Tribes and clans of the Pothohar Plateau

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Tilla Jogian, second highest peak in Pothohar

The Potohar plateau, sometimes pronounced Pothohar Plateau (Urdu: سطح مرتفع پوٹھوہار‎), is a large region of plateau situated in northern Punjab, Pakistan. It is bounded on the east by the Jhelum River, on the west by the Indus River, on the north by the Kala Chitta Range and the Margalla Hills, and on the south by the Salt Range.[1]

The region roughly covers the modern-day Punjab districts of Attock, Chakwal, Jhelum and Rawalpindi and the Islamabad Capital Territory.

Tribes of the region[edit]

The Pothohar region is home to a number of tribal groupings, many of whom occupy distinct tracts. The Jhelum District Gazetteer gave the following account of the tribal groupings at the beginning of the 20th century.

The population is generally clearly sub-divided into tribes (quoms or zats), having a common name and generally supposed to be descended from a traditional common ancestor by agnatic descent, i.e through males only.... Almost every tribe is again sub-divided into clans (muhi), or smaller groups of agnates, distinctly recognized as descended from a somewhat remote ancestor and usually bearing a common name.[2]

More recent works by the British anthropologist Pnina Werbner have confirmed the continuing strength of tribal feelings among emigrant Pothoharis in the United Kingdom.[3] This region was and still is an important source of recruitment into the old colonial British Indian army, and its successor, the Pakistan Army.[4] Official recruitment policies have also encouraged the sense of tribal belonging among the Pothoharis.[5]

The present Chakwal District was created out of the merger Talagang Tehsil of Attock District and Chakwal Tehsil of Jhelum District in 1985. The Islamabad Capital Territory was carved out of Rawalpindi District in 1959.


The Bais Jat claim descent from the Janjua Rajputs, who are also a major clan of the region.


The Bhatti (or Bhati) are a Rajput Yaduvanshi clan and is one of the largest tribes among Rajputs.

The state of Jaisalmer was positioned right on the route from Afghanistan to Delhi. Taking advantage of this strategic position, the Bhattis levied taxes on the passing caravans. The Bhatti are then said to have spread to the Punjab, Sindh and beyond, to Afghanistan. The city of Ghazni was named after a brave Bhatti warrior. The exact date of the migration of the Bhatti, into the Pothohar region is unknown. They now are found in every district, barring the hill tehsil of Murree and Kotli Sattian.


The Chauhan is a Rajput clan. Prithvi Raj, the last Hindu ruler of North India, belonged to the clan. According to their bardic traditions, the Chauhan are one of the four Agnivanshi or 'fire sprung' tribes who were created by the gods in the Agni kund or "fountain of fire" on Mount Abu to fight against the Asuras or demons.


The Cheema are a well-known Jat clan, found mainly in Gujranwala and Sialkot districts. In the Pothohar region, they occupy a lone village, Sui Cheemian in Gujar Khan Tehsil.


The Chhina.


The Chib are a Rajput tribe.


The Dhanial occupy the Karor villaqa of Murree Tehsil, as well as the adjoining areas of the Islamabad Capital Territory. They have been called rajput as well in Pothar Punjab.[6]


The Dhund Abbasis are the most prominent of the Muree Hill tribes, and make up the bulk of the population of the Murree Tehsil.[7] They own sixty villages in Murree Tehsil, and four in the Islamabad Capital Territory.

Dhondh tribe descends from Abbasis  migrated from Khurasan after defeat  by Halaku  Khan in 1258 AD. Khusan was a state of  Baghdad Caliphate. We have the history written and  a long research on the subject. Dhurab Khan  (ضراب خان ) was the general of the Khurasan state  and escaped persecution from Mangol invaders.  He with his family took refuge in Kahuta. His son married a princes of Hindu king of Kashmir who  faced a devastating invasion by  wild bandits.  Dhurab  Khan defeats bandits and taught Hindu King army to defend Kingdom. In return Hindu kings weds hi pincess with Dhurab khan's son Ghai Khan. Ghai Khans son was name after Hindu his grand father "Kallu Rae" and then his son as  Desu Rae But to keep distinct Muslim heritage as last name was kept as Khan.  For  3 Generations Abbasi  tribal name was not revealed after seeing a vanishing massacre by savage Mangols. Dhondh Khan was 6th in the row from Akbar Ghai Khan. Abbasi tribe in Kahuta, Plandri AJK and Kharal Abbasian Bagh AJK are not  Dhondh  dada's descendantst they are Juskum Khans  descendants. Dhondh Khan and Juskum Khan were both sons of Raib Khan s/o  Bhag Khan s/o Desu Rae Khan s/o Kallu Rae Khan s/o Akbar Ghae Khan s/o Dhurab Khan . 

