uttarakhand. The term Turk here does not imply any connections with Turkey, as the Turks of Rohilkhand claim descent from individuals of the Turk ethnicity from Central Asia. The first known mention of the term Turk applied to a Turkic group was in reference to the Göktürks in the 6th century, who were based in modern Mongolia. Overtime the term has devolved onto the Turks of modern day Turkey, but historically was also used to describe Central Asian Turkic groups. The Turk biradari claim their descent from the latter group.

Origins

Like most communities, the Turks of Rohilkhand and the Terai, they have a number of origin myths. One such tradition claims that the Turks came to India as soldiers who accompanied the 11th century warrior-saint Ghazi Saiyyad Salar Masud or Ghazi Miyan (circa 1014 – 1034 CE). However, it likely the Turk settlement took place at a latter date. Indeed some Turks groups, particularly those in Rampur, say that are originally emigrants from Central Asia, and came in the army of Shahubbin Ghori. These Turks had come from Turkistan region in what is now Central Asia, especially the modern Uzbekistan.

However, most Turk claim that their ancestors came to India during the period of the Slave Dynasty (1206 to 1290), with two periods of settlement. During the rule of second sultan Illtutmish (1211-1236), who conquered Badaun and Aonla (Katehr) in Rohilkhand, that their first settlement took place near Aonla. During the rule of Ghiyasuddin Balban (1266-86), who made Badaun an important centre of his empire, was when the second settlement of Turks occurred.  After ascending the throne, Balban broke up the Amir-i-Chahalgani group of up to the forty most important nobles in the court which was by Iltutmish. As a result, these nobles fled to different villages in Rohilkhand and settled down in the region. The Turks claim descent from these nobles.

Some of these claim to be descended from a certain well-known and pious Abdullah Turk who originally settled in the village of Ronda in the Moradabad district, where his tomb still exists. His descendants do not intermarry with other clans, and anyone who infringes this rule is cast out from the brotherhood. The author of the Rampur State gazetteer took the view the Turks are really a branch of the Muslim Banjaras.

Turks numbered 32,938 persons, a surprisingly large figure five times as great as the These Turks are apparently Banjaras, Turkia being the name of one of the chief Banjara sub-divisions. The Turkia Banjaras state that they came from Multan and that their first settlement in Rampur was at Tanda Badridan. It is a well-known fact that the northern portion of Eampur and the Tarai parganas of Naini Tal swarm with Banjaras and the supposition that these people prefer the name Turk is strengthened by the appearance of only 8,102 Banjaras in the state according to the 1901 census report. General tradition indicates that all Banjaras were originally Hindus.

However, the author conceded that Rampuri Turks had a contrary origin myth:

On enquiry from some of those who called themselves Turks it appeared that they were originally Sheikhs, who belonged to the Siddiqi and Faruqi elans and came from Bokhara. A party of Sheikhs is said to have first settled in Herat, whence they came to the Punjab and settled in the Jalandhar district and afterwards made their way into the districts of Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar and Meerut. In these latter districts they are known under the name of Garha, while in Bijnor and Moradabad they are called Jhojhas, and in Bareilly, Rampur and Budaun as Turks.

The differing traditions as to their probably reflect that there were several migrations. Indeed the Turks are divided into three sub-tribes Jhoja Turk, Khoja Turk and Bobna Turk. The Rohilkhand region is also home to a large community of Muslim Turkia Banjaras, and it is possible the Turks are somehow connected with the Banjaras.

Present Circumstances

The Turk are an endogamous community, and prefer marrying close kin. They are essential small and medium sized farmers, and their villages tend to be uni-caste. The Turk cultivate wheat, paddy, maize, sorghum and sugar cane. Those in north Rohilkhand have benefited from the effects of the Green Revolution. Their customs are similar to other neighbouring Muslim communities such as the Rayeen and Rohilla. They have fairly active caste council, which deals with community welfare as well as an instrument of social control. The Turk are entirely Sunni Muslims, like other Muslim communities in western Rohilkhand, they have seen a growth in madrasas in their villages. Notable people from the Turk caste include the cricketer Mohammed Shami and Dr.Shafiqurrahman Barq – former Member of Parliament from Sambhal.

