Kangra

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Kangra District Map

Kangra (कांगड़ा is a city and a municipal council in Kangra district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. As per records ancient name of the city Kangra was Bhimnagar founded by Pandava brother Bhima. Kangra was called Nagarkot or Kot Kangra in ancient history. Guler was an ancient Kingdom in Kangra district. Pragpur is also one of the most important historical parts of Kangra region.

Variants of name

Founders

Kangra was founded by Kang gotra Jats.

Location

It is a town at the confluence of the Bener River and Majhi River. The headquarters of the district are in Dharamsala, now home-in-exile to the Dalai Lama. Many ancient temples like the Jwalamukhi Temple, Brijeshwari Devi temple, Chamunda Devi temple, Baba Baroh and Baijnath temple are found here. Kangra fort is also a popular tourist attraction. The Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh is situated in the Western Himalayas between 31°2 to 32°5 N and 75° to 77°45 E

Geography

Kangra is located at 32.1° N 76.27° E. It has an average elevation of 733 metres. The district of Kangra extends from the Jullundur Doab far into the southern ranges of the Himalaya.

  • The Beas is one of the major rivers of this district and contributes to the fertility of the land here. The district is bounded by the Himachal Pradesh district of Chamba and Lahaul valley of the Lahaul and Spiti district to the north, Kullu to the east, Mandi to the south-east, and Hamirpur and Una to the south. The district shares a border with the states of Punjab to the west. Due to the hilly terrain, not very much of the land is cultivated. The region is covered with uniform patches of barren land, as well as small forests.

Administrative divisions

Jat clans

History of following Jat clans is associated with History of Kangra. Himachal Jat Kalyan Parishad, Kangra is working for the welfare of the Jats. There are 12000 Jats in Kangra district.

History

Part of Punjab, showing Trigartta - comprised Jalandhar, and the various small states between the Ravi River and the Satluj River

Alexander Cunningham[1] describes about the Hill States of the Punjab as the Chinese pilgrim Hwen Thsang has noticed so few of the many hill-states of the Panjab.

According to popular opinion the petty states of the Alpine Panjab, at the present time, consist of twenty-two Muhammadan and twenty-two Hindu chiefships, the former lying to the west, and the latter to the east of the Chenab river. [2]

An older classification divides them into three groups, each named after the most powerful state which formed the head of the confederation[3]. These were:

This division into three groups most probably existed prior to the seventh century, as we find that the states to the east of the Ravi were quite independent of Kashmir, while those of Urasa, Punach, and Rajapuri are spoken of in such a way as to show that they had kings of their own previous to their subjection by Kashmir.[4]

The Gakar chiefs hold the lower valley of the Jhelam, and the upper course of the Haro river to the south-west of Kashmir. The Gakars also occupy several portions of the eastern Doab, as Guliana, near Gujar Khan, and Bugial, under the lofty hill of Balnath. But these districts do not properly belong to the hills, although they were subject to Kashmir at the time of Hwen Thsang's visit in the seventh century. [5]


Alexander Cunningham[6]provides us the list which gives the names and positions of the various states attached to the eastern, or Jalandhar (Trigartta) division of the Alpine Panjab.

Vansha State
Somvansi 1. Kangra, or Katoch.
2. Guler, to S.W. of Kangra.
3. Jaswal, on Suhan River.
4. Datarpur, on lower Bias River.
5. Siba, on lower Bias River.
Surajvansi 6.Chamba, on Ravi River.
7. Kullu, on upper Bias River.
Pundir, or Pandayas. 8.Mandi, on middle Bias River.
9. Sukhet, to south of Mandi.
10. Nurpur, between Ravi River and Bias River.
11. Kotila, to East of Nurpur.
12. Kotlehar.

Of these twelve states no less than five are mere subdivisions of the once rich kingdom of Jalandhar, which embraced the whole of the Doab, or plain country, between the Bias and Satlej, and all the hill country lying between the Ravi and the frontiers of Mandi and Sukket, to the south of the Dhaola-dhar mountains. This included Nurpur, Kotila, and Kotlehar ; and as Mandi and Sukhet were at first under one rule, there were originally only four chiefships in the eastern division of the Alpine Panjab, namely, Jalandhar, Chamba, Kullu, and Mandi.

