In this post, I shall look at five tribes that are found largely in the uplands of the Chenab and Indus rivers, now forming part of Bhakkar, Layyaj and Muzaffargarh districts. This region goes by the name of the Sindh Sagar Doab (the land between the Indus and Chenab rivers), and is frontier region in terms of both politics and culture. The Jats were probably the earliest settlers, but many Jat tribes have vague traditions of migration from Jaisalmeer or Bikaner in Rajasthan. Like most Bar nomads, they were largely pastoralist till the 19th Century. Almost all consider themselves and are considered as Jats. Of the five tribes, the Dhandla, Lohanch and Makwal are fairly local, but Ghallu and Jakhar have spread to other parts of Punjab.
I shall of by looking at the Dhandla, a tribe of Jat status found in Bhakkar and Rajanpur districts. The tribe claims descent from Dhandla, a Bhatti Rajput, who is said to have come from Jaisalmeer to Multan, where he converted to Islam. Like most Bar tribes, they have traditions of accepting Islam at the hand of a Sufi saint, and in the case of the Dhandla, it was Bahaudin Zakaria of Multan.
In Rajanpur District, their main villages are Basti Dhandla, Raqba Dhandla and Tatarwala. In Bhakkar District, their main villages are Basti Jamal, Mitho Bindu, Bharmi Nawab, Bharmi Charagh and Gadola.
The Ghallu are another tribe of Jat status. The tribe claims descent from Ghallu, a Hindu Rajput, who was converted to Islam, by the famous Sufi saint Makhdum Jahanian of Uch. He is said to have had seven sons, from which the main clans of the tribe claim descent. Their main clans in Bahawalpur are the Hanbirpotre, Ghanunpotre, Dipal, Jhanbu, Kurpal, Kanji and Gujj. However, there is another tradition where that Ghallu was in fact a nickname of Hari Singh, a Panwar Rajput.
The Ghallu are found in the south west corner of Multan District, extending into Lodhran District, across the river Indus in Muzaffargarh District, and near the town of Ahmadpur East in Rahim Yar Khan District. In addition, a few Ghallu villages are also found in Layyah and Bhakkar districts.
Starting with Muzaffargarh, they are found in Alipur Ghalwan Pani Wala, Sanu Wala, Kaurey Wala Nirali Wala and Bambherwala. In Lodhran District, there villages include Malikpur, Qureshiwala, Suiwala, Pacca Munna, Saadullahpur, Yousufwala, Sabra, Bahadarpur, Thath Ghallwan, Khanwah Ghalwaan, and Tibi Ghalwaan. While in Bhakkar District, there most important village is Mouza Dhingana in Tehsil Mankera. Further south in Layyah District, they are found in Chah Ghilay Wala Mouza Gat Nashaib.
In Bahawalpur District, their villages include Ghallwan, Ismailpur Ghallwan and Baqarpur Ghallwan.
I come next to come to the Jakhar, sometimes pronounced as Jhakkars, who are found pretty much throughout South Punjab. In fact in terms of numbers, they are after the Bhatti, the second largest tribe of the Seraiki speaking region. In India, Jakhars are one larger Jat tribes, found in east Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.
There are a number traditions as to the origin of the Jakhar. William Crook, the late 19th Century British colonial writer in his book Castes of Northwest provinces and Avadh, narrates the story of a king of Dwaraka, who is said to have had a huge bow and arrow and he proposed that whoever broke it would be given a status above the king. The king of the Jakhar clan, Jakhbhadra, tried but failed. The failure made him leave his state and settle in Bikaner, in the area that was then known as Jangladesh.
Among Punjab Jakhars, there are traditions that connect them with Rana Rajwadhan, the ancestor of the Hattar, Kalyar, Kanju and Uttera tribes. Most Jakhar groups have various traditions that came from Rajasthan in the fifteenth century, crossing the Thar Desert, and settling in the valleys of the Sutlej and Chenab rivers, and eventually converting to Islam.
