Total population
ca. 1 million[1]
Regions with significant populations
Punjab (Pakistan) 700,000
North West Frontier Province 300,000

Pothohari, Hindko, Punjabi, and Urdu


18px Islam

Related ethnic groups

other Punjabi communities

Dosya:Pharwala Fort.JPG

The Gakhars (also Gakkhar or Ghakhar or Ghakkar) (Urdu: گکھڑ) were a fiercely independent and warlike clan now located in Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Jhelum, Kashmir, Gilgit, Baltistan, Chitral, Khanpur (NWFP) and Mirpur regions in modern day Pakistan. They formed a feudal aristocracy over the territories they controlled. A similar clan was recently portrayed in Asif Kapadia's critically acclaimed and BAFTA award winning 2001 film "The Warrior".

The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition (Vol. 15, p413) of 1911 states that "the Ghakkars seem to represent an early wave of conquest from the east, and they still inhabit the whole eastern slope of the district; while the Awans, who now cluster in the western plain, are apparently later invaders from the opposite quarter. The Gakhars were the dominant race at the period of the first Mahommedan incursions, and long continued to retain their independence. During the flourishing period of the Mogul dynasty, the Gakhar chieftains were prosperous and loyal vassals of the house of Babur; but after the collapse of the Delhi Empire Jhelum fell, like its neighbours, under the sway of the Sikhs. In 1765 Gujar Singh defeated the last independent Gakhar prince, and reduced the wild mountaineers to subjection. His son succeeded to his dominions, until 1810, when he fell before the irresistible power of Ranjit Singh."

The 1893-94 Gazetteer of the Rawalpindi District also notes that "from the moment where oral traditions give way to more authentic historical records, the history of the Potohar becomes that of the Gakhar clan. The Gakhars became prominent at the time of the early Muslim era and have more or less maintained their rule over the city of Rawalpindi and parts of Hazara and Jhelum districts, independent of the sovereign powers at Delhi and Agra, until being defeated at the beginning of the nineteenth century by the Sikhs."

Important early sources for the Gakhars are "Kaygawharnāma" by Rāyzāda Dunīchand Bālī, completed in 1725 (a copy is held in the British Library), Ferishta's The History of the Rise of the Mahomedan Power in India Till The Year A.D. 1612, Zahir-ud-din Mohammad Babur's, Baburnama and the Akbarnama of Abul Fazl.

==The Ancient Gakhars==.

The best ancient sources for the Gakhars are Ferishta's history completed in 1606 and the Gakhar history " Kaygawharnāma " by Rāyzāda Dunīchand Bālī which was written in 1725, 125 years after Feristha. Rāyzāda Dunīchand was a local while Ferishta did not know much about the tribe or the area. He mixed up Khokars with Ghakhars. The Muslim Gakhars are Turkic Aryans (Kianis), they were Zoroastrians earlier, and therefore they were called Gakhars (Fire Worshipers in Sanskrit).

The "Kaygawharnāma" claims the Gakhars were the people of Sassanian Persian nobles who, with their knights, went beyond the northeast frontier of the Sassanian empire. seeking lands in China, Tibet and Kashmir.Gakhar mandi dist gujranwala is the last post of Gakhars. Gakhars therefore use the ancient royal Persian title "Kay or "Kayani as did the Sassanian aristocracy as they claim connection with the semi-mythological Kayani Kings of ancient Iran. Eventually after centuries of wandering, the Gakhars joined forces with the Mahmud of Ghazni in his invasion of 1008 and were rewarded with the kingdom of Potohar, which has since been the territory of the clan.

However in Ferishta's view, the Gakhars were an Indian Kshatriya tribe who resisted Mahmud of Ghazni invasion of India. Anandapal, son of Jayapala Maharaja of Punjab, "...with the Gakhars, and other warlike tribes..." forght a critical battle against the Muslim invader Mahmud of Ghazni in the Punjab in the year 1008. "Mahmud, having thus secured himself, ordered six thousand archers to the front to endeavour to provoke the enemy to attack his entrenchments. The archers were opposed by the Gakhars, who, in spite of the King's (Mahmud of Ghazni) efforts and presence, repulsed his light troops, and followed them so closely, that no less than 30,000 Gakhars with their heads and feet bare, and armed with various weapons, penetrated into the Muslim lines, where a dreadful carnage ensured, and 5000 Muslims in a few minutes were slain."

