Tribes and clans of the Pothohar Plateau
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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 Tribes of the region
- 2 Bais
- 3 Bhatti
- 4 Chauhan
- 5 Cheema
- 6 Chhina
- 7 Chib
- 8 Dhanial
- 9 Dhund
- 10 Dulal
- 11 Gakhar
- 12 Gujjar
- 13 Janjua
- 14 Jat
- 15 Jethal
- 16 Kanyal
- 17 Kassar
- 18 Khamb
- 19 Khatril
- 20 Khattar
- 21 Khingar
- 22 Khokhar
- 23 Khoti
- 24 Langrial
- 25 Lilla
- 26 Mair-Minhas and Minhas
- 27 Maliar
- 28 Mekan
- 29 Panwar
- 30 Paracha
- 31 Pashtun/Pathan
- 32 Qureshi
- 33 Rajput
- 34 Ratial
- 35 Sandhu
- 36 Sarral
- 37 Shaikh
- 38 See also
- 39 References
Tribes of the region
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.
More recent works by the British anthropologist Pnina Werbner have confirmed the continuing strength of tribal feelings among emigrant Pothoharis in the United Kingdom. This region was and still is an important source of recruitment into the old colonial British Indian army, and its successor, the Pakistan Army. Official recruitment policies have also encouraged the sense of tribal belonging among the Pothoharis.
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 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 Chib are a Rajput tribe.
The Dhund Abbasis are the most prominent of the Muree Hill tribes, and make up the bulk of the population of the Murree Tehsil. They own sixty villages in Murree Tehsil, and four in the Islamabad Capital Territory.
There are different traditions as to the origin of this tribe, most commonly that they are in fact of Rajput origins closely allied to the Karlal tribe. Uniquely, they speak a particular dialect of Pothohari, which is referred to as Dhundi-Kairali.
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, Pharwala Dulal, Narali, Bhattian and Kuri Dulal. They should not be confused, by the Dulal branch of the Janjua, who are entirely distinct.
The origins of the Gujjars are uncertain. 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"). 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". 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. General Cunningham identified the Gujjars with Yuezhi or Tocharians.
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 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). However, there is little evidence for such claims. The word "Georgia" derived from the Arabic and Persian word Gurj, and not Gujjar or Gurjar.
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". The word "Gurjar" predicts the qualities of a warrior community.
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.
According to their traditions, Arjun's great grandson, Maharaja Janamejaya, is an ancestor of the Janjuas. Janamejaya was later the ruling Emperor of the Kingdom of Hastinapur, the capital of which was Indraprasta (modern day Delhi). Regarding the Janjuas descent from the Pandavas dynasty, the Bali and Bhimwal generals of Raja Dhrupet Dev of Mathura, recorded that the Janjua Raja Dhrupet Dev was the descendant of Emperor Janamejaya of the Pandava dynasty of Prince Arjun. This reference was recorded in 1195 AD. Sir Lepel H. Griffin KCSI also recorded in the early 20th century that the Janjua were Pandavas in origin.
The Pandava princes ruled the region of Punjab and specifically Jhelum during the era of Alexander the Great. The Janjua Rajputs claim that an ancestor, Rai Por is the Porus who fought Alexander in Punjab in 326 BC. There is no source to confirm Porus' ancestry.
Rai Dhrupet Dev was the father of a famous rebellious king Rai Ajmal Dev Janjua who embraced Islam in the 12th century due to his love for Sufi art, poetry and teachings. Rai/Raja Mal followed the Islamic tradition of change of name after conversion and was then known as Raja Mal Khan. He was among the first Muslim Rajputs. This conversion was done before the armies of Shahabudin Ghauri entered into the Indian Plateau to conquer while he was very young in his teens and inclined towards Islamic philosophy of the Sufis, whose missionary efforts were gaining popularity in Northern India.
Conquering for himself a kingdom in the Koh-i-Jud he settled his capital at Rajgarh which he later renamed Malot. He re-conquered the Salt Ranges of Punjab to re-establish the dominion which his tribe lost almost two centuries earlier to the Ghaznavids. (Malot was originally called Shahghar or Rajghar - meaning home of the Shahis/Kings but was later changed to Malot in recognition of its founder.)
The Tarikh-e-Alfi of the Ghorids mentions the rebellious behaviour of Rai Mal towards the Delhi Sultanate. It records that he excited a rebellion against them and intercepted communications between Lahore and Ghazni. He then led the revolt to Multan with his Gakhar allies, defeating the Ghorid Governor of Multan before progressing to plunder Lahore and blockading the strategic road between Punjab and Ghazni. There are today remnants of an ancient fort in Malot, Chakwal which was initially built by the Shahis and later rebuilt and fortified by Raja Mal Khan. It is also inscribed that the last Hindu Shahi prince Raja Mal embraced Islam at this place.
The Jat are the principal tribe of Central Punjab, but in the Pothohar region, they take third place, after both the Rajput and Awan. The author of the Jhelum District Gazetteer wrote the following about the Pothohar Jat:
in this district there is no Jat tribe of common descent and with common traditions: the word is applied to any cultivator who does not claim foreign or Rajput origin, and does not belong to any other great agriculture tribes of the tracts.
