Monday, June 17, 2013

Bhatinda (Bathinda) Chronicle (Part 1)

Since I am from Bhatinda, it always fascinates me. Massive fort manifests that it must have a rich past. Its history stayed sparsely known till recently after google books library project that brought out the hidden history books from all over the world.
The Google Library Project makes it easier for people to find relevant books – specifically, books they wouldn’t find any other way such as those that are out of print – while carefully respecting authors’ and publishers’ copyrights. The ultimate goal is to work with publishers and libraries to create a comprehensive, searchable, virtual card catalog of all books in all languages that helps users discover new books and publishers discover new readers.
Bhatinda Fort
A very old picture of Bhatinda Fort

Now ancient unknown books are a part of search and catalog system so it is now easy to find some of the missing pieces of the history jigsaw puzzles. Bhatinda is an arid reason of Punjab and dunes can be still seen at some places. When I was a child there were vast dunes all over but the dunes are gone because people removed the high parts of the dunes and sold the earth for landfills. Most of the land is now flatted and irrigated. Still arid vegetation growth thrives and survives happily at the wild patches.
Thar desert is a new desert. It was never mentioned in the Vedas, Ramayana or Mahabharatha because it did not exist then. Kamyaka Forest (काम्यक वन) was on the western boundary of the Kuru Kingdom, on the banks of the Saraswati River. It was in the west of the Kurukshetra plain. There was a lake lake called the Kamyaka lake. The Pandavas on their way to exile in the woods, left Pramanakoti on the banks of the Ganges and went towards Kurukshetra, travelling in a western direction, crossing the rivers Yamuna and Drishadvati. They finally reached the banks of the Saraswati River. There they saw the forest of Kamyaka, the favorite haunt of Rishis on the banks of the Saraswati abounding in birds, deer and other animals. There the Pandavas lived.
Climate changes made the Thar desert gradually. All the proofs indicates that Saraswati river flowed in the current Thar desert and Satluj and Beas were its main tributaries. Tectonic movements might have forced the Sutlej and Beas westwards and thus dried up the Saraswati-Ghaggar-Hakra. Thus dried up great civilizations of Mohenjo-daro and Hadappa. Bhatinda fort is of that era. Expanding Thar desert ate its history. Probably when Bhatinda fort was born around the same time Thar desert took birth and begun growing.
Bhatinda fort is massive and ancient. So ancient that nobody knows how old but one thing is sure, it stood when Jesus Christ was walking in the streets of Jerusalem. It stood when Kanishka (127–151 AD) was the emperor of India and India was largely inclined towards Buddhism. Medieval history of India is hard to find because India was tranquil in pre-historic periods. No major wars, calamities or genocides happened here. People migrated here from central Asia in hundreds of thousands and they brought their gods and all their gods merged with our gods here, because everything was already considered a god so all gods were welcome.
Bhatinda Fort
Bhatinda Now
Bhatinda was a part of The Shahis of Kabul/Gandhara. Shahis dynasty is generally divided into the two eras of the so-called Buddhist-Shahis and the so-called Hindu-Shahis, with the change-over thought to have occurred sometime around AD 870 after Adi Shankracharya. Last raja of Kabul Shahi dynasty was Jayapala, whose ancestor Raja Daab who was a regent of the emperor Kanishka, he expended this fort. There was always a fort here anyway.
All geology and mythology indicates that a major river was here next to the fort. That major river was Saraswati because it cannot be any other river. Saraswati was still a mighty river in Ramayana era and it was dying in Mahabarath era.
Satluj and Beas were tributaries of Saraswati that met Sindh River near Bahawalpur (now in Pakistan) or rather Sindh River merged into Saraswati there. The rivers, Saraswati and Ghaggar, are therefore supposed to be one and the same. According to the Mahabharata, the Sarasvati dried up in a desert. Dried up seasonal River Ghaggar in Rajasthan and Haryana reflects the same geographical view as described in Mahabharata.