Mohammad Bashir Abbasi ----- Allah merhomeen ke akhrat main mnzlain aasaan farmaie ameen.


The Dulal are a small tribe, confined to the Gujar Khan Tehsil of Rawalpindi District. They claim to be Qureshi Arabs, and occupy a number of villages near the town of Mandrah, the main ones being Hachari Dulal, Nathu Dulal, Noor Dulal, Pharwal Dulal, Narali, Bhattian and Kuri Dulal.[8] They should not be confused, by the Dulal branch of the Janjua, who are entirely distinct.


The origins of the Gujjars are uncertain.[9] The Gujjar clan appeared in northern India about the time of the Huna invasions of northern India. Some scholars, such as V. A. Smith, believed that the Gujjars were foreign immigrants, possibly a branch of Hephthalites ("White Huns").[10] Devadatta Ramakrishna Bhandarkar|D. B. Bhandarkar (1875–1950) believed that Gujjars came into India with the Hunas, and the name of the tribe was sanskritized to "Gurjara".[11] He also believed that several places in Central Asia, such as "Gurjistan", are named after the Gujars and that the reminiscences of Gujar migration is preserved in these names.[11] General Cunningham identified the Gujjars with Yuezhi or Tocharians.[12]

In the past, Gujjars and Khatris have also been hypothesized to be descended from the nomadic Khazar tribes, although the history of Khazars shows an entirely different politico-cultural ethos[13] In Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency, the British civil servant James M. Campbell identified Gujars with Khazars.

Some Gujjars also claim that the Gujjar tribe is related to the Chechens and the Georgians, and argue that Georgia was traditionally called "Gujaristan" (actually Gorjestan).[14][14][15] However, there is little evidence for such claims. The word "Georgia" derived from the Arabic and Persian word Gurj, and not Gujjar or Gurjar.[16][17]

However "Gujjar" has come from "Gurjar", a Sanskrit word that has been explained thus: Gur+Ujjar; "Gur" means "enemy" and "ujjar" means "destroyer". The word means "Destroyer of the enemy".[18] The word "Gurjar" predicts the qualities of a warrior community.[19]

The Gujjar form a tribal element in the Pothohar region. The Jhelum District Gazetteer noted that:

Throughout the Salt Range tract, and probably under the eastern hills also, they are the oldest inhabitants among the tribes settled here. It is not possible to go much further than this with certainty, but this may be added, whatever the country from which they originally migrated, the first settlers district are an offshoot of the Gujjars of the neighbouring district of Gujrat ... The Gujjars of Jhelum differ entirely in character from that idle, thievish and cowardly race, their fellow Gujjars of the southern districts: here undoubtedly the best all-round cultivators which the district can boast.[20]


The Janjua are a Rajput tribe found in every district of the Pothohar region, barring the hill tehsils of Murree and Kotli Sattian.

Alexander and the wounded King of the Pauravas


The Aura are a small Jat clan, found in Rawalpindi and Gujar Khan tehsils. The village of Balakhar in Rawalpindi is an important centre of the tribe. Abdullahpur is also a major centre of this tribe in Jhelum District.


The Jethal are a Rajput clan who claim Bhatti Rajput descent. Their origin is traced to a Bhutta who 12 or 14 generations ago married the sister of a Ghori Sultan. The king, however, drove Bhutta with his 21 sons in the Kirana Bar. Bhutta eventually crossed the Jhelum River, and settled at Ratta Pind, now a mound near the town of Kandwal.


Kassar, or Mughal Kassar, are a Mughal tribe and one of the three major land owning tribes in the Dhani[disambiguation needed] country of Chakwal District.[21] In the Punjab settlement report of 1862,[full citation needed] it is mentioned that they had come from Jammu along with the Mair-Minhas tribe and had been settled in this area by the Mughal Emperor, Zaheerudin Babur.

