Baghel Singh

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Baghel Singh Dhaliwal
Born 1730
Jhabal, District Amritsar
Died 1802
Hariana, Hoshiarpur district
Nationality Punjabi kingdom
Other names ਬਘੇਲ ਸਿੰਘ
Years active 1765-1802
Known for Sikh Occupation of Delhi and Red Fort
Children Bhadur Singh Dhaliwal

Baghel Singh Dhaliwal (c. 1730 – c. 1802) was a military general in the Punjab region in the 18th century. He was born in Jhabal village, Amritsar district of the Majha region of Punjab in a Dhaliwal Jat family. He arose to prominence in the area encompassing Sutlej and Yamuna and aligned himself with Karor Singhia misl led by Karora Singh, becoming its leader in 1765 after the death of its namesake. Karora Singhia misl had 12,000 fighting men according to Syed Ahmad Latif, a Muslim historian.[1]

Early life[edit]

In addition to his military strength, Baghel Singh Dhaliwal was a skilled political negotiator and was able to create alliances with many former adversaries. The Mughals, the Ruhilas, the Marathas, and the British sought his friendship. In the wake of the decay of Mughal authority in the Punjab owing to Ahmad Shah Durrani's successive invasions during the latter half of the 18th century, the Sikhs began extending their influence.

Singh's Karor Singhia Misl fought with Ahmad Shah Durrani (also known as Abdali), along with other Dal Khalsa misls near Kup at Malerkotla, where in one day of battle 30,000-40,000 women, children, and elder Sikhs were killed.

After Durrani's invasion, Sikhs started consolidating the territories between Yamuna and Indus by incorporating into misls, and misls reporting to Jassa Singh Ahluwalia (the chief of Dal Khalsa) one territory at Akal Takht in Amritsar.

When the Sukarchakia Misl (of Maharaja Ranjit Singh) won the territory of Gujranwala, and the areas of Ravi and Chenab Doab and Ramgarhia Misl won the areas of Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Bhangi around Lahore, and Kasur, Karor Singhia Misl declared their ownership of territories including Ambala, Karnal, Thanesar, and Hissar. Baghel Singh took possession of portions of the Jalandhar Doab and established himself at Hariana, near Hoshiarpur. Soon after the Sikh conquest of Sirhind in 1764, he extended his rule beyond Karnal and occupied number of villages including Chhalaudi, which he later made his headquarters.[2]


Then Baghel Singh turned towards cis-Yamuna territories, and Sikhs were soon invading territories beyond Delhi and into areas like Meerut, Awadh, and collecting tribute from the Nawabs of these regions. After establishing his military grip over part of the cis-Sutlej Punjab, Baghel Singh began to raid parts of trans-Yamuna territories (such as Meerut, Saharanpur, Shahdra and Awadh) at the behest of his Afghan allies, such as Zabita Khan and Ghulam Qadir Khan.[3]

Attack on Delhi[edit]

In February 1764, a body of 30,000 Sikhs under the command of Baghel Singh and other leading warriors crossed the Yamuna and captured Saharanpur. They overran the territory of Najib ud-Daulah, the Ruhila chief, acquiring from him a tribute of eleven lakh of rupees ( 1,100,000). In April 1775, Baghel Singh with two other sardars, Rai Singh Bhangi and Tara Singh Ghaiba, crossed the Yamuna to occupy that country, which was then ruled by Zabita Khan, who was the son and successor of Najib ud-Daulah. Zabita Khan in desperation offered Baghel Singh large sums of money and proposed an alliance to jointly plunder the crown lands. Baghel Singh set up an octroi-post near Sabzi Mandi to collect the tax on the goods imported into the city to finance the search and the construction of the Sikh Temples. He did not want to use the money received from the Government Treasury for this purpose, with most of that handed out to the needy and poor. He often distributed sweetmeats bought out of this government gift to the congregationalists at the place which is now known as the Pul Mithai. In March 1776, they defeated the imperial forces of Mughal emperor, Shah Alam II near Muzaffarnagar. The whole of the Yamuna Gangetic Doab was now conquered.

Battle of Ghanaur[edit]

In 1778 the Mughal emperor Shah Alam II sent an estimated army of 100,000 soldiers to engage the Sikhs in retribution. The Mughal force was led by the wazir Mirza Najaf Khan (Nawab Majad ud Daula) under the banner of the crown prince. In addition to being a brave warrior, Baghel Singh was a sharp strategist and statesman. He was able to outwit the strong Mughal army in the battle of Ghanaur, near Patiala city. As a result of the victory, the larger Mughal army surrendered before Baghel Singh's forces.

Rise of Sikh power[edit]

The Sikhs nonetheless remained a source of trouble for the Mughal Empire throughout the late 18th century. Baghel Singh led the Sikhs to Delhi and in 1783 plundered the imperial capital, a move that alarmed the British and the Marhattas alike.[4][5][6] The 1783 plunder of Delhi under the army of Ghulam Qadir (the leader of the Indian Afghans) announced to the world that the Sikhs had arrived.[4]

Baghel Singh and the Mughal Emperor entered into an agreement that 12.5% of the octroi of Delhi would regularly be sent to him. In return, he would ensure that the Sikhs did not attack the capital again.[7]

Baba Baghel Singh is credited with establishment of following Gurudwaras (Sikh temples) in Delhi:

Maharajah Baghel Singh Dhaliwal died around 1802 at Hariana, near Hoshiarpur.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sikh History. "Baghel Singh Dhaliwal". Retrieved 31 July 2016
  2. ^ Bhagata, Siṅgha (1993). A History of the Sikh Misals. Publication Bureau, Punjabi University. pp. 271–282. Baghel Singh, Baghel Singh took the leadership of karorisingha misl. 
  3. ^ N. G. Rathod. The Great Maratha Mahadaji Scindia. pp. 31–32. 
  4. ^ a b Sethi, Jasbir Singh. Views and Reviews. 
  5. ^ Hari Ram Gupta, History of the Sikhs: Sikh Domination of the Mughal Empire, 1764–1803, second ed., Munshiram Manoharlal (2000) ISBN 978-8-12150-213-9
  6. ^ Ram Gupta, History of the Sikhs: The Sikh Commonwealth or Rise and Fall of the Misls, rev. ed., Munshiram Manoharlal (2001) ISBN 978-8-12150-165-1
  7. ^ When Sikhs Conquered the Red Fort - The Sunday Tribune - Spectrum
  8. ^ Murphy, Anne (2012). The Materiality of the Past: History and Representation in Sikh Tradition.