Emergence and growth of early medieval states: Kangra, Kullu and Chamba

Emergence and growth of early medieval states: Kangra, Kullu and Chamba


Mahmoud Ghajnvi attacked KANGRA Fort in 1009 and defeated Anandpal and Bhrampal.Jagdish Chand was king of KANGRA at that time. Kangra was under Turk until 1043.Tomar king help kangra to free from Turk.In 1051-52 KANGRA was again under Turk. In 1060 King of Kangra again conquered Kangra Fort.

Mohd. Bin Tuglaq attacked KANGRA in 1337. Prithvi Chand was king at that time.FIROJ SHAH TUGLAQ took 1300 books from jawalaji to France to translate them in Faarsi(French). Firozshah Tuglaq’s son Nasirudin Shah had taken shelter in kangra in 1389, Sansar hand was king at that time. During reign of Megh Chand in 1398 Taimur Lang looted Shivalik and Dhameri.

Then King Hari Chand lost his way during a hunt and went missing for days. There his brother Karam Chand was named the new King. After several days, when Hari Chand returned back, brother karamnd offered him the crown but Hari Chand refused and founded Guleir Riyasat in 1405.Sansar Chand, son of Karam Chand became king in 1430.

As per Tabakat-e-Akbar Khan Jahan conquered Kangra Fort in 1620. Akbar sent Todarmal to measure hilly region. Vidhi Chand in 1589, revolted against Mughal with the help of other kings but lost.
Trilokchand (1605-12) and Hari Chand II (1612-17) were the Kings at the time of Jahangir. Nawab Ali Khan was first Mughal Killedar of Kangra Fort. Jahangir made mosque in Kangra Fort. Nawab Saif Ali Khan was last Killedar of Kangra Fort.

Abhay Chand (1747-50) built fort at Thakurdwara and in Teehra in 1748. Ghamand Chand laid the foundation of Sujanpur town in 1761. At the time of Ahmad Shah Durani attack over Mughal Ghamand Chand took advantage and recovered all the territory that had been lost by his ancestors to Mughals.

Jassa Singh Ramgarhiya was the first Sikh to attack Kangra,Chamba and Nurpur. Jai Singh kanhaiya defeated him in 1775.

Sansar Chand kept Ishwari Sen, Ruler of Mandi Rasat in jail for 12 years.Amar Singh Thapa freed him. In 1794 he attacked Bilaspur which is responsible for his decline.Amar Singh Thapa defeated him in Mahalmoriya in 1805. After Jawalamukhi treaty between Sansar Chand and Ranheet Singh in 1809 Raja Ranjit Singh defeated Amar Singh Thapa. Sanar Chand gave kangra fort and 66 villages to Maharaja Ranjit Singh.Maharaja Ranjit Singh made Dessa Singh Majithiya as governor of KANGRA FORT and areas of Kangra. Sansarchand died in 1824.


The history of Kullu has been traced some 2000 years back in time. The word ‘Kullu’ is speculated to have been derived from the word ‘Kuluta’ which was found inscribed on a coin from the first century A.D. The first king (Raja) mentioned in historical record is Virayasa whose name figures on that coin as ‘Virayasa, King of Kuluta’. The Chinese pilgrim, Hiuen Tsang, is believed to have described the modern Kullu as Kiu-lu-to situated at 117 miles to the north-east of Jalandhar. The tract has also been referred to as ‘Kulantapitha’, which translates to ‘the territory which marks the end of Kula i.e. the socio-religious system of the mainland’ or ‘the end of the habitable world’.


The tract is said to have been first ruled by the Pal kings, who were succeeded by the Singh kings, believed to be descendants of the Pal kings. According to known history, the kingdom of Kullu was founded in the first century A.D. by Behangamani Pal, who is speculated to have come from Prayag near Allahabad. It appears that the people of the higher valley of Kullu were suffering under the repressive regime of the Thakurs of Spiti then and a keen desire to overthrow the Thakurs was smoldering in their hearts.  Behangamani Pal overthrew the Thakurs and established the first ruling dynasty of Kullu. The rule of the Pal kings continued till about A.D. 1450 and Raja Kelas Pal was the last in that line. After him there was long break of about 50 years and it appears that the Thakurs and the Ranas might have captured power during this period.


After this interregnum, Sidh Singh, who became the Raja of Kullu in A.D. 1500, is recognized as the first of the line of the Singh kings. The local folklore narrates the story of Goddess Hidimba granting the kingdom of Kullu to Sidh Singh. Hidimba is respected as the grandmother and the patron-deity by the royal family of Kullu till date. The next important king of Kullu was Raja Jagat Singh (A.D.1637-1672) who incorporated Lag into the kingdom of Kullu. The original capital of the state of Kullu was at Jagatsukh where the early kings ruled for twelve generations. Raja Visudh Pal transferred the capital to Nagar and later Raja Jagat Singh transferred it to Sultanpur. The famous idol of Raghunath was brought from Ayodhya to Kullu during the reign of Raja Jagat Singh to remove a curse which a Brahmin had casted upon Jagat Singh. Jagat Singh put the idol on the throne, proclaimed himself to be merely the first servant of the temple, and the curse was removed. Since then, the Rajas of Kullu ruled the state in the name of Raghunath, who became the principal deity of the Kullu valley. With this incident Vaishnavism established itself in a land where Shaivism and Shaktism were the dominant denominations. During the period of the Mughal rule, Kullu was subject to the suzerainty of the Mughal emperors and used to pay tribute to them.


