Medieval Gakhars and Babur
In his Baburnama, Babur noted that:
There were the Jats, the Gujjars, and many other peoples living in the mountains between the Nilab and Bhera (in Jhelum district), which are connected to the mountains of Kashmir. Their rulers and chieftains belong to the Gakhar clan whose chieftain ship is like that of the Jud[disambiguation needed] and Janjua.
Up to this time, around 1519, the Gakhars and Janjua Rajputs had engaged in an endless battle for sovereignty over the Salt Range.
The history of this region (the Salt Range) from the thirteenth century onward had been a sickening record of wars between the Janjuhas and the Gakkhars for political ascendancy.
However, the alliance of Raja Sahib Khan (Janjua overlord) and Malik Bir Khan Gakhar, saw a period of peace between the two tribes (both being visionary princes, and with a legendary friendship of treating each other as half brothers). This was later abruptly ended upon the ascension of Hathi Khan Gakhar as the leader of the Gakhar tribe, who assassinated Malik Hast Janjua's father, thereby reawakening the old feud between the two clans.
Concerning the Gakhar clan, Babur goes on to say.[where?]
- "At that time (1519), the chieftains of the peoples on the mountainsides were two cousins, Tatar Khan and Hati "Elephant" Gakhar. Their strongholds were the ravines and cliffs. Tatar's seat was Pharwala, which is way below the snow-covered mountains. Hati, whose territory was adjacent to the mountains, had gained dominance over Kalinjar, which belonged to Babu Khan of Bisut. Tatar Khan had seen Dawlat Khan and owed him total allegiance; Hati, however, had not seen him and maintained a rebellious attitude towards him. With the advice and agreement of the Hindustan Begs, Tatar had gone and camped at a distance as though to lay siege to Hati. While we were in Bhera, Hati seized upon some pretext to make a surprise attack on Tatar, kill him, and lay hands on his territory, his wives, and everything he had."
The medieval Gakhars and Humayun
According to the Akbarnama, Sher Shah Suri started a genocidal war against Sultan Sarang. Khan Gakhar who remained loyal to Humayun, building the massive Rohtas Fort in 1541-43 (designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997) in an effort to crush the Gakhars, to whom the fort was finally surrendered ten years after Sher Suri's death. Sultan Sarang built Rawat Fort nearby and is buried there with many of his sons.
- "From thence he (Sher Shah Suri) advanced as far as Khushab and was for some days in Bhera. He sent a summons to Sultan Sarang Ghakkar and Sultan Adam who were the leading landholders in that neighbourhood, but as they had been clients of his Majesty Giti-sitani Firdusmakani, and had prospered by the favour of that exalted family they did not listen to his overtures. He advanced as far as Hathiapur in the Ghakkar territory and sent a large force against them. The Ghakhars fought bravely and defeated the Afghans so much that many of them were captured and sold. Sher Khan (Sher Shah Suri) wanted to march against them in person. He consulted his followers and they advised that as this tribe had strong mountains and remote heartlands they should be dealt with by degrees and by policy. The proper course was to leave a large army in that neighbourhood which could both watch the royal army and devastate the country of the Ghakkars. It was also desirable that a strong fort should be built for the carrying out of these two objectives. In consequence of this advice he laid the foundations of the Fort of Rohtas and having left a large force there he marched back and came to Agra".
- "The brief account of this affair is that Sultān Sārang waged brave war with Sher Khān, but at last he and his son Kamāl Khān were made prisoners. Sārang was put to death and Kamāl Khān was imprisoned in Gwāliār fort. But in spite of such disaster their country could not be conquered and the clan was governed by Sultān Adam, the brother of Sultān Sārang. When Sher Khān died and Salīm Khān's turn arrived, he too made great efforts to take the country, but was unsuccessful. One of the wonderful things was that Salīm Khān ordered that all the prisoners in Gwāliār fort should be put to death, and that for this purpose a pit should be dug under the prison and filled with gunpowder and set on fire. There was an explosion, the building was destroyed and the prisoners were blown to pieces; Kamāl Khān was inside, but fate sheltered him from this calamity. In the corner where he was, not a breath of the fire reached him. When Salīm Khān heard of this Divine protection he took an oath (of fidelity) from him and released him. From that time Sultān Adam, his uncle, was in full possession of the country while Kamāl Khān passed his days in frustration."
Medieval Gakhars and Akbar
Jalaludin Muhammad Akbar, also known as Akbar the Great, was the son of Humayun whom he succeeded as ruler of the Mughal Empire from 1556 to 1605. He was the grandson of Mughal conqueror Babur who founded the Mughal dynasty. The Akbarnama written by Abul Fazl is the main source but also the records of European travellers such as "The Commentary of Father Monserrate S.J. on His Journey to the Court of Akbar".
The first act of homage by the Gakhars to Akbar was the capture and surrendering of the traitor Mirza Kamran, brother of Humayun who had joined with the Afghans. This is recorded in Akbarnama.[where?] The Akbarnama also records the growing popularity of Kamal Khan in the Imperial Court.
The Akbarnama also records the falling out of favour of Sultan Adam and his overthrow.
In order to further cement his relations with the Gakhars and use them as an ally against the tubulent Afghans, Akbar in accordance with his well-known policy, contracted matrimonial alliances with them. Prince Salim was married to a daughter of Sayd Khan, a brother of Kamal Khan. Sayd Khan had fought under the Mughal General Zayn Khan against the Afghans in Swat and Bajaur. Later Aurangzeb also honoured the Gakhar chief Allah Kuli Khan (1681–1705) by marrying one of his daughters to his son prince Muhammad Akbar. Thus two Gakhar women found their way into the Imperial harem.
Akbars policy of pacification and reconciliation had its desired effect and we find the Gakhars leading a peaceful and uneventful life during the major part of the Mughal rule. They seem to have only reluctantly accepted Mughal rule however as a celebrated Gakhar warrior-chief, Mukarrab Khan, sided with Nadir Shah and took part in the Battle of Karnal (1739), which showed up the crumbling fabric of the Mughal empire. As a reward for his services, he was confirmed in his possession of the fort of Pharwala and on his return to Kabul, Nader Shah conferred upon him, as a mark of further favour, the title of Nawab (this seems to have been a personal title as no later Gakhar chief ever used it). In his days the Gakhar power was greater than it had perhaps ever been before. He defeated the Yusafzai Afghans and Jang Kuli Khan of Khattak, and captured Gujrat, overrunning the Chib country as far north as Bhimber. He was finally defeated by the Sikhs at Gujrat in 1765 and had to surrender the whole of his possessions up to the Jehlum.
- Rawalpindi Gazetteer 1893-94 2001 Sang e Meel Publ., p115
- Advanced History of Medieval India by S. R. (Shiri Ram) Bakshi, Anmol Publ. 1995, p142
- Tarikh-i-Janjua, M Anwar, 1988, p84
- An architectural marvel
- Akbarnama, vol. 1, pp. 398–399.
- Akbarnama, vol. 2, p.298.
- Akbarnama, vol. 2, pp.119, 215.
- Akbarnama, vol. 2, pp. 296-307.
Raees Kiyani Asloha Tehsil Kahuta Disstrict Rawalpindi