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Raja Bakht-Mal Pathania (1513–1558) was a King of Nurpur, who succeeded Raja Bhil Pal in 1513. Raja Bakht-Mal's reign covered an eventful period in Indian history. Like his father he was in good terms with the Lodi dynasty of Delhi. After the conquest of India by Babar in 1526 the Pathania Kingdom must not have come under Mughal control, because on the flight of babar's son Humayun in 1540 and the accession of Sher Shah Suri at Delhi, Bakht-Mal was still in good terms with the Sur dynasty.
The Tarikh-i-Daudi says that the famous fortress of Maukot was erected within the pathania Kingdom by Islam Shah Suri (1545–53), that is during the reign of Raja Bakht-Mal. But it cannot be true because the practice of erecting forts in an independent Kingdom was only done after conquering it, which is not the case here because the Pathania kings ruled an independent Kingdom with a minimal submission i.e., to assist the power at Delhi in times of war. Maukot fort was probably built by the predecessors of Bakht-Mal, or he had built it in his own lifetime.
Mau or Maukot Fort
It was nearest to the plains, almost half way to Nurpur from Pathankot, situated on a low hill of Shiwalik range running east to the Chakki river. It was an enclosure surrounded by dense forests, a Castle of great strength. It was a legend in its times, a saying was in vogue: Mau Ki Muhim Yaro Maut Ki Nishani Hai, 'The expedition to Mau, friends is a call to death'.
Islam Shah Suri had a narrow escape at Maukot from being assassinated. While ascending the hill from a narrow path, a man suddenly rushed upon him with a drawn sword, but he was cut down. It was then discovered that the sword had been presented some time before to one of his own officers. The fort of Maukot is frequently referred to by the Muslim historians, and figures prominently in the history of the Pathania Rajputs till the time of Shahjahan, when it was completely demolished because of the threat it imposed on the Mughals.
In 1553, Mirza Kamran, younger brother of Humayun, on being driven out of Kabul retired to India and sought an asylum with Islam Shah Sur. He was detained as a prisoner but succeeded in making his escape and fled to Raja Bakht-Mal. He made his way to Maukot in disguise, there he found himself in danger and escaped to the Gakhars, by whom he was surrendered to Humayun and blinded.
Sikandar Shah Suri after being driven out of Delhi took refuge in the fortress of Maukot. Bakht-Mal was always in good terms with the Sur dynasty therefore he supported him and defended Maukot, which was besieged by the Mughals for six months. On surrender of the fort in July 1557, Sikandar Shah Suri was permitted to retire to Bengal where a Jagir was assigned to him.
According to the book The history of the Punjab Hills, Raja Bakht-Mal built this fort on the Ravi river. But other accounts say that the fort was built by Jaspal Singh Pathania around 1505, he must have been a General of Raja Bhil Pal Pathania. It was built strategically to have control over the Kangra and the Nurpur regions.
The Pathania Clan was famous for its resistance, and they were almost always in war with the invaders of Hindustan. Despite this fact the paramount powers at Delhi regarded them as crucial allies, and only asked for nominal allegiance during times of war. Yet time after time the Pathania Kings would rebel against superior numbers of the imperial armies.
A passage in the Maasir-ul-Umara says that after the capture of Sikandar Shah Suri, Raja Bakht-Mal was captured and taken to the fort of Lahore where he was rendered helpless, which has been translated as killed. But this is not true, because it was not easy to capture a Rajput and that too a ruling chief, because according to the Rajput code, when defeat was certain he would fight to the death. Raja Bakht-mal probably died fighting against Akbar, when he had invested the fort of Maukot to capture Sikandar Shah Suri. After his death, his brother, Pahari-Mal ascended on the throne in 1557.
- Akbarnamah by Abul Fazl Allami (1556–1605)
- Ferishta, Brigs'trans., Volume II 1909 and 1901
- Maasir-ul-Umara by Shah Nawaz Khan & Abdul Hai, 1741 to 1780.
- Elliots History, Volume IV
- Tarikh-i-Daudi by Abdullah 1575 to 1576.
- Twarikh Rajgan-E-Pathania-E-Nurpur (History of the Pathania Rajas) by Mian Rughunath Singh Pathania
- History of the Punjab Hill States - by John Hutchison, Jean Philippe Vogel, J. Ph Vogel