Sunday, 1 January 2023

161. Tipu Sultan, the Lion of Mysore: His family origins in Punjab

A few years ago I came across a very interesting piece of information about Tipu Sultan, the legendary ruler of Mysore. The writer claimed that the ancestors of Tipu Sultan moved to Deccan from Punjab. But neither details or source of this information was given, nor the writer gave the location in Punjab, where they came from. However, it was not a thing that I, being from Punjab myself, could ignore or forget. Hence kept looking for the answers and finally, a few months ago I found a book in Urdu "میسور  کا شیر" i.e The Lion of Mysore, written by Prof. Dr. Attash Durrani. It is a good book and certainly one of the best written in Urdu on Tipu Sultan. But the real revelation in this book for me was the information about the family origins of Tipu Sultan. 

I have translated a few passages from this book, where the writer has discussed the origin of Tipu Sultan's family:

The most important points in the biography of Sultan is Tipu's name, family and ancestors, about which the difference of opinion is so great that without discussing them this book would be incomplete. 

Professor Narinder Krishan Sinha, Calcutta University has written in his book Haider Ali (first published in 1941):

"There is no iota of doubt that Hyder Ali's parents and family members were inhabitants of a village in Punjab and their worldly influence was considerable"


"Haider Ali's great grandfather was Sheikh Wali Mohammad Qureshi, who during the reign of Mohammad Adil Shah (1627 - 1656), due to certain circumstances, from the near Delhi (Punjab), migrated from his homeland and came to Gulbarga (Kalaburagi)".

According to Wilks (Colonel Mark Wilks (1759 – 19 September 1831):

"Haider Ali's great grandfather / ancestor's name was Sheikh Behlol, who was an inhabitant of a village in northwestern Punjab. He came to Delhi from Punjab. His two sons Mohammad Ali and Mohammad Wali also accompanied him. From Delhi both settled at Alwand, Gulbarga. Where Mohammad Ali's was married to the daughter of a hermit in a monastery".


"A prominent trader of Madras Maulana Mohammad Ali M.A. Cantab. writes that Haider Ali's ancestor was a Sufi saint Mohammad Behlol from Punjab. His son Mohammad Ali came to Gulbarga and settled here permanently. Haider Ali was his grandson."


"Haider Ali's ancestors came to Delhi during the reign of Mohammad Ibrahim Adil. After Delhi, Sheikh Ali Mohammad stayed in Gulbarga. At the same place, at the monastery of Banda Nawaz Gesoo Draz he married Majeeda Begum, the daughter of a hermit. Four sons were born to them. Haider Ali was a Qureshi by race."

According to Colonel Boring:

"Haider Ali's ancestors were inhabitants of a village in northern Punjab and belonged to a branch of Rajputs. Their ancestor was a sufi saint Behlol. Mohammad Behlol's two sons Mohammad Ali and Wali Mohammad migrated to Gulbarga from Punjab."

Mohammad Bangalori writes"

"Some English historians have written about Haider Ali of obscure and of low ancestry. They are totally wrong in their thinking. Haider Ali's family belongs to a branch of Rajputs of Punjab."

The writer of History of Jhang has declared his ancestor Sheikh Mohammad Behlol a resident of Jhang and has written that during his lifetime his two sons Mohammad Ali and Wali Mohammad went to Gulbarga. Sheikh Behlol's tomb is in the village Behlol of Chiniot. Sheikh Behlol belonged to a sub-clan Supra of Rajputs and was the mentor of Shah Hussain of Lahore of the Chishti order. 

Now, once established that Tipu Sultan's family belonged to Punjab and even the name of the place became known to me, it was not difficult to investigate the matter further. As soon as I got an opportunity I reached Tibba Shah Behlol, on 13th July, 2022. This village is seven kilometers from the famous town, of Pindi Bhattian (of Dulla Bhatti fame), just 6 kilometers from the interchange of the same name on M2.