Most likely the Kaygawharnāma records many years of wandering - from the fall of the Sassanian Empire possibly as late as 682 AD which is when Ferishta records that the Raja of Lahore submitted to terms from the Gakhars predominately Hindus till now. "This treaty included the cession of certain territories in perpetuity to the Gakhars... that they should protect the Indian frontier from the Muslim invasions." In these lands they would have likely formed a small feudal aristocracy controlling many Hindu villages. Despite forced conversion in 1204, according to Ferishta, the Gakhars maintained a largely successful resistance to the Muslim kingdoms that followed before the coming of Babar.

The Medieval Gakhars and BaburEdit

From the Baburnama (The Memoirs of Babur), his chapter "Recent History of Bhera", in 1519 Babur noted: "There were the Jats, the Gujjars, and many other peoples living in the mountains between the Nilab and Bhera (in Jhelum district), which are connected to the mountains of Kashmir. Their rulers and chieftains belong to the Gakhar clan whose chieftain ship is like that of the Jud and Janjua."

It was worth noting that up to this point, the Gakhars and Janjua Rajputs had engaged in a never ending battle for sovereignty over the Salt Range.

The history of this region (the Salt Range) from the thirteenth century onward had been a sickening record of wars between the Janjuhas and the Gakkhars for political ascendancy

—Advanced History of Medieval India[2], {{{5}}}

However, the alliance of Raja Sahib Khan (Janjua overlord) and Malik Bir Khan Gakhar, saw a period of peace between the two tribes (both being visionary princes, and with a legendary friendship of treating each other as half brothers)[3]. This was later abruptly ended upon the ascension of Hathi Khan Gakhar as the leader of the Gakhar tribe, who assassinated Malik Hast Janjua's father, thereby reawakening the old feud between the two warrior clans.

Of the Jud and Janjua, Babur noted: "Seven kos from Bhera to the north, there is a hill. This hill, in the Zafer-nāmeh and some other books, is called the hill of Jūd. At first I was ignorant of the origin of its name, but afterwards discovered that in this hill there were two races of men descended of the same father. One tribe is called Jūd, the other Janjūa. From old times, they have been the rulers and lords of the inhabitants of this hill, and of the tribes and clans which are between Nilāb and Bhera; but their power is exerted in a friendly and brotherly way. They cannot take from them whatever they please. They take as their share a portion that has been fixed from very remote times. The one never takes, and the others never give, a single grain more or less. Their agreement is as follows: They give a shahrokhi for each head of cattle; seven shahrokhis are paid by each master of a family, and they serve in their armies. The Jūd are divided into various branches or families, as well as the Janjūa. This hill, which lies within seven kos of Bhera, branching off from the hill-country of Kashmīr, which belongs to the same range as Hindū-kūsh, takes a south-westerly direction, and terminates below Dīnkot, on the river Sind. On the one half of this hill are the Jūd, and on the other the Janjūa. This hill got the name of Jūd from a supposed resemblance to the celebrated hill of Jūd. The chief man among them gets the name of Rai. His younger brothers and sons are called Malik. These Janjūa were the maternal uncles of Langer Khan. The name of the ruler of the clans and tribes in the neighbourhood of the river Sohān was Malik Hast. His original name was Asad, but as the people of Hindustān often drop the vowels, calling, for instance, khabar, khabr, and asad, asd, this word, going on from one corruption to another, ended in becoming Hast. Immediately on reaching our ground I sent Langer Khan in order to bring in Malik Hast. He galloped off, and by impressing him with a persuasion of my generosity and favourable intentions in his behalf, returned, accompanied by him, about bed-time prayers. Malik Hast brought a mail-clad horse with him and made his submission. He was about the twenty-second or twenty-third year of his age."

Concerning the Gakhar clan, Babur goes on to say: "At that time (1519), the chieftains of the peoples on the mountainsides were two cousins, Tatar Khan and Hati "Elephant" Gakhar. Their strongholds were the ravines and cliffs. Tatar's seat was Pharwala, which is way below the snow-covered mountains. Hati, whose territory was adjacent to the mountains, had gained dominance over Kalinjar, which belonged to Babu Khan of Bisut. Tatar Khan had seen Dawlat Khan and owed him total allegiance; Hati, however, had not seen him and maintained a rebellious attitude towards him. With the advice and agreement of the Hindustan Begs, Tatar had gone and camped at a distance as though to lay siege to Hati. While we were in Bhera, Hati seized upon some pretext to make a surprise attack on Tatar, kill him, and lay hands on his territory, his wives, and everything he had."