Alexander Cunningham[7] writes that Since the occupation of the plains by the Muhammadans, the ancient kingdom of Jalandhara has been confined almost entirely to its hill territories, which were generally known by the name of Kangra, after its most celebrated fortress.

Alexander Cunningham[8] writes that The royal family of Jalandhara and Kangra is one of the oldest in India, and their genealogy from the time of the founder, Susarma Chandra, appears to have a much stronger claim to our belief than any one of the long strings of names now shown by the more powerful families of Rajasthan. All the different scions of this house claim to be of Somavanshi descent ; and they assert that their ancestors held the district of Multan and fought in the Great War on the side of Duryodhan against the five Pandu brothers. After the war they lost their country, and retired under the leadership of Susarma Chandra to the Jalandhar Doab, where they established themselves, and built the stronghold of Kangra.

Alexander Cunningham writes that In the seventh century, the Chinese pilgrim, Hwen Thsang, was courteously entertained for a whole month by Raja U-ti-to, or Udita,[9] whom I would identify with Adima of the genealogical lists. One hundred and sixty years later, in an inscription dated A.D. 804, the Raja of Jalandhara is named Jaya Chandra, who is the Jaya Malla Chandra of the lists, the seventh in descent from Adima. Lastly, Ananta, king of Kashmir, from A.D. 1028 to 1081, married two daughters of Indu Chandra, [10] Raja of Jalandhara, who is the Indra Chandra of the genealogical lists of Kangra. These instances are sufficient to show that Jalandhara existed as an independent State for many centuries before the Muhammadan conquest. [11]

The smaller chiefships of Guler, Jaswal, Datarpur, and Siba, are offshoots from the parent stem of Kangra. The independence of Guler, or Haripur, was established by Hari Chandra, about A.D. 1400, when he yielded Kangra to his younger brother, Karmma Chandra. [12]

The date of the foundation of the other principalities is unknown, but I believe that they were always tributary to the parent state until the time of the Muhammadans, when the capture of Kangra by Mahmud of Ghazni afforded them an opportunity of asserting their independence. [13]

Raja Utito, mentioned by Chinese pilgrim Hwen Thsang, was a tributary of Harsh Vardhana, who appear to have continued to rule over the country right up to the 12th century, with occasional interruptions, but their capital was Jalandhar and Kangra formed an important stronghold.

We find in above description provided by Alexander Cunningham that Guliana Rawalpindi' (p.132) represented by Mohammadans and Guler state to S.W. of Kangra (p.136) represented by Hindu chiefs of Guler. We may believe that these were the ancestors of Guleria clan.

Kangra Fort

Kangra Fort

The Katoch rajas had a stronghold here, with a fort and rich temples. The Kangra Fort was built by the royal Katoch dynasty, which traces its origins to the ancient Trigarta Kingdom, mentioned in the Mahabharata epic. It is the largest fort in the Himalayas and probably the oldest dated fort in India.


The petty independent state of Kullu, in the upper valley of the Bias river, was saved by its remoteness and inaccessibility ; and the rich state of Jalandhar, on the lower Bias, was then subject to Harsha Vardhana, the great king of Kanoj. But towards the end of the ninth century the Kangra valley was conquered by Sankara Varmma (A.D. 883 to 901) king of Kashmir, and the sovereign power of Kashmir was extended over the whole of the Alpine Panjab from the Indus to the Satlej.[14][15]

Mahmud of Ghazni took the fort in 1009 and from one of the temples carried off a vast treasure.


In 1360 Kangra was again plundered, by Feroz Shah. The temple of Devi Bajreshri was one of the oldest and wealthiest in northern India.

The fort of Kangra resisted Akbar's siege in 1615. However, Akbar's son Jehangir successfully subdued the fort in 1620, forcing the submission of the Raja of Chamba. Mughal Emperor Jahangir with the help of Suraj Mal garrisoned with his troops.