Distribution

In terms of their distribution, most Turks are found in Rampur District, which home to around 50 village. Their remaining settlements are in the districts of Amroha, Sambhal and Bareilly. In Bareilly, the Turks are concentrated in Baheri. They are spread across the towns of Sambhal, Moradabad, Rampur, Amroha and Nagina in India’s largest province of Uttar Pradesh (UP). There are large number of Turk villages in the Terai region of Udham Singh Nagar in Uttarakhand state. The city of Sambhal, popularly called ‘little Turkey’, is known for its artisans who make decorative pieces from animal horns and also the cultivation and export of mentha oil. The Turk population in the city accounts for 350,000 to 400,000.

Turk population according to the 1901 Census of India

District Population
Rampur State 32,938
Nainital 4,163
Moradabad 1,714
Bareilly 672
Other districts 20
Total Population 39,507

The 1901 Census confirms where the greatest concentrations of Turks was then the Rampur State. This remains the case now.

Pachhada

In this post, I will look at a Muslim community called the Pachhada historically found in what is now the state of Haryana in India. Their ancestral homeland was the Ghagar River Valley and the semi-desert territory that now forms part of the Sirsa, Fatehabad, Hissar and Mahendragarh districts of Haryana, and the Ganganagar district of Rajasthan. They were a nomadic and pastoral community and are closely related to the Rath community of Rajasthan. Most reared the local Rathi cattle breed and would migrate with flocks to the rivers Sutlej and Ravi, and as such were also known as Rathi. In neighbouring Rajasthan, Muslim pastoral nomads of Bikaner and Ganganagar are still known as Rath, which literally means a charioteer.

The  term  Pachhada  was historically  applied  collectively  to  miscellaneous  Muslim  tribes  that  inhabited  the  Ghaggar  valley  and  villages  adjacent thereto  in  what were the  Sirsa  and  Fatehabad  Tehsils of the erstwhile Hissar District.  The  word  is  derived from the Punjabi “pachham,”  meaning  west,  and  da meaning from, so literally westerners, and was used by the Jats and Ranghars to describe tribes which had settled in the region after the famous chalisa famine. The Chalisa famine of 1783–84 in the Indian subcontinent followed unusual El Niño events that began in 1780 and caused droughts throughout the region. Chalisa (literally, “of the fortieth” in Hindustani) refers to the Vikram Samvat calendar year 1840 (1783). This led to the depopulation of the Ghaghar valleys as pastoralists such as the Bhatti moved further west. As things settled, a number of clans moved from Sutlej valley, in what is modern day Pakistani Punjab and settled in the region. In terms of their dialect of Punjabi, it was very close to that to that spoken in the Neeli Bar region. The tribes never used the term Pachhada to describe themselves as the author of the Hissar District gazetteer notes:

Neither the name Pachhada, nor the name Rath is used by these people when speaking of themselves, unless, indeed, the  person who calls himself a Pachhada is a man  of low caste such as a  Mochi or a Lohar, in which case the  name Pachhada is used to conceal  the real caste. The majority of the persons called Pachhadas claim to be Rajputs,  and  when  asked  their  caste  usually  answer “Pachhada sadaunde,” they call us Pachhadas.

The tribes themselves have called themselves Rajputs, and had intermarried with long settled Rajputs of the Ghaghar such as the Bhatti and Chauhan. Groups that were sometimes included within the Pacchada category included the Wattu , Joiya and  Kharal, however the term was strictly used to refer to four tribes, namely:

Tribes Origin Stories
Sohu Traditionally, the Sohu claim to be Chauhan Rajputs, but the they have a number of traditions as to their origin. The Sohus of the village of Bhirrana, the head-quarters of the clan, stated that at the turn of the 20th Century that their  ancestor  came  some  eight  generations  ago  from Rawalpindi,  under  a  leader  named  Jatu, via Bhatner  and Rania, to Bhirrana: Jatu returned to Rawalpindi, while Lal, his  son,  remained  as  leader,  and  he  is  regarded  as the  founder of the present Sohu clan.

Another version is that the Sohus are Chauhans who came via Delhi from Jilopattan near Jaipur, and settled on the  Ravi, whence they again migrated to Sirsa.

