Dhamial, Gaharwal, Jatal and Ranial tribes



In this posting, I return to the theme of the lesser known tribes of the Pothohar region of Pakistan, and I shall look at the Dhamial, Gaharwal, Jatal, and Ranial tribes. All of these tribes are in fact branches of the well known Janjua tribe. Let me start off with a brief note of the Janjua Rajputs. According to their traditions, the Janjua claim descent from the Pandava dynasty through Arjun, the cousin of Krishna. Although there is no definitive source to confirm the ancestry of the ancient King Porus of Punjab, the Janjua Rajputs claim that their ancestor, Rai Por is the Porus who fought Alexander in Punjab in 326BC, although this might be conjecture. The Janjua tribal history begins with Raja Ajmal Dev Janjua, who embraced Islam in the 12th century due to his love for Sufi art, poetry and teachings. Rai/Raja Mal followed the Islamic tradition of change of name after conversion and was then known as Raja Mal Khan. Mal Khan is said to have four sons, Bhir, Jodh, Kala and Khakha. From the last descend the Khakha of Kashmir, whose branch the Tezyal I have already looked at in an earlier post. From Jodh descends the Dhamial, from Bhir the Ranial, from Kala, the Gaharwal, and their branch the Jatal. In Chakwal and Jhelum, many Jatal and Dhamial now consider themselves to be Jats.



Dhamial (also written as Dhamyal) Like the other tribes looked, some sections of the Dhamial claim Jat status, while other stress the fact that they are Rajput. The Dhamial are chiefly found in the Rawalpindi District but also in Gujrat District, Jhelum District and Attock District of the Punjab and Mirpur District of Azad Kashmir. In Azad Kashmir, the Dhamial are the second largest Rajput-Jat tribe in the state. With regards to their origins, the Dhamial have a number of traditions as to there origin. Most however agree that they are descended from a Raja Dhami Khan, hence the name Dhami al, or sons of Dhami. They also point to the town of Dhamiak in Jhelum District as to where the tribe originated from. According to one of the traditions, Raja Dhami Khan came from Ghazni in Afghanistan, built a fort in Dhamiak, the ruins of which are still in existence, and defeted the Gakhar rulers of the region to establish control. The fort is still known in the local vernacular as dhami kot (fort of dhami in Punjabi), and the town of Dhamiak is simply said to be a corruption of the word dhami kot. Most traditions however claim that Dhami Khan was a Janjua Rajput, and they are infact a clan of the Janjua tribe. In the early thirteenth century, the Janjua chieftain, Raja Mal Khan rose to prominence. He increased his dominion over Hazara (later renamed Amb) through his son Raja Tanoli, Jhelum through his son Raja Jodh, parts of Kashmir through Raja Khakha, Rajghar (later renamed Malot) in Chakwal through his eldest Raja Bhir and what is today forms the area of Kahuta tehsil through Raja Kala Khan. Tarikh-e-Alfi of the Ghorids makes a mention of the rise to power of Raja Mal. According to Lepel H. Griffin, in Chiefs and Families of note in the Punjab (Lahore, 1910, ii, p254)

””On the death of their father, they determined to divide the country called, from Raja Mal, the Maloki Dhan between them. Jodh took the Salt Range near about the Makrach, and captured the town of Makshala from a colony of Brahmins (Mohyals)…He changed its name to Makhiala and built a fort there and two tanks for rain water….. Wir Khan (also spelt Bhir), took the possession of Khura (also spelt Khewra) near modern Pind Dadan Khan.””

The descendants of Raja Jodh continued to rule this region through various interruptions until the time of the Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh. Raja Bhir meanwhile took over the Malot (Rajghar) state from his father. It was in this tradition that Raja Bhir’s later descendant, Raja Malu Khan, allying his cousin Raja Mubarak Khan who was the descendant of Raja Jodh Khan, gained control of the region of Dhamial and Ranial.  Latter in the post I shall look at the Ranial branch.


