Hill States and their relations with the Mughals and the Sikhs

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Hill States and their relations with the Mughals and the Sikhs


Medieval History of Himachal Pradesh can be classified into four phases. They are Mahmud Ghaznavi invasion, Tuglaqs, invasion of Taimur-lung and Mughal reign. We shall discuss one by one as follows.


(i) Mahmud Ghaznavi: Mahmud Ghaznavi had invaded India seventeen times. After beating Anandpal in 1009 A.D. he invaded Nagarkot and looted immense treasury. Nagarkot was ruled by Turks till 1043 A.D and after that Tomar Raja Mahipal of Delhi ended the rule of Turks from Nagarkot. Mahmud Ghaznavi could not rule many parts of Kangra excluding Nagarkot till 1023 A.D. After the death of Raja Trilochan Pal and his son Bhim Pal, Kangra came under the rule of Turks in 1026 A.D.


(ii) Tuglaqs: Muhammad Gauri, Slave Dynasty (1206-1290) and Khilji Dynasty (1290-1320) did not pay special attention the hill states. In century 12th, many Rajputs from the Plains (Chauhan, Chandel, Sen, Tomar, and Pawar) established many states in the mighty hills of Himachal.


  1. Muhammad Bin Tuglaq: In the year of 1337 A.D., Muhammad Bin Tuglaq (1325-1351) led an army to defeat Raja Prithvi Chand of Nagarkot.


  1. Firoz Shah Tuglaq: In order to teach a lesson to Raja Rup Chand of Kangra, Firoz Shah Tuglaq invaded Nagarkot and encircled the fort with his army in 1361 A.D. We can nd references of this invasion in ‘Tarikh-i-Firoz-Farishta’ and ‘Tarikh-i-Firoz-Shahi’. Raja Rup Chand and Firoz Shah reached to an agreement in which Raja Rup Chand accepted the suzerainty of the latter. After the agreement in 1365, Firoz Shah visited Jawalamukhi and took away with him 1300 books of Sanskrit, which got translated into Persian by an eminent Persian writer ‘Ajjudin Khalid Khani’ and named the book ‘Dalai-i-Firozshahi’. After the death of Raja Rup Chand in 1375 A.D., his son Sagar Chand ceded the throne.


(iii) Invasion of Taimur-lung: In 1398 A.D., Mongols invaded Kangra in the leadership of Taimur-lung. During this invasion, Raja of Kangra was Megh Chand. Taimur invaded Shivalik region while retreating from the Kangra in 1399 A.D. During the invasion of Taimur, ruler of Hindur (present day Nalagarh) was Alam Chand, who helped Taimur and as a result Taimur moved ahead without harming Hindur. Taimur also invaded Nurpur and Sirmaur which was opposed by Ratan Chand.


(iv) Mughal Reign:


  1. Babur: In 1525 A.D., Babur established his outpost (Chowki) at Malaut near Kangra.


  1. Akbar: In 1526 A.D., Akbar sent his army to catch Sikander Shah because he had a friendship with Bhakth Mal of Nurpur. In order to establish suzerainty over princely hill states, Akbar used to keep their children as hostages in his court. One such hostage made by Akbar was Raja Jay Chand. Bidhi Chand son of Raja Jay Chand broke out into the rebellion against Akbar with the help of Raja Takhth Mal of Nurpur. Akbar sent his very able gem Birbal along with Kuli Khan to suppress the rebellion. In 1572 A.D., Akbar appointed his revenue minister Todar Mal to established Royal estate in the hill states. Royal estate had in it 66 villages of Kangra and Rihlu Chheri, Pathiar and Dharon areas of Chamba. Bidhi Chand became Raja after the death of his father Jai Chand in 1585 A.D. Raja Bidhi Chand kept his son Trilok Chand as hostage in the court of Mughal Emperor Akbar. Raja Singh Varman of Chamba and Dharm Prakash (1578-70 A.D.) of Sirmaur were the contemporaries of Akbar.


