Kannauj

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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)

Map of Kanauj district

Kannauj (कन्नौज) is a city and district in Uttar Pradesh. Kannauj is an ancient city, in earlier times the capital of a great Hindu kingdom.Its ancient names are Mahodaya (महोदय)/ Kanyakubja (कान्यकुब्ज).

Kannauj is known for the distilling of scents and is a market center for tobacco, perfume, and rose water. Kannauj is the administrative headquarters of Kannauj District. The population was 71,530 in 2001, up from 58,932 in 1991. It has given its name to a distinct dialect of the Hindi language known as Kanauji.

Geography & Demographics

Kannauj is located at 27°04′N 79°55′E / 27.07°N 79.92°E / 27.07; 79.92. It has an average elevation of 139 metres (456 feet). As of 2001[update] India census[3], Kannauj had a population of 71,530. Males constitute 53% of the population and females 47%. Kannauj has an average literacy rate of 58%, lower than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 64%, and female literacy is 52%. In Kannauj, 15% of the population is under 6 years of age.

History

Kannauj is one among the most ancient place of India having rich archeological and cultural heritage. The early history of the region now covered by the present district of Kannauj goes back to remote antiquity. During the Bronze Age numerous pre historical weapons and tools were find here. Large numbers of stone statues are found here. Kannauj can claim great antiquity in sculpture. The Aryans settled in this region who were close allies of Kurus. The traditional history of the district from the earliest times till the end of The Mahabharata war is gleaned from the Puranas & Mahabharata.

'Amavasu' founded a kingdom, the capital of which later was Kannauj. Jahnu was a powerful king since the river Ganga is said to have been named after him as Jahnaui. This region rose into great prominence during the Mahabharata period. Kampilya was the capital of South Panchala and it was here that the famous Svayamvara of Draupadi. The name Panchala being used for the entire region, of which Kampilya (Kampil) was the chief city which has till then been the capital of South Panchala.

Panchala figures as the tenth in the list of the sixteen premier states (Mahajanpada) in the time of Mahavira and Buddha and is said to have comprised the region covered by the present districts of Bareily , Badaun and Farrukhabad. About the middle of the fourth century B.C., probably in the reign of Mahapadma, this territory was annexed to the Nanda empire of Magadha. Ashoka also built a monolithic pillar at Sankisa, which was noticed by the Chinese traveller, Fa-hien. A large number of coins were found at places like Mathura and Kannauj and in Panchala region which are supposed to be associated with the Mitra rulers. The basis of the coins are generally believed to have flourished between C.100 B.C. and C.200 A.D.

Kannauj was a famous and important city in the second century is also attested to by its mention under the name of Kangora or Kanogiza by the geographer, Ptolemy (C.140 A.D.). The present district of Farrukhabad shared the fruits of the golden age of the Guptas and contributed much towards its peace and prosperity.

Fa-hien, the Chinese pilgrim visited Kannauj between 399 and 414 A.D., during the reign of Chandragupta II. Fa-hien spent his retreat at the Dragon-Shrine and when it was over he travelled seven yojanas to the south-east, which brought him to Kannauj. Sankisa was one of the greatest Buddhist pilgrims centre at the time of Fa-hien's visit. Fa-hien remarks "This country is very productive and the people are flourishing and happy beyond compare. When man of other nations come, care is taken of all of them and they are provided with what they require". There was a renewed invasion of the Hunas with far greater success. After this, Harivarman appears to have been the founder of the Maukhari house of Kannauj. Harsha also advanced towards Kannauj. The Chinese pilgrim, Hiuen Tsang, visited Kannauj in 643 A.D.. There were 100 Buddhist Monasteries with more than 10000 priests. A religious assembly was also held here by Harsha. Hiuen Tsang mentions Kah-Pi-Ta (Kapitha, identified with Sankisa) as the other important place of the district.

