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The Janjua (also spelt Janjooa, Janjuha, Janjuah) are a royal warrior clan of South Asia.[vague] They are found in both the Rajput and Jat communities. Their warlike nature and dominant rule of their kingdoms against other tribes earned them a powerful reputation in Western Punjab, Afghanistan, Pakistan.[clarification needed] The Mughal Emperor Jalaludin Mohammed Akbar's record keeper Abu Fazl celebrated the Janjua Rajput as among the most renowned Rajputs of South Asia.
Arjun's great grandson, Maharaja Janamejaya, is an apical 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 Pandava 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.
Although there is no definitive source to confirm the ancestry of the ancient King Porus of Punjab, the Janjua Rajputs claim that their ancestor, Rai Por is the Porus who fought Alexander in Punjab in 326BC. Further, "The Punjabi ruler was Raja Porus, said to be a direct descendant of the Pandava kings".
Around 964 CE, the Janjua chief Jayapala succeeded the Brahmin Hindu Shahi emperor Bhimdev. This gave the Janjua Shahiya emperors a territory from Ghandar (present day Kandahar, in Afghanistan) across the entire of Punjab in what was known as the second phase of the Hindu Shahiya, the Janjua Shahi Dynasty.
Jayapala was challenged[when?] by the armies of Sabuktigin and his son, Mahmud of Ghazni. Captured after a fierce battle with Mahmud, Jayapala was ransomed and when released he committed suicide on a funeral pyre constructed for the purpose. Misra says that "Jaypala was perhaps the last Indian ruler to show such spirit of aggression, so sadly lacking in later Rajput kings".
His son, Anandapala, who ascended the throne in about March/April 1002 CE, had already proved to be an able warrior in leading battles. According to Adáb al-Harb,[full citation needed] around 990 Jayapala had instructed his son to rebuff the incoming forces of Raja Bharat, and this venture proved successful as Anandapala defeated Bharat. He took Bharat prisoner in the battle of Takeshar and then proceeded to capture the challenger's city of Lahore, thereby extending Jayapala's kingdom.
His own reign, however, was short. Despite the support of 30,000 Gakhars at the battle of Chach, he was defeated there by Mahmud and suffered much financial and territorial loss. He signed a treaty with the Ghaznavid empire in 1010 CE and died a peaceful death in the following year.
Tirlochanpála, the son of Anandapala, succeeded to the throne. He set about expanding his kingdom into the Siwalik Hills, the region of the Rai of Sharwa. His[clarification needed] kingdom now extended from the Indus river to the upper Ganges valley. According to Al-Biruni, Tirlochanpála "was well inclined towards the Muslims" and abided by his father's peace treaty with the Ghaznavids. He later rebelled against Mahmud and was eventually assassinated by some of his own mutinous troops around 1021 CE, an assassination which was believed to have been instigated by the Rai of Sharwa. He was romanticised in Punjabi folklore as the last Punjabi ruler of Punjab.
Tirlochanpala's son, Bhímapála, succeeded him. He was referred to by Utbí as "Bhīm, the Fearless; due to his courage and valour". He led the battle of Nandana and seriously wounded the commander of the Ghaznavid army Muhammad bin Ibrahim at-Tāī. He ruled only five years after his father before meeting his death in 1026CE.
His[clarification needed] remaining descendants, Rudrapal and his brothers Diddápála and Anangapāla had settled in Kashmir and played a major role in the court of Kashmiri king Ananta (1028-63CE).
Raja Dhrupet Dev Janjua ruled Mathura state in the late 12th century. He was also the ruler of the Mandu fort of the Shiwalik hills. He was well known for being a Pandava descendant of Janamejaya.
Dhrupet's rule of Mathura ended when Qutb-ud-din Aybak, the general of the Ghorid army, attacked Mathura and exiled the ruling royal family. According to Mohyal historians (Gulshan-e-Mohyali) Dhrupet's younger brother Raja Shripat Dev, accompanied the exile to the Salt Range of Punjab. Shripat Dev later, "established his dominion at Katasraj (old name Namaksar) in Tehsil Pind Dadan Khan, Distt. Jhelum." The Mohyal commanders-in-chief of the Janjua army at this point were Rai Tirlok Nath Bali and Bam Dev Bhimwal.[clarification needed]
Rai Dhrupet Dev[clarification needed] was the father of a famous rebellious king Raja 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 whilst 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, Jhelum which was initially built by the Shahis and later rebuilt and fortified by Raja Mal Khan. It is also inscribed that the last Turkish Shahi prince Raja Mal embraced Islam at this place.