  1. Jahangir: Jahangir seated on the throne in 1605 A.D. Trilok Chand became the Raja of Kangra after the death of this father Raja Bidhi Chand in 1605 A.D. In 1615 A.D., Jahangir sent his allies Raja Surajmal of Nurpur (Dhameri) and Sheikh Farid Murtaza Khan to capture Kangra, but some controversy broke out between the two. The plan to capture Kangra was postponed after the death of Farid Murtaza Khan. Again in the year 1617 A.D., Jahangir sent his allies Raja Surajmal of Nurpur (present day Dhameri) and Shah Quli Khan Muhammad Taki to capture Kangra. Same story was repeated again as some controversy broke out between Surajmal and Shan Quli Khan and as a result Shan Quli Khan was asked by Jahangir to retreat back. Raja Surajmal broke out into the rebellion against Mughals. Jahangir sent his very efficient men Raja Roy Vikramjeet and Abdul Aziz to suppress the rebellion. Raja Surajmal fled away to Chamba and took asylum in the fort of Mankot and Taragarh. Raja Pratap Verman of Chamba gave him an idea to surrender but he died in 1619 A.D. before he could make himself surrender to Jahangir. Kangra fort came under the Mughals in 1620 A.D. Raja Jagat Singh younger brother of Raja Surajmal helped the Mughals to capture Kangra fort. Kangra fort was captured by Mughals under the leadership of Nawab Ali Khan and ruled till 1783 A.D. Jahangir visited Dhameri (present day Nurpur) in 1622 A.D. and renamed Dhameri as Nurpur before the name of his wife ‘Nur-jahan’. Jahangir constructed a Mosque inside Kangra fort and named one of the doors of Kangra fort as ‘Jahangiri Darwaza’. During the reign of Jahangir, the ‘battle of Dhalog’ was fought between Raja Janardhan of Chamba and Raja Jagat Singh in which Jagat Singh emerged victorious. Chamba was ruled by Raja Jagat Singh for

two decades (1623 A.D to 1643 A.D). Raja Budhi Prakash of Sirmaur was the contemporary of Jahangir. The first Mughal Kiledaar of Kangra fort was Nawab Ali Khan.


  1. Shah Jahan: Nawab Assdullah Khan and Coach Quli Khan were the two prominent Mughal Kiledaars of Kangra fort during the reign of Shah Jahan. Coach Quli Khan served for 17 year as the Mughal Kiledaar of Kangra fort. Raja Mandhanta Prakash of Sirmaur was the contemporary of Shah Jahan. He helped Mughals a number of times during the Gharwal campaigns.


  1. Aurangzeb: Sayeed Husain Khan, Hasan Abdullah Khan and Nawab Sayeed Khalilullah Khan were the chief Mughals Kiledaars of Kangra fort during the reign of Aurangzeb. Raja Subhag Prakash of Sirmaur was the contemporary of Aurangzeb. Raja Chattar Singh of Chamba refused to accept the orders of Aurangzeb in which he ordered to demolish all Hindu temples in Chamba. He made an alliance with the rulers of Guler, Basholi and Jammu and beat Mirza Riyaz Begh a Mughal Kiledaar of Punjab and took his areas back from him.


Fall of Mughals and Ghamand Chand: Fall of Mughals started after the death of Aurangzeb. Ahmad Shah Durrani attacked the territory of Punjab ten times between 1748 A.D and 1788 A.D. Taking an advantage of Durrani’s attacks; Raja Ghamand Chand captured areas of Kangra and Doab. Kangra fort was still under the reign of Mughals and the last Mughal Kiledaar of the fort was Nawab Saif Ali Khan. In 1759 A.D., Ahmad Shan Durrani transferred Jalandhar doab to Raja Ghamand Chand. The areas between River Satluj and Ravi became the monopoly of Raja Ghamand Chand.




Lying between the Ganga and the Chenab rivers from the time of the Gurus to the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh fluctuated from guarded friendship to open hostility. Guru Nanak (1469-1539) and later his son, Baba Sri Chand, had preached the Sikh tenets in the hill tract east of the Punjab proper. Under the order of Guru Amar Das (1479-1574), his nephew, Savan Mall, had gone to Haripur (Guler) state, to preach as well as to send down the River Beas timber needed for the new habitation being raised at Goindval.


