Shorkot

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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)

Location of Jhang on Pakistan Map

Shorkot (शोरकोट) (Urdu: شورکوٹ‎), (Punjabi: شورکوٹ) is town is located in the Jhang district of Punjab, Pakistan. Its ancient name was Sibipura.

Variants of name

Origin

Location

It is situated in Shorkot Tehsil in Jhang district. It is located at 30°30'N 72°24'E.

History

Prof. B.S. Dhillon[1] writes that today, Sibipura town is called "Shorkot" and is located in the Jhang district of Punjab, Pakistan. As per Diodorus [2], Arrian [3] and Strabo [4], the area surrounding Sibipura was occupied by a people called Sibi, during the time of Alexander's invasion of Punjab.

Professor Eggermont [5] said, "J. Ph. Vogel showed that the mound of Shorkot (Jhang district, between Chenab, Indus, and Ravi rivers) represents the site of Sibipura, the town (pura) of the Sibis, which is mentioned in a Shorkot inscription". Even today Sibi or Sibia is a well known Jat clan in Punjab. Furthermore, Professor Eggermont [6] said, "However, I cannot possibly pass over in silence that in the very Vessantara Jataka the town over which Sanjaya, king of Sibi, ruled is called Jettuttara and not Aritta-pura. It is probably more likely the word Jetuttara is Jetupura or Jatupura which means the place where Jats live. The word "pura" in Sanskrit means "place".

Visit by Xuanzang in 641 AD

Alexander Cunningham[7] writes about 3. Shorkot:

[p.203]: Hwen Thsang calls the central district of the Panjab Po-fa-to, or Po-la-fa-to, for which M. Stanislas Julien proposes to read Parvata. But to this it may be objected that parvata, which means a " hill," could not be, and in fact never is, applied as a name to any place in the plains. The capital was situated at 700 li, or 117 miles, to the north-east of Multan, a position which agrees almost exactly with the site of Jhang, on the Chenab. But as this place lies at some distance above the junction of the Jhelam and Chenab, it is most probable that it belonged to the northern division of Taki. In this case the distance recorded by Hwen Thsang would be too great, which might be due to his overlooking the shortness of the kos in this part of the country, as I have already explained in my account of Singhapura. This kos is only 1 mile and 2½ furlongs, or just 21/32 of the common kos. At this valuation Hwen Thsang's distance would be only 76 miles, which is within a few miles of the position of


[p.204]: Shorkot, or Shur, as it is called in the 'Ayin Akbari.' Now the initial syllable po of the Chinese name is frequently interchanged with the syllable so, of which we have a notable instance in Po-lo-tu-lo for So-lo-tu-lo, or Salatura, the well-known birthplace of the famous grammarian Panini. It is quite possible, therefore, that the same interchange may have occurred in the name of Po-lo-fa-to, for So-lo-fa-to, or Soravati, which would be a synonym for Shorkot. This is a mere suggestion to account for the Chinese name of the capital, which does not affect the identification of the province, as it is quite certain, from its position to the north-east of Multan, that it must correspond with the parganah, or district of Shorkot. The people I take to be the Sudrakae, or Oxudrakae of the classical writers, a point which will be fully examined in my account of Ajudhan.

The province is described by Hwen Thsang as being 5000 li, or 833 miles, in circuit, which must be greatly exaggerated. On the cast the boundary was limited by the Satlej, which for 100 miles formed the frontier line of the kingdom of Gurjjara ; on the north it was bounded by the province of Taki for a distance of 200 miles from the Indus to the old junction of the Byas and Satlej, near Firuzpur ; on the south it was bounded by Multan for a distance of 150 miles from the Indus, near Dera Din-panah, to the Satlej, below Pakpatan ; on the west it was bounded by the Indus itself for about 50 miles. The total length of frontier is therefore not more than 520 miles, which is considerably less than the circuit recorded by Hwen Thsang. The discrepancy may perhaps be explained, as before, by the use of the short kos, which would


[p.205]: reduce the circuit of 833 miles to 531, which agrees very closely with the actual measurements.

Within these limits there are several important towns, and many ruined mounds, the remains of ancient cities, which once played an important part in the history of the Panjab. These are : —

Region City
Richna Doab 1. Shorkot.
2. Kot Kamalia.
3. Harapa.
Bari Doab 4. Akbar.
5. Satgarha.
Doab Jalandhar Pith 6. Depalpur.
7. Ajudhan.