They occupy the northern part of Dhani, called Babial and Chaupeda.[citation needed]


The Khattar are an indigenous tribe of Indian origins, generally classified as either Rajput or Jatt[citation needed].


The Khingar are found mainly in Jhelum District, and Gujar Khan Tehsil of Rawalpindi District.[22] Like many other Potohar tribes, they claim to both of Jat and Rajput status. The Jhelum branch tend generally calls itself Jat, while some members in Gujar Khan claim to be Rajput and others to be Jat. There are also several Khingar villages in the Thal portion of Mianwali District. The tribe claims descent from Khingar, who was said to be a Suryavanshi Rajput.


The Langrial is a tribe of both Jat and Rajput status.

The Langrial are found throughout Punjab, the tribe has different traditions to its origin, depending on the region it inhabits.

The Multan Langrial, claim descent from a Brahmin of Bikaner. According to another tradition, they are Quraishi Arab, who held sawy over Thatta in Sindh under one Ghiasudin, who from the lavishness of his public kitchen (langar in Sindhi and Seraiki) obtained the title Langrial.[23]

Mair-Minhas and Minhas[edit]

The Minhas are a Suryavanshi Rajput clan and claim descent from Rama a legendary king of Ayodhya. It is an off-shoot of Jamwal-Dogra Rajputs, the founders of the city and state of Jammu and its rulers from ancient times to 1948.

The 'Chaudhrials' or the Talukdars reside in Kot Sarfraz Khan, Kot Choudrain, Behkri, Dhudial, Badsahan, Bhoun, Murid, Punjain Shariff, Sarkal-Mair, Chakral, Oudherwal, Dab, Mohra Sheikhan, Mohra Korechisham, Kotha Abdal, Chatal, Sutwal, Karhan, Chak Malook, Chak Norang Bhagwal and Dhoke Tallian.

In addition the Mair-Minhas, there are several communities of Minhas Rajputs in Gujar Khan Tejsil, where the village of Sagri is an important centre of the tribe. Dhoke Baba Hussain, is Located in East of Mandra, on the distance of 10 km. 100% people of Dhoke Baba Hussain are Minhas Rajput. Dhoke Baba Hussain and all other nearest Dhokes are famous for Minhas Family. They are also found in Rawalpindi Tehsil, in and around the village of Traiya Such as the village of Shohwa (known in area as Karkan Shohwa), and Talagang Tehsil, where the village of Minhas and neighbouring hamlets, held by them.


The Maliar are a major tribe of the Pothohar, and have often been confused with the Arain tribe of central Punjab, with whom they have no connection.[24]

The term Maliar is said to from the Sanskrit word Malakara or makers of garland. According to their traditions, their ancestor Mahbub accompanied Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna to India. The Sultan assigned him gardening as a vocation, and as such the community became horticulturists.[25] There is no consensus as to the ethnic identity of this Mahbub. If we accept this account, the community thus settled in India at the start of the 11th century. Historically, the community was at a disadvantage, particularly in the Peshawar valley, where it suffered at the hands of Pashtun landlords.[26]

Unlike other tribes found in the Potohar region, military recruitment was not open to them, because they were deemed not to be a martial race.

They are found through the Potohar region, with especial concentrations in the Attock District. They also extend into the neighbouring Peshawer valley. There are also a few villages in the Mirpur District of Azad Kashmir.

They are found in just about every village in the Pothohar region, barring the Murree Hills tehsils, as tenants. There are, however a few villages which they occupy as the dominant tribe. In Jhelum District, Dheri Malliaran, Maliar, Kazi Hussain and Rajjo Pindi are two important Maliar villages.

Batala, Chahal, Maniand are important Maliar villages within Kahuta Tehsil, in Gujar Khan Tehsil Bhatta Maliar Kant Maliar, Gulidana Maliar, and Salargarh are important villages.[22]


The Panwar are an Agnivanshi Rajput tribe.

The name is said to mean one that strikes the enemy, from Sanskrit para "alien", "enemy" mara "strike", "kill" in Sanskrit. The Parmars ruled in Malwa, which is now part of Madhya Pradesh. They consider themselves one of the Agnikulas or ‘Fire Tribes'.[27]

The most widely accepted school of thought is that the Paramaras – along with the Chauhans, the Pratiharas (Parihars) and the Solankis (Chalukyas) – were one of the four Agni kula ("fire-born") clans of the Rajputs.