There is a famous city called Multan (now in Pakistan). Multan is one of the oldest cities in the world. According to Hindu legends, it was the capital of the Trigarta Kingdom at the time of the Mahabharata war, ruled by the Katoch Dynasty. Multan has had various names over the years. According to Hindu mythology, the current name is derived from the Sanskrit name Mulasthana named after a Sun Temple. Multan has frequently been a site of conflict due to its location on a major invasion route between South Asia and Central Asia. It was conquered by Alexander the Great in 326 BC. In the mid-5th century BC, the city was attacked by a Huns nomads led by Toramana.
Then there is another famous city called Delhi, one of the ancient cities on this earth. It was known as Inderprastha in Mahabaratha. There are various theories that Delhi means dehleez or dehali—both terms meaning ‘threshold’ or ‘gateway’— and symbolic of the city as a gateway to riches.
Why bother about Multan or Delhi when this post is about Bathinda. Well Bathinda was a bastillion in between two cities. It was a rich place on the Saraswati River.
Alaxander’s Regent Seleucus I Nicator was also here. A thousand years ago Mehmud Gaznavi also visited it and a mention of it is there in Al Biruni’s Kital-ul- Hind. Otherwise history is lost because it was a tranquil and frozen in the time. Or may be nothing significant happened in between.
Well, ice ages of Europe were over and mighty river Saraswati too dried up. Bhatinda area merged with vast deserts of Rajasthan. River became the seasonal river now called Ghaggar or Jhajjar. It too changed its course and shifted about 50 kilometers away. Deserts came closer. Population too shifted to other fertile areas but Fort stood under the baking heat of the sun. For thousands of years it became an inn for the rising or fading kingdoms.
Bhatinda Fort
Bhatinda Fort
Like everywhere there must be wars, battles or skirmishes here in Bhatinda also. But since religion, character, ethics and definition of wisdom were the same in the lands all around here so probably all isolated incidences of violence would only happen around who rules the fort but the life of the general population stayed same. So nothing significant in History occurred here probably.
Buddhism was assimilated in Hinduism and transition was total in the time of Adi Shankracharya in 8th Century but Bhatinda stayed lost in the history. But around the same time an alien aggressive religion was knocking on the doors of India because there was an opportunity. Vast population was still Buddhist but ruling families were mostly warrior Hindus.
History wakes up as Muhammad bin Qasim Al-Thaqafi (695 – 715) from Saudi Arabia conquered the Sindh and Punjab regions along the Indus River (now a part of Pakistan) for the Umayyad Caliphate. Muhammad bin Qasim’s success has been partly attributed to the local King Dahir being an unpopular Hindu king ruling over a Buddhist majority who saw Chach of Alor and his kin as usurpers of the Rai Dynasty.
Qasim’s conquest of Sindh and Punjab was the foundation of Islamic imperialistic expansion into the Indian subcontinent. All fighting adults were put to death and their young women and children were enslaved and marched to Saudi Arabia. Now the general populations were ruled by ruthless, cruel and unforgiving alien rulers who were there enforcing alien religion,
Muhammad bin Qasim had further plants, he attacked and captured other provinces, Brahmanabad, Alor (Aror) and Multan etc along other in-between towns with only light Muslim casualties. All fighting aged adults at the captured areas were executed on the spot. Daughters of kings and princes, and the usual fifth of the booty and slaves were sent on to the military heads. The general populace was ordered to carry on with their trades and taxes and tributes settled. A small minority who converted to Islam were granted exemption from jizya.
Bhatinda Fort
Bhatinda Now
Muhammad Bin Qasim wrote out letters to “kings of Hind” to surrender and accept Islam. Islamic expansionists were now at the gates of Bhatinda with their blood stained swords. History is going to change now.