 Sukheras They claim descent from the Tunwar  Rajputs  of  Bahuna.  Thirpal,  a  Tomar  of  that place, married a Jatni, and was in consequencv outcasted. Thirpal  is  said  to  have  settled  in  Basti  Bhiman  near Fatehabad,  and  his  descendants  subsequently  spread into Sirsa  and  as  far  as  Abohar.  They  were,  however,  driven backagain  and  settled  in  Begar;  it  and  Basi  Bhiman  was their chief  villages.  They  take  their  name  from  Sukha,  the son of Thirpal.
Hinjraon This clan  claimed  descent  from  the  Siroha Rajputs, and was said to have migrated from the banks of the  Ravi into this district. Their principal ·village was Hinjraon  in the Fatehabad  Tehsil of the then Hissar District. However, according to other traditions, they are infact Hanjra Jatts who arrived from the banks of the Ravi, in present day Okara.
Chotias or Bhanekas According to their tribal traditions, they  were originally Chauhan Rajputs,  but they appear in reality to be  Dandiwal  Jats,  who  were  converted  to  Islam  a  few generations ago. The Dandiwals themselves claim to have been originally  Chauhans,  and  state  that  they  emigrated  from Delhi via Jaisalmer to Sirsa

From the origin myths of these tribes, it is clear the Pachhada sat on the boundary between Jat and Rajputs, and at time intermarried with both groups.

 

The Pachhada were of among a number of Rajput pastoralist groups found the Ghaghar valley and north Rajasthan, and were often closely identified with the Ranghar and Bhatti communities, who have similar customs and traditions. With the establishment of British rule in the early 19th Century, the new authorities took the view that all pastoral nomads in the Ghaghar valley were a threat to their newly established control, and took stringent measures against all the nomad groups of the region such as the Ranghar, Johiya and Bhatti. Land was allocated to peasant settlers, and an attempt was made to forcibly settle the Pachhada. As a result of these policies, the Pacchada played an important role in the attack on Sirsa in the 1857 Indian War of Independence.

After the reestablishment of British colonial authority, the Pacchada were severely punished by British. There were considerable confiscations of land, and the Pachhada were forcibly settled. By the early 20thcCentury, the Pachhada were settled agriculturists, although animal husbandry remained an important subsidiary occupation. At the time of the partition of India in 1947, the Hissar District fell within the territory of India, and all the Pachhada immigrated to Pakistan.In their new homeland in Pakistani Punjab, mainly in Okara, Sahiwal, Muzaffargarh and Layyah districts, the Pacchada maintain their distinct identity. Many still speak the Haryanvi language. The Pacchada are entirely Sunni, and their customs are similar to other Haryana Muslims settled in Pakistan such as the Ranghar and Meo.

Pacchada Population According to the 1901 Census of India

District Population
Hissar 30,484
Other Districts 633
Total Population 31,117

The Pachhada were essentially a tribe of the Hissar region, the Pachhadas in other districts were either soldiers serving in the army or migrant labourers.

Khanzada Caste: The Bisen

In this I will look at a community of Khanzadeh found in historic Awadh region of Uttar Pradesh. I will ask the reader to look at my article on the Ahbans which gives a historic background to the very interesting Khanzadeh.

The Bisen Khanzadeh are the Muslim branch of the Bisen Thakur caste. According to tribal traditions of the Bisen Thakurs, there ancestor was an individual by the name of Mayura Bhatta. He was said to have been a descendant of Jamadagni Rishi of the race of Bhrigu. According to Hindu legends, Jamadagni (or Jamdagni, Sanskrit: जमदग्नि) is one of the Saptarishis (Seven Great Sages Rishi) in the seventh, current Manvantara. He is the father of Parashurama, the sixth incarnation of Vishnu.

Tribal legends are vague as to the origin of Mayura Bhatta. Some say he came from Hastinapur and was the son of one Ashwathama; others that he was an emigrant from Maharashtra, He read Sanskrit for a while at Benares, and became a proficient in astrology. Quitting that city at last under a divine impulse he settled at Kakradih, a village located near Sikandarpur, of Azamgarh. The whole of that Pargana came gradually under his authority. His domestic arrangements illustrate a period when the bonds of caste, ae we know them, were unknown. He is said to have had three wives,- firsts a Brahman’ named Nagseni ; the second Surajprabha, a Surajbansi Rajput ;’ the third Heakumari, a Gautam Bhumihar. By his wife Surajprabha he had a son, Biswa or Bisen Sen, who was the ancestor of the Bisen Thakurs. Like most Awadh Thakurs, they have traditions that land was under the control of the Bhars, whom he expelled, and established Bisen control over what is now Barabanki and Faizabad regions of Awadh. After Biswa Sen established his kingdom, he went on a pilgrimage to the Himalaya, where he died. He was said to be followed by 79 kings who all bore the surname Sen. The two important Bisen Thakur states were that of Majhauli (currently in Deoria District of Uttar Pradesh) and Deorhi.