In the case of both the Janjua and the Gakhar clans in the Medieval period, Babur paints a clear picture of heavily armed warrior elites living off the tribute of many acquiescent villages and in turn paying reluctant homage to their Turko-Mongol overlords.

What follows is Babur's vivid account of his attack on Hati Gakhar at the fortress of Pharwala: "Those who knew the lay of the land hereabouts, especially the Janjua, who were old enemies of the Gakhar, reported that Hati Gakhar had recently turned outlaw. He was engaging in highway robbery and bringing ruination upon the people. It was necessary to do something to drive him from the area or else to teach him a good lesson. In agreement with them, the next morning we assigned Khwaja Mirmiran and Mirim Nasir to the camp and left the camp at mid-morning to ride to Pharwala against Hati Gakhar, who had killed Tatar a few days before and taken over Pharwala, as has been mentioned. We stopped in the late afternoon, fed the horses, and rode off by night. Our guide was a servant of Malik Hast’s, Surpa by name. We cleared the road and stopped near dawn. Beg Muhammad Moghul was sent back to camp. As it was becoming light we mounted, and at midmorning we put on our armour and charged. With one league left to go, we could see the outline of Pharwala. Off we galloped. The right wing went to the east of Pharwala. Qoch Beg, who was with the right wing, was sent to reinforce its rear. The men of the left wing and centre were pouring down on Pharwala. Dost Beg was directed to support the rear of the left wing, which was also attacking. Pharwala, situated among ravines, has two roads. The one to the southeast—the road by which we were traveling—is atop the ravines and is surrounded by ravines and gullies on both sides. Half a kos from Pharwala, the road becomes such that in four or five places before reaching the gate the ravines are so precipitous that it is necessary to ride single file the distance of an arrow shot. The other road to Pharwala is to the northwest and leads through a wide valley. It too is precarious, and there is no other road on any side. Although it has no ramparts or battlements, there is no place to bring force to bear either. All around are ravines seven, eight, or ten yards straight down. The men farthest forward in the left wing passed through the narrows and gathered at the gate. Hati drove back the attackers with thirty to forty armed horsemen and many foot soldiers. When Dost Beg, who was reinforcing the rear of the attackers, arrived, he brought a lot of force to bear, unhorsed many men, and defeated the foe. Hati Gakhar was renowned in those parts for his valour, but regardless of how well he fought he could not maintain his stand and was forced to retreat. He was unable to hold the narrows, and when he made it to the fortress, he could not make it fast either. The attackers poured into the fortress behind him and ran through it to the narrow ravine on the northwest, but Hati got out and fled unencumbered. Here Dost Beg performed a good action and received the fiuldu. Meanwhile I entered the fortress and dismounted at Tatar’s quarters. Some of those who had been assigned to stay with me while the attack was launched had nevertheless gone on to join the fray. Among them were Amin-Muhammad Tarkhan Arghun and Qaracha, who for their disobedience were attached to the Gujar guide, Surpa and sent into the wilderness without their cloaks to meet the camp. The next morning we got across the northwest ravine and camped in a grain field. Wali KhizanachI was assigned a few valiant warriors and sent to meet the camp. On Thursday the fifteenth [March 17] we marched out and stopped at Anderana on the banks of the Sohan. [231] Long ago the Anderana fortress had belonged to Malik Hast’s father, but after Hati Gakhar killed Hast’s father, it fell to ruins, which was its condition when we found it. That night, the part of the camp that had been detached at Kalda Kahar arrived and joined us. After Hati took Tatar, he sent his relative Parbat to me with a mail clad horse and gifts. Before catching up with me, Parbart encountered the men of the camp who had stayed behind and came along with the uruq to present his gifts and pay homage. Langar Khan also came with the uruq on several matters of business, and when finished, he and some local people were given leave to depart for Bhera. Marching on and crossing the Sohan, we stopped on a hill. Parbat was given a robe of honour, and Muhammad-Ali Jang-Jang’s servant was sent to Hati with letters of appeasement.