The Jakhars of Pakistan are found mainly in the south of Punjab, in the districts of Layyah, Sargodha, Muzaffargarh, Okara, the village of Jakhar in Toba Tek Singh District, Sahiwal and in Faisalabad district near small towns of Mamukanjan and Chak Jakharanwala.
Jakhars are also found in Jakhar village in Gujrat District, while in neighbouring Jhelum District they are found in Kalyal near Dina. In Layyah District, they are found in Hyder Shahwala, Basti Jakhar, Chak152 TDA, Jhakkar Kacha and Jhakkar Pakka, while Dera Ghazi Khan District, they are found in Jakhar Imamudin. Further up along the Indus River, in Bhakkar District they are found in the villages of Basti Jakhar, Basti Dirkhan near Dolatwala and Manjhotanwala.
I shall next look at the Lohanch, a tribe of Jat status. According to tribal traditions, the Lohanch were settled in their present abode by two descendents of the famous Sufi, Bahwal Haq. Makhdum Lal Isa is said to have brought with him two brothers, the elder of whom was called Lohanch, and settled them in what was wasteland, in the Sindh Saggar Doab. The descendants have remained confined in this small territory, which is now part of Layyah District.
The Lohanch are almost confined to Layyah District. Their main villages are Chak 152TDA LAYYAH, Chak 145TDA LAYYAH, Chak 143TDA, Ghullam Hyder Kalluwala, Nangi Lohanch Pukka, Nangi Lohanch Kucha, Lohanch Nasseb and Lohanch Thal Kalan, all in Layyah District.
The next tribe I am going to look at are the Makwal. Unlike other tribes in this post, Makwal have traditions of an Arab origin. The word Makwal, is a shortened form of Makkah wal, which in the Seraiki language means “from Makkah”. The tribe claims that its ancestors were Arabs from the holy city of Makkah in what is now Saudi Arabia. As far as I know, the Makwal are distinct from the Makkal, who are found further north in Mianwali. Coming back to the Makwal, according to their traditions they arrived in India during the reign of the Sultans of Delhi, and took to agriculture. The Makwal also started to intermarry with other Jat tribes, and as such became Jat.
The Makwal of Kot Addu Tehsil in Muzaffargarh District, who are guardians of the Sufi shrine of Dera Din Pannah, are family that has had some influence in the politics of southern Punjab. Most Makwal villages are found close to the shores of the Indus river. In Muzaffargarh District, their main villages are Bait Rayli, Basti Makwal, Basti Karamwala, Chowk Makwal, Makwal Hader, Makwal, Shah Jamal as well as Dera Din Pannah.
Across the Indus, several Makwal also exist in Dera Ghazi Khan District. The larger Makwal villages include Patti Makwal, Jhok Makwal, Makwal Kalan and Makwal Khurd. While in neighbouring Rajanpur they are found in Basti Basheer Nagar.
Shrine of Dera Din Panah
The Makwal are closely associated with the Sufi shrine of Dera Din Pannah, as they are the heredity caretakers. Din Panah was said to be a Bukhari Saiyad, who settled by the banks of the Indus some four hundred years ago. He is said to have taken up residence in the house of Suhagin, the wife of Akku, a Jat of the Makwal tribe. When Suhagiun’s daughter was married, Din Panah gave himself as part of the dowry. He died in A. H. 1012 (1603 AD), on the west bank of the Indus, and was buried there. However a dispute arose between the Makwals of Dera Ghazi Khan and those of Muzaffargarh as to where Din Panah be buried. The MakwaJs of the east Bank tried to steal his coffin, but were prevented. A feud broke out between the Makwals on each bank of the Indus. At last Din Panah revealed himself in a dream to the brothers of Akku, and told them to make a coffin for the east bank of the Indus, and that his corpse would be found in it also, as well as on the west bank. Since then there bas been a shrine on each bank of the Indus.