The history of the Bisen Khanzada starts with the taluqdar families of Usamanpur. I would once again ask the read to look at my article on the Ahbans, which gives some background as to the status of status of Taluqdars. The base of the family is the village of Usmanpur, located in the historic Sidhaur pargana, about a mile from the road that connects Bara Banki to Haidargarh. This Usmanpur estate was founded by one Koushal Singh (also known as Raja Khushhal Singh), who obtained an estate as a reward for military service against the Bhar tribe in the region under the Tughlaq Sultan in the 13th Century. Raja Koushal Singh was the younger brother of Bisen Raja of Manjhouli. The Rajah is said to have lacked an heir, and on a tour of his estate came across a Sufi by the name of Syed Ashraf Jahangir Samnani (his Shrine is located in Kichoucha Sharif, in Ambedkar Nagar District of UP.), who blessed him and told that you will have two sons but you have to give me the eldest of them. In this way Raja blessed with two sons Lakhan Singh and Bhikhan Singh. Keeping his promise Raja Koushal Singh gave his eldest son Lakhu Singh to the Syed, who converted him to Islam and gave him the name Lakhu Khan. Almost all the Bisen Khanzada trace their descent to Lakhu Khan. On his death, Raja Koushal Singh divided his kingdom into two equal parts and divided among his two sons.

An estate was confered upon Rajah Lakhu Khan by the Mughal Emperor Humayun (26 December 1530 to 17 May 1540 and 22 February 1555 to 27 January 1556). Raja Lakhu Khan then divided his estate into three Taluqas among his three sons, Lakhupur, Kothi and Usmanpur. Kothi going to Thakur Haibat Khan, Usmanpur to Thakur Ahmad Khan and Lakhupur to Thakur Dawood Khan.

The Usmanpur estates consisted of three villages located in three Mahals in Sidhaur and one mahal in Satrikh. The Rajahs of Usmanpur were considered the chiefs of the all the Bisen Khanzada. In addition to the Rajah of Usmanpur, prominent Bisen families are also found in Balrampur District, where the zamindars of Mahua and Burhapara were substantial landowners. Indeed the single largests number of Bisen Khanzada are found in that district, which was historically part of British Gonda.

The Bisen are found in the districts of Basti, Azamgarh, Sitapur, Faizabad, Barabanki, Sultanpur and Balrampur. They are generally Sunni, and speak Awadhi and Urdu.

Bisen Khanzada Population According to the 1901 Census of India

District Population
Gonda 2,463
Basti 2,084
Faizabad 1,765
Sitapur 1,292
Gorakphur 1,153
Bahraich 666
Barabanki 408
Azamgarh 346
Sultanpur 312
Rae Bareli 159
Unao 130
Other Districts 92
Total Population 10,870

 

Khanzada Caste: The Bachgoti

In this post I will look at Bachgoti clan of the Khanzadas of the Awadh region of eastern Uttar Pradesh. The reader is requested look at my posts on the Ahbans and Bhale Sultans, which give some background to the history of the Khanzada of Awadh. The Bachgoti were first to acquire the name Khanzada, which now used by all the clans that claim descent from Rajputs or Thakurs of Awadh, who have converted to Islam. The Bachgoti played an important role in the late middle ages and early modern history of Awadh. They were at one time substantial landowners, but with the carrying out of land reform by the government of India after independence in 1947, they lost many of their larger estates.

 

Origin

The Bachgotis and their branches such as their branch Rajkumars, were substantial landowners in the Awadh region throughout late middle ages up to the end of British rule in 1947. According to clan traditions, in 1248, during the reign of Nasir-ud-din Mahmud, their ancestor Bariar Singh, a Chauhan, fled from his home and established himself first in the village of Jamnawan and afterwards in Bhadaiyan in what is now Sultanpur District of Uttar Pradesh. There are conflicting opinions as to where he was born; some say it was Sambhal, others Mainpuri, the undoubted home of the Chauhans, while according to the late 19th Century colonial scholar Sir H. Elliot opined that it was Sambhar in Ajmer. According to William Crook, after the fall of Prithvi Raja of Delhi the Chauhans were especially singled out for extermination by the Muslim conquerors, and this may be a reason for Bariar Singh’s migration. This Bariar Singh claimed direct descent from Chahir Deo, the brother of Prithvi Rajah, the last Chauhan ruler of India.

