Hari Singh Nalwa

Hari Singh Nalwa

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Hari Singh Nalwa (1791–1837) was Commander-in-chief
Commander-in-Chief
A commander-in-chief is the commander of a nation's military forces or significant element of those forces. In the latter case, the force element may be defined as those forces within a particular region or those forces which are associated by function. As a practical term it refers to the military...

 of the Khalsa
Khalsa
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, the army of the Sikh Empire. He is known for his role in the conquests of Kasur
Kasur
Kasur , the capital of Kasur District in Pakistan. Kasur is located adjacent to the border of Ganda Singh Wala between Pakistan and India, and is a tourist attraction because of the daily occurring Flags lowering ceremony...

, Sialkot
Sialkot
Sialkot is a city in Pakistan situated in the north-east of the Punjab province at the foothills of snow-covered peaks of Kashmir near the Chenab river. It is the capital of Sialkot District. The city is about north-west of Lahore and only a few kilometers from Indian-controlled Jammu.The...

, Multan
Multan
Multan , is a city in the Punjab Province of Pakistan and capital of Multan District. It is located in the southern part of the province on the east bank of the Chenab River, more or less in the geographic centre of the country and about from Islamabad, from Lahore and from Karachi...

, Kashmir
Kashmir
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

, Attock
Attock
Attock is a city located in the northern border of the Punjab province of Pakistan and the headquarters of Attock District...

, and Peshawar
Peshawar
Peshawar is the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the administrative center and central economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan....

. He led the Sikh Army in freeing Shah Shuja
Shah Shuja
Shāh Shujā was the second son of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and empress Mumtaz Mahal.-Governor of Bengal:Emperor Shah Jahan appointed Shah Shuja as the Subahdar or governor of Bengal in 1639. In 1642, Shuja was also given the charge of the province of Orissa. He ruled the provinces for more...

 from Kashmir
Kashmir
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

 and secured the Koh-i-Nor diamond for Maharaja
Maharaja
Mahārāja is a Sanskrit title for a "great king" or "high king". The female equivalent title Maharani denotes either the wife of a Maharaja or, in states where that was customary, a woman ruling in her own right. The widow of a Maharaja is known as a Rajamata...

 Ranjit Singh
Ranjit Singh
Maharaja Ranjit Singh Ji was the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire.-Early life:...

. His death at the Battle of Jamrud was a significant loss to the Sikh Empire.

He was responsible for expanding the frontier of Sikh Empire to the Indus River
Indus River
The Indus River is a major river which flows through Pakistan. It also has courses through China and India.Originating in the Tibetan plateau of western China in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and...

. In 1831, he opposed moves by Ranjit Singh to appoint Kharak Singh as his successor as Maharaja of the Sikh Empire. At the time of his death, the western boundary of the Sikh Kingdom was Jamrud
Jamrud
Jamrud , is a town located in the Khyber Agency, one of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. The town is the doorway to the Khyber pass, part of the Hindu Kush range...

. His frontier policy of holding the Khyber Pass
Khyber Pass
The Khyber Pass, is a mountain pass linking Pakistan and Afghanistan.The Pass was an integral part of the ancient Silk Road. It is mentioned in the Bible as the "Pesh Habor," and it is one of the oldest known passes in the world....

 was later used by the British Raj
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

.

He served as governor of Kashmir
Kashmir
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

 and Hazara and established a mint
Mint (coin)
A mint is an industrial facility which manufactures coins for currency.The history of mints correlates closely with the history of coins. One difference is that the history of the mint is usually closely tied to the political situation of an era...

 on behalf of the Sikh Empire to facilitate revenue collection
Government revenue
Government revenue is revenue received by a government. Its opposite is government spending. Government revenue is an important part of fiscal policy....

.

Early life


Hari Singh's ancestors came to Majitha
Majitha
Majitha is a town and a municipal council in Amritsar district in the Indian state of Punjab. Majitha holds a distinguished place in the history of Punjab as the well-known Majithia Sirdars came from this region. These were several generals in Maharaja Ranjit Singh's army of the Sikh Empire in the...

 and served the Sukerchakia Misl. His grandfather, Hardas Singh, was killed in action in 1762. His father, Gurdial Singh, served under Charat Singh
Charat Singh
Charat Singh was the eldest son of Naudh Singh, the father of Maha Singh, and the grandfather of Ranjit Singh. He distinguished himself at an early age in campaigns against Ahmad Shah Abdali and along with 150 horsemen split from the Singhpuria Misl to establsih the Sukerchia Misl- Head of...

 and Maha Singh
Maha Singh
Maha Singh Upon the death of his father, Charat Singh , he succeeded to the leadership of the Sukerchakia Misl. His son Ranjit Singh succeeded him and established the Sikh Empire...

 as a Risaldar
Risaldar
Risaldar , meaning "the commander of a risala " in Persian, is a mid-level rank in cavalry and armoured units of the Indian Army. Risaldars generally command squadrons....

 and received the Jagir
Jagir
In historic India, a jagir was a small territory granted by the ruler to an army chieftain in fairly short terms usually of three years but not extending beyond his lifetime, in recognition of his military service...

 of Balloki, a village in the modern day Kasur District
Kasur District
Kasur District or Qasur District is one of the districts in the province of Punjab, Pakistan It came into existence on 1 July 1976. Earlier it was part of Lahore District....

 of Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

.