Ghakhar at Mir Pur and Poonch KashmirEdit

(quoted By Raja Nazir Ahmad Mangral) Raja Sehns Pal Khan Mangral was the grandson of Raja Mangarpal and he established the City of Sehnsa which is now one of the largest towns in the Pakistan side of Kashmir. Raja Sehns Pal Mangral, the grandson of Raja Mangar Pal, was the first Mangral to convert to Islam and was given the title Khan meaning ruler. Gkhar are in very large no in village of Pakgali and Hama Mora.

In the late 12th Century the defence of the North Western borders had been assigned by the Hindu rulers of India to the Gakhars a fierce and warlike tribe of Persian descent. The Potohar plateau was at this time ruled by the Gakhar king Mang Khan Gakhar whose territory included the areas of Chana, Bhaneer and Choomukh (nowadays known as Mirpur) as well as the areas beyond and into the mountains of Kashmir.

Raja Sehns Pal fought a battle alongside two legendary historic figures: the Afghan Sultan Shohab Ul-Din Ghauri and his Turkish General Qutb-ud-din Aybak (who went on to become the first Sultan of Delhi) in which they defeated the Gakkhar King Mang Khan Ghakhar. Raja Sehns Pal then gained control over a very large area which became the States of Kotli and Poonch. The first capital (Rajdhani) of the Mangral’s was then established at a place called Saila, the ruins of which remain to this day. In fact the nearby City of Sehnsa which is now one of the largest town’s in POK is named after Raja Sehns Pal Khan its founder.

A short time later, in the year 1206 the Gakhars managed to exact revenge on Ghauri when they raided his camp on the banks of the river Jhelum and managed to kill him. However, the rule of the Mangrals in Kotli and Poonch under the leadership of Raja Sehns Pal and his descendants was to continue for over 600 years before the decline of the Mughal Empire saw the brief Emergence of the Sikhs followed by a short period of rule by the Dogra’s. A Hindu Clan

The medieval Gakhars and HumayunEdit

Humayun, Baburs son, ruled from 1530–1540. Humayun lost his Indian territories to the Afghan Sultan, Sher Shah Suri, and, with Persian aid, regained them fifteen years later.

According to the Akbarnama, Sher Shah Suri started a genocidal war against Sultan Sarang Khan Gakhar who remained loyal to Humayun, building the massive Rohtas Fort in 1541-43 (designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997) in an effort to crush the Gakhars,[4] to whom the fort was finally surrendered ten years after Sher Suri's death. Sultan Sarang built Rawat Fort nearby and is buried there with many of his sons.

"From thence he (Sher Shah Suri) advanced as far as Khushab and was for some days in Bhera. He sent a summons to Sultan Sarang Ghakkar and Sultan Adam who were the leading landholders in that neighbourhood, but as they had been clients of his Majesty Giti-sitani Firdusmakani, and had prospered by the favour of that exalted family they did not listen to his overtures. he advanced as far as Hathiapur in the Ghakkar territory and sent a large force against them. The Ghakhars fought bravely and defeated the Afghans so much that many of them were captured and sold. Sher Khan (Sher Shah Suri) wanted to march against them in person. He consulted his followers and they advised that as this tribe had strong mountains and remote heartlands they should be dealt with by degrees and by policy. the proper course was to leave a large army in that neighbourhood which could both watch the royal army and devastate the country of the Ghakkars. It was also desirable that a strong fort should be built for the carrying out of these two objectives. In consequence of this advice he laid the foundations of the Fort of Rohtas and having left a large force there he marched back and came to Agra".[5]

"The brief account of this affair is that Sultān Sārang waged brave war with Sher Khān (sher Shah Suri), but at last he and his son Kamāl Khān were made prisoners. Sārang was put to death and Kamāl Khān was imprisoned in Gwāliār fort. But in spite of such disaster their country could not be conquered and the clan was governed by Sultān Adam, the brother of Sultān Sārang. When Sher Khān died and Salīm Khān's turn arrived, he too made great efforts to take the country, but was unsuccessful. One of the wonderful things was that Salīm Khān ordered that all the prisoners in Gwāliār fort should be put to death, and that for this purpose a pit should be dug under the prison and filled with gunpowder and set on fire. There was an explosion, the building was destroyed and the prisoners were blown to pieces; Kamāl Khān was inside, but fate sheltered him from this calamity. In the corner where he was, not a breath of the fire reached him. When Salīm Khān heard of this Divine protection he took an oath (of fidelity) from him and released him. From that time Sultān Adam, his uncle, was in full possession of the country while Kamāl Khān passed his days in frustration."[6]