 

In another account of the Bachgoti origin story, the father of Bariar Singh, who had already twenty-two sons, decided to take a young bride, who stipulated that her son, if she bore him offspring, should be heir. When a son was born, the other twenty-two brothers dispersed, and Bariar Singh came to eastern Awadh. This story goes on to say that he joined the imperial forces of Alaudin Khilji, and for his assistance in overthrowing the Bhars he was given the conquered country of the Bhar Raja Dhim Sen. What we can make of these origin stories is that Bariar singh was a Chauhan, who may have come from the territory round Delhi to Awadh, and overthrew the Bhars, like many other Rajput adventurers.

 

Bariar Singh had four sons, known by the names of Ghunghe, Asal, Ghatam Deo, and Raj Sah. The last named is said to have been by a second wife, the daughter of Raja Man Singh of Jaipur, and to have succeeded to throne, as opposed to his elder brothers. From these four have sprung the various Bachgoti taluqdari families. In my article on the Ahbans, I have looked at the status and origin of the taluqdari families of Awadh. Each of the four brothers is said to have received land in what is now Sultanpur, Ambedkar Nagar and Faizabad districts. Asal is said to have received the pargana called by his name, and from him are descended the present bhaiychara communities of that tract. Ghunghe was given Chanda, which was held in part by his descendants including the taluqdars of Garabpur, Rampur, and Partabpur until independence in 1947. Ghatam Deo received Bahra and Mahrupur in the Partabgarh district, while from Raj Sah, the heir, come the taluqdars of Dhadaiyan, Dera, Hasanpur, Kurwar, Nanamau, Meopur, and Damodra.

 

We now come to the story of the Khanzadas, all of whom claim descent from Raj Sah. Raj Sah is said to have had three sons, lshri Singh, Chakrasen Singh, and Rup Chand. The Khanzada families are descendants of Rup Singh, the second son of Raj Sah. His son, Jura Rai, had two sons, Jai Chand and Pirthipal Singh, from whom are descended the great Khanzada families and the Rajas of Kurwar. Tilok Chand, the son of Jai Chand, was a contemporary of Babar and was captured by the Mughal. He is said to have converted to Islam, taking the name Tatar Khan, and received the title of Khan-i-Azam, meaning the greatest among the khans. One of his sons, Fateh Sah, was born before his fathers conversion and retained the name of Bachgoti; his descendants still hold the Dhamaur estate. The other son, Bazid Khan, was brought up as a Muslim, styling himself Khanzada. Over time other families of convert Rajput ancestry have also adopted the name khanzada, such as the Ahbans, Bisen, Bhale Sultans, Bhatti and Gautams.

The Maniarpur Khanzadas

Khankhanan Khan, fifth in descent from Tatar Khan, had two wives. By the first marriage he had issue, Bahadur Khan, the father of Ismail Khan; and by the second, Hayat Khan and Dalel Khan. According to the author of colonial gazetteer of Sultanpur District, the Maniarpur estat was founded as such:

“they received the Maniarpur estate of 109 villages as their share, but it would appear that they never obtained the claim that they asserted. It is known that Hayat Khan quarrelled with Zabardast Khan, the son of Ismail Khan, and was killed by him, so that the whole property remained in the hands of the elder branch. Hayat. Khan left six sons, Darya Khan and five others. Shortly after his death, Darya Khan and one or two of his brothers went by night to Hasanpur, and stole quietly into the fort to find Zabardast Khan alone and fast asleep. On finding him thus in their power, they desisted from the intended murder, but took his turban, sword, and shoes and left their own instead. When he awoke in the morning, Zabardast Khan recognised the position, and being deeply moved by their generous forbearance set off for Maniarpur to make peace unattended. Darya Khan fled on his approach, but Zabardast Khan secured an interview with Hayat Khan’s widow, and thus effected a reconciliation. Darya Khan took up his residence at Hasanpur and was entrusted with the management of the whole estate: and at the same time, in conjunction with his brothers, received a grant of eleven villages for his support.”

Whether this story is entirely true is not certain. What is clear, though is that there was internecine conflict between the various branches of the Khanzada family. The 109 villages formed the nucleus of the present Maniarpur taluqa. During the rule of Darya Khan, they received considerable additions, by taking advantage of his influential position to ,enlarge his boundaries whenever the opportunity occurred; but at his death, which happened about 1743 .A.D., a division of the estate took place among his sons and brothers, and the separate properties created were too small to be important. However, the majority of them were re-united by Roshan Zaman Khan. Roshan Zaman Khan died in 1818; and was followed by his brother, Basawan Khan, who survived him but two or three years.