Hari Singh Nalwa was born into an Uppal
Uppal
Uppal is a Jatt gotra, found in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. They are closely related with the Khatri Uppal, and may be of common origin...

 Khatri
Khatri
Khatri is a caste from the northern Indian subcontinent. Khatris in India are mostly from Punjab, region but later they migrated to regions like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Jammu, Uttarkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber...

 family, in Gujranwala
Gujranwala
Gujranwala is a industrial city in the north-east of the Punjab province. It is the sixth largest city in Pakistan with a population of approximately 2,661,360 as on 24 June 2011...

, Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

 to Gurdas Singh uppal and Dharam Kaur. After his father died in 1798, he was raised by his mother with help from his uncle. His mother fought off attempts to seize the family's Jagir
Jagir
In historic India, a jagir was a small territory granted by the ruler to an army chieftain in fairly short terms usually of three years but not extending beyond his lifetime, in recognition of his military service...

 after his father's death. In 1801, at age ten, he took Amrit Sanskar
Amrit Sanskar
Amrit Sanchar or the Amrit ceremony is the Sikh ceremony of initiation or baptism. This practice has been in existence since the times of Guru Nanak Dev . During that time-period, this ceremony was known as Charan Amrit or Charan Pahul or the Pag Pahul, the words Charan and Pag both signifying the...

 and was baptized as a Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

. At the age of twelve, he began to manage his father's estate and took up horseriding.

In 1804, at the age of fourteen, his mother sent him to Ranjit Singh's court to resolve a property dispute. Ranjit Singh decided the arbitration
Arbitration
Arbitration, a form of alternative dispute resolution , is a legal technique for the resolution of disputes outside the courts, where the parties to a dispute refer it to one or more persons , by whose decision they agree to be bound...

 in his favour and asked him about his background. Hari Singh explained that his father and grandfather had served under Maha Singh
Maha Singh
Maha Singh Upon the death of his father, Charat Singh , he succeeded to the leadership of the Sukerchakia Misl. His son Ranjit Singh succeeded him and established the Sikh Empire...

 and Charat Singh
Charat Singh
Charat Singh was the eldest son of Naudh Singh, the father of Maha Singh, and the grandfather of Ranjit Singh. He distinguished himself at an early age in campaigns against Ahmad Shah Abdali and along with 150 horsemen split from the Singhpuria Misl to establsih the Sukerchia Misl- Head of...

, the Maharaja's ancestors, and demonstrated his skills as horseman
Horseman
Horseman may refer to:* Horse rider; see Equestrianism* Wrangler , in the United States* Stockman , who works with horses rather than with cattle or sheep* Horseman, a 2003 Croatian film...

 and musketeer
Musketeer
A musketeer was an early modern type of infantry soldier equipped with a musket. Musketeers were an important part of early modern armies, particularly in Europe. They sometimes could fight on horseback, like a dragoon or a cavalryman...

. Ranjit Singh
Ranjit Singh
Maharaja Ranjit Singh Ji was the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire.-Early life:...

 gave him a position at the court as a personal attendant.

Military career


His military career began in 1804 on a hunting trip. At some time during the hunt, he was temporarily separated from the hunting party and a lion attacked him, killing his horse. The rest of the hunters found him but he refused their attempts to protect him and killed the lion by himself with a shield and short sword. Ranjit Singh rewarded him with a commission as Sardar
Sardar
Sardar is a title of Indo-Aryan origin that was originally used to denote feudal princes, noblemen, and other aristocrats. It was later applied to indicate a Head of State, a Commander-in-chief, and an Army military rank...

 and the command of 800 cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

.

Sir Henry Griffin
Lepel Griffin
Sir Lepel Henry Griffin KCSI was a British administrator and diplomat in colonial India. He was also a writer.-Career:He entered the Indian Civil Service in 1860. In 1880 he became Chief Secretary of the Punjab. He was sent as a diplomatic representative to Kabul, at the end of the Second Afghan War...

 called Nalwa the "Murat
Joachim Murat
Joachim-Napoléon Murat , Marshal of France and Grand Admiral or Admiral of France, 1st Prince Murat, was Grand Duke of Berg from 1806 to 1808 and then King of Naples from 1808 to 1815...

 of the Khalsa
Khalsa
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". A British newspaper had asserted in the early twentieth century that had Nalwa possessed the resources and the artillery of the British, he would have conquered the East and extended the boundaries of the Sikh Kingdom to include Europe. He participated in the conquests of Sialkot
Sialkot
Sialkot is a city in Pakistan situated in the north-east of the Punjab province at the foothills of snow-covered peaks of Kashmir near the Chenab river. It is the capital of Sialkot District. The city is about north-west of Lahore and only a few kilometers from Indian-controlled Jammu.The...