Kannauj town is known to have been an important city during the Gupta empire. It was a centre of Hindu culture and political status for centuries. Kannauj is frequently referred to in the epic Mahabharata and is alluded to by Patañjali in the second century B.C. In the year 405 A.D. when great Chinese pilgrim Fa-hien visited the city it had only two Buddhist monasteries and it was not very large. When Hiuen Tsang visited the city in 636 A.D., however, Kannauj had grown large. Hiuen Tsang stayed here for seven years.

Kannauj reached the pinnacle of its glory in the 7th century under emperor Harshavardhana (606-647 A.D.) Harshavardhana made Kannauj his capital and united his people, the Jats, as one nation under it. At that time it had earned the name of Mahodaya Sree due to its grandeur and prosperty. Kannauj then had a teeming population, with hundreds of Hindu and Buddhist temples and monasteries, extending along the east bank of the Ganges for about four miles. It had beautiful gardens and tanks, and was strongly fortified. Harshavardhana, however, was greatly weakened after being defeated by the Chalukya emperor Pulakesin II; his empire fell apart soon after his death.

By the end of the 8th century, Kannauj became the focus of a three-way contest by the three dominant dynasties of the time, the Pratiharas and Bargujar Kings of Kannauj, the Rashtrakutas of the Deccan, and the Palas of Bengal. The Pala king Dharmapala installed a proxy king at the end of the 8th century.

When the Pratihara king Nagabhata II conquered Kannauj in the 9th century Kannauj became the Pratihara capital for nearly 200 years. This happened about 836.[1] During this period, it became known as a center for poetry. The Pratiharas ruled much of northern India in the latter half of the 8th century, but they had weakened by the early 10th century. The Rashtrakuta king Indra III captured Kannauj in 916, and by the end of that century, the Pratihara domains had been reduced to a small kingdom around the town of Kannauj.

In 1019, the town was sacked by Mahmud of Ghazni, beginning a chaotic period for the city.


Sir H. M. Elliot Edited by John Dowson[2] writes quoting the Yamini which says that, in his Twelfth Expedition A.H. 409 (1018-1019 AD) after passing by the borders of Kashmir, that is, close under the sub-Himalayan range, and crossing the Jumna, Mahmud of Ghazni takes Baran, which is the ancient name of the present Bulandshahr for which more modern authors, not knowing what " Baran" was, substitute "Mirat" — then Kulchand's fort, which is the Mahaban of the other — then crossing the Jumna he takes Mathura — and then recrossing the Jumna, he proceeds to Kanauj, and takes that and its seven detached forts, of which the ruins of some may still be traced. He then goes to Munj, " a city of Brahmans."


After this sacking of Kannauj, the area came to be dominated by the Chandela clan of Bundelkhand. The Gahadvala dynasty, descended from former vassals of the Pratiharas, established themselves as rulers of Kannauj at the end of the 11th century.

Visit by Xuanzang in 636 AD

Alexander Cunningham[3] writes that From Sangkisa Hwen Thsang proceeded to Kanoj, a distance of 200 li, or 33 miles, in a north-west direction. As the positi]]ons of both places are well known, we must correct the bearing to south-east, and the distance to 300 li, or 50 miles. The latter correction is supported by Fa-Hian, who makes the distance 7 yojanas, or 49 miles.[4] In the seventh century the kingdom is said to have been 4000 li, or 667 miles, in circuit. This estimate, as I have already observed, must certainly have included some of the petty districts to the north of the Ganges, as well as those in the Lower Gangetic Doab, otherwise the actual boundary of Kanoj proper would scarcely exceed 200 miles. Taking Hwen Thsang's estimate of 667 miles as approximately correct, the probable limits of the province of Kanoj must have included all the country between Khairabad and Tanda, on the Ghagra, and Etawa and Allahabad, on the Jumna, which would give a circuit of about 600 miles.