The taluqa consisted of the estates of Maniarpur and Pali in Sultanpur district, comprising 72 villages and five pattis, and three villages and one patti in Faizabad. The present Rajah is Sarfaraz Husain.

 

Gangeo Khanzadas

The third Khanzada family of taluqdars was that of Gangeo, which was a cadet branch of the Hasanpur family. It was founded by Wazir Khan, a cadet of the main branch of Hasanpur, and was then passed on to Jahangir Bakhsh. The taluqa consisted of 18 villages and four pattis in the Baraunsa and Miranpur parganas, known as the Gangeo and Bahmarpur estates, and Samdabad Shahpur, a property of five villages in Faizabad. The current Rajah is Tafazzul Hussain Khan

 Meopur Baregaon Estate in Faizabad

In neighbouring Faizabad District was the estate of Meopur Baregaon. According to their origin story, Umresh Singh the son of Sarabdawan Singh, obtained as his share the taluqa known as Meopur Baragaon. This then passed to his elder brother was Jagdeo Singh, who became a Muslim under the name of Husain Ali. He then abdicated his property in favour of Umresh Singh and moved to Faizabad city, where he lived in receipt of an allowance of Rupees 4,000 a year from the estate. The property originally consisted of 38 villages in Surhurpur, all acquired since the beginning of the nineteenth century. It disappeared, however, soon after the first regular settlement, for the whole estate was sold by a decree of the civil court in 1875. The villages constituting this taluqa at the time of sale lay in Akbarpur, Majhaura and Surhurpur, the village of Baragaon from which it derived its name being in the last-mentioned pargana. It consisted in all of 21 villages and three pattis in this district, and was It consisted in all of 21 villages and three pattis in this district, and was sold village by village, the principal purchasers being Khattris. The family however remains settled in Faizabad.

 Distribution

The Bachgoti Khanzada are found mainly in the districts of Ambedkar Nagar (Tanda), Faizabad and Sultanpur. They are Sunni Muslims, except the taluqdar families, but incorporate many folk beliefs. The Bachgoti speak both Awadhi and Urdu.

 

 

 

Ghosi, Gaddi and Gadariya population of Punjab according to the 1901 Census

In this post, I will look at the distribution of three castes according to the 1901 Census, that in the Punjab were associated with pastoralism, namely the Gaderiya, Gaddi and Ghosi. With regards to the Gaddi, we really have two distinct communities, one found in what is now Himachal Pradesh, who practice transhumance, and a community of Muslim agriculturalist found in what is now modern Haryana. They may be the one and same community, simply divided by religion. The Ghosi, found in Delhi, and adjoining parts of what is Haryana were simply Muslim converts from the Ahir caste.

Map showing Eastern Punjab in 1901

Gadariya Population

The Gadariya were traditionally shepherds and goatherds, who had taken to weaving blankets. In 1901, they were found almost entirely in Haryana, and were largely Hindu. Karnal was the only area with Muslim Gadariya.

District / States Hindu Muslim Total
Karnal 6,916  597 7,513
Gurgaon 5,304 5,304
Ambala 4,571 60 4,631
Delhi 2,226 10 2,236
Kalsia State 581 12 593
Patiala State 556  18 574
Lahore 419 419
Nahan State 360 360
Firuzpur 353   353
Jind State 164   164
Other Districts
    322
Total Population 22,048 721
22,769

Gaddi Population

District / States Hindu Muslim Total
Chamba State  11,507 11,507
Kangra  9,315 9,315
Karnal  4,015 4,015
Gurdaspur  492 492
Mandi State  172  172
Delhi  153 153
Other Districts
Total Population 21,514
4,192
25,706

Ghosi Population

The Ghosi were Muslim converts from the Ahir caste. They were largely urban group, associated with selling milk.

District / States Muslim Hindu Total
Delhi 526  315 841
Hissar 622 622
Karnal 592 592
Ambala 324  46 370
Rohtak 320 320
Rawalpindi 289 289
Jalandhar 211  19  230
Lahore 161  11 172
Firuzpur 134 134
Ludhiana 131 131
Patiala State  84 36 120
Other Districts
Total Population 3,543  487  4,030

Mughal Population of Punjab according to the 1901 Census

In this post, I look at the distribution of the Mughal population in Punjab. The term Mughal in Punjab really meant anyone actually or putatively claim descent from Central Asians migrants. The Mughals of Delhi were connected with the royal dynasty that ruled India, but the Pothohar groups included people of very diverse origin.