First, we reached the tomb of Hazrat Shah Behlol Daryai, which is located about 2.5 kilometers west of the village, in open lush green fields. A few houses exist nearby and a graveyard also surrounds the tomb. It is a large beautiful building, built in the traditional way, a square with a large dome and surrounded on all four sides by the veranda, with arches and pillars.

The Dargah was almost empty. A caretaker informed us that a fair was held just a couple of days before and by then all the devotees had left. He confirmed that Sheikh Shah Behlol was an ancestor of Tipu Sultan of Mysore. For further information, he advised us to meet descendants of Shah Behlol living in the nearby town of Tibba Shah Behlol. 

We reached the home of a descendant of Shah Behlol and met Mian Qamar  Mumtaz who received us warmly. He is a Sales Manager in a property development project. He accompanied us and we met his father, uncles, and a few cousins. They confirmed the connection of their family with Tipu Sultan and were obviously proud of this fact. However, presently they have no contact with the descendants of Tipu Sultan, who mostly live in Kolkata. 

Mausoleum of Hazrat Shah Behlol Daryai. (13.07.2022.)

The inside view of the mausoleum.  (13.07.2022.)

Decoration of the dome from inside.  (13.07.2022.)

Hazrat Shah Behlol Zakria Daryai

(Date of death: 983 AH - 1575 AD)

It is obvious that the year of connection is clear
These two dates are obvious
He was rightly accepted by the Messenger
He found near to eternity right Bahlool

Old trees near the mausoleum. 

The mausoleum is surrounded by lush green fields. 

L to R: Mian Asim Mumtaz, Mian Ali Zain, Mian Hassan Mujtaba, Mian Qamar Mumtaz & Master Mian Mumtaz Hussain. 

L to R:  Mian Adnan Ali, Mian Alamdar Hussain, Tariq Amir & Mian Asim Mumtaz.

My team members. Ibrahim Tariq (L) and Shahid Mehmood. 

In his book میسور کا شیر - The Lion of Mysore; the writer Prof. Dr. Atash Durrani gives the year of this family's migration to Deccan as 1620. The head of this family was Wali Muhammad Khan,  a Sufi, who came and stayed at the mausoleum of famous sufi saint Hazrat Banda Nawaz Gesu Daraz in Gulbarga, during the reign of Mehmood Adil Shah (he reigned from 1627 - 1656) and was well received by the caretaker of the shrine. And later he married his daughter to Muhammad Ali Khan, the son of Wali Muhammad Khan. 

After his father's death, Muhammad Ali migrated to Bijapur (Vijayapura). He did not stay there for very long and settled in Kolar, further south. He died in 1697 and was buried in Kolar. He was the father of Fateh Muhammad who was born in Kolar in 1684 and the grandfather of Hyder Ali.  

Hyder Ali's father was Fateh Muhamad, he was born in 1684 during the reign of Aurangzeb at Doddaballapura, a city 50 km north of Bangaluru. He died in a battle in 1729 and was buried near his parents in Kolar. At that time he was in the service of the Subedar of Sira as a Faujdar. He was a military commander of considerable stature and qualities. He too was buried in Kolar, a city 45 km east of Bangaluru. This city was given to Fateh Muhammad as a jagir by the Raja of Mysore (Mysuru). 

While looking for more information I found a video on Youtube, about the tombs of Haider Ali and his family in Kolar. Haider Ali's grandfather Muhammad Ali's grave also exists in the same complex. It also establishes the fact that the name of Fateh Muahammad'd father was Muhammad Ali Khan sahib. Muhammad Behlol, a stepbrother of Nawab Hyder Ali's, was buried in the same complex, his name suggests the connection of the family with Shah Behlol of Tibba Shah Behlol. 

Tom of Fateh Ali Khan sahib, the father of Hyder Ali in Kolar.