In Jhelum and Chakwal, the Jat form an important element in the agriculture population. In Rawalpindi District, they are only found in numbers in Gujar Khan Tehsil. A few are found in Rawalpindi Tehsil, none in the hill tehsils of Kotli Sattian, Kallar Syedan and Murree, and only very few in Kahuta.
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.
According to their tradition, the Kanyal originate from Jammu, India and trace their descent to Jambu Loachon, the founder of the city of Jammu. He had a son named Raja Puran Karan, from whom the tribe claims descent. They are thus descended from the Manhas Rajput tribe.
There are various stories about the emergence of the Kanyal or Kanial tribes, in the Rawalpindi District and they have always been considered as a high-ranking clan of the Rajput tribe. They have been settled for hundreds of years in Rawalpindi District, and gained a reputation as being one of the major tribes in the whole of the eastern part of the Pothohar region.
Generally in Rawalpindi, the tribe is considered Rajput, while in the other districts they are considered Jats, and have historically intermarried with neighbouring tribes such as the Thathaal and Bangial.
They are found mainly in Gujrat, Jhelum and Rawalpindi Districts of Punjab, basically throughout the eastern half of the Pothohar region.
In Pothohar region, they are found mainly in Gujar Khan Tehsil and Jhelum District.
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. 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.
The Khamb are tribe.
The Khatril are a tribe found almost exclusively in Rawalpindi District. They were included among the Dhund Abbasi in the 1921 Census of India, while in the 1911 Census, they were classified as Jats.[full citation needed]
The Khingar are found mainly in Jhelum District, and Gujar Khan Tehsil of Rawalpindi District. 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 Khokhar of the region are predominately Muslim. They are of indigenous origins.
The Khoti are a found mainly in Chakwal District, and neighbouring Pind Dadan Khan. Their traditional theory of origin is that they are descended from Raja Kang and settled in Chakwal, where the bulk of the tribe is still found. They occupy several villages, Chak Hamid and Khotian being the main ones, in the Pind Dadan Khan Tehsil, at a distance from Jhelum river, in Jhelum District. They are also the main Jat clan of Chakwal District, with the villages of Khotian, near Chakwal and Khotian near Choa Saidanshah are centres of the tribe.
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.
According to their traditions, the tribe was originally settled in Arabia, being relations of the Prophet Mohammad, on his mother's side. Their ancestor Haras, arrived in India with Mahmud of Ghazna (c. 10th century). The tribe originally settled in Masnad in India. After seven generations, their forefathers moved to Multan, where a well known Pir gave one Ghaus Shah to be their spiritual Pir. Accompanied by Ghaus Shah, the tribe settled in Shahidiwalian, near present day Gujranwala. The local governor was ordered to expel them and succeeded in dividing the tribe into two factions, which fought a pitched battle. The defeated party dispersed and its descendants are now found near the Chenab, while the others, weakened by the struggle, migrated to the Pind Dadan Khan plain, led by Lilla Buzurg.
The tribe claims descent from Lilla Buzurg. The tract was then occupied a tribe of Hal Jats. The Lillas exterminated this tribe, barring one pregnant woman, who had managed to escape. From her some are descended families of Hal Jats that reside with the Lillas.
The form the majority in the villages of Lilla Handwana, Lilla Goj and Lilla Bhera in Pind Dadan Khan Tehsil.
Mair-Minhas and Minhas
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 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. 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.
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. In Attock District, Dhok Maliaran in Fateh Jang Tehsil is a major Maliar village.
In Chakwal District, Marjan Maliran and Saloi are the important village.
The Mekan are a Jat clan. They claim descent from the Parmara Rajputs, and spring from the same ancestor as the Dhudhi tribe. According to their traditions, they settled in the Thal, after the end of Arab rule in Sindh. The Hindu king of Kanauj, a Parmar Rajput took possession of the region, and settled his kinsmen, the Mekan. They ruled Mankera for five hundred years. Their conversion to the faith is recorded during the time of Ghias-ud-din Balban, courtesy of Baba Farid Ganj Shakr. Towards the end of the 15th century, the Baloch from Makran flocked into the country in and around Mankera, and subsequently ruled this state for the next three hundred years. The Mekan in Pothohar are found mainly in Chakwal and Jhelum districts. There main villages in Jhelum District is Chautala and in Chakwal District there are many Maken villages such as Thanil Kamal, Dingi Zer, Dhoke Dhabri, and Dhoke Maken near Thoa Bahdur.
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'.
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 Paracha own a couple of villages in Rawalpindi Tehsil, and in Taxila Tehsil, the village of Khuram Paracha is an important centre of this tribe. In Attock District, there are two distinct settlements of the tribe, those of Attock and those of Makhad. The Makhad Parachas claim their original home was the village of Dangot in Bannu District, and they moved to Makhad in the reign of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan.
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
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.
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.
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. 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 Ratial are Muslim Rajput tribe.
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.
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