Raja Mal Khan was also the first ruler to begin the mining of salt in the Salt Ranges of Kallar Kahar and in the Khewra Salt Mines of Punjab which is currently the world's second largest salt mine and still mined to this day in Pakistan.
The princes of the House of Rai Mal Khan continued their rebellion against the Emperors of Delhi against whom they held their own for many centuries remaining always turbulent, defiant and restless.
The most prominent Hindu and Muslim Janjua Rajputs of today are chiefly represented by the sons of Raja Mal Khan. The princes were Raja Bhir Khan, Raja Jodh Khan, Raja Kala Khan and Raja Khakha Khan. Jodh and Bhir were born of a Gakhar princess while Kala, and Khakha were born of another Rajput Rani.
The main branches of the Janjua Rajputs are as follows:
According to Lepel H. Griffin:
On the death of their father they determined to divide the country called, from Raja Mal, the Maloki Dhan between them. Jodh took the Salt Range near about the Makrach, and captured the town of Makshala from a colony of Brahmans (mohyals)...He changed its name to Makhiala and built there a fort and two tanks for rain water. ... Wir Khan (also spelt Veer/Bhir), took the possession of Khura (also spelt Khewra) near modern Pind Dadan Khan. He had one son, Raja Ahmad Khan, from whom have descended the families of Malot, Badshapur, and Dalwal.
Raja Jodh descendants inhabit mainly the Jhelum and Azad Kashmir region although some sub branches were displaced during the Sikh Conquest, migrating to Malowal of Gujrat, Adhi of Mandi Baha ud din, Sohdra of Wazirabad and Gujar Khan.
The descendants of Raja Jodh had continued to rule this region through various interruptions until the age of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Raja Bhir (also spelt Veer, meaning "brave") meanwhile took over Malot (Rajghar) state in Chakwal from his father. Raja Bhir's son, Raja Acharpal became a famous chief after his father's death. The above mentioned Ahmed Khan was Acharpal, who later changed his name after converting to Islam.
It was particularly these two branches who waged the greatest wars against the Gakhars;
Malik Darwesh Janjua declared war against the Gakhars. This final battle[clarification needed] against the Gakhars caused their defeated princes to flee the battlefield, each prince into separate towns. Malik Darwesh Khan now recovered the territory that was taken from his tribe by the Gakhars. The recovered territories were distributed amongst his tribe, of which one part formed his own Kingdom of Darapur, spreading over twenty-two large towns and villages and estates.
Darapur Janjua Rajputs – Malik Darwesh Khan's later descendant Raja Zaman Mahdi Khan of Darapur, was also distinguished by Griffin as a true noble:
|“||He (Zaman Mahdi) acted up to the traditions of his tribe in honesty of character, loyalty to the authorities, and in unstinted hospitality to the strangers within his gates. In 1891, he was a Provincial Darbari and was granted the title of Khan Bahadur by the British Raj.||”|
Zaman Mehdi Khan distributed his inheritance equally in four parts between himself and his three brothers, Raja Shakir Mehdi Khan, Raja Abdullah Khan, and Raja Paindah Khan. Later Raja Shakir Mehdi Khan died issueless (he had two sons had migrated and now their descendants are said to be at Qasur) and his share was reassigned back to Raja Zaman Mehdi Khan, whereupon Raja Zaman Mehdi Khan was admitted as chief of the family and was conferred the title Malik.
Zaman Mehdi Khan's only son, Malik Talib Mehdi Khan, served as Deputy Commissioner, Ambassador to Kabul, and Prime Minister of the Bhawalpur State. Talib Mehdi was appointed as Nawab with the rank of Major without attachments of any kind. He assumed rulership of the tribe after his father's death. At this point, almost the entire warrior tribe served in the Imperial Army.
Nawab Malik Talib Mehdi Khan had only one son, the late Nawabzada Malik Afzaal Mehdi Khan. He was chief of the family after the death of his father. The only son of Afzaal Mehdi is Malik Iqbal Mehdi Khan, ex-Provincial Minister, and Member of National Assembly (1988–1999). He succeeded the rule of the Darapur Estate after his father's death and is the current Regal Chief of the Darapur Janjua Dynasty.
Raja Habib Ullah Khan Janjua (the paternal nephew of Malik Zaman Mehdi Khan Janjua who in his turn was the father of Talib Mehdi) was among first Imperial soldiers from Imperial Indian Army to get the King's Commission, and was the first Muslim to do so. He was in the British Battalion.