Hyder Ali was born around 1720 in a village called Budikote, 25 km south of Kolar. He rose to the most powerful position in the state of Mysore. In 1761 he became the Chief Minister, hence the de facto ruler of the state. He took the state to its zenith and enlarged it many times by the time of his death in 1782. He died in Chittoor and was buried in Srirangapatna.ಬೂದಿಕೋಟೆ

Sultan Fateh Ali Tipu was born on 1 December 1751, at Devanahalli, a fort 25 kilometers north of Bangaluru. He assumed the rule of Mysore state in 1782 after the death of his father Hyder Ali. He was a great warrior and an excellent administrator. Had he had peace and some favourable circumstances, he would have made the state of Mysore a great, well-developed, and prosperous one. He died fighting the East India Company forces in his capital Srirangapatna in 1799. He was buried along with his father and mother in the tomb, he himself had constructed in the early 1780s. 

After the martyrdom of the Sultan, the family was moved to Vellore, a town nearly 300 kilometers east of Srirangapatna. In July 1806, three battalions of the native troops of the British East India Company, stationed at the Vellore Fort mutinied but were suppressed soon. The British suspected the family of Tipu Sultan being complicit in the conspiracy and exiled the whole clan to Kolkata, the capital of the East India Company. In Kolkata, the sons of Tipu Sultan lived for a long time in comfort, but with many restrictions. Tipu had 12 sons, so a large family of his descendants live in Kolkata. 

As I mentioned above, the family living in Tibba Shah Behlol has no contact with the other branch of the family in Kolkata. In this context, Mian Qamar told me a story, that Shah Behlol showed his displeasure at the departure of his sons and said that your children and ours would never meet again. Sources mention that Muhammad Ali and Muhammad Wali, his two sons who reportedly left for Gulbarga, did so in his lifetime. So probably Shah Behlol was not happy at leaving them to faraway places with uncertain future. 

Hazrat Shah Behlol's year of death is given as 983 AH, which corresponds to 1575 AD., at the tombstone of his grave. But some other sources like Tazkra Auliye Jhang, give his year of death as 1039 AH, which corresponds to 1630 AD. This seems to be more correct as events can be put in proper chronological order. Otherwise, the year 983 AH, leaves a big gap between his death and the later events. As far as the Shah Behlol's descendants at Tibba Shah Behlol are concerned they have no clear idea about.

However, these few facts establishes without any doubt that the ancestors of Tipu Sultan came from Tibba Shah Behlol around 1620 and settled in the southern parts of the present day Indian State of Karnatka. William Dalrymple in his recent book, The Anarchy, published in 2019, writes that Tipu Sahib's family came from Punjab. An excerpt from Tazkira Auliye Jhang, is available on the the following link, giving some details about the family of Tipu Sultan:

While writing this article, I thought it would be interesting to establish a link between the two branches of this family at Tibba Shah Behlol and Kolkata. Indeed it is surprising that even in this age of modern communication, it already has not been done. Anyway, it is never tool late. 

Tariq Amir
January 1, 2023.
Doha - Qatar.

Thursday, 30 June 2022

160. Temple of Kalyan Das Suri, Rawalpindi.

Before independence and the partition of the country in 1947, Hindus formed one-third of the population of Rawalpindi city. They were an influential community and constructed beautiful houses, many of which still survive and remind us of the multi-religious society of the past and the rich cultural and architectural heritage of the pre-partition era. 

Besides beautiful houses, they built many temples, one of them is the famous Kalyan Das Temple in Kohati Bazar, it is located at  33°37'19.31"N,  73° 3'47.79"E. It is a majestic building and a masterpiece of Hindu architecture. 

Currently, the temple houses a special school for visually impaired children, named Government Qandeel Secondary School. The headmaster of the school was a very amiable gentleman and welcomed me warmly. However, due to some regulations, he did not permit me to take pictures, instead, he suggested to take permission from the concerned department. Which I did, a couple of days later. 

The building of the temple is in the middle of the compound and presents a breathtaking view. Its lofty spirals rise to a great height and give it a majestic look. The building around the temple is a modern structure and serves as classrooms for the students. 

