In this post I shall look at three tribes of Chibhali or Pahari Rajputs, found mainly in the Mirpur-Kotli-Rajouri-Poonch region, now bisected by the Line of Control. This region is located in the Pir Panjaal Mountain range. These mountains form part of the Inner Himalayan region, run from east-southeast to west-northwest across the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh and the disputed territories comprising Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan administered Azad Kashmir, where the average elevation varies from 1,400 m (4,600 ft) to 4,100 m (13,500 ft). The mountains are traversed by the rivers Chenab and Ravi, with the Chenab also forming a culturally boundary, with tribes located in the east of the Chenab remaining Hindu, while those found in the west have generally converted to Islam. These three tribes are the Bhawpal, Domaal, and Mangral . Two of these clans, the Doomal and Mangral are now entirely Muslim, but Bhawpal still have a Hindu branch. With regards to the Mangral, they also have a large presence in Rawalpindi District. All three tribes speak Pahari, but the Mangral dialect is also close Pothohari, reflecting their more western location.
I shall start off with a little known tribe, the Bhawpal or sometime pronounced Bhopal, who are a Rajput clan that are included within a group of tribes that form part of the Chibhali community. Chibhali history starts with the conversion of Dharam Chand Chib, the Hindu Raja of the area in the 15th Century to Islam. As a result of his conversion, many other Rajput clans also converted to Islam. What ever the actual facts of this conversion, it is an important foundation myth for most the tribes in the Pir Panjal region. The Bhawpal, like other Chibhalis, are a clan of Katoch Rajputs of Kangra, in what is now Himachal Pradesh, India, claiming descent from a Bhawpal or Bhopal.
In Pakistani Kashmir, they are found mainly in Kotli District and Bagh District, in villages near the line of control, while in Indian administered Jammu & Kashmir, they are found in Rajauri, Nawshera and Jammu tehsils
The Domaal are well known tribe with a substantial presence in the historic Poonch area. The Domaal are of Rajput status, a claim generally accepted by their neighbours. They are found principally in the divided district of Poonch in Jammu & Kashmir, as well as Rajouri District in Indian-administered Kashmir and Bagh District in Azad Kashmir.
Like most tribes in the region, the Domaal have a number of traditions as to their origin. In one such tradition, there was once a Mala Rajput who went to Kargil. There, he contracted a marriage with a Buddhist woman, and the Domaal are the progeny of this marriage. However, with regards to origin myths, the more common traditions make the Domaal a branch of the Chib Rajputs. They are said to be descended from two brothers Dharam Chand and Purab Chand (incidentally also ancestors of the Muslim Chib). Dharam Chand, the ruler of Bhimber, and on a visit to Delhi converted to Islam. For this action, he was excommunicated by members of his tribe. Purab Chand was the younger brother, hence known as Rajah Doem or the second rajah. Upon the conversion of Dharam Chand to Islam, the nobles of Bhimber then chose his younger brother Puran Chand as the new ruler. Dharam Chand’s conversion to said to have taken place during the rule of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb (rule 31 July 1658 – 3 March 1707). According to tribal legends, Purab Chand attempted to marry the wife of Dharam Chand, who was still in Delhi. The wife managed to get a letter out to Delhi, and Dharam Chand, now known as Shadab Khan returned. However, he was murdered on his way to Bhimber, which left Purab Chand on the throne. However, Dharam Chand’s widow supported the claims of her sons to the throne of Bhimber. The population of Bhimber rose against Purab Chand, who took refuge in the neighbouring kingdom of Rajouri.
Upon Purab Chand’s arrival in Rajouri, the kingdom was facing raids from two tribes called the Darida and Jayrah. After his arrival in Rajouri, Purab Chand converted to Islam, and took the name Doem Khan. On the request of the Raja of Rajouri, Doem Khan and his followers defeated and destroyed the Darida and Jayrah. He then built a fort in the village that came to be known as Rajdhani, literally capital, in the Thanamandi tehsil of Rajouri. In this region, the Domaal were effectively independent utill the arrival of the Sikhs in the 1790s. Doem Khan, who acquired the nickname Dom had three sonsSardar Gaman Khan, Pirwali Khan and Mouladad Khan. The Domaal are therefore the descendants of Dom Khan, the suffix aal clans signifying descent. The descendants of the first two sons are settled in Rajouri, the most important villages being Rajdhani, Pajgra, Kakora and Galhoti. Dom Khan is buried in the village of Narrouni, still a place of pilgrimage for many Domaals in Rajouri.