Guru Hargobind (1595-1644) came in contact with some of the chiefs of these Rajput states in the Gwalior Fort where he, along with them, was held captive under the orders of Emperor Jahangir. He also helped Dharam Chand, a prince of Handur (Nalagarh) to regain his throne after his release from Gwalior. He, through his son, Baba Gurditta (1613-38), founded the township of Kiratpur in Kahlur (Bilaspur) state to which place he himself repaired in 1635. Kiratpur remained the seat of the Gurus until Guru Tegh Bahadur founded, in 1655, Chakk Nanaki, later renamed Anandpur. The rulers of Kahlur treated the Gurus with reverence until Raja Bhim Chand, who ruled from 1665 to 1692, became jealous of Guru Gobind Singh`s royal style and growing repute. The Guru withdrew temporarily from Anandpur, and accepting, in 1685, the invitation of the friendly ruler of Sirmur, took up residence in his territory.


Raja Bhim Chand forced upon him a battle which was fought at Bhangani, 11 km northeast of his new abode, Paonta, on 18 September 1688. The Raja and his allies were repulsed. Guru Gobind Singh returned to Anandpur later in 1688. Bhim Chand made his peace with him. Guru Gobind Singh in fact took sides with him in his battle against a Mughal commander fought at Nadaun on 20 March 1691. Bhim Chand was succeeded in 1692 by his son, Ajmer Chand, who, intent on evicting Guru Gobind Singh from his territory, revived the old animosity. In alliance with some other hill monarchs and soliciting help from Emperor Aurangzib, he attacked Anandpur successively in 1700,1703 and 1705.

The last assault took the form of a protracted siege, Guru Gobind Singh eventually evacuating the Fort. The hill chiefs and the imperial troops came in pursuit up to Chamkaur. Guru Gobind Singh, before his death at Nanded on the banks of the River Godavari in Maharashtra in November 1708, deputed Banda Singh Bahadur (1670-1716) to chastise the faujdar of Sirhind and the hill chieftains for their part in the persecution of the Sikhs. Banda Singh during his whirlwind campaign sacked Sirhind and reduced the hill states. Following a period of sustained persecution, the Sikhs emerged as a political power.


They reconquered Sirhind in January 1664 and struck coins at Lahore in the following year. Their raids into the Gang Doab and beyond beginning in 1764 brought the people to submission and they agreed to pay rakhi or protection money to them twice a year. The Raja of the Himalayan state of Garhwal bought peace by paying to the Sikhs an annual tribute of 4,000 rupees. As George Forster, A Journey from Bengal to England, testifies, only two Sikh horsemen were enough to overawe a Garhwal officer into readily paying the tribute.


Raja of Sirmur paid as tribute Rs 2,000 per annum to the Bhangi Sardars of Buna regularly until 1809 when this state passed under British protection. The first Sikh chief to invade Kangra hill states was Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, who reduced Kangra, Nurpur and Chamba to tributary states, yielding together about 2,00,000 rupees annually. Kangra, the strongest of the hill states, was ruled by Raja Sansar ChandKatoch from 1775 to 1823. In 1783,Jassa Singh helped by the Kanhaiya sardar,Jai Singh, besieged Kangra Fort which had been in Mughal possession since 1619. The Fort was ultimately occupied by the Kanhaiyas in 1783.


In 1803-04, Sansar Chand twice invaded Sikh territories in the region of Hoshiarpur and Bijvara but was pushed back by Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839), who occupied the Kangra Fort itself on 24 August 1809. All the hill states north of the River Sutlej accepted his suzerainty, and he appointed Desa Singh Majithia as his nazim or governor of the territory. Jammu was the principal state lying between the Rivers Ravi and Chenab. Its most famous ruler was Ranjit Dev who ruled from 1750 to 1781. He became a tributary of Sardar Jhanda Singh of the Bhangi misi in 1770. During the time of his successor, Brij Raj, Jammu was sacked twice by Mahan Singh Sukkarchakkia, father of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Brij Raj was killed in battle in 1787, and his son, Sampuran Dev, made a complete submission to the Sikhs.


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