Of the great city of Kanoj, which for many hundred years was the Hindu capital of northern India, the existing remains are few and unimportant. In A.D. 1016, when Mahmud of Ghazni approached Kanoj, the historian relates that "he there saw a city which raised its head to the skies, and which in strength and structure might justly boast to have no equal."[5] Just one century earlier, or in A.D. 915, Kanoj is mentioned by Masudi as the capital of one of the kings of India ; and about A.D. 900 Abu Zaid, on the authority of Ibn Wahab, calls " Kaduje a great city in the king-


[p.377]: dom of Gozar." At a still earlier date, in A.D. 634, we have the account of the Chinese pilgrim Hwen Thsang, who describes Kanoj as being 20 li, or 3½ miles, in length, and 4 or 5 li, or 3/4 of a mile in breadth.[6] The city was surrounded by strong walls and deep ditches, and was washed by the Ganges along its eastern face. The last fact is corroborated by Fa-Hian, who states that the city touched the river Heng, or Ganges, when he visited it in A.D. 400. Kanoj is also mentioned by Ptolemy, about A.D. 140, as KανoΎίξα. But the earliest notice of the place is undoubtedly the old familiar legend of the Puranas, which refers the Sanskrit name of Kanyakubja, or the "hump-backed maiden," to the curse of the sage Vayu on the hundred daughters of Kusanaba.

At the time of Hwen Thsang's visit, Kanoj was the capital of Raja Harsha Vardhana, the most powerful sovereign in Northern India. The Chinese pilgrim calls him a Fei-she, or Vaisya, but it seems probable that he must have mistaken the Vaisa, or Bais Rajput for the Vaisya, or Bais, which is the name of the mercantile class of the Hindus ; otherwise Harsha Vardhana's connection by marriage with the Rajput families of Malwa and Balabhi would have been quite impossible. Baiswara, the country of the Bais Rajputs, extends from the neighbourhood of Lucknow to Khara-Manikpur, and thus comprises nearly the whole of Southern Oudh. The Bais Rajputs claim descent from the famous Salivahan, whose capital is said to have been Daundia-Khera, on the north bank of the Ganges. Their close proximity to Kanoj is in favour of the sovereignty which they claim for their ancestors


[p.378]: over the whole of the Gangetic Doab, from Delhi to Allahabad. But their genealogical lists are too imperfect, and most probably also too incorrect, to enable us to identify any of their recorded ancestors with the princes of Harsha Vardhana's family.

In determining the period of Harsha's reign between the years607 and 650 A.D., I have been guided by the following evidence : —

1 st', the date of his death is fixed by the positive statement of Hwen Thsang in the year 650 A.D. ;[7]

2nd, in speaking of Harsha's career, the pilgrim records that from the time of his accession, Harsha was engaged in continual war for 5½ years, and that afterwards for about 30 years he reigned in peace. This statement is repeated by Hwen Thsang when on his return to China, on the authority of the king himself, who informed him that he had then reigned for upioards of 30 years, and that the quinquennial assembly then collected was the sixth which he had convoked. From these different statements, it is certain that at the date of Hwen Thsang's return to China, in A.D. 640, Harsha had reigned upwards of 30 years, and somewhat less than 35 years; his accession must, therefore, be placed between A.D. 605 and 610;

3rd, now, in the middle of this very period, in A.D. 607, as we learn from Abu Rihan, was established the Sri Harsha era, which was still prevalent in Mathura and Kauoj in the beginning of the eleventh century.[8] Considering the exact


[p.379]: agreement of the names and dates, it is impossible to avoid coming to the conclusion that the Harsha who established an era in Kanoj in A.D. 607 was the great King Harsha Vardhana, who reigned at Kanoj during the first half of the seventh century.