The Katoch Kings repeatedly looted Mughal controlled regions, weakening the Mughal control and with the decline of Mughal power, Raja Sansar Chand-II succeeded in recovering the ancient fort of his ancestors, in 1789. Maharaja Sansar Chand fought multiple battles with Gurkhas on one side and Jat Sikh King Maharaja Ranjit Singh on the other. Sansar Chand used to keep his neighboring Kings jailed, and this led to conspiracies against him. During a battle between the Sikhs and Katochs, the gates of the fort had been kept open for supplies. The Gurkha army entered the opened scarcely armed gates in 1806. This forced an alliance between Maharaja Sansar Chand and Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Subsequently in 1809 the Gurkha army was defeated and they had to retreat across Sutlej River. The Fort remained with the Katochs until 1828 when Ranjit Singh annexed it after Sansar Chand's death. Kangra is also the place was occupied by the Nepalese (previously known as Gurkhas) fighter. In 1809, Ranjit Singh of Lahore, the ruler of the Jat Sikh state in the Punjab, had intervened and drove the Nepalese army east of the Sutlej river. Later Gurkhas lost with British and was again occupied by the British in mid 18th. Amar Singh Thapa led from the Gurkha occupied it.

The fort was finally taken by the British after the Sikh war of 1846.

In 1855 the headquarters of the district were removed to the sanitarium of Dharmsala.

A British garrison occupied the fort until it was heavily damaged in an earthquake on the 4th of April, 1905. It was destroyed, together with the fort and the town, by an earthquake on the 4th of April 1905, when 1339 lives were lost in this place alone, and about 20,000 elsewhere.

Archaeology of Baijnath temple

The antiquity of the Baijnath temple and its continuous patronage and worship is attested by a number of inscriptions found within the temple complex. The most important are the two long inscriptions written in Sanskrit language and Sharada script engraved on stone slabs fixed in the northern and southern walls of the main hall (mandapa) of the temple. They provide details of the construction of this temple in Saka year 1126 (AD 1204) by two merchant brothers Manyuka and Ahuka. The genealogy of the local rulers, name of the sovereign ruler Jayachandra, names of the architects of the temple, Nayaka son of Asika and Thoduka both from Susarmapura (modern Kangra) and the genealogy of the donor merchants is mentioned in these inscriptions besides the verses in praise of the god Siva. The text and translation of the inscriptions are given below for ready reference of the readers.[16]

Besides these two inscriptions there are a number of short inscriptions engraved on the pillars in the main hall of the temple. Most of them are of late date written in Takari script and local pahari dialect. They record the names of various donors and pilgrims, such as Bhatta Durgadasa, Bhatta Prabhakara, Thakur Parmaaraka son of Thakur Karama Simha, etc. One inscription gives the name of Nagarakota i.e. Kangra. Since the purpose of these inscriptions is not recorded it is difficult to give any definite view. Of special interest is an inscription on the wooden doors of the sanctum dated in samvat 1840 (AD 1783) of the time of Sansara Chandra II, when extensive repairs were carried out to the temple. [17]

Sixth Expedition of Mahmud of Ghazni to Waihind, Nagarkot A.H. 399 (1008-9 A.D.)

Sir H. M. Elliot and John Dowson[18] Sixth Expedition of Mahmud of Ghazni to Waihind, Nagarkot A.H. 399 (1008-9 A.D.) as under:

It will be observed that the account of the commencement of this expedition is described very differently in the Yamini, the Habibu-s Siyar and Firishta. I prefer, as on former occasions, the former, the river of Waihind, or the Indus, being a more probable place of action than Peshawar, which was then within the Muhammadan border. That the Gakkhars may have performed the part assigned to them is probable enough, whether the action was fought at one place or the


1. [Ibn Asir places this campaign in the year 368, and says that Mahmud encountered Brahman-pal on " the banks of the river "Waihand (which is changed in some MSS. to Handmand). Many men were lost in the waters, and the Hindus were near gaining a victory, when God made the Musulmans to triumph. Mahmud pursued the foe to Bhim-nughur (Bhim-nagar), which he took, and gained immense plunder."]


