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.