I sat in the room of the headmaster for a while, waiting for the formalities to be cleared. During this time I had had opportunities to interact with some students and teachers, the experience was heartwarming. The courage and discipline of the students and teachers impressed me. At this moment the headmaster sahib requested me not to take pictures from inside or too closely. Soon I discovered the reason. The school building was undergoing repair and renovation work and the construction material was obstructing the view of the temple. Anyway, I avoided closer shots. However, some pictures available on the net show, beautiful paintings on the inner walls of the temple. 

Temple of Kalyan Das Suri, Rawalpindi. (01.02.2022.)

According to an article published in Tribune on March 25, 2022, written by Imran Ashgar, the foundations of the temple were laid in 1850 and it was completed in 1880. It carried great importance for the Hindu community of the city. It was a big complex and served the needs of worshippers and pilgrims from other areas. 

The main spiral, surrounded by four smaller spirals gives a fascinating view of the temple. It is definitely one of the oldest structures in the city and if properly taken care of, can survive for a long time. The school for children is indeed doing a great service to the community but can be relocated to another better and bigger building. But heritage and history cannot be recreated or relocated. I strongly feel that this building should be preserved, as a part of our history and heritage and should be promoted as a tourist attraction in the city. 

Tariq Amir

June 30, 2022.
Doha - Qatar. 

Saturday, 25 June 2022

159. Lockhart Memorial, Rawalpindi.

Rawalpindi was an important military station during the British Raj, due to its proximity to north western frontier, and the headquarters of the Northern Command of the British Indian Army. After the defeat of Khalsa Raj in 1849, this area came under the British rule. After the independence the city was made the General Headquarter of Pakistan Army. Hence it is also known as garrison city. 

Rawalpindi, due to its long association with military, has many installations, buildings and monuments related to the armed forces. One of them is Lockhart Memorial in Roomi Park, in the Sadr Area. It was built in the memory of General Sir William Stephen Alexander Lokchart GCB, KSCI, who was a British General in the British Indian Army. He was born in Scotland in 1841 and died in Calcutta in 1900. During his career he served in the army with distinction. He also served as the commander in chief of the Punjab command. In 1898 he was made the commander in chief of the British Indian Army.

He died in 1900 and his colleagues and admirers set up a memorial in his memory at Roomi Park in Rawalpindi. An obelisk, is a tall, four sided, narrow tapering monuments which ends in a parymid like shape. An obelisk is an invention of ancient Egyptians and they made huge obelisks all over their country. In Pakistan, as far as I know, there are at least three obelisks, at Multan, Margalla pass and this one. The location of this obelisk is at  33°35'57.31"N,  73° 2'36.11"E

Lockhart Memorial, Roomi Park, Rawalpindi. (28.01.2022)

Photo by Wikipedia. (28.01.2022)

Another view of the memorial. (28.01.2022)


The Lockhart memorial in Roomi Park, Rawalpindi. (28.01.2022)

The memorial is located in a park, covering an area of approximately 3 acres. It is a beautiful and a popular recreation place in Rawalpindi.

It is an important historic memorial, and its significance also lies in the obelisk being one of just three obelisks in Pakistan. The biggest of all the three is, however, the Nicholson Monument at Margalla Pass. But few people know about its existence and fewer still give it any attention. 

Tariq Amir 

June 26, 2022.
Doha - Qatar

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

158. Forgotten Gurdwaras of Rawalpindi City

Before 1947 Hindus and Sikhs formed a large proportion of the population of Rawalpindi city and owned most of the property in the city. Large Havelis, beautiful houses, and bazaars remind us of their presence in that era. Earlier this year I made several tours of some old parts of Rawalpindi and was amazed to find some masterpieces of old architecture. Lahore is famous for its walled city, but areas around Shah Chan Chiragh have hundreds of houses that are great examples of our rich architectural heritage. I think an organization on the lines of the Walled City of Lahore Authority should be set up to take care of and promote this rich heritage.