According to some sources, they account for 35% of the population in Rajauri Tehsil. The community occupies the southwestern slopes of the Pir Panjal range. Their villages are found along the slopes of hills overlooking a number of tributaries falling into the Poonch River and Chenab River. Perhaps the greatest concentration of the Domaal is in the Manjakot block of Tehsil Rajouri. Important villages include Rak Galali, Hayatpura, Nabi Kot, Sarola and Mangalnara.
Mouladad Khan’s descendants left Rajouri, and initially settled in Mendhar in the Poonch Kingdom. Here they are found in the mainly in the villages of Galhota, Naka Manjhari, Gohlar, Uri and Bahera. A number of Mendhar Domaal moved to Kotli, and settled in the villages of Kodti, Khad Gujran, Barmoch, Chawki, Banarli, and Jagaalyar.
The next tribe we shall look is are the Mangral, sometimes pronounced as Mahngral, Mangarpal. They are closely associated with the history of the town of the Kotli, which was said to be founded by their ancestor Raja Mangar Pal. The Mangrals ruled Kotli State until 1815 when it was incorporated into the State of Jammu by the Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh. Raja Sensphal Khan who founded the city of Sehnsa and was the first Mangral to adopt Islam. Since then the Mangral are entirely Muslim, and found mainly in Kotli, with smaller communities found in both Indian and Pakistani administered Poonch. They are in essence a Chibhali tribe, and have much in common with both the Domaal and Kamlak clans. With regards to their origin, nothing is definite. According to Hutchinson and Vogel, authors of the Punjab Hill States, “Kotli was founded about the fifteenth century by a branch of the royal family of Kashmir. Kotli and Punch remained independent until subdued by Ranjit Singh in 1815 and 1819 respectively.” However, other traditions make the Mangral Chandravanshi Rajputs, descendent from the ancient race of the Yadavas, the clan of Krishna. According to the Chandravanshi tradition, Raja Mangar Pal son of Hani Dev who migrated to present day Sialkot from the Jangladesh region of northern Rajastan in the Twelfth century A.D. Hani Dev’s brother Nirmal Dev continued to live in Jangladesh. Prior to the mid 15th Century Jangladesh was a wild barren area. It was subsequently conquered by Rao Bika a Rathore Rajput and since then has been known as Bikaner. If we accept this tradition, the Mangral and Bhatti have a common origin, but Mangral are always considered Sahu, while only some Bhatti are.
Mangral rule over Kotli lasted for approximately four centuries until they were defeated by the army of the Sikh leader Ranjit Singh. The Mangrals led by Raja Shah Sawar Khan initially defeated the Sikh forces in two battles (1812 and 1814), though at very high cost in loss of life. However, the Sikh army returned in 1815 with 30,000 soldiers and a final battle ensued. Having lost many fighters, the Mangrals agreed to a compromise, giving up control of their city (then based in Baraali near modern Kotli) to Ranjit Singh. The rural areas remained under the control of various Mangral families as jagirs from the Jammu Raj, and they continued to be the landowners and collectors of tax revenues. This arrangement lasted until Pakistan’s 1962 Land Reform Act, whereby the ownership of the land was transferred to the tenant farmers without compensation to the landowners.
The last official count of Indian castes was conducted by the British in their census of India of 1931. At the time they recorded 4,500 adult male Mangrals. According 1911 Census, there were 2,309 Mangral in Rawalpindi District. Mangral’s in Rawalpindi are found mainly in Jawra and other nearby villages in Gujarkhan Tehsil.There are also three Mangral villages in Kahuta Tehsil of Rawalpindi District, namely Galli, Marigala Mangral and Nandna Mangral