The Medieval Gakhars and AkbarEdit

Jalaludin Muhammad Akbar also known as Akbar the Great was the son of Humayun whom he succeeded as ruler of the Mughal Empire from 1556 to 1605. He was the grandson of Mughal conquerorZaheerudin Babur who founded the Mughal dynasty, a contemporary of Elizabeth the 1st of England and widely considered the greatest of the Mughal emperors. The Akbarnama written by Abul Fazl is the main source but also the records of European travellers such as "The Commentary of Father Monserrate S.J. on His Journey to the Court of Akbar".

The first act of homage by the Gakhars to Akbar was the capture and surrendering of the traitor Mirza Kamran, brother of Humayun who had joined with the Afghans. The Akbarnama records:

"... the delegates of Sultan Adam Gakhar, the chief of the Gakhar clan, arrived with a letter and were graciously received. The contents of the letter were that M. Kāmrān had come in distress to his territory; that Sultan Adam, in whose head was the breath of loyalty, did not wish the Mīrzā to spend his days in this vagabond fashion; that if His Majesty would come, he would produce the Mīrzā in order that the latter might make amends for his crimes and become a servant of dominion's threshold; and that Sultan Adam himself would also do homage."

"Be it known that the Gakhars are a numerous clan and that they live between the Bihat (Jehlam) and the Indus. In the time of Sultan. Zainu-l-‘ābidīn of Kashmir, there came a Ghaznīn officer, named Malik Kid, a kinsman of the ruler of Kābul, and took this country by force from the possession of the Kashmīrīs. He was succeeded by his son, Malik Kalān, and he again by his son Bīr. After him came Tatār Khān who had much contest with Sher Khān and his son, Salīm Khān. He regarded himself as attached to His Majesty's family, for at the time when His Majesty Getī-sitānī Firdūs-makānī conquered India, he entered his service and did good work. He was especially devoted in the war with Rānā Sānkā. He had two sons, Sultan. Sārang and Sultan. Adam. After Sārang the headship of the tribe fell to Sultan. Adam. The sons of Sārang Kamāl Khān and S‘aīd Khān submitted but were secretly disaffected. Jōgī Khān, a confidential servant of M. Kāmrān, arrived with as Sultan Adam's ambassador and tendered a petition from the Mīrzā, full of smooth and baseless words."

"Meditating evil, he (Miza Kamran) went to Sultan. Adam Gakhar thinking that perhaps he might induce the Gakhar tribe to act with him and to do things which ought not to be done. But Sultan. Adam approved of loyalty. He kept the Mīrzā, by various pretexts, under surveillance and sent to represent the matter at the sublime Court. The Mīrzā also, when he saw disappointing indications in the behaviour of the tribe, was compelled to adopt feline ways and to send a petition, as already stated. Though he tried to induce the Gakhars to join him, he had no success. He did not trouble himself about escaping because he had no refuge; moreover owing to the guard kept over him and to his own fatigue, he saw that it would be difficult to get away. He was obliged to subsist with this people and he learnt that every harmful thought becomes null and void which is entertained by the ill-wisher to a dominion adorned by the Divine splendour and safe-guarded by its protection; and that such an ill-wisher sinks into eternal punishment."

"When the envoy of Sultan. Adam had represented the state of affairs, His Majesty determined to make an expedition into India as far as the Gakhar country. He sent Khw. Jalālu-d-dīn Maḥmūd to guard and govern Kābul and marched on himself, taking the King of Kings with him, for the furtherance of good fortune. He bound the girdle of determination on the waist of energy that he might end the affair of M. Kāmrān and ease the world from his strife and sin. When the standards of victory reached the Indus, he sent Qāẓī Ḥamīd, the chief judge of the victorious camp, to Sl. Adam, requesting his presence. He also sent the Mīrzā sage counsel and exhortations, to the effect that he should scour from his heart the rust of opposition and discord. When later, he crossed the Indus, there was no sign of Sultan. Adam who apparently was affected by the misplaced apprehensions of a landholder. His Majesty despatched Mūn‘im Khān to soothe him and bring him in. He also sent a few words to the Mīrzā such as might guide him to fortune. Mūn‘im Khān was moreover to ascertain from their actions and manners what were their secret thoughts and to report accordingly. He displayed his abilities and after cajolery and stratagem, Sultan. Adam brought the Mīrzā and did homage near Parhāla."