The Pashtun, or Pathans, as they are referred to in the Pothohar region, are found principally in the Attock District and belong to different tribes who immigrated here. There are two Pathan settlements in that district, one in the south-west of Pindigheb Tehsil at Makhad and in the Narrara hills, the other in the Attock Tehsil, chiefly in the Chhachh illaqa. In addition, there are also a few scattered villages, in Rawalpindi District.

Sagri Khattak Pathans[edit]

The District Attock, Tehsil Jand Pathans are practically all Sagri Khattak Tribes of Pathans, a branch of the Bulaki Khattaks. The Babar family of Bhangi Khel Khattaks is also represented in the Narara hills. Another branch of the Khattaks, the Jamal Khel also have a presence in settlements near the town of Makhad Sharif.

According to their traditions, the khattaks came across the Indus river from the neighbourhood of Kohat, and drove out the Awan, whom they found in possession. The Khattaks look up to the Khans of Makhad" Sher Ahmed Khattak", as their headmen. They own seven villages, of which Makhad and Narara are the largest.

The village of Haddowali is their boundary to the east, where the Awan are their neighbours. Throughout the tract they occupy, they have completely dispossessed all other tribes. Their speech is the soft or western dialect of Pashto.

Chhachh Pathans[edit]

The Attock Pathans are found in two parts of the tehsil, those of Sarwala, and those of Chhachh. The Chhachh Pathans have very little in common with the Sagri Khattaks, as they are separated by the Kala Chita mountains. The Chhachhies are also known as Chhachi (Pashtun). The Chhachh have both Hindko and Pushto speaking communities, and have much in common with the Pashtun tribes settled in the neighbouring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Chhachh have Pukhtun culture and some people are following Pashtunwali code of conduct strictly like in KPK. Mostly Pathans in Chhachh came with Ghaznavi.

The Chhachh ilaqa is almost entirely held by the Pathans, as is the Nala estates, along the Haro river valey. The Attock Pathans were the earliest group of Pothoharis to start emigrating to Europe and North America. There are now large communities of Chhachh Pathan settled in British cities, such as Bradford, Birmingham and Manchester.[28]


The name originally signified ancestry from the Arab tribe of Quraish.[29]


File:Rajpoots 2.png
An 1876 engraving of rajputs, from the Illustrated London News.

The Rajputs are large caste cluster, found in North India and Pakistan. They regard themselves as being descended from the vedic warrior class known as the Kshatriyas. The word Rajput, it is claimed is a corruption of the word Rajputra, which literally means "son of a King". Rajputs belong to one of three great patrilineages, which are the Suryavanshi, the Chandravanshi and the Agnivanshi.

The Pothohar Rajputs have almost all converted to Islam.[23] Their reasons for conversion are complex and controversial, but all that can be said with certainty, is towards the middle of the 16th century, all the Rajput clans had converted to Islam,[clarification needed] and indeed the Janjua say they converted much earlier. Rawalpindi District is seen as the home of the Rajput clans, and the district is home to innumerable number of clans. Many are muhi of larger tribes, for example the Hattar and Kural of Attock District are Bhatti, while the Ratial are a clan of the Katoch. The threefold division of Agnivanshi, Suryavanshi and Chandravanshi is less important here them among the Hindu Rajput clans of North India.

Here is a brief description of some of the Rajput clans that have not been already noted:


The Sandhu are one of the largest Jat tribes, of central Punjab. They hold the village of Mohra Sandhu, and neighbouring hamlets near the town of Bewal in Gujar Khan Tehsil, where their ancestors settled in the 18th century.


The Sarral are a Rajput tribe, claiming to be Suryavanshi. They are found in throughout the south-eastern part of the Pothohar region.


