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Medieval History of Himachal Pradesh (Mughal)

In 1525 AD Babur had established his outpost in Lahore from where he came to Delhi. Babur captured Daulat Khan, Governor of Punjab in a forest near Kangra.
Mughal Dynasty was started by Babur in 1526 AD. He killed Ibrahim Lodhi in 1st Battle of Panipat(1526). He died in 1530 AD and he was succeeded by his eldest son Humanyun. Afghan king Sher Khan (Sher Shah Suri) defeated Humayun in the battle Chausa in 1539 AD and again in 1540 AD battle of Kanauj (Bilgram).
Sher Shah Suri sent his general Khawas Khan to the Kangra hill to establish his control. After the conquest the hill area was placed under the charge of Hamid Khan Kakar but most of the historians have not mentioned this conquest, they agreed to a point that Jahangir was the first ruler who captured Kangra fort in 1620 AD.

Akbar succeeded the throne in AD 1556. Akbar was first Mughal to plan the conquest of Kangra Fort but he did not penetrate deep into the hills. Akbar advanced against Sikander Shah and entered in the territory of Nurpur whose ruler Raja Bakht Mal who was supporter of Sikandar Shah.

In 1557 AD Akbar again advanced against Sikandar shah who took refuge in a fort between Pathankot and Nurpur, which was captured by Mughal army and Sikandar was sent to Bengal. Mankot (Maukot or Mau) fort was built by Salim Shah Sur.
Akbar granted the title of Maharaja to the Raja of Kangra Dharam Chand. There is also a play written on his life called Dharam Chand Natak in 1562 AD. It was written by Manik Chand court poet of Raja Dharam Chand.

Akbar initiated the practice of sending hostages to Mughal Court. Akbar was suspicious about Kangra ruler Jai Chand and made an order to arrest him that was done by Raja Ram Chand of Guler. His son Bidhi Chand thought his father dead and he assumed the throne of state and broke out into revolt against Mughal. He was being assisted by Raja Gopi Chand of Jaswan. In AD 1572 Akbar sent army under Khan Jahan Hussain Quli khan, Viceroy of Punjab to subdue the area, which was given to Birbal as Jagir.
Raja Basu son of Takht Mal transferred the capital of the state from Pathankot to Nurpur. Now Hussain Quail khan set out for Nagarkot by way of Pathankot and Dhameri (Nurpur) .
Bakht Mal the Raja of Nurpur who had allied himself with Sikandar Shah in AD 1556, was forced to surrender at Mankot and was executed at Lahore by Bairam khan. Mughal army then marched to the Kotla fort.
Kotla fort located twenty miles from Nurpur originally belonged to Raja Ram Chand of Guler but Raja Dharam Chand and Jai Chand of Kangra and Nurpur occupied it forcefully. Mughal army seized the fort and handed over to the Raja of Guler.
During 1572 expedition Ibrahim Hussain Mirza and Musud Mirza, relative of Akbar had invaded the Punjab. The Mughal Amy departed from Nagarkot to Punjab in order to oppose the Mirza bothers.

After Khan Jahan’s expedition to Kangra Akbar deputed his finance minister Todar Mal. He succeeded to acquire sixty six villages in the valley and the whole of the area of Rihlu from Chamba but could not succeed to acquire Kangra fort.

After the death of Raja Jai Chand in 1585 his son Bidhi chand became Raja and he formed alliance with states between Jammu and Kangra like Mankot, Jammu, Jaswan, Jasrot, Basoli, Bilaspur and Lakhanpur. In 1588-89 they all broke into rebellion and to suppress this revolt Akbar sent his foster brother Zain khan Koka. He marched from Pathankot. He made them all to surrender. After submission Bidhi chand had to leave his son Triok Chand as hostage at the Mughal court.
In 1594-95 there was another rebellion by the hill chief led by the Raja of Jasrota, Bidhi chand of Kangra.
A force under Mirza Rustam Qandhari and other forces under Sheikh Farid suppressed this movement.
Bidhi chand died in 1605 and was succeeded by his son Trilok chand. He started his own coinage Trilok Mudra. Jahangir also succeeded to the throne in 1605. In 1612 Hari Chand became King.
Jahangir sent a force against Kangra in 1615 under the command of Governor of Punjab, Sheikh Farid who received the title of Murtaza khan and assisted by Raja Suraj Mal of Nurpur. Farid received title of Murtaza Khan in 1615 AD.