Shorkot - Shorkot is a huge mound of ruins, which gives its name to the parganah, or division of Shor, or the lower half of the Richna Doab.1 It was visited by Burnes2 who describes the place as "a mound of earth, surrounded by a brick wall, and so high as to be seen for a circuit of six or eight miles." He adds that it is much larger than Sehwan, which, following the measurement of De la Hoste, is 1200 feet long, by 750 feet broad.3 According to my information, Shorkot is much smaller than Harapa, and about the size of Akbar, that is, 2000 feet by 1000 feet, but loftier than either of them. The mound is surrounded by a wall of large-sized bricks, which is an undoubted sign of antiquity. Burnes was informed by the people that their town had been destroyed by some king from the westward, about 1300 years ago. The locality leads


1 See Map No. VI. 2 ' Bokhara and Panjab,' i. 113.

3 ' Journ. Asiat. Soc., Bengal, 1840, p. 913.


[p.206]: him to fix on it as the place where Alexander was wounded, and to assign its downfall to Alexander himself. I received the same tradition about its destruction, which I would attribute to the White Huns, who must have entered the Panjab from the westward during the sixth century, or about the very time specified in the tradition.

The foundation of the city is attributed to a fabulous Raja Shor, of whom nothing is known but the name. I think it probable that Shorkot may be the Alexandria Soriane, Σωριάνη, of Stephanus Byzantinus, who gives no clue to its position save the bare fact that it was in India. The names agree so exactly that I feel tempted to suggest that Shorkot may have been enlarged and strengthened by Philip, whom Alexander left behind as governor of the Oxudrakae and Malli. This suggestion seems the more probable when we remember that Shorkot was in the direct line of Alexander's route, from the junction of the Hydaspes and Akesines to the capital of the Malli.

I would, therefore, identify it with the city of the Malli, which, according to Diodorus and Curtius, surrendered after a short blockade.1 Curtius2 places it at 250 stadia, or 28¾ miles, from the junction of the rivers, a position which corresponds exactly with that of Shorkot. The account of Arrian differs from that of the other two historians in several very important particulars. He states that the first city taken by Alexander after leaving the confluence of the rivers was inland 400 stadia, or 46 miles,3 distant from the Akesines, and that it was captured by assault. I


1 ' Diodorus,' xvii. 52 ; Curtius, " corona cepit."

2 Vita Alex., ix. 4, 10. 3 ' Anabasis,' vi. 7.


[p.207]: infer that this city was Kot Kamalia, and I would explain the discrepancy in the two narratives by a reference to the details of this campaign which are given by Arrian. Alexander divided his army into three great bodies, of which the advanced division, commanded by Hephsestion, marched five days ahead ; the centre was commanded by himself, and the rear division, which was commanded by Ptolemy, followed three days behind. As the campaign was directed against the Malli, I conclude that the army marched by the direct route, via Shorkot towards Multan, which was certainly the capital of the Malli. Shorkot would thus have fallen to Hephsestion, who commanded the advanced division of the army. Alexander's own route will be described presently, when I come to speak of Kot Kamalia.

The antiquity of Shorkot may be ascertained approximately by the coins which are found in its ruins. These consist chiefly of Indo-Scythian copper pieces of all ages, with a few Hindu specimens, and a large number of Muhammadan coins. A single copper piece of Apollodotus was obtained by Burnes. From these data I would infer that the town was certainly occupied as early as the time of the Greek kings of Ariana and the Panjab, and that it was in a flourishing state during the sway of the Indo-Scythians, or from B.C. 126 down to A.D. 250, or perhaps later. But as the Hindu coins which I obtained from Shorkot were entirely confined to the Brahman kings of the Kabul valley and the Panjab, I conclude that the place was either deserted, or, at least, in a very decayed state, during the middle ages ; and that it was either re-occupied or restored in the tenth century by one of these Brahman kings.


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Jat History

H.A. Rose writes that Bhangu (भंगू), Bhanggu (भंग्गु), a Jat tribe which does not claim Rajput origin. The Bhangu and Nol were among the earliest inhabitants of the Jhang District and held the country about Shorkot, the Nol holding that round Jhang itself before the advent of the Sials, by whom both tribes were overthrown. Probably the same as the Bhango, supra. [8]

Ram Sarup Joon[9] writes:

84. Shavi: Shavi was the son of the king Ushinar. He was a Yogi and an ascetic. He was married to, Sati the daughter of king Daksha. After her death he married Parvati. His seat of tapasya was on the Gangotri Mountain. He had two sons, Smokartik and Ganpati (Ganesh).