During my tours, I was surprised to find a very large number of Hindu Temples which are mostly hidden in narrow lanes and overcrowded houses and encroachments. But that will be the subject of another post. In this post, we shall visit a few gurdwaras which are not quite famous and are almost forgotten. But before going further, I would like you to take a look at the following table to acquaint yourself with the demographics of the city and the surrounding areas before 1947. The figures are taken from the official census report of 1941.




















































Rawalpindi region was dominated by the Gakkhar tribe for a long time. Their recorded history starts with the arrival of Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi and during the many time of many royal dynasties they controlled this area well into the 18th century. In 1765 Gakhar chief Mukarrab Khan was defeated by Sardar Gujar Singh a Sikh Sardar of Bhangi misl. Soon the whole area went under the control of the Sikhs. The Sikh domination lasted until 1849 when the British annexed Punjab. During this time Sikhs settled in this area and had a significant presence until 1947.

I visited a few gurdwaras early this year. Two of them are quite famous and I already have written posts on Gurdwara Singh Sabha and Gurdwara Narankari. In this post, I shall share some information about a few other gurdwaras. 

1. Gurdwara Bhai Mani Singh / Damdama Sahib

Bhai Mani Singh was a close companion of Guru Gobin Singh, the tenth and the last Guru of the Sikhs. He was born in 1644 in Multan and died in 1738 in Lahore. He was a great scholar and warrior. He served many gurus and spend his life in the service of the Sikh community. Caught in the political turmoil during the decline of the Mughal Empire, he was martyred by the governor of Lahore, Zakaria Khan in Lahore in 1738.

He is greatly revered by the Sikhs for his services and martyrdom. This huge gurdwara was probably built in his memory during the early decades of the twentieth century. Now dozens of families are residing in this gurdwara complex and seldom allow anyone to enter. Overall the building is in shambles. It is located at  33°37'0.40"N,  73° 3'17.03"E, at the junction of Jamia Masjid Road and Hamilton Road. 

After I published this article, some friends and readers suggested that the above-mentioned gurdwara is not gurdwara Bhai Mani Singh. It is actually Gurdwara Damdama Sahib, which is built by the famous Sikh personality of Kallar Syedan Baba Khem Singh Bedi (1830 - 1905). The problem is that the occupants do not let anyone to enter the premises, so no plaque or writing could prove its true identity, even if such writing exists. Anyway, I am sharing this new piece of information with my readers and hope to find some conclusive answer to this question. So far I feel that probably it is Gurdwara Damdama Sahib, built by Baba Khem Singh Bedi. Thank you Mirza Beg sahib and Immi Gul sahib for your guidance and assistance. 

Gurdwara Bhai Mani Singh or Damdama Sahib , Rawalpindi. (25.01.2022.)

Gurdwara Bhai Mani Singh or Damdama Sahib, Rawalpindi. (25.01.2022.)

Gurdwara Bhai Mani Singh or Damdama Sahib, Rawalpindi. (25.01.2022.)

Picture of the gurdwara, provided by Salman Khalid. (2021)

2. Gurdwara Baradari

The area around the shrine of Shah Chan Chiragh is probably the oldest locality of Rawalpindi city. The shrine itself is almost 400 years old. A gurdwara is located about fifty meters north of the shrine at  33°37'8.00"N,  73° 3'34.45"E. The current building of the gurdwara seems to be built in the third or fourth decades of the previous century. At present, the building is used by many families, who have divided it into many sections. Though they allowed us to enter but, some occupants were naturally not feeling comfortable. I am not sure, how old is this gurdwara or why it is called baradari. Perhaps an older building existed at this place before it was reconstructed later. 

Entrance of the gurdwara Baradari. (25.01.2022.)

ਗੁਰਦਵਾਰਾ ਬਰਾਦਰੀ
Gurdwara Baradari

Another view of the entrance from the street. (25.01.2022.)