Bhatinda now stood at the frontier as the last defenses. It became again a very important place for Kabul’s Hindu Shahi Dynasity Kings and Rajput Kings of the desert kingdoms. Enemies were at the gates now. It was again fortified and garrisoned after hundreds of thousands of years. Fort was repaired, ramparts were reinforced and grooves were cut for shooting spears and arrows. Gunpowder and guns were not known at those times. Refugees began to arrive and area around the fort became populated again.
There were battles and Bhatinda stood because Umayyad Caliphate had its own problems and Islamists attention was diverted for the time being.
Rawal Bacheraj a Phulkian Sardar (SIDHU-BRAR tribe at those times, their linage tracing further to Shahi Dynasty) sardars were monarchs of the Punjab in India, tracing their genealogy from the 12th century King of Jaisalmer, Rawal Jaisal and Yadu Bhatti Rajput of the Chandra Vanshi clan. He renamed the town to its present name as Bhatinda in 979 Bhatinda in 965 AD (then known as Tabarhindh).
Now appears Mahmud of Ghazni (971 -1030) on the landscape of history. In 1001, Mahmud initiated the first of numerous invasion of northern India.
Afghanistan was mostly Hindu in those days. Jaipal was the king of Hindu-Shahi Kingdom there. Mahmud had already fought against him, when Subuktagin was the king of Ghazni. When Mahmud became the king, he decided to attack on Hindu-Shahi Kingdom, becaues its king, Jaipal, was his old enemy.
Bhatinda Fort
Bhatinda Now, picture taken from the fort
In 1001, Mahmud attacked the Hindu Shahi Kingdom. 15,000 Hindu soldiers were killed. Jaipal was defeated and captured. He was presented before Mahmud with his 15 other relatives; 500,000 enslaved persons were also brought along. From the kingdom of Jaipal, 250,000 gold dinars were demanded to free Jaipal. Money was brought from each fort that included Bhatinda. Mahmud looted all his wealth and received 250,000 Dinars to free Jaipal. About 5,00,000 Indians were taken to Ghazni as slaves. Though Jaipal was freed, but he refused to survive his disgrace. He cast himself upon a funeral pyre and died.
With the fall of Shahi Dynasity, Bhatinda fort was now an orphan after more than a thousand years. Kabul and Khandar, protectorates of Bhatinda were fallen for never to survive again. Mahmud Ghazni destroyed each and every Hindu and Buddhist temple and executed almost everyone who refused to accept Islam.
Mahmood Ghazni wanted to plunder the rich temples built in the Doab of Ganga-Yamuna, and Bhatinda was on the way. He invaded Bhatinda in 1005 A.D. The Hindu Shahi regent of Bhatinda, Baji Rao who had his coffers empty because he gave away all the treasury to free Jaipal, faced a tough fight but ultimately was defeated and ran away from the battlefield.
Bhatinda Fort
Bhatinda Now, picture taken from the fort
He was chased by the Muslim army and finding no rescue he committed suicide in the traditional Hindu fashion like Jaipal. Mahmud not only plundered Bhatinda but massacred the population of Bhatinda. To remaining population he gave the choice to embrace Islam or death by torture.
Most of the population exterminated, Bhatinda again became a village with a fort in the ever encroaching deserts, occupied by the Regents nominated by Eastern Iranian Lands. Mahmud plundered India at various times and most of the time Bhatinda was in his way; he stopped here and hunted Lions. Since most of the population was massacred and villages vanished so area was turning into wilderness. In those days Bhatinda area was infested with Lions and Tigers. Landscape was like the deserts of South Africa.
On 30 April 1030, Sultan Mahmud died in Ghazni, at the age of 59.
Around the same time (fire arrows) rockets were invented in China. Very soon warfare was going to change.