In comparing Hwen Thsang's description of ancient Kanoj with the existing remains of the city, I am obliged to confess with regret that I have not been able to identify even one solitary site with any certainty ; so completely has almost every trace of Hindu occupation been obliterated by the Musalmans. According to the traditions of the people, the ancient city extended from the shrine of Haji Harmayan on the north, near the Raj Ghat, to the neighbourhood of Miranka Sarai on the south, a distance of exactly 3 miles. Towards the west it is said to have reached to Kapatya and Makarandnagar, two villages on the high-road, about 3 miles from Haji Harmayan. On the east the boundary was the old bed of the Ganges, or Chhota Ganga as the people call it, although it is recorded in our maps as the Kali Nadi. Their account is that the Kali, or Kalindri Nadi, formerly joined the Ganges near Sangirampur or Sangrampur ; but that several hundred years ago the great river took a more northerly course from that point, while the waters of the Kali Nadi continued to flow down the deserted channel. As an open channel still exists between Sangrampur and the Kali Nadi, I am satisfied that the popular account is correct, and that the stream which flows under Kanoj, from Sangrampur to Mhendi Ghat, although now chiefly filled with the waters of the Kali Nadi, was originally the main channel of the Ganges. The accounts of Fa-Hian and Hwen Thsang, who place Kanoj on the


[p.380]: Ganges, are therefore confirmed, not only by the traditions of the people, but also by the fact that the old channel still exists under the name of the Chota Ganga or Little Ganges.

The modern town of Kanoj occupies only the north end of the site of the old city, including the whole of what is now called the Kilah, or citadel. The boundaries are well defined by the shrine of Haji-Harmayan on the north, the tomb of Taj-Baj on the south-west, and the Masjid and tomb of Makhdum-Jahaniya on the south-east. The houses are much scattered, especially inside the citadel, so that though the city still covers nearly one square mile, yet the population barely exceeds 16,000 in number. The citadel, which occupies all the highest ground, is triangular in shape, its northern point being the shrine Haji-Harmayan, its south-west point the temple of Ajay Pal and its south-cast point the large bastion called Kshem Kali Burj. Each of the faces is about 4000 feet in length, that to the north-west being protected by the bed of the nameless dry Nala, that to the north-east by the Chota Ganga while that to the south must have been Covered by a ditch, which is now one of the main roads of the city, running along the foot of the mound from the bridge below Ajay Pal's temple to the Kshem Kali bastion. On the north-east face the mound rises to 60 and 70 feet in height above the low ground on the bank of the river, and towards the Nala on the north-west it still maintains a height of from 40 to feet. On the southern side, however, it is not more than 30 feet immediately below the temple of Ajay Pl, but it increases to 40 feet below the tomb of Bala Pir. The situation is a commanding one, and


[p.381]: before the use of cannon the height alone must have made Kanoj a strong and important position. The people point out the sites of two gates, the first to the north, near the shrine of Haji Harmayan and the second to the south-east, close to the Kshem Kali Burj. But as both of these gates lead to the river, it is certain that there must have been a third gate on the land side towards the south-west, and the most probable position seems to be immediately under the walls of the Rang Mahal, and close to the temple of Ajay Pal.

According to tradition, the ancient city contained 84 wards or Mahalas, of which 25 are still existing within the limits of the present town. If we take the area of these 25 wards at three-quarters of a square mile, the 84 wards of the ancient city would have covered just 2½ square miles. Now, this is the very size that is assigned to the old city by Hwen Thsang, who makes its length 20 li, or 3½ miles, and its breadth 4 or 5 li, or just three-quarters of a mile, which multiplied together give just 2½ square miles. Almost the same limits may be determined from the sites of the existing ruins, which are also the chief find-spots of the old coins with which Kanoj abounds. According to the dealers, the old coins are found at Bala Pir and Rang Mahal, inside the fort ; at Makhduum-Jahaniya, to the south-east of the fort ; or Makarandnagar on the high-road ; and intermediately at the small villages of Singh Bhawani and Kutlupur. The only other productive site is said to be Rajgir, an ancient mound covered with brick ruins on the bank of the Chota Ganga, three miles to the south-east of Kanoj. Taking all these evidences into consideration, it appears to me almost


[p.382]: certain that the ancient city of Hwen Thsang's time must have extended from Haji-Harmayan and the Kshem-Kali Burj, on the bank of the Ganges (now the Chota Ganga), in a south-west direction, to Makarandnagar, on the Grand Trunk Road, a length of just three miles, with a general breadth of about one mile or somewhat less. Within these limits are found all the ruins that still exist to point out the position of the once famous city of Kanoj.