When Kangra fort was about to be seized differences developed between Sheikh Murtaza khan and Raja Suraj Mal of Nurpur. Murtaza Khan sent a complaint of Suraj Mal’s disloyalty to the emperor. Suraj Mal made a petition to prince Khurram to protect his life. Suraj Mal was called back and he was sent to Deccan to assist prince Shahjahan in October AD 1616. After Suraj Mal returned, Murtaza khan was taken ill and died at Pathankot.
After the death of Murtaza Khan, Raja Man singh (Raja of Jaipur) was sent to acquire Kangra but he went after a rebel Zamindar Sangram in his home territory and was killed.

After two unsuccessful attempts Jahangir had discussion with his son Shahjahan (Khurram) and he selected Suraj Mal and Shah Quli khan Mohammed Taqui. Suraj Mal was honored with khilat (dress) and khapwa (jewelry). They started their expedition in September A.D. 1617.
During their journey to Nagarkot Suraj Mal started quarrelling with Mohammed Taqui. Suraj Mal declared Taqui incompetent and he was recalled. After Taqui returned Suraj Mal started sending away the imperial troops to his own Jagir, when most of the Mughal troops dispersed. He collected his troops and raised a revolt against Mughals. On hearing this Jahangir sent Rai Raiyan Sunder Dass (also called Raja Vikramjeet of Gujrat) for his suppression.

Suraj Mal took shelter in Mankot (Maukot or Mau) fort. He fled to the fort of Mankot, from there he made to run Nurpur fort and then fled to Isral fort in hills to the north of Nurpur in distt Chamba. Later Suraj Mal escaped from Isral fort into Chamba state where Suraj Mal died in July 1619. Rai Raiyan seized his smaller forts including fort of Kotla. It was held by younger son of Raja Basu, Madho Singh. Suraj Mal’s brother Jagat Singh was summoned from Bengal to join Rai Raiyan Sunder Dass to attack Kangra fort which was ultimately acquired in 1620 and Nawab Ali Khan was appointed governer of fort.
Jahangir received the news of acquisition of Kangra fort on 20 November A.D. 1620. In January 1622 Jahangir visited Kangra with Noorjahn and returned by Nurpur and Pathankot. Jahangir also built a mosque inside the fort and one of the gates in the fort was called Jahangiri Darwaja. Dhameri was renamed as Nurpur by Raja Jagat Singh in AD 1622 in honor of Jahangir’s visit to the place.

He laid the foundation of his palace at Mauza Gargari. During Jahangir journey Chamba ruler Janardhan along with his brother Bishambar were waiting for Jahangir. Both were killed in the following year in a war with Jagat Singh of Nurpur.

The Battle of Nadaun was fought at Nadaun, between Raja Bhim Chand of Bilaspur (Kahlur) and the Mughals under Alif Khan in A. D. 1690-91. Raja Bhim Chand was supported by Guru Gobind Singh (the tenth Sikh Guru) and other hill chieftains, who had refused to pay tribute to the Mughal emperor. The Mughals were supported by Raja of Kangra and Raja Dayal of Bijarwal. The battle resulted in the victory of Bhim Chand and his aides.

The last Mughal Quiladar of Kangra fort Saif Ali Khan was appointed in AD 1740 during the closing reign of Mughal Empire.

Zarkaria Khan, the Nazim of Punjab carried out persecution of Sikhs. Ahmad Shah Durrani invaded Punjab ten times between 1748 and 1788. Raja Ghamand Chand took advantage of confusion created by Durrani and recovered all territory that had been lost by his ancestors to the Mughal, except Kangra fort to Mughals.
Ahmad Shah Durrani appointed Ghamand Chand as Nazim (governor) of Jalandhara Doab in 1759 A. D.

Isral Fort—
This fort has not been definitely located, but it may have been the small fort of Perigarh near Isral ka Bassa in Tundi Pargana, not far from Kotla. In Elliot’s history Taragarh is supposed to be the fort referred to. Taragarh was constructed afterwards by Jagat Singh Pathania, who became the lord of Nurpur after the death of Suraj Mal. So fort of Taragarh cannot be taken as fort of Isral. Definitely there was a fort north of Nurpur, in Chamba territory, There was a fort of Isral falling in line with Nurpur and Taragarh forts. It was situated at a distance of 1.5 kms from the village of Sulyali, exactly half way to Taragarh from Nurpur fort. It was founded by Nag Pal, in honour of victory of Sukh Pal his brother. Nag Pal was crowned in this fort about A.D. 1392.

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