"They entered the Mīrzā's tent. He thought they had come to kill him and at once ran at them with his fists. ‘Alī Dost said, “Mīrzā, compose yourself: the order is not for death. Why are you agitated? As justice demands,—for you blinded Saiyid ‘Alī* and many other innocent persons,—you will behold in your own eyes the retaliation thereof.” On hearing this, the Mīrzā agreed to submit to the royal commands and endured the insertion of the needle. They blinded both his eyes,—the sentinels of a seditious heart. These loyal servants took the precaution of using the lancet many times. The Mīrzā being thankful that his life was spared, uttered no remonstrance. With his natural kindness, His Majesty expressed his regrets and marched onwards. Many affectionate and loving words rose to his lips. This catastrophe occurred in the end of 1553."

The Akbarnama also records the growing popularity of Kamal Khan in the Imperial Court:

"During the time the camp was at Jalandhar (1556), Kamal Khan Gakhar, son of Sultan Sarang, younger brother of Sultan Adam, warmly followed up the old loyalty and attained the blessing of kissing the threshold. He became the recipient of princely favours and was included in the list of officers. He did good service in the war with Hemu and at Mankot, etc., and became the object of special attentions from His Majesty The King of Kings."[7]

"Of the events which occurred during this fortunate year (1558) was the engaging in battle of Kamal Khan Gakhar and his victory. The facts of this beautiful story are that at the time when Agra became the adode of sovereignty it came to the royal ears an Afghan tribe called the Miyana was stirring up strife in Sarnaj which is in the province of Malwa, His Majesty sent Kamal Khan Gakhar against them as he showed marks of courage and was fit for this employ. He went off with a body of troops and fought a battle. He was victorious and returned to kiss the threshold He was rewarded with a robe of honour and received the towns of Karah, Fatehpur, Hanswah, and other places in fief."[8]

"Among the glorious victories which made this year (1561) illustrious was that won by Khan Zaman over the Afgans...Khan Zaman was aware of their designs and set about strengthening the fort of Jaunpur. He sent information to the neighbouring officers and with the exception of Sikandar Khan Uzbeg, be collected them all together, viz, Bahadur Khan, Ibrahim Khan Uzbeg, Majnun Khan Qaqshal, Shaham Khan Jalair, Mir Ali Akbar, Kamal Khan Gakhar and others."[9]

The Akbarnama also records the falling out of favour of Sultan Adam and his overthrow in Chapter XLVIII : "Conquest of the Country of the Gakhars Owing to the Valour of the Imperial Troops"[10]