Bhatinda Fort
Bhatinda Now, picture taken from the fort
Around 1025
News arrived in the rest of India that Mahmud Ghazni has destroyed and looted famous Somnath Temple. Raja Bhoja of Dhar then organized his armies to attack Ghaznavids. Ghaznavids fearing the powerful army of Bhoja retreated via the desert of Sindh to avoid a clash (reported by Turkic author Gardizi as Indian Padshah Parmar Dev) with the Indian king and lost many of his men during the escape in the deserts. Bhoja repulsed the Ghazi Saiyyad Salar Masud who led an army into India to conquer the Northern India which his uncle, Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi, had failed to conquer. Then Bhoja organized a confederation of Indian kings including the Kalachuri Lakshmi-Karna, the Chahamana and others to fight the Salar Masud. In the Battle of Bahraich the northern India confederacy fought a pitched battle for about a month with the Ghaznavi army and completely defeated them killing Salar Masud in the process. They then went on to conquer Bhatinda Hansi,Thaneshvar, Nagarkot and other cities taken by the Ghaznavids and marched against Lahore and besieged it. Just at the point Lahore was about to fall to them, the Indian kings had a disagreement over who would own the captured territories and their armies disbanded and dispersed in a huff. Raja Bhoja started fighting other Indian kings who were his erstwhile allies in the war against the Ghaznavids. Bhatinda was again under the control of Ghaznavids as Raja Bhoj retreated.
The Ghaznavid Empire was ruled by his successors for 157 years. Bhatinda stayed as outer edge of Ghaznavid dynasty till 962–1186 The expanding Seljuk Turkish Empire absorbed most of the Ghaznavid west. The Ghorids captured Ghazni in 1150 A.D.
Now Muhammad Ghori was on the way to Bhatinda.
Bhatinda Fort
Bhatinda Fort from inside
In 1156 Rawal Jaisal a Bhatti Rajput (his linage came from Shahi Dynasty), founded the fort and city of Jaisalmer, and made it his capital as he moved from his former capital at Lodhruva (which is situated about 15 km to the north-west of Jaisalmer). The resaon for making this move was that temple town of Lodhruva was repeatedly sacked by the plunderers like Ghaznavis and Ghoris. Like Bhatinda, Jaisalmer was also on the way from Afghanistan to the rich temple town of Somnath in Gujarat. Bhatinda area was habituated by Bhatti Rajputs so Bhatinda’s connection with Jaisalmer was always strong. Bhatinda was not desert yet and Jaisalmer was not situated in the vicious desert yet. It was on a busy trade route from the ports of Sindh to the Delhi and then to most of India.
From the Translation of the Mughal-Era Tārikh-i Farishtah:
At the time of Mahummad Gauri’s invasion, it was held by Mangal Rao, a descendent of Rao Hem Hel Bhatti. In 1189, Muhammad Ghori laid the siege to the fortress of Bhatinda which was on the frontier of Prithiviraj Chauhan’s domains. Muhammad Gauri left Malik Ziyauddin Taluki as commander of the fort he himself went to invade Jaisalmer. Mangal Rao leaving the fort in the command of his son Anand Rao, led a large force to Jaisalmer against Muhammad Ghuri. The father was slain in the battle and the son died during the siege of Bhatinda fort. After Mumammad Ghori returned, Rai Pithaura, popularly known as Prithvi Raj Chauhan, laid a siege to the fort, which continued for more than one year.
Prithviraj’s appeal for help from his father-in-law was scornfully rejected by the arrogant Jaichandra. But fearless Prithviraj marched on to Bhatinda and met Ghori at a place called Tarain (also called Taraori) near the ancient town of Thanesar. Ghori attempted the same tactics employed by Mahmud of Ghazni but wasn’t successful and he was routed and chased for nearly 40 miles by Prithviraj. In face of the persistent Rajput attacks, the Ghori army broke ranks and fled. Ghori was captured in the battle by Prithviraj’s army and brought to the capital, however when Ghori pleaded for mercy, Prithviraj as an honor gesture set him free.
Bhatinda was now in the hands of Rajput King Prithviraj Chauhan.