The Janjua Sultan of Watli, Sultan Fateh Muhammad Khan (descendant of Raja Jodh through Raja Sun Pal) played an important role in keeping the Muslims safe from Sikhs and fought with Sikhs for six months and the Sikh armies French General's Surrounded the kusak Fort from all four sides in January 1810 but still Sultan Fateh Muhammad's army fought bravely against the Sikhs and kept the Sikhs away from the Kusak Fort.In the End Ranjit Singh offered Ceasefire which was accepted by the Sultan.During this cease fire Ranjit Singh once came below the Eastern wall of the Fort in search of weak points of Fort.When Sultan Fateh Muhammad was informed he reached this place with his soldiers. He asked Ranjit Singh and his Generals to surrender which they did.As the sultan was in a temporary cease fire with Ranjit Singh he allowed them to go.Later on Sultan had to leave the Fort because of shortage of Food and Water.The Sultan was given 4 villages and 40tonnes of Salt annually by Ranjit Singh.Sultan Fateh Muhammad moved to HaranPur and stayed there for forty years and died in 1830.In 1850 this family moved to Lehr SultanPur. The name of this place is "Lehr Sultan Pur" because the Sultans were the first to live here.
Sultan Lal Khan flourished again in this area. His son, Sultan Nadir Ali, became the vice president of Salt Range Muslim League and he stayed as the honorary magistrate of Pind Dadan Khan. After his death Sultan Muhammad Hayat became the Member District Council Jheluem and Chairman Union Council Choa Saidan Shah. After his death his son Sultan Azmat Hayat became the next Sultan of Riyasat of Watli. He stayed as member district council Jheluem and Later on he got elected as Member Punjab Assembly as a candidate of Pakistan Muslim League (N). After his death on 15 February 2003 his only son, Sultan Muhammad Azam ul Amar, succeeded him and is presently Sultan of three villages Kusak,Watli and Minhala.
The Janjua Sultan of Makhiala, Sultan Firoz Ali Khan was a warrior king from Raja Jodh's line through Raja Rai Pal. He strongly opposed Maharaja Ranjit Singh during his conquest of Punjab. After his death his son Ali Haider Khan was crowned Sultan, ruling for a very short period before his death. His son Ashgar Ali Khan was crowned the next Sultan of Makhiala.
The son of Sultan Buddha Khan (descendant of Malik Hast), Sultan Behram Khan was thirteen when his father died. Behram Khan was brought up by his maternal uncle Raja Sabit Khan, and later migrated to Rajdhani Mirpur along with his four sons.
All the sons migrated to Nikyaal while Rai Changez Khan started living in the hills situating in the west of Kotli city. They left their descendants in the mentioned areas.[clarification needed] At some localities they are known as Malik and Rai while at other localities they are recognised as Sardars.
Badlial and Bihal Rajputs of Badla, the Dasuya region of district Hoshiarpur, are the Janjua descendants of the conqueror of Makhiala, Raja Jodh. They are the main representative branch of the Hindu Janjua Rajputs. Raja Sahj Pal (8th in descent from Raja Jodh) left Makhiala during the era when the Janjua were rebelling against the Delhi Sultanate. Although the Muslim Janjuas remained and fought, Raja Sahj Pal sought escape from the rebellion and migrated to and founded Badla and is thought to have given it that name. Raja Sahj Pal's son and successor, Raja Pahar Singh, held 132 villages around the seat of Badla in his heyday.
The Bihals are the Ranas or superior rulers of the Dogras. The Bihal Rajputs were known for courage, fending off several armies over the course of history in the region.
The Rajput Tika ceremony is applied to the selected Rana or chief of the family. A red tilak is applied under a banian tree at Barnar or Bah Ata, with other assembled chiefs and Rana's of other clans. These assembled Ranas offer the new Bihal chief a shawl, a fine horse and also some money in Nazar (tribute). The new Raja would then select his new diwans/aides to help his leadership.
The Janjuas were honoured by Timur for supporting his conquest of India, throughout his campaign.[page needed] This formed the foundation for the later alliance between Timur's descendants, the Mughal emperor Babur and the Janjuas.
Babur made overtures to the Janjuas, and detailed them in his Baburnama:
They have become the traditional rulers of the mountaineers and of the people and tribes between Nilab and Bhera. Their rule, however, is benevolent and brotherly, they do not take whatever they want....The people (subjects) also serve in their army....the chief is called Rai and his younger brothers and sons are known as Malik.