, Kasur
Kasur
Kasur , the capital of Kasur District in Pakistan. Kasur is located adjacent to the border of Ganda Singh Wala between Pakistan and India, and is a tourist attraction because of the daily occurring Flags lowering ceremony...

 (1807), Multan
Multan
Multan , is a city in the Punjab Province of Pakistan and capital of Multan District. It is located in the southern part of the province on the east bank of the Chenab River, more or less in the geographic centre of the country and about from Islamabad, from Lahore and from Karachi...

 (1818), Kashmir
Kashmir
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

 (1819), Pakhli
Pakhli
Pakhli was an ancient sarkar of the Mughal Subah of Punjab, now part of Hazara, Pakistan. It roughly corresponds to the ancient Urasa, the Aρσa or Οΰaρσa which Ptolemy placed between the Bidaspes and the Indus....

 and Damtaur (1821-2), Peshawar
Peshawar
Peshawar is the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the administrative center and central economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan....

 (1834) and finally Jamrud
Jamrud
Jamrud , is a town located in the Khyber Agency, one of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. The town is the doorway to the Khyber pass, part of the Hindu Kush range...

 in the Khyber Hills (1837). He defeated the Afghans, something the British failed to do, and annexed a segment of what was the Kingdom of Kabul
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 to the Sikh Kingdom. In Peshawar
Peshawar
Peshawar is the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the administrative center and central economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan....

, he rebuilt the Bala Hisar Fort
Bala Hisar Fort
Bala Hisar Fort is one of the most historic places of Peshawar. The word Bala Hisar is from Persian, meaning, “elevated or high fort”. According to Dr. Hussain Khan, the name was given by the Afghan King Timur Shah Durrani...

 in Ranjit Singh's name.

Hari Singh served as the governor of both Kashmir and Peshawar. A coin minted in Kashmir came to be known as the 'Hari Singhee'. The coin is on display in museums.

Legacy


Haripur city, tehsil
Haripur Tehsil
Haripur Tehsil is an administrative subdivision , of Haripur District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The tehsil is administratively subdivided into 37 Union Councils.-History:...

 and district
Haripur District
Haripur is a district in the Hazara region of Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa, province of Pakistan with an altitude of around above sea level. Haripur District has the highest Human Development Index of all the districts in the Hazara....

, in Hazara, North-West Frontier Province
North-West Frontier Province
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa , formerly known as the North-West Frontier Province and various other names, is one of the four provinces of Pakistan, located in the north-west of the country...

, Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, are named after him.

His descendants live in India and abroad. This runs counter to the story of Maharajah Ranjit Singh's line, which was forever destroyed by the British, who abducted his children and took them to England, where they were held hostage against the threat of India rising against British rule.

Nalwa was the most senior member of Ranjit's court. His son, Jawahir Singh, led the famous charge at the Battle of Chillianwala
Battle of Chillianwala
The Battle of Chillianwala was fought during the Second Anglo-Sikh War in the Chillianwala region of Punjab, now part of modern-day Pakistan. The battle was one of the bloodiest fought by the British East India Company. Both armies held their positions at the end of the battle and both sides...

, a battle in which the British were forced to retreat. Another son, Arjan Singh, also posed a tough challenge to the British as they struggled to annex the Punjab.

Plaudits



A very popular 19th century British newspaper, Tit-Bits
Tit-Bits
Tit-Bits was a British weekly magazine founded by George Newnes on 22 October 1881 until 18 July 1984, when it was taken over by Associated Newspapers' Weekend, which itself closed in 1989. The last editors were David Hill and Brian Lee...

, made a comparative analysis of great generals of the world and arrived at the following conclusion:

"Some people might think that Napoleon was a great General. Some might name Marshal Hindenburgh, Lord Kitchener
Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener
Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, ADC, PC , was an Irish-born British Field Marshal and proconsul who won fame for his imperial campaigns and later played a central role in the early part of the First World War, although he died halfway...

, General Karobzey or Duke of Wellington etc. And some going further might say Halaku Khan, Genghis Khan, Changez Khan, Richard or Allaudin etc. But let me tell you that in the North of India a General of the name of Hari Singh Nalwa of the Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

s prevailed. Had he lived longer and had the sources and artillery of the British, he would have conquered most of Asia and Europe…."

Hari Singh Nalwa's meeting with various British travellers and a German are recorded. Baron Charles von Hügel
Charles von Hügel
Charles von Hügel was an Austrian army officer, diplomat, botanist and explorer, now primarily remembered for his travels in northern India during the 1830s...

 remembers him fondly in his memoirs. He met the Sardar at his residence in Gujranwala. On that occasion the German was gifted a portrait of Nalwa in the act of killing a tiger. Hari Singh Nalwa was fluent in the Persian language. He was also conversant with Punjabi, Gurmukhi script and Pushtu, the latter being the language of the Pashtuns. He was familiar with world politics, including details about the European states.

Accolades continued to be delivered long after Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa's death. Pannikar sums him up as "The noblest and the most gallant of the Sikh generals of his time, the very embodiment of honour, chivalry, and courage…"

For decades after his death, Yusufzai women would say Raghe Hari Singh ("Hari Singh is coming") to frighten their children into obedience.

External links