Bhatinda Fort
Praveen Wadhwa in Bhatinda
Prithviraj was defeated and captured at the Second Battle of Tarain (1192). Sultan Ghauri took Prithviraj to Ghazni and blinded him with red hot iron rods, legend states that in an archery show, Prithviraj’s poet Chand Bardai gave him the physical location of Ghori in the arena via poem and then as Ghori ordered the start of show, Prithviraj shot him dead with an arrow.
Bhatinda was again in the hands of Ghorids. Another event took place in the history of this place. When Mohammad Ghori was besieging the Bhatinda Fort, Rattan Lal was a Hindu Rajput soldier at Bhatinda Fort who betrayed Rajput Kings and opened the Fort Gate at night for the invaders. Muhammad Ghori’s army entered in the fort and took it with surprise. Rattan Lal converted into Islam and said that he did the rightful duty to Allah. Mohammad Ghori who was accompanied by Saint Moinuddin Chishti, they both praised Rattan’s deeds. Rattan Lal was allowed passage and logistic support to perform Hajj thereafter he was called Haji Rattan. Since now remaining population was Muslim converts so Rattan was considered a Saint as he met Moinuddin Chisti. His Mazar is a famous place in India.
1192: In the Battle of Jaffa, King Richard the Lionheart defeats Saladin in present day Israel.
Bhatinda Fort
Bhatinda Now
Moinuddin Chisti accompanied Ghori till Ajmer, he settled there and became a famous Saint of Ajmer. Moinudding Chisti’s Dargah in Ajmer is a much visited place for Hindus and Muslims equally.
Nasiruddin Qabbacha, the ruler of Sind is known to have captured the Bhatinda fort in 1210, after the death of Qutbuddin Aibak, the first Stave Sultan of India.
Maharawal Jaisal, having founded the State of Jaisalmer in 1156 AD, was routed out by a rebellion and took refuge with Prithviraj Chauhan, the last Hindu King of Delhi, and later settled near Hissar. Hemhel, his son was made governor of Sirsa and Bhatinda in 1212 by Ghorids. His great-grandson Mangal Rao, having rebelled against the Islamic sovereign of Delhi, was beheaded at Jaisalmer.
Bhatinda marked the outer boundary of Ghoroid Dynasty till 1206, it was very important for them to repel the attacks from the desert kingdoms.
To be continued ………………..
Citrullus colocynthis
This medicinal plants loves Bhatinda area.
Called Kod-Tumba in Punjabi.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Commonly known as the colocynth, bitter apple, bitter cucumber, desert gourd, egusi, or vine of Sodom (Sanskrit: Gavakshi गवाक्षी, Indarvaruni इंद्रवारूणी), is a desert viny plant native to arid parts of India. It resembles a common watermelon vine but bears small, hard fruits with a bitter pulp. It originally bore the scientific name Colocynthis citrullus, but is now classified as Citrullus colocynthis.
A Text-Book of Materia Medica.
(Characteristic, Analytical, and Comparative.)
By Pr. Allen Corson Cowperthwaite, M. D., PH. D., LL. D.
General Analysis.-
Colocynth acts especially upon the ganglionic nervous system, more particularly upon the trigeminus, the solar plexus, the lumbar and femoral nerves, and the tissues which these nerves supply.
The condition produced is one of irritation resulting in neuralgia, and at times passing into a true inflammation.
This latter is particularly the case in the profound action had upon the alimentary canal through the solar plexus, giving rise to vomiting, purging, and an intense griping colic, which is the most important action of the drug.
Through the trigeminus we obtain neuralgic affections of the face, eyes, and head, due entirely to functional derangement of its sentient extremities, and through the lumbar and crural nerves we get sciatica and other neuralgic affections.
The chief characteristic of Colocynth is its severe colicky pains, obliging the patient to bend double, and worse in any other position.
Characteristic symptoms.
Disinclined to talk, to answer, to see friends.
Extremely irritable and morose ; impatient ; easily offended.
Anger, with indignation.

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