The Shavi dynasty prospered well. The Descendants of his dynasty are famous as Takshak, Bachak, Bharhaich, Nags etc. Shavi founded the country of Shavisthan (Siestan) in Iran and also the Island of Jatoli. They also founded kingdoms of Turkistan and Scandinavia.

The Shavi rulers constructed the Shorkot fort in Jhang.

In Iran there is a Mausoleum of prophet Shish. Hieun T-sang and Fahien have also called Iran as Shavi country.

Sivi or Sibi Jats

Historian Bhim Singh Dahiya has provided proofs of Sivis being Jats. The first proof is of course the name itself. Sibi or Sivi, is the original name of their ancestor and Sibiya/Sibia is derivative meaning the descendants of Sibi. This clan name is only found in the Jats and in no other population group of India. These Sibia Jats are still existing. Shri Gurbax Singh Sibia, ex-minister in Punjab Cabinet was a scion of this ancient clan. The second proof is in the name of their city - Jattararur (Chittor) - which is based on the word Jatta-city of Jats. Incidentally, this is another proof of the fact that Mewar was under the Jats for very long time. Hence the names of its cities like Jaisalmer, Sikar, Sirohi, etc. The last two are names of the Jat clan also. [10]

The Buddhist Sibi Jataka (No. 499) contains their history and legends, and Vesantara Jataka, is named after a son of Sibia King of Jattaraur (Chittor). Their capital in Punjab was Sibipura (Modern Shorkot) [11] Rig Veda mentions the Sibi people and Baudhayana Srauta Sutra mentions, their king, Usinara , whom Indra saved from foreign aggression. They are the Sibai of Arrian and Siboi, of Deodorus. [12] [13]

Dr Pema Ram writes that after the invasion of Alexander in 326 BC, the Jats of Sindh and Punjab migrated to Rajasthan. They built tanks, wells and Bawadis near their habitations. The tribes migrated were: Shivis, Yaudheyas, Malavas, Madras etc. The Shivi tribe which came from Ravi and Beas Rivers founded towns like Sheo, Sojat, Siwana, Shergarh, Shivganj etc. This area was adjoining to Sindh and mainly inhabited by Jats. The descendants of Shivi in Rajasthan are: Seu, Shivran, Shivral, Sihot, Sinwar, Chhaba etc. [14]

Monuments

The city is famous for the tombs of Sufis Sultan Bahu, Shah Mehmood Ghazi (also known as "Ghazi Pir") and Syed Mahboob Alam Shah Gilani. The tomb of the latter is in the centre of the town. He was sent to the Shorkot by the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam, to spread Islam.[15]

Notable persons

External Links

References

  1. History and study of the Jats/Chapter 7,p.104
  2. Diodorus (first century B.C.), Diodorus of Sicilly, translated by C.B. Welles, Vol. 8, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1946, pp. 397, 401, 405
  3. Arrian (95-175 A.D.), Anabasis of Alexander, translated by E.I. Robson, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1966, pp. 37, 59, 69-72, 131-139 (Vol. II).
  4. Strabo (first century A.D.), The Geography of Strabo, translated by H.L. Jones, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1954, pp. 57-58 (Vol. VIII).
  5. Eggermont, P.H.L., Alexander's Campaign in Gandhara and Ptolemy's List of Indo- Scythian Towns, Orientalia Lovaniensia Periodica I, 1970, pp. 89, 86.
  6. Eggermont, P.H.L., Alexander's Campaign in Gandhara and Ptolemy's List of Indo- Scythian Towns, Orientalia Lovaniensia Periodica I, 1970, pp. 89, 86.
  7. The Ancient Geography of India/Ransi,pp.203-207
  8. A glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province By H.A. Rose Vol II/B , p.84
  9. History of the Jats/Chapter V,p.101
  10. Bhim Singh Dahiya: Jats the Ancient Rulers (A clan study), p.79
  11. Epigraphica Indica, 1921, p. 16; also Panini, IV/ 2/109
  12. Indica, 5, 12
  13. Bhim Singh Dahiya, Jats the Ancient Rulers ( A clan study), p. 289
  14. Dr Pema Ram:Rajasthan Ke Jaton Ka Itihas, ,p.14
  15. Auliya-e-Jhang, by Iqbal Zuberi, Jhang Adabi Academy. Jhang Sadar, Pakistan 2000

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