"(1561) Their country is between the Indus and the Beas, in the folds of the mountains, and among hillocks and caverns. Though in former times the rulers of India had attempted with large armies and abundant equipment to establish tranquility there, they had not succeeded, inasmuch as they had no skill beyond that of outward show, and as they had not a good intention. The knot was not untied by their efforts, as has already been related. Now that the world had received grace and ornament from the excellent intention and pure acts of His Majesty The King of Kings, and that the celestials and terrestrials had gained spiritual and temporal welfare from his existence, this great undertaking, which had not been effected by former rulers of India, was admirably carried out by the fortune of the King of Kings. The country came into the possession of the imperial servants. The account of this great boon is that as the Gakhar clan was always boasting of its loyalty and singleness of heart, that mine of clemency and liberality (Akbar) cast nought but eyes of favour upon their country. Though with reference to the courtesies of service it is most proper that the great men of the land should, if they cannot always be in attendance, occasionally obtain the auspiciousness of kissing the threshold, Sultan Adam and the headman of the country who had been encompassed by the King of Kings favours, did not at all perform these duties. However, His Majesty preserved the recollection of the small service which Sultan Adam had performed (the capture and surrendering of the traitor M. Kamran), and so passed over such offenses. When afterwards the throne of world-sway was adorned by the radiance of His Majesty The King of Kings, Kamāl Khān in accordance with the former services and devotion of his family which were graven on his heart, brought the countenance of supplication to the lofty court, and by kissing the threshold gave a new foundation to the pillars of hereditary devotion, and showed himself to be an adherent of the victorious stirrup. The ray of favour fell upon him, and he received appropriate fiefs. At the time of the struggle between the Khān Zamān and the son of 'Adlī, he held fiefs in the Sirkār of Lucknow and in parganas Hanswah and Fatḥpūr, etc. Also, in accordance with orders, he brought a considerable force with him and took part in the service. He distinguished himself in that man-testing war, and when his merits were reported by truth-tellers to His Majesty, more favour was shown to him and he became the object of increased confidence. Accordingly H.M. was pleased to say, “Kamāl Khān has done his duty, now is the time for us to show him favour, whatever desire he may have shall be gratified.” At this auspicious time Kamāl Khān represented through His Majesty's intimates that the King of Kings had shown him favour above his deserts. It was his hope now in consequence of his affection for his native country that he might obtain from the royal grace the possession of his father's territories. For since misfortunes came upon him, and he was imprisoned by Salīm Khān, his ancestral lands had been in the possession of his uncle Adam. From this uncle he had suffered a thousand vexations."

"When he had represented his misfortunes and had begged for his old native land, a world-obeyed order was issued from the point of justice that the country of the Gakhars which Sultān Sārang had held, and which was now possessed by Sultān Adam, should be divided into two portions, and that Sultān Adam should have one of them and Kamāl Khān the other. Orders to this effect were issued to the Khān Kilan Mīr Muḥammad Khān, and to Mahdī Qāsim Khān, Qubu-d-dīn Muḥammad Khān, Sharīf Khān, Jān Muḥammad Khān Bahsūdī, Rajah Kapūr Deo, and Rajah Rām Cand who all held fiefs in the Panjub. If Sulṭān Adam did not submit to these orders, the army was to march from the Panjab against his territory and punish him for his contumacy so that all savage rustics might receive warning. When Kamāl Khān obtained the highest point of his hopes he left the sublime threshold and came to the Panjab. The great officers communicated to Sultān Adam His Majesty's commands. He and his son Lashkarī, who managed all his father's affairs, turned away their heads from obedience to the world-adorning order, and proffered excuses which were worse than their offence. They would not agree to descend even a little from their borrowed sovereignty or to Kamāl Khān's obtaining his inheritance. The officers out of precaution reported the state of the case to the Court. Again an order of justice inscribed with the majestic sign-manual (ughrā) came directing that though Adam had at the outset broken the bond of obedience, yet as he was the subject of royal favours he would be allowed to keep the half of his territory if he made over the other half to his brother's son. If he still remained recalcitrant they were to chastise him and confirm Kamāl Khān in the whole of the territory. As his refractoriness had been shown, the army marched and entered the Gakhar territory. Adam stuck to his folly and prepared to resist. A great battle took place in the vicinity of the town of Hīlān.* As courage and activity are implanted in the nature of the Gakhars, there was fighting and carnage, but as the imperial armies are always aided by God, the flashing of the victorious swords scoured the rust of the oppressors' battlefield, and those wild beast-like savages traversed the desert of defeat. By the good fortune of the King of Kings, a victory which might fittingly be the embroidery of great victories was won, and Sultān Adam was made prisoner. His son Lashkarī fled and went to the hill-country of Kashmīr. For some time he was a vagabond, and then he too was captured. The whole country of the Gakhars, which none of the rulers of India had conquered,was by sublime inspiration subdued by a few of the imperial servants. In accordance with the sacred order the great officers gave the whole of the Gakhar country to Kamāl Khān, and confirmed him therein. They returned after making over Sultān Adam and his son to him. Because Kamāl Khān was firm and constant in his obedience to the sublime court he obtained a fortune which had not even entered into his dreams. He sent Lashkarī to a place from which there is no coming back, and he imprisoned Sultān Adam and kept him under surveillance to the end of his days. If they had submitted their necks to the royal commands, which are always visitations from heaven, they would not have been caught by these misfortunes. And if they had been content with half of the territory, they would not have been afflicted with the loss of the whole. By their disgraceful disobedience to the royal orders, which are a mirror of the Divine orders, they gave up to destruction their lives, their estates and their homes."