In A.D. 1672, river Sutlej became the state boundary in the south and Outer Saraj (consisting of Ani and Nirmand of the present times) became a part of Kullu. In territorial terms, Kullu reached its zenith under Raja Man Singh extending from Upper Lahaul in the north to Shimla in the south. Around A.D. 1800, the authority of the Mughal empire declined and Kullu started paying tribute to the Gorkhas and to Sansar Chand, the Katoch Raja of Kangra. In A.D. 1839, the Sikhs captured Kullu state from Raja Ajit Singh and in A.D. 1846 they ceded it to the British Government. Consequently, Kullu, along with Lahaul & Spiti, became a part of the district of Kangra, as a sub-division under the control of an Assistant Commissioner. The British gave sovereign powers to Thakar Singh within the jagir of Rupi and in A.D. 1852 his son Gyan Singh was given the title of Rai instead of Raja.


Until 1960, the tract of Lahaul & Spiti was part of the Kullu tehsil. Kullu was declared to be a district of Punjab in 1963 and on November 01, 1966 it became a district of Himachal Pradesh. In the British times, all the modern government buildings, hospital and government bungalows were built around the Dhalpur grounds (proximate to Sultanpur, the old capital). Dhalpur continues to be the nerve centre of the district administration till date.



Chamba is the only state in northern India to preserve a well-documented history from circa 500 A.D. Its high mountain ranges have given it a sheltered position and helped in preserving its centuries old relics and numerous inscriptions. The temples erected by rajas of Chamba more than a thousand years age continue to be under worship and the land grant-deeds executed on copper plates by them continue to be valid under the law.

Regarding the early history of this region it is believed that this area was at time inhabited by certain Kolian tribes,which were later, subjugated by the Khasas. The Khasas too after a time came under the sway of Audumbaras (2nd centaury B.C.). The Audmabaras had republican form of government and worshiped Shiva as their principal deity. From the Gupta period (4th Centaury A.D.) the Chamba region was under the control of Thakurs and Ranas who considered themselves superior to the low tribes of Kolis and Khasas. With the rise of Gurjara Pratiharas ((7th Centaury A.D.) the Rajput Dynasties came to power.

In circa 500 A.D., a legendry hero called Maru migrated to north-west from Kalpagrama (a mythical place from where majority of the Rajput dynasties claim their descent) and founded Brahamputra (Bharmour) in the valley of the Budhal river, seventy five kilometer to the east of present Chamba town. His successors continued to rule over the country from that capital city for over three hundred years until Sahilla Varman shifted his capital from Brahamputra to the more centrally located plateau in the lower Ravi valley. He named the town after his beloved daughter Champa. His rani voluntarily offered herself as a sacrifices to bring water for the town’s people through a running channel which takes origin at a place called Bhalota. The layout of the plan of Chamba seems to be in conformity with the ancient texts. From then on the rajas of Chamba continued to rule from here in an uninterrupted and direct line of descent.

The Muslims never invaded Chamba, though it had its occasional fights with the neighboring states in the hills having similar cultural background. Thus,the damage to Chamba from these invasions was seldom serious and never beyond the possibility of repair. Even the powerful Mughals were

kept at bay on account of difficulties involved in communications and long distances. Akbar tried to extend a loose control over the hill states including Chamba and attached fertile tracts of these states to the imperial territory south of Dhauladhar. Aurangzeb once issued orders to the Raja of Chamba Chatter Singh (1664-1694AD) to pull down the beautiful temples of Chamba. But instead the raja in clear defiance to the Mughal ruler placed glided pinnacles on the temples. He was ordered to come down to Delhi to face the imperial wrath. But Aurangzeb himself had to leave for the Deccan from where he could not disentangle till the end of his life. On the whole, the northern India experienced comparatively peaceful condition during the Mughal regime Raja Prithvi Singh (1641-1664 AD), a handsome and a gallant knight was favourite of Shahjahan and visited the imperial court many times. He introduced the Mughal style of court life including Mughal-Rajput art and architecture in Chamba.

By the last quarter of 18th centaury the Sikhs forced the hill states to pay tribute to them. Maharaja Ranjit Singh systematically deposed the hill prices including the more powerful Kangra ruler Sansar Chand Katoch but spared Chamba in lieu of the services Wazir Nathu (of Chamba) had rendered him on two occasions. In 1809 A.D. the Wazir had made himself useful to the Maharaja by negotiating his agreement with Raja Sansar Chand Katoch, of Kangra. Again in A.D.1817 he had saved Ranjit Singh’s life by offering his horse at a critical moment during formers winter campaign in Kashmir. After Ranjit Singh’s death Chamba became un-protected and was drawn into the vortex of the disintegration of the Sikh Kingdom. The Sikh army invaded the British territory in A.D. 1845 and the troops of Sikh army, which were stationed in Chamba, were with drawn. When Sikhs were defeated it was decided to merge Chamba in Jammu and Kashmir but on account of the timely intervention of Wazir Bagha (of Chamba) it was taken under the British control and subjected to the annual tribute of 12,000 rupees. The Rajas who saw something of British hegemony were Sri Singh, Gopal Singh, Sham Singh, Bhuri Singh, Ram Singh and Laxman Singh. Their relations with the British political officers seem to be cordial and Chamba witnessed many reforms.


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