Villages in Jhelum and Chakwal

Presently, the Dhamial, both Jat and Rajput are found in Rawalpindi, Chakwal, Jhelum and Mirpur districts. Dhamial villages in Jhelum District include Kotla Faqir, Mamuri Dhamial, Mohra Lal, Hathia Dhamial, Dheri Dhamial and Rakha Dhamial. The town of Dhamiak remains the centre of the tribe in the district. In neighbouring Chakwal District, important Dhamial villages include Dohrian, Dhoke Bangwalian, Dhok Qutab Din, Dhok Alfo near Mangwal, Ghanwal, Chak Jharray, Chak Kharak,  Sohawa, and Kot Raja 


Villages in Rawalpindi District

Looking at each individual tehsil of Rawalpindi District starting with Gujar Khan Tehsil:

1) Aheer

2) Chak Dolat

3) Chak Rajgan

4) Chechi Bahadur

5) Dhamial

6) Dhok Baba Waris

7) Dhok Kund

8) Dolmi Dhamial

9) Gasroor

10) Jajja

11) Jhamath

12) Miani Borgi

13) Mohra Hafyal

14) Mohra Salyal,

15) Mohra Dhamial

16) Mohra Jundi

17) Natta Mohra

17) Ratala,

Rawalpindi Tehsil:

1) Bajnial

2) Dhamial

3) Khail Dhamyal

4) Safair

5) Sher Dhamial,

Kallar Syedan Tehsil,

1) Bhai Mehr Ali

2) Dhamali,

3) Dhok Attari, near Bhalakhar

4) Dhok Pakka Khoo,

5) Dhok Baba Mehru near Khanpur,

6) Mawa Dhamyal

7) Mohra Phadyal

8) Pari Nakkah near Bhalakhar,

9) Phagwari Gala

10) Sahib Dhamial

and in Kahuta Tehsil: Aliot.

Moving to Azad Kashmir, they are found in the villages of Kandoor, Samlota, Chakswari, Daggar, Dehri Dhamial and Nakkah Dhamial.


We now look at the Gaharwal or sometimes pronounced Kaharwal, who are a Rajput clan. According to the 1931 Census of India, they numbered approximately 1,600.

The Gaharwal claim descent from Pir Kala, a son of Raja Mal Dev Janjua, who married Kaho Rani when he came to the Kahuta hills, and named the ilaqua Kahru after her. Hence the descendants are called Kahrwal. The Dulal is a sub-division of the tribe. This branch should not be confused with the Dolal Qureshis of Gujar Khan Tehsil. To sum up, the Gaharwal, like the Dhamyal and Jatal, referred in my earlier post, are a branch of the Janjua Rajputs.

The Kahrwal Janjua’s are found in the Kahuta and Kallar Saidan Tehsils of the Rawalpindi District. Important Gaharwal villages include Matore, Bagla, Darkali, Mamyaam, Guff Sanghal ,Mehra Sanghal , Pind-Bansoo and Blong. In Kallar Syedan they are found in Sehi Rajgan.



The Jatal are a tribe of both Jat and Rajput status, who claim descent from Jatto Khan, a Janjua Rajput, who belonged the Gaharwal branch. So they are in fact sub-group of the Gaharwal. They are extremely localized, found in only in the districts of Rawalpindi and Jhelum. Like other Rajputs tribes of the region, they have a long and distinguished history of military service. Important Jatal villages include Aheer, Lakho, Mohraian,  Jatal Sukhroo and Repa in Gujar Khan Tehsil, Jatal and Jatal Durab in Rawalpindi Tehsil and Nandna Jatal and Tirkhi in Kallar Syedan Tehsil . While in Jhelum District, they are found mainly in Jhelum and Dina tehsils. In the Islamabad Capital Territory, Jatal are foind in Gagri village.


I shall finally look at the Ranial branch of the Janjuas. Like the other branches, the Ranial trace their descent from Raja Mal Khan, the traditional ancestor of the Janjua tribe. As I have already discussed in my account of the Dhamial, the Ranial branch of the Janjua descend from Raja Bhir, who was the erstwhile ruler of Malot (Rajghar) state in Chakwal, and from him descended, Raja Malu Khan, who was the direct ancestor of the Ranials. Raja Malu Khan was allied with Mubarak Khan, the Dhamial. According to the Tehreek-e-Janjua (Sahiwal Press, v1, p224), these two Rajas employed a sudden military onslaught to conquer the areas of Ranial and Dhamial. Through the repute of their military success, they were able to win the neighbouring gentry over to their own side and established good relations with them. Raja Malu took the area of Hayal Ranial whilst Raja Mubarak took the Dhamial plain. Interestingly, Raja Malu’s offspring were known as the Rajas of Ranial and Raja Mubarak’s offspring likewise, were known as the Rajas of Dhamial. This later culminated in the recognition of these two branches as simply Ranial Rajas and Dhamial Rajas. Being neighbours, they taxed their subjects separately, but followed common policies on other matters such as the supply of soldiers to the Mughal emperors, cultivation and trade.