District / States Population
Jhelum 21,424
Rawalpindi 20,377
Multan 8,038
Gujrat 6,272
Delhi 5,782
Lahore 4,683
Sialkot 3,811
Bahawalpur State 3,500
Amritsar 2,730
Gurdaspur 2,247
Patiala 2,195 
Firuzpur 2,177
Jalandhar 1,557 
Montgomery 1,430
Gurgaon 1,208
Shahpur 1,200
Hoshiarpur 1,177
Jind 854
Chenab Colony 845
Hissar 824
Karnal 818
Ambala 655
Gujranwala 621
Ludhiana 528
Kapurthala State 526
Other Districts 4,098
Total Population 98,277

 

Distribution of the Tagah/Tyagi, Ror and Reya castes according to the 1901 Census

In this post, carrying from the theme of distribution of different communities according to the 1901 Census, I look at the distribution of the Tyagi (then known as Tagah), Reya and Ror castes.

Map of Eastern Punjab in 1901

Map of the United Provinces from The Imperial Gazetteer of India (1907-1909).jpg

Map of United Provinces in 1901

Tagah Distribution in Punjab

While the Tyagi were split between Hinduism and Islam, the other two castes are almost entirely Hindu. At the beginning of the 20th Century, the Tyagi were found in parts of Punjab that now form the state of Haryana. Most were found in Sonepat, a region which was part of Delhi District in 1901. The Muslim Tyagis of Haryana all migrated to Pakistan in 1947.

District / States Hindu Muslim Total
Delhi 6,083 2,690 8,773
Karnal 2,281 2,185 4,466
Gurgaon 11 185 196
Rohtak 143 143
Other Districts
12
Total Population 8,376 5,214 13,590

Tyagi Population of the Unite Provinces (Uttar Pradesh)

In UP, Tyagis, both Hindu and Muslim were found largely in the Doab, indeed most were found in the Upper Doab, which extends from Haridwar on the north to Aligarh on the south.

District Hindu Muslim Total
Meerut 41,230 19,886 61,116
Moradabad 13,816 8,001 21,817
Saharanpur 15,542 2,960 18,502
Muzaffarnagar 10,448 7,510 17,958
Bulandshahr 10,420 669 11,093
Bijnor 8,207 491 8,698
Aligarh 4,618 12 4,630
Mathura 3,026 40 3,066
Agra 1,860 36 1,896
Dehra Dun 499 499
Other Districts
     
Total Population 109,576 39,605 149,181

Ror Caste in Punjab

The Ror were largely Hindu (44,511), with only a smaller number being Sikh (142) or Muslim (118). In 1901, they were found in Rohtak, Delhi and Karnal Districts and the princely state of Jind State. The real seat of the Ror is located in the great Dhak jungles south of Thanesar in the Karnal District. Pandit Harkishan Kaul, the Census Commisioner of Punjab in 1911 wrote the following:

They claim a Rajput origin and their social status is the same as that of Jats. Their chief occupation is agriculture and they have been declared an agricultural tribe in the districts of Rohtak, Delhi and Karnal. The above figures include 214 males and 204 females returned under Aroras opposite Rohtak in Imperial Table XIII, which has since been found to belong to Rors. These persons have been returned mostly from one village Jawahra in the Gohana Tahsil of the Rohtak District.

 

District Population
Karnal 42,187
Jind 1,290
Delhi 651
Rohtak 450
Other Districts 193
Total Population 3,971

Ror population in the United Provinces

In UP, the Ror were found largely in the Doaba region.

District Population
Saharanpur 1,020
Bulandshahr 1,100
Muzaffarnagar 754 
Mathura 148
Other Districts 73 
Total Population 3,095

 

Reya caste Population

According to tribal traditions, they were originally Rajputs, who adopted the practice of widow remarriage, a practice forbidden among higher caste Hindus, and as such became distinct from the Rajputs. Their customs are similar to other Hindu agrarian castes of the region such as the Ror and Jats. They are only found in nine villages, with their ancestral home being Mehrauli

District Population
Delhi 2,285
Total Population 2,285