The Arakhs or Arkawanshis are an ancient kshatriya clan/tribe of Indian origin who at one time ruled large areas of Awadh. The heroes of the Arakh clan include sun-worshipper Maharaja Tilok Chand (who captured the throne of Delhi in 918 AD by defeating king Vikrampal), Salhia Singh (who established the town of Sandila), Malhia Singh (who established the town of Malhiabad) and Maharaja Khadagsen (who established Khaga town in Fatehpur district of Uttar Pradesh).
In ancient time, the Arakhs held sway over large areas of Awadh such as Malhiabad, Datli, Sandila, Khaga, Ayah (in Fatehpur district), Sarh-Salempur (in Kanpur), Padri (in Unnao), Arkha estate (in Rae Bareilly), parts of Allahabad (around Singrur), Bahraich, etc.
It is said that at one time Arakhs were so powerful that they performed Dashashwamegha yajnas (the horse sacrifices performed by kshatriyas to prove their dominance) in the Aryawarta and no contemporary king dared to challenge their authority. The ruins of a fort of Arakhs at Ayah (in Fatehpur district of Uttar Pradesh) seem to narrate the story of their glorious past.
Arakhs are one of the ancient-most kshatriya tribes of Indian origin. They claim their descent from ancient Suryawanshi kshatriya clan to which Lord Rama belonged. 'Arakh' is said to be the distorted form of 'Arka' 'अर्क' (a Sanskrit word meaning sun). 'Arkawanshi' (अर्कवंशी) is a synonym of 'Suryawanshi'. Thus a clan of Suryawanshis was also called as 'Arkawanshi'. The founder of Suryavansha Vaivasvat Manu was also known 'Arka Tanaya' (अर्क तनय) meaning 'the son of Arka'. 'Arkawanshi' became 'Arka' (अर्क) and later 'Arak' (अरक) and 'Arakh' (अरख) in locally spoken dialects. Arakhs have been the worshipper of sun god (Lord Arka-अर्क) and Lord Shiva. Arkawanshis also have different sub-clans as Khangars, Gauds, Bachhals and Adhiraj. Other kshatriya clans related to Arkawanshis are Pratihara (Parihar), Raghuwanshi, Gohil, Guhilots, Sisaudwansh, Khadagwansh, etc.
One of the Shiva-worshiping sub-clans of Arkawanshi kshatriyas was also known as Bhaarshiva kshatriyas भारशिव क्षत्रिय in ancient times. They were brave kshatriyas who ruled large parts of North India and Central India during a period known as "Dark age" (as no recorded history of India during that period is available except Puranic and Buddhist literature). When Kushan tribals attacked and occupied Varanasi, the Bhaarshiva warriors drove them off the Holy land and performed 'Ashwamegha Yajnas' (symbolic rituals performed by Kshatriyas after victory in battlefield). Bhaarshivas were known so because they carried the weight (भार) of Shiva (शिव) in the form of 'linga' round their necks. Thus those Arkawanshi kshatriyas who carried the weight (in Hindi-'भार') of Shiva (शिव) came to be known as Bhaarshiva (भारशिव = भार (weight) + शिव (Shiva)). The Bhaarshiva kshatriyas were one of most powerful ruling clans of their times. They had matrimonial relationships with almost all the contemporary Royal families of India including Vakataka (वाकटक) rulers.
Maharaja Tilok Chand Arkawanshi
Maharaja Tilok Chand Arkawanshi was a brave and ambitious ruler. In 918 AD, he led a powerful army against king Vikrampal of Delhi and after defeating him, took control of Delhi. Subsequently, nine generations of Maharaja Tilok Chand ruled over Delhi. In 1093 AD Maharani Bhimadevi, the religious-minded widow of Govind Chand (who died without an heir), handed over the reins of her empire to her spiritual guru Hargovind.
The empire of Maharaja Tilok Chand comprised areas of Delhi and large parts of Awadh including its mountainous areas. Maharaja Tilok Chand Arkawanshi was a worshipper of sun-god (Arka) like his fore-fathers. He built a large sun-temple named Balark temple in Bahraich, which was later destroyed by the Turkish invaders.
Arakhs, at present, are not in a good state. They are small cultivators, shop-owners and small workers. Their representation in the higher government jobs and political circles is negligible. The biggest malady of Arakhs is their poverty and illiteracy.The brave Arakhs are trying to revive their glorious past by fighting off their maladies.