Family tree

The Ranial Rajputs are linked ancestrally to the Janjuas through Raja Malu Khan, who was a descendant of Raja Bhir as illustrated below:

                   Raja Mal Khan, the Janjua king
                   Raja Bhir, the elder son of Raja Mal Khan
                   Raja Acharpal (later converted to Islam and was renamed Raja Ahmed Khan)
                            Raja Sunpal
                            Raja Islam-ud-din
                            Raja Noor-ud-din
                            Raja Daulat Khan
                            Raja Hans Khan
                            Raja Malu Khan (during Jehangir’s reign [1605-28])

Some of Raja Malu Khan’s descendants settled in Nambal in Kallar Syedan Tehsil of Rawalpindi, immigrating from Malot, in Chakwal District(the ancestral kingdom of Raja Bhir who inherited it from his father, Raja Mal Khan). Raja Malu Khan was one of five brothers. The other brothers were: Raja Sadu Khan: whose descendants are settled in the area of Sehel Tehsil and Pindi Gheb,  Raja Nadyam Khan: whose descendants are in Harajpur Pind and Pind Dadan Khan Tehsil, Raja Babul (who was the Minister of Maral Garh): whose descendants are settled in the Murali district in Chakwal and Raja Jangu Khan: whose descendants are settled in Dana, Khanpur and Dadan Chey.

Sakhaal/ Sakhial, Tezyal, and Thakial tribes

In this blog, I revert back to the Chibhal region, and this time look at three tribes, namely the Tezyal, Thakial and Sakhaal, all of whom are only found in Azad Kashmir, largely in the region that now covers Bagh, Kotli and Mirpur districts. Readers are asked to look at my posts on the Bhao and Sohlan, which gives some background to the general history of the Chibhal region. Almost all these tribes are of Dogra stock, and are essentially people of the foothills, and claim and are accepted as Rajput or Sahu.


I start of with the Sakhial, sometimes spelt, Sakhaal, who are found mainly in what is now southern Azad Kashmir. According to their tribal traditions, they are branch of the Ghakkhar or Kayani tribe. Most Ghakkhars, now claim descent from the Kayani dynasty of ancient Iran, who are a semi-mythological dynasty of Persian tradition and folklore which supposedly ruled after the Pishdadids, and before the historical Achaemenids. Considered collectively, the Kayanian kings are the heroes of the Avesta, the sacred texts of Zoroastrianism, and of the Shahnameh, Iran’s national epic. There ancestor, a Ghakkar Khan arrived in the Pothohar region, around the time of Mahmood of Ghazni. He said to have accepted Islam after his settlement in Pothohar, earlier being a Zoroastrian. On account of this supposed Iranian descent, many GHakkars now prefer to call themselves as Kayani.

The Gakhars then are subdivided into a number of clans, known as muhis, such as the Admal, Iskrandral and Bugial. Some clans, however, like the Paharial, Jodhial, Mangral, Kainswal, Farmsial, Sunal, Kul Chandral, Tulial, Sakhal, and Sagial are not recognised as true Gakkhars by the others. Historically, Gakhars clans of the higher status did not marry those of lower status. This is no longer the case now. The Sakhaal of Mirpur however deny that they are anything other than Ghakkhars, and their status as Sahu in accepted in the region they occupy. Unlike the other two tribes discussed in this post, the Sakhaal were never successful in establishing their rule, and remained confined to the status of village headmen.

Fourth in descent from Ghakkar Khan was Rajan Khan. Rajan Khan was said to have been accepted as chief of the Ghakkars. Rajan has two sons, the younger of which was named Ishak. While his older brother Saphar Khan was proclaimed as chief after the death of Rajan Khan, Ishaq and followers moved to what is now Mirpur District. Ishaq is said to have founded the village of Kathar, now called Kathar Delawar Khan. This branch the of the Ghakkars became known as Sakhaal or Sakhial Ghakkars, literally meaning the aal or children of Ishaq. A grandson of Ishaq, by the name of Tassa Khan left Kathar and settled in Poonch. These Sakhaal are settled in Salotri in Indian Poonch, while a second group are found in Balnawi near Palandri. The Balnawi Sakhaal trace direct decent from Raja Tassa Khan. Tassa Khan had three sons, Mohammad Yar Khan, Balo Khan and Sattar Khan, from which all the local Sakhaal claim descent.

In Mirpur District, other than Kathar, the Sakhaal are also found in the villages of Siakh, Namb, and Panyam.