[p.445]: Other ; but that the Gakkhars are the ancestors of the modern Jats, as Dr. Bird asserts, is altogether a mistake, and likely to lead to serious errors.

About the proceeding at Nagarkot all accounts agree, and that Nagarkot is the same as Kot Kangra can admit of no doubt, for the name of Nagarkot is still used. Its position is well described, and corresponds with present circumstances. The impassable waters which surround it are the Ban-ganga and the Biyah. The town of Bhim, which is about a mile from the fort, is now on the spot called Bhawan, which means a temple raised to a Sakti, or female deity, and Bhim is probably a mistake arising from its presumed foundation by the heroic Bhim. M. Reinaud considers that it was called Bhim-nagar from Sri Bhima deva, of the Kabul dynasty. The different forms which the name assumes in different authors are shown at p. 34. Elphinstone is mistaken in saying that Nagarkot derived peculiar sanctity from a natural flame which issued from the ground within its precincts. This flame is at Jwala-mukhi, fifteen miles distant, where carburetted hydrogen issues from the sandstone rocks, and fills the superstitious pilgrim with awe and veneration. These jets of gas are made to burn with increased vigour by the removal of plugs, whenever a distinguished visitor is likely to pay well for this recognition of his superior sanctity.

Dr. Bird, who has given a most critical examination of these invasions, says that the capture of Nagarkot and the previous action beyond the Indus occurred in two different years. He observes : " If we might trust Firishta, Mahmud at this time (after the battle of Peshawar) marching into the mountains captured the celebrated fortress of Nagarkot. It was not, however, till the following year, A.H. 400, according to the Tabakat-i Akbari and Habibu-s Siyar, that this expedition was undertaken ; and as the hostile armies prior to the last battle had consumed three or four months in operations west of the Indus, it is not probable that Mahmud could have marched into India at the commencement of the rainy season. The Hijra year 399 given for the march to Peshawar, or the previous year a.d. commenced the 5th September, A.D., 1008 ; and as the spring season, when he left Ghazni, would not commence till A.D. 1009, he must have spent the summer in Kabul, and set out for Hindustan about October."


[p.446]: I cannot trace in the Tabakat-i Akbari and the Habibu-s Siyar the assertion attributed to them ; but let us leave these inferior authorities and refer to the Yamini. There we find that it is in pursuit (of the flying enemy) that Mahmud went as far as the fort called Bhimnagar." The campaign, therefore, must have been continuous, and there was no break between the action trans-Indus and the capture of Nagarkot. He has already traversed the same road as far as Sodra on the Chinab, and he would only have had ten or twelve marches over a new line of country.

In these enquiries we must be very cautious how we deal with the word " spring." Both Bird and Elphinstone speak of the conquerors setting out in the spring of a Christian year, but the spring of a Ghaznivide invader is the autumn of the Christian year. It is the period when the breaking up of the rains admits of warlike operations. It is the Dasahra of the Hindus, and the season of the commencement of their campaigns. So, in the first decisive action against Jaipal, we find Mahmud leaving Ghazni in August, and fighting the action at Peshawar in November. And so here we find him leaving Ghazni on the last day of Rabi'u-1 akhir, or the end of December, which, though unusually late in the season — so late, indeed, as to render marching in the uplands almost impossible — would still have enabled him to fight his action on the Indus at the beginning of February. He might then have completed his operations at Kangra before the end of March, and have left India again before the severe heat commenced. The only difficulty about the whole campaign is his leaving Ghazni in the heart of winter ; but that the action on the Indus and the one at Nagarkot occurred in the fair weather of the same year, there is no sufficient reason to doubt.

The opening part of the expedition is mentioned in more detail by Firishta, than by 'Utbi and Khondamfr. His account is as follows : —

" In the year 399 h., Mahmud having collected his forces, determined again to invade Hindustan, and punish Anandpal, who had shewn much insolence during the late invasion of Multan. Anandpal hearing of his intentions, sent ambassadors on all sides, inviting the assistance of the other princes of Hindustan, who now considered the expulsion of the Muhammadans from India as a sacred duty.


