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Regions with significant populations
Punjab, India

Ahluwalia is a Sikh clan from Punjab, India. It originates from a misl (the name for the sovereign states of the Sikh confederacy) of the same name, derived from Ahlu, the ancestral village of the misl leaders. The Ahluwalia misl was one of the 12 major Sikh misls, and held land to the north of Sutlej river.[1] [2]


Different scholars variously name the misl's founder as Sadho (or Sadhu) Singh[3] (a Jat Sikh from Bhattis group who migrated to Punjab),[4][5] his descendant Bagh Singh,[6][7] or Bagh Singh's nephew Jassa Singh.[8][9]

The misl rose to prominence under Jassa Singh Ahluwalia,[1][10] who was the first person to use the name "Ahluwalia". Originally known as Jassa Singh Kalal, he styled himself as Ahluwalia after his ancestral village of Ahlu, and established the ruling dynasty of Kapurthala State. Since the other hindu Kalals from rest of India held a low status in the traditional caste hierarchy, the other Kalals also adopted the Ahluwalia identity. They gave up their traditional occupations, as they gained political power and as the colonial British administration started regulating distribution and sale of liquor.[11]

The Hindu Ahluwalias further tried to enhance their social status by claiming Khatri or Rajput descent.[11] A legendary account traces the ancestry of the Kapurthala royal family to the Bhatti Rajput royal family of Jaisalmer (and ultimately to Krishna through Salibahan). According to this narrative, a group of Bhattis migrated to Punjab, where they came to be known as Jats, and became Sikhs. The account states that Sadho Singh and his four sons married into Kalal families, because of which the family came to be known as Ahluwalia Kalal.[12] Lepel Griffin (1873), a British administrator who wrote on the history of Punjab's rulers, dismissed this account connecting the Ahluwalias to the Jaisalmer royal family as spurious.[12] The Sikh author Gian Singh, in his Twarikh Raj Khalsa (1894), noted that the Ahluwalia family had adopted the Kalal caste identity much before Sadho Singh.[13]

W. H. McLeod (2009), a scholar of Sikh history, notes that using the process of Sanskritisation, the formerly low-caste Kalals (Hindu) adopted the Ahluwalia identity with high-caste customs, and successfully achieved a high social rank, on par with the higher castes such as the Khatris.[14] The Kalals took up new occupations, and in particular, a large number of Ahluwalias served in the army.[11]

Rajkumari Bibiji Amrit Kaur (1889-1964), the first health minister of India, was a member of the Ahluwalia royal family of Kapurthala State.[15]

Notable people[edit]

Many of people belonging to the clan in Sikhism are with others names too like Kapur, Jaspal, Walia, Arora More notable individuals with the surname Ahluwalia, who may or may not be associated with the clan, include:


  1. ^ a b Kaushik Roy (2015). Military Manpower, Armies and Warfare in South Asia. Routledge. p. 88. ISBN 9781317321279.
  2. ^ "www.sikhcastes.com - Kalal or Ahluwalia Sikh Subcastes". sites.google.com. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  3. ^ Royal Ark
  4. ^ G. S. Chhabra (1972). Advanced History of the Punjab: Ranjit Singh & post Ranjit Singh period. New Academic. p. 21. Its founder was one Sadhu Singh, a jat who married a girl from Kalal or distiller caste. But the true founder of the confederacy was Jussa Singh...
  5. ^ Surjit Singh Gandhi (1999). Sikhs in the Eighteenth Century: Their Struggle for Survival and Supremacy. Singh Bros. p. 393. ISBN 978-81-7205-217-1. The Misl was founded by Sadda Singh who was Jat by race and Kalal (wine distiller) by profession and lived seven miles east of Lahore in a village named Ahlu which gave its name to the Misl
  6. ^ Gurbachan Singh Nayyar (1979). Sikh Polity and Political Institutions. Oriental. p. 120. The founder of Ahluwalia misl was Bagh Singh.
  7. ^ Khazan Singh (1970). History of the Sikh religion. Department of Languages, Punjab. p. 289. The real founder of the misl was Sardar Bagh Singh, Kalal, of Hallo-Sadho. He was initiated with pahaul by Bhai Mani Singh in Sambat in 1771 (1714 A D ) and soon after that became leader of a considerable body of troops.
  8. ^ Jagjiwan Mohan Walia (1982). Parties and politics at the Sikh court, 1799-1849. Master. p. 6. The Ahluwalia Misl was founded by Jassa Singh Kalal, who belonged to village Ahlu.
  9. ^ Harish Jain (2003). The Making of Punjab. Unistar. p. 201. Ahluwalia Misl - This was founded by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia and was named after his village Ahlu.
  10. ^ Singhia, H.S. (2009). The encyclopedia of Sikhism. New Delhi: Hemkunt Press. p. 111. ISBN 978-81-7010-301-1.
  11. ^ a b c Donald Anthony Low (1968). Soundings in Modern South Asian History. University of California Press. p. 70-71. OCLC 612533097.
  12. ^ a b Ganda Singh (1990). Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. Punjabi University. pp. 1–4.
  13. ^ M. L. Ahluwalia (1996). Land marks in Sikh history. Ashoka International. p. 37.
  14. ^ W. H. McLeod (2009). The A to Z of Sikhism. Scarecrow Press. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-8108-6344-6.
  15. ^ Forbes, Geraldine Hancock (1999). Women in Modern India. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521653770.