Jat Gotra history

According to the historical records Rao Mutia Kamas of Dahiya Kshatriya clan came from Kannauj in samvat 905 (848 AD) and constructed a fort in Nagaur city in Rajasthan. Lakhan Rao, Ballu Rao, Joon Rao and Pipa Rao ruled here for about 200 years. Rao Pipaji married with Deyoo Jakhar the daughter of Maihan Raja. Their sons were Sahajarao, Rajdeo, Mandeo, and Gangdeo. The descendants of Sahajarao were known as Ranwa, those of Rajdeo were known as Roja. The descendants of Mandeo were known as Mandiwal and those of Gangdeo were known as Gugal Jats.

हरियाणा सर्वखाप पंचायत

महाराजा हर्षवर्धन ने सन ६४३ में जाट क्षत्रियों को एकजुट करने के लिए कन्नौज शहर में विशाल सम्मलेन कराया था वह सर्वखाप पंचायत ही थी जिसका नाम 'हरियाणा सर्वखाप पंचायत' रखा गया था चूँकि उन दिनों विशाल हरियाणा उत्तर में सतलज नदी तक, पूर्व में देहरादून, बरेली, मैनपुरी तथा तराई एरिया तक, दक्षिण में चम्बल नदी तक और पश्चिम में गंगानगर तक फैला हुआ था. सर्वखाप के चार केंद्र थानेसर, दिल्ली, रोहतक और कन्नौज बनाये गए थे. इस सर्वखाप पंचायत में करीब ३०० छोटी-बड़ी पालें, खाप और संगठन शामिल थे. [9] सन १९२४ में बैसाखी अमावस्या को सोरम गाँव में सर्वखाप की पंचायत हुई थी जिसमें सोरम के चौधरी कबूल सिंह को सर्वखाप पंचायत का सर्वसम्मति से महामंत्री नियुक्त किया था. वे इस संगठन के २८ वें महामंत्री बताये जाते हैं. इनके पास सम्राट हर्षवर्धन से लेकर स्वाधीन भारत तक का सर्वखाप पंचायत का सम्पूर्ण रिकार्ड उपलब्ध है जिसकी सुरक्षा करना पंचायती पहरेदारों की जिम्मेदारी है. इस रिकार्ड को बचाए रखने के लिए पंचायती सेना ने बड़ा खून बहाया है. [10]

External Links

Kannauj at Wikipedia

References

  1. Srivastra, A. L., History of India, 1000-1707, p. 2
  2. The history of India : as told by its own historians. Volume II/Note D. — Mahmud's Expeditions to India,p.458
  3. The Ancient Geography of India/Kanoj, p.376-382
  4. Beal's 'Fa-Hian,' xviii.
  5. Briggs's 'Ferislita,' i. 57.
  6. Julien's ' Hiouen Thsang,' ii. 243. See Map No. X.
  7. In Appendix A, at the end of the Chronological Table of Hwen Thsang's route, I have brought forward strong reasons for believing that the true date of the death of Harsha Vardhana was A.D. 648, which is the year given by Ma-twan-lin, on the authority of the Chinese ambassador, who visited India immediately after the king's death.
  8. Reinaud, ' Fragments,' p. 139.
  9. डॉ ओमपाल सिंह तुगानिया : जाट समुदाय के प्रमुख आधार बिंदु , आगरा , 2004, पृ . 25-26
  10. डॉ ओमपाल सिंह तुगानिया : जाट समुदाय के प्रमुख आधार बिंदु , आगरा , 2004, पृ . 25-26

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