[p.447]: Accordingly, the Rajas of Ujjain, Gwaliar, Kalinjar, Kanauj, Dehli, and Ajmer entered into a confederacy, and, collecting their forces, advanced towards the Panjab with a greater army than had ever- taken the field against Amir Subuktigin. Anandpal himself took the command, and advanced to meet the invader. The Indians and Muhammadans arrived in sight of each other on the plain of Peshawar, where they remained encamped forty days, neither side shewing any eagerness to come to action. The troops of the idolaters daily increased in number, and aid came to them from all sides. The infidel Gakkhars also joined them in great strength, and made extraordinary exertions to resist the Musulmans. The Hindu females, on this occasion, sold their jewels, and sent the proceeds from distant parts to their husbands, so that they, being supplied with all necessaries for the march, might be in earnest in the war. Those who were poor contributed from their earnings by spinning cotton, and other labour. The Sultan perceived that on this occasion the idolaters behaved most devotedly, and that it was necessary to be very circumspect in striking the first blow. He therefore entrenched his camp, that the infidels might not be able to penetrate therein.

Mahmud, having thus secured himself, ordered six thousand archers to the front to attack, and endeavour to draw the enemy near to his entrenchments, where the Musulmans were prepared to receive them. In spite of the Sultan's precautions, during the heat of the battle, 30,000 infidel Gakkhars, with their heads and feet bare, and armed with spears and other weapons, penetrated on two sides into the Muhammadan lines, and forcing their way into the midst of the cavalry, they cut down men and horse with their swords, daggers, and spears, so that, in a few minutes, they slaughtered three or four thousand Muhammadans. They carried their success so far that the Sultan, observing the fury of these Gakkhar footmen, withdrew himself from the thick of the fight, that he might stop the battle for that day. But it so happened that the elephant upon which Anandpal rode, becoming unruly from the effects of the naphtha-balls and the flights of arrows, turned and fled. The Hindus, deeming this to be the signal for flight on the part of their general, all gave way, and fled. 'Abdu-llah Tai, with five or six thousand Arab horse, and Arslan Jazib, with 10,000 Turks, Afghans,


[p.448]: and Khiljis, pursued the enemy for two days and nights, so that 8,000 Hindus were killed in the retreat. Thirty elephants and enormous booty fell into the hands of the pursuers, with which they returned to the Sultan." '

External Links

page on wikipedia

website of the district

District Court Kangra

Further reading

  • Hutchinson, J. & J. PH Vogel (1933). History of the Panjab Hill States, Vol. I. 1st edition: Govt. Printing, Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. 1933. Reprint 2000. Department of Language and Culture, Himachal Pradesh. Chapter IV Kangra State, pp. 98–198.

References

  1. The Ancient Geography of India/Singhapura,pp.130-136
  2. Alexander Cunningham:The Ancient Geography of India/Singhapura,pp.130
  3. Alexander Cunningham:The Ancient Geography of India/Singhapura,pp.131
  4. Alexander Cunningham:The Ancient Geography of India/Singhapura,pp.131
  5. Alexander Cunningham:The Ancient Geography of India/Singhapura,p.132
  6. Alexander Cunningham:The Ancient Geography of India/Singhapura,pp.136
  7. The Ancient Geography of India,p.136
  8. The Ancient Geography of India,p.138
  9. Julien's ' Hiouen Thsang,' i. 261.
  10. ' Raja Tarangini,' vii. 150
  11. Alexander Cunningham: The Ancient Geography of India,p.139
  12. Alexander Cunningham: The Ancient Geography of India,p.139
  13. Alexander Cunningham: The Ancient Geography of India,p.139
  14. Alexander Cunningham: [[The Ancient Geography of India/Kingdom of KashmirThe Ancient Geography of India/Kingdom of Kashmir, p.90
  15. ' Raja Tarangini,' v. 144.
  16. Baijnathtemple Archaeology
  17. Baijnathtemple Archaeology
  18. Sir H. M. Elliot Edited by John Dowson, 1867, Volume II: To the Year A.D. 1260, The history of India : as told by its own historians. Volume II/Note D. — Mahmud's Expeditions to India, pp.444-448

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