In order to further cement his relations with the Gakhars and use them as an ally against the tubulent Afghans, Akbar in accordance with his well-known policy, contracted matrimonial alliances with them. Prince Salim was married to a daughter of Sayd Khan, a brother of Kamal Khan. Sayd Khan had fought under the Mughal General Zayn Khan against the Afghans in Swat and Bajaur. Later Aurangzeb also honoured the Gakhar chief Allah Kuli Khan (1681–1705) by marrying one of his daughters to his son prince Muhammad Akbar. Thus two Gakhar women found their way into the Imperial harem.

Akbars policy of pacification and reconciliation had its desired effect and we find the Gakhars leading a peaceful and uneventful life during the major part of the Mughal rule. They seem to have only reluctantly accepted Mughal rule however as a celebrated Gakhar warrior-chief, Mukarrab Khan, sided with Nadir Shah and took part in the Battle of Karnal (1739), which showed up the crumbling fabric of the Mughal empire. As a reward for his services, he was confirmed in his possession of the fort of Pharwala and on his return to Kabul, Nader Shah conferred upon him, as a mark of further favour, the title of Nawab (this seems to have been a personal title as no later Gakhar chief ever used it). In his days the Gakhar power was greater than it had perhaps ever been before. He defeated the Yusafzai Afghans and Jang Kuli Khan of Khattak, and captured Gujrat, overrunning the Chib country as far north as Bhimber. He was finally defeated by the Sikhs at Gujrat in 1765 and had to surrender the whole of his possessions up to the Jehlum.

Gakhar clansEdit

Currently, there are forty one clans/branches of Gakhars but the following six are well-known and are the most important ones:

  1. Adamal (descended from Sultan Adam)
  2. Sarangal (descended from Sultan Sarang)
  3. Hathial (said to be descended from Sultan Hathi)
  4. Bogial (said to be descended from Malik Boga)
  5. Firozal (said to be descended from Malik Firoz)
  6. Iskandrial (said to be descended from Malik Sikandar)


  1. population figures from
  2. Advanced History of Medieval India by S. R. (Shiri Ram) Bakshi, Anmol Publ. 1995, p142
  3. Tarikh-i-Janjua, M Anwar, 1988, p84
  4. An architectural marvel
  5. Akbarnama, vol. 1, pp. 398–399.
  6. Akbarnama, vol. 2, p.298.
  7. Akbarnama, vol 2, p.38.
  8. Akbarnama, vol. 2, p.119
  9. Akbarnama, vol. 2, p.215.
  10. Akbarnama, vol. 2, pp. 296-307.

Research by Sajid Mehmood Kiani

External linksEdit

==Further reading==.

  • "Ghakkarnama" by Raezadeh Diwan Dunni Chand, 1856, copy held in the British Library,Oriental Collection, (Ethe 3021).
  • Jhelum Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911 Online Edition
  • Gujrat Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911 Online Edition.
  • Gakkhar, A. S Bazmee Ansari, in Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd ed.,Edited by J.H.Kramers et al., E.J Brill, Leiden, pp. 972–74.
  • Gakkhar, L. Dames, Encyclopedia of Islam, 1st ed., Leiden, p. 128, 1927.
  • "A History of the Gakkhars", J. G. Delmerick, Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Vol. XL, Part 1 (1871), pp. 67–107.
  • Gazetteer of the Rawalpindi District 1893-94, Punjab Government, 2001 Sang-e-Meel Publications, Lahore.
  • The Baburnama: memoirs of Babur, prince and emperor, Zahir-ud-din Mohammad Babur, Translated, edited and annotated by Wheeler M. Thackston. 2002 Modern Library Paperback Edition, New York.
  • The History of the Rise of the Mahomedan Power in India Till The Year A.D. 1612, Muhammad Kasim (Ferishta), Translated, edited and annotated by General J. Briggs. Reprinted 1981, Oriental Books Reprint Corporation, New Delhi, 4 vols.
  • The Akbarnama of Abul Fazl, translated from the Persian by H. Beveridge, Rare Books, Delhi, 1972.

Şablon:Ethnic groups, tribes and clans of the Punjab


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