The Shaikh community are found mainly in Attock District, entirely in Attock Tehsil. They occupy ten villages between Attock city and the Chhach area. Their prominent families include the those of the villages of Tagall and Saman. In the Chhach area, they also found mainly as peasant proprietors. They belonged mainly to the Siddiqui and Qanungoh biradaris.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Salt Range: A Hidden Treasure". Daily Times. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  2. ^ Gazetteer of the Jhelum District, 1904, Punjab district gazetteers, Part A, at p. 86.
  3. ^ The Migration Process: Capital, Gifts and Offerings among British Pakistanis (Berg, 1990 and 2002).
  4. ^ Mustapha Kamal Pasha, Colonial Political Economy: Recruitment and Underdevelopment in the Punjab, Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 198–200. ISBN 0 -19-577762-X
  5. ^ Stephen P. Cohen, The Pakistan Army (1998 edition; paperback), Oxford University Press (July 1, 1998). ISBN 0-19-577948-7
  6. ^ A Gazetteer of Rawalpindi District, 1907, Part A, p. 75.
  7. ^ Marriage Among Muslims: Preference and Choice in Northern Pakistan by Donnan, Hastings Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 90-04-08416-9
  8. ^ A Gazetteer of Rawalpindi District, 1907, Part A, p. 62.
  9. ^ "Gurjara-Pratihara Dynastyrv". Britannica Concise. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  10. ^ Smith, Vincent Arthur (1999) [1904]. The Early History of India; From 600 B.C. to the Muhammadan Conquest Including the Invasion of Alexander The Great. Atlantic Publishers and Distributors. pp. 166–74. ISBN 81-7156-618-9. 
  11. ^ a b Bhandarkar, Devadatta Ramakrishna (1989). Some Aspects of Ancient Indian Culture. Asian Educational Services. p. 64. ISBN 81-206-0457-1. 
  12. ^ Russell, R. V; R. B. H. Lai (1995). Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India. Asian Educational Services. pp. 166–74. ISBN 81-206-0833-X. 
  13. ^ Gurjara aura Unakā Itihāsa meṃ Yogadāna Vishaya para Prathama Itihāsa Sammelana. Im Nin'alu's 2nd Book (Packard Humanities Institute). 1996. pp. 34–65. 
  14. ^ a b Stephen M. Lyon. "Gujars and Gujarism: simple quaum versus network activism". University of Kent at Canterbury. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  15. ^ "Gujjars from Georgia: seminar". The Tribune. 13 May 1999. 
  16. ^ Curtis, Glenn E. (2004). Georgia: a Country Study. Kessinger Publishing. p. 89. ISBN 1-4191-2165-0. 
  17. ^ Nasmyth, Peter (2001). Georgia: In the Mountains of Poetry. Routledge. p. 9. ISBN 0-7007-1395-6. 
  18. ^ Indirā Gāndhī Rāshṭrīya Mānava Saṅgrahālaya, Kulbhushan Warikoo, Sujit Som. Gujjars of Jammu and Kashmir. Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya. p. 4. 'Gurjar' is a sanskrit word that has been explained thus: Gur+Ujjar;'Gur' means 'enemy' and 'ujjar' means 'destroyer'. The word means 'Destroyer of the enemy'. 
  19. ^ India. Office of the Registrar General (1961). Census of India, Vol. 20, Part 6, Issue 27. Manager of Publications. p. 7. These people used to enjoy a title of 'Gorjan' (Leader of masses). In sanskrit the word Gurjar was used and nowadays Gujjar is used in place of Gurjar which predicts the qualities of a warrior community. 
  20. ^ A Gazetteer of Jhelum District, Part A, 1904, pp. 115-16.
  21. ^ Brandeth, A: "District Gazeteer Jehllum", p. 104. Punjab Government Press, 1904.
  22. ^ a b Samuel T. Weston, The Customary Law of Rawalpindi District.
  23. ^ a b Horace A. Rose, A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of Punjab.
  24. ^ A Gazetteer of Attock District, Part A, 1929, p. 108.
  25. ^ Rose, H. A.; Denzil Ibbetson, Edward Maclagan (1996). Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of Punjab. Asian Educational Services. p. 809. ISBN 978-81-206-0505-3. 
  26. ^ Inayatullah; Q. M. Shafi (1963). Dynamics of development in a Pakistani village. Peshawar: Pakistan Academy for Rural Development. OCLC 34376120. 
  27. ^ Hanks, Patrick (2006). Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-508137-4. 
  28. ^ Alison Shaw, Kinship and Continuity: Pakistani Families in Britain, Routledge. ISBN 90-5823-075-9.
  29. ^ Sekh Rahim Mondal, Muslims of Siliguri, Institute of Objective Studies (New Delhi, India).