The Janjua chief Malik Hast (Asad) was recorded by Babur as, "the lone ruler of the tribes and clans in the Sohan River area." He was invited by Babur to unite with him through Malik Hast's nephew Langar Khan Niazi. The Timurid letter was brought to Babur by Raja Sanghar Khan and Malik Hast (Asad). Babur honoured this record. The Janjua Rajas were now allies to the House of Babur. Babur allowed the Janjua to continue their rule in their respective kingdoms as before.
The Janjua Rajputs also took part in the battles against Rana Sangha in 1527 AD in which the Mughals defeated the Sesodia Rajputs who had allied with the Afghans against him. Raja Sanghar Khan Janjua is stated to have been involved in charging the army of Sangha when they came out of the fortress and after overwhelming them, the Mughal allies put them to flight.
Upon Humayun's exile from India, the Janjua Rajputs assisted Sher Shah Suri in constructing the Rohtas Fort to keep Humayun out of India as well as crush the Gakhars who in loyalty to the exiled Humayun began a rebellion against Sher Shah Suri. It was given possession to the Janjua chief Rai Piraneh Khan who fought off the Gakhars attacks, in attempting to halt its construction. But upon Sher Shah's death, the Gakhars seized the opportunity to aid the return of the exiled Mughal Humayun. Upon Humayun's return to position as Emperor of Hind, his Gakhar allies sought to now use the Mughals against the Janjuas.
Rai Piraneh fought the combined Gakhar and Mughal forces, but was defeated. His kingdom was finally ransomed to the fallen chief. From the Memoirs of Humayun we learn that the ransom gained from the Janjua king was such, that his entire army gained considerable wealth. It was at this juncture, that the Gakhar chief Sultan Adam Khan requested his Mughal overlord for a major portion of the kingdom of Rai Piraneh, which Emperor Humayun duly agreed.
Upon the ascension of Mughal Akbar, the Mughal policy towards the Janjua underwent a reconciliatory phase. Akbar made overtures to the Janjua princes, winning them over and incorporating them into his empire. Malik Darwesh Khan Janjua (grandson of Raja Sangar Khan and younger brother of Rai Piraneh) was a distinguished and noted General of the Imperial Mughal Army under Emperor Akbar's reign, notably in a campaign to capture Prince Mirza Hakim in June 1581
His relationship with Emperor Akbar became a close one. When the Emperor visited Malik Darwesh Khan's kingdom at the city of Ghirjak, Malik Darwesh ordained that the city would henceforth be renamed to Jalalpur in honour of the Emperor and the Janjua's relationship. Jalalpur (now Jalalpur Sharif) at this point was a flourishing centre of trade for the region.
The Khakha Janjuas however allied with the Kashmiri ruler Yakub Shah's stubborn resistance to Akbar, causing his first defeat in the battle of Bulaysa. After relations broke down between the Sultan of Kashmir and the Khakha princes, they refused aid to his second defence campaign against Akbar's forces, leading to the defeat of the Sultan and victory of the Mughal Emperor. The Khakhas nominally accepting Akbar's reign thereon.
Raja Shabat Khan, the great-grandson of Malik Darwesh Khan Janjua, allied with Maha Singh in many campaigns of the late 18th century. Upon his death, the Sikh chief Atar Singh Dhari assassinated Khan's heir, Raja Ghulam Muhi-ud-din Khan. The Janjua then rebelled, having realised that the intent was to replace the old aristocracies. The lucrative salt mines in possession of the Janjua Sultans of Makrach and Khewra made the territory too important for the Sikh Maharaja to ignore.
The expansion of the Sikh empire, spearheaded by Ranjit Singh, was met with a rebellion by the Janjua Sultan of Watli, Sultan Fateh Muhammad Khan. A six month siege of Kusuk Fort in Watli followed and this was ended when the inhabitants ran short of water.
The Kala Khan branch of Rawalpindi Janjuas fortunes were also eclipsed by the rise of the Sikh Empire. The fiercely independent Khakha branch of the Janjua Rajput fought against the Sikh expansion into their Kingdom in Kashmir.
The bold and warlike tribes of Bombas and Khakhas who now and then carried out looting incursions into the Valley, were a constant source of anxiety and danger to the Sikhs. In fact many times during their rule Bombas and Khakhas looted the valley as far up as Pattan
When the Sikh Empire's attention turned towards Kashmir, they encountered the other formidable Janjua branch of the Khakha Janjua warlords, renowned as the most troublesome tribe of Kashmir. Sardar Raja Ghulam Ali Khan and his brother Raja Sarfaraz Khan openly revolted against the Sikh Governor of Kashmir Dewan Moti Ram resulting in attracting the attention of Hari Singh Nalwa the Khatri Sikh General who was deputised to subdue the rebels. Raja Ghulam Ali Khan openly defied the repeated orders to pay revenues, leading to a fierce battle with Hari Singh Nalwa known as the Battle of Khakha at Uri. Both brothers were captured and taken prisoner by the Sikh general Hari Singh Nalwa who viewed the united Khakha Bombas uprising as detrimental to their peace and stability in Kashmir.