Looking at now at Tezyal, sometimes spelt Tezal, who are also fairly localized, found almost entirely in villages along the right banks of the Mahl river in the Bagh District of Azad Kashmir. According to their tribal traditions, the Tezyal are a branch of the Janjua clan of Rajputs, found mainly in what was known as the Poonch jageer. They are in fact a sub-division of the Khakhe Rajputs, who are located mainly in Muzafarabad District, in villages along the Jhelum River, quite close to the Line of Control. Janjua origin myths make reference to a Raja Khakha being the youngest son of Raja Mal Khan, the founder of the Janjua tribe. His elder brothers included Raja Jodh Khan of Makhiala (Jhelum), Raja Bhir Khan of Malot (Chakwal), Raja Kala Khan of Kahuta and Raja Tanoli of Amb (Hazara). The Khakhe are referred to in the 15th Century as occupying the Jhelum River beyond the town of Muzaffarabad, thereby controlling the access to Kashmir valley. In effect, the Khakha were independent until the region was conquered by the Sikhs in the 18th Century.

Coming back to the Tazyal, seventh in descent from Khalhe Khan were two brothers, Raja Gondh Khan and Raja Dhodha Khan. Dhodha Khan had been nicknamed Tez Khan, literally quick, on account of his fighting prowess. Having left the Jhelum valley, the brother conquered territory that now forms Bagh District in Azad Kashmir. The Tezyal are therefore the descendants of Tez Khan. In Bagh, they were petty chieftains, there territory lieing between the Janhal, Sudhan, Jarrals of Rajouri and Rathore of Poonch. Like other petty Rajputs of the hills, the accepted the over lordship of the Mughals. With the arrival of the Sikhs in the 18th Century, the Tezyal lost their independence. They are found settled in sixteen villages, the main ones being Dheerkot, Natrol, Bhagsar, Mankiala, Nawal, Arja, Seelkot, Rongli, Bees Bagla, Dharray, Mallot and Nazarpur.


We now move on to the Thakyal, sometimes written as Thakial, who are a tribe of Rajput status found mainly in Bagh and Kotli districts. According to tribal traditions, they are of Suryavanshi lineage said to be descended from Rama the mythical king of Ayodhya. Thakial tradition links them to Jamwal and Raja Agnigarba who came to Ayodhya and founded a small state on the banks of River Tawi. The tribe claims descent from Raja Jothar Singh Thakial who established the Bhimber state in the northern Punjab at the foothills of the Himalayas. It remained an independent state for thousands of years under the Thakial rule until the fourteenth century, until the last Thakial ruler Siripat was toppled. Siripat Thakial had no sons but had a daughter, who he married to the oldest son of Partab Chand, the Raj Kumar Chib Chand. On the death of Maharaja Siripat, the Raj Kumar Chib Chand became the Maharaja of Bhimber. From this union, of the Thakial princess(rani) and Raj Kumar Chib Chand, the Chib Rajput clan emerged. The region where the Thakyal are found is still called Chibhal, after the Chib tribe.

After Chib Chand became the ruler of the state, some Thakials are said to have conspired to overthrow Chib Chand which resulted in Chib Chand executing some leaders and driving others out of the state. These refugees settled in the area north of Bhimber, currently known as Fatehpur Thakiala, which was then ruled by the Jayrah clan.

Among the Thakials, there was a man of great stature and resolve named Rusmi Dev. Rusmi Dev lived in a place called Thakar Dhooli in the village Dhuruti in Fatehpur Thakiala. There are many stories about Rusmi Dev; among them being the one where he fought and killed an evil jinn. It is said that he was travelling across the Pir Panjal mountains when he met an old holy man who told him to return to his home for he would one day will become a ruler and also told him that he will convert to Islam.

The relationships between the Thakials and the Jayrah deteriorated and war broke out between the two clans, which led to the Jayrah’s being defeated. Rusmi Dev, the Thakyal leader became the ruler. It was at this time that Islam was spreading in the Himalyas, and Rusmi Dev and his clansmen converted to Islam, and Rusmi Dev adopted the name Rustam Khan. Rustam Khan had four sons and their decedents are the modern day Thakials. His oldest son was called Sangi Khan, whose decedents live in Muzafarabad and Bagh in Azad Kashmir, and Abbotabad in Hazara, and Gujarkhan, Muree and Rawalpindi in Punjab. The descendents of other three sons, Bagh Khan, Kangi Khan and Kaloo Khan live in the Mendhar area of Jammu and Kashmir. Bagh Khan’s descendents are known as the Baghal.

In terms of distribution, they are now found mainly in Bagh, Thub Thakyalan, Muzaffarabad and Kotli districts. Fatehpur Thakiala is named after them.