3. Gurdwara Sri Guru Nanak Satsang

This gurdwara is situated about one kilometer northeast of Shah Chan Chiragh, in a locality still called Kartar Pura. The name suggests that in the pre-partition time it was inhabited mostly by the Sikhs or they formed a considerable part of the population. Luckily the date of construction is given, which is Samvat 1991, which corresponds or 1934 AD. The well-planned streets and the construction style of the houses also indicate that its origins are not very old. 

Despite having a fairly accurate location of the gurdwara it proved to be a little difficult to find it. It is a beautiful building and does not look like a traditional gurdwara. More details are given in the commemorative plaque below. The gurdwara is located at  33°37'26.97"N,  73° 3'46.93"E.

Facade of the gurdwra Sri Guru Nanak Satsang. (28.01.2022.)

Above is the ground floor of the gurdwara. The entrance is on the left side, the door covered with a curtain. The plaque is behind the cot, that's why we could not find it earlier, despite coming twice to this small street. We could see it only when I asked the owner about the plaque. 

Another view of the gurdwara. (28.01.2022.)

ਸ੍ਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਤਸੰਗ ਕਰਤਾਰ ਪੂਰਾ
ਇਸ ਗੁਰਦਵਾਰੇ ਦਾ ਬੁਨਿਆਦੀ ਪਥਰ 
ਜੇਠ ਸ: ੧੯੯੧ ਮੁਤਾਬਿਕ ੨੦ ਮਈ ਸਨ ੧੯੩੪
ਸ੍ਰੀ ਮਾਨ ਸਰਦਾਰ ਬਹਾਦਰ ਸੋਹਨ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ ..................... ਜੀ
ਰਯੀਸੇ ਆਜ਼ਮ ਰਾਵਲਪਿੰਡੀ ਨੇ ਰਖਇਆ

سری گورو نانک ست سنگ کرتار پورہ
اس گوردوارے دا بنیادی پتھر
جیٹھ سمت 1991 مطابق 20 مئی سن 1934
 سری مان سردار بہادر سوہن سنگھ جی ۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔ جی
رئیسِ اعظم راولپنڈی نے رکھیا

Sri Nanak Sat Sang , Kartarpur
The foundation stone of this gurdwara was laid on
Jeth Samvat 1991, corresponding to 20 May, 1934.
By Sriman Sardar Bhadar Sohan Singh ji ................... Ji
Raees-e-Azam of Rawalpindi.

The well of the gurdwara is still functioning. (28.01.2022.)

An adjoining house. (28.01.2022.)

Another old house in the street. (28.01.2022.)

The following three pictures were provided by Salman Qamar, who belongs to Gujranwala and has an interest in history and heritage. 

4. Gurdwara Lalkurti
Almost nothing is known about this gurdwara, which is located in Lalkurti, Rawalpindi. As the name suggests, it was developed by the British Army in the 19th century and even after independence remained an important part of cantonment area. It is a simple house, unlike traditional gurdwaras. It was probably used by the Sikh servicemen in the British Army. A Hindu temple also exists close by. The gurdwara was close at the time and nobody knew who controls this property. The temple is also not accessible. The gurdwara is located at  33°34'57.21"N,  73° 3'28.42"E

There is also some confusion about this place. A mark on google maps suggests it is a gurdwara. But as the occupants do not let anyone to enter it, so nobody is sure. I shall continue my research on this topic and request my readers also to share any information on this topic.  

A gurdwara in Lalkurti, Rawalpindi. (27.01.2022.)

Sikhara or spire of the temple. (27.01.2022.)

A beautiful old house, in front of the temple. (27.01.2022.)

I have four more gurdwaras in Rawalpindi city on my list. Hopefully, I shall visit them soon and add the information to this article. You are welcome to make your contribution and inform us about these gurdwaras or any other not listed here. 

5. Gurdwara Akalgarh
6. Gurdwara Istri
7. Gurdwara Khem Singh Bedi
8. Gurdwara Damdama Sahib

Tariq Amir
June 22, 2022.