On 1 February 1821, information was received at the (Sikh royal) court that Hari Singh Nalwa had suppressed the uprising of Khakhas and captured their chief, Ghulam Ali. The Maharaja wrote to Hari Singh to lose no time in sending the captive with appropriate security to Lahore. There was great rejoicing in Lahore for this was a troublesome man. A celebratory firing of cannons was ordered.
Both Khakha Rajput chiefs were taken to Lahore under heavy escort, where they were later butchered alive by Nalwa in prison captivity for refusing to instruct their tribe to give up the rebellion.
The Khakha Rajas now intensified their raids in consequence to the weakening Sikh power after Ranjit Singh's death. Eventually, when Maharaja Gulab Singh assumed rulership of Kashmir, he managed to drive back the Khakhas with great difficulty. But knowing the reputation of the rebellious Khakhas, he immediately installed strong garrisons in the forts guarding the passes. Despite facing the most powerful Sikh chiefs attempts to subdue them, they still enjoyed a fairly privileged position, paying little if any taxes, openly wearing arms (despite orders banning them) and defying their orders where possible. Their predatorial raids during the Sikh age earned them a localised legend, that mothers would tell their children "..the Khakhas are coming..." to frighten them.
By the time the British Raj took an interest in conquering the Sikhs in 1848–49, warlike tribes such as the Janjua, Gakhars and Awans who had lost political control over centuries old ancestral kingdoms, "When offered the opportunity, they were more than prepared to rally to the banner of the British and exact their revenge on the Sikhs... Besides being impressed with their track record, the British saw in them, with their traditional and historical enmity against the Sikhs, an effective counterpoise against the latter," providing strong numbers, they eventually succeeded in removing the Sikh supremacy over the Punjab. Maharaja Gulab Singh was sold the valley of Kashmir, whilst the scions of the House of Ranjit Singh were exiled to England.
Note:- The rebellion of the Janjua's against the Sikh empire was not a war against the Sikh faith, but a political rebellion, as the Janjua Rajputs were initially keen allies to the Sukerachakia Misl with some Janjuas actually converting to the Sikh faith.
Many forts within Punjab are still remnants of their royal past, such as the Kusak fort, Sohava fort, Khushab fort, Garjaak castle in Makhiala Jhelum, Malot fort in Chakwal District, Nagi fort, Dalowal fort, Dandot fort, Kath Saghral and Masral fort, Dhak Janjua fort, Akrand fort, Anderana fort, Sialkot Fort (which was given to the Janjua by Sultan Firuz Shah Tughluq who accepted their suzerainty in that region in about late 14th century and many more. Some of these forts were lost, others gained as the changing climate of rulers endured.
The Janjua Rajputs possess a martial reputation and rank as the "aristocracy of the Salt Range." Their pride in their ancestry is renowned and are always addressed by their ancestral title of Raja. They have been referred to as "the most valiant warriors of Punjab." The tribal system of loyalty to the clan is still adhered to, and they tend to only align with other tribes of equally high social rank and reputation.
During the nineteenth century, the British rulers of India quickly realised the martial potential of the Janjua Rajput, and designated them as a martial race. The Janjua were heavily recruited into the British Indian Army.
The British held a high regard for the Janjua recruits;
The Janjuas of the Salt range by way of contrast, were held to be among the best Muslim soldiers, and were also 'the only really pure Rajputs in the plains of Punjab'....the British preferred their Martial races to be as socially exclusive as they were themselves—"Recruiting, Drafting, and Enlisting (Military and Society, 1)" Peter Karsten
Due to their high aristocratic status, Janjua princes refused to serve in any regiment that was not commanded by either a Janjua or another commander of equal social standing, a rule that the British honoured when selecting regiments for them.
The Janjua also took part in the Allied Forces, during both World War I and World War II, with very high numbers. The tribes of Jhelum and Rawalpindi near the Pakistani capital of Islamabad particularly supplying the largest numbers.
Janjuas are spread throughout the Punjab as well as adjacent regions. The vast majority of Janjuas are Muslim and live in eastern Pakistan. Additionally, There are Sikh and Hindu Janjuas who reside principally in north western India, the majority of Muslim Janjuas are in Pakistan.