Thursday 18 January 2018

078 - Haveli Of Hari Singh Nalwa (Gujranwala) & Bhabhrian Aala Mandir

Ever heard about Hari Singh Nalwa? No? That’s not surprising, actually, I expect the same answer from 99% of my Pakistani readers. When I planned about writing something about him, I thought it would be over within a few days. But now after many days, I am still thinking how to introduce this man to my readers. The problem is not lack of material available about him on the internet. Actually, that is more than enough for writing an article. The problem is that almost all of it is written by Sikhs and they eulogize him, in my opinion, with some exaggeration. Anyway, I could not find something by the Muslim writers, his chief victims or by the neutral writers. So I shall try to keep it as much “neutral” as possible for me. In any case, it is just a brief introduction of a man, who played a considerable role in the modern history of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well.

After the collapse of the Mughal power in Punjab in the mid-eighteenth century, the Sikhs rose rapidly and within a few decades occupied most of the areas in central Punjab. In Pakistani Punjab, by the end of the century, Sikhs were strongly established in Lahore, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Gujrat, Jhelum, etc. But these areas were not controlled by a single authority. These were ruled by numerous independent Sikh sardars, allied to each other in a kind of confederations, called Misls. There were almost 12 such Misls. In Pakistani Punjab the most important were Bhangi Misls, controlling Lahore besides many other towns, and Sukerchakia Misl. This second one was led by Charat Singh, then his son Mahan Singh and ultimately by his much more famous and successful heir Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Ranjit Singh was born in 1780 and succeeded his father when he was only 12 years old. This Misl was based at Gujranwala. In 1799 Ranjit Singh occupied Lahore and proclaimed himself Maharaja, thus, started a new era in Punjab. The subject of this article, Hari Singh Nalwa’s father and grandfather were too, part of Sukerchakia Misl and held a small estate in Gujranwala.  

I had a vague idea about the existence Hari Singh's haveli in Gujranwala. But was not sure about its exact location or what I would find there. To find the answers to these questions I reached Gujranwala on 22 July, 2017. In search of this place of entered the oldest part of the city. Which is now an overcrowded place with narrow streets, lined with shops. The houses are mostly double or triple storey. I had some important clues that the haveli exists in the bazar street, near fish market and nowadays a religious seminary exists there.

Unfortunately I lost the coordinates of the exact location of the haveli, when a few weeks ago I changed my telephone. However, in the map given at the end will give you a fairly accurate idea about its location.  

Beautifully carved wooded arches on the 2nd Floor. (22.07.2017)

Seminary of Hafiz Ghulam Rasul.
Established in Ludhiana: 1840 AD
Established in Gujranwala: 1947 AD

Sahibzada Mubashar Mahmood Naqshbandi (Left) and Sahibzada Shah Sultan of Nali (Right).

Ancestors of Sahibzada Mubashar sahib belonged to Ludhiana, where, in1840, one of them, Hafiz Ghulam Rasul laid down the foundations of a religious seminary and a mosque in 1840. Which according to Sahibzada Mubashir sahib, still exists in the Sabzi Mandi area of Ludhiana. After the creation of Pakistan, they moved here to Gujranwala and the Haveli of Hari Singh was allotted to his late father Maulvi Mahmood Yaseen, who died in 1997 and is buried inside the haveli. 

Sahibzada Mubashar Sahib greeted us warmly and we were also served with tea. Despite being very busy he gave us sufficient time to answer all our questions. He confirmed that there existed a large garden around the haveli, but was not allotted to them. 

A view of the 2nd Floor. (22.07.2017)

There are more newly constructed rooms on the roof of the second floor. Which are used as the residence of sahibzada sahib. So it is a four-storey structure. 

A view of the 2nd Floor. (22.07.2017)

A view of the 2nd Floor. (22.07.2017)

The second floor of the building serves as a seminary and here Sahibzada Mubashar Sahib received his guests and disciples. It has four sides and all the four sides have verandas, supported with beautifully carved wooden arches.

An old wooden door on the second floor. (22.07.2017)

Another well preserved old wooden door on the second floor. (22.07.2017)

After a little chat and tea, Sahibzada Mubashar Sahib asked his special assistant to show us other parts of the Haveli. He took us to the first floor. Parts of this floors are apparently are not much used. There is a tandoor (oven to bake bread) and a big room serves as a langar khana (dining room for the devotees). He showed us many rooms, which are completely in their original condition. Woodwork, including doors, windows, cupboards and ceilings, is excellent and in a good condition. 

Residence of Sirdar Hari Singh Nalwa
A.D.  1791 - 1837

A view of a room on the first floor. (22.07.2017)

Ceiling of a room on the first floor. (22.07.2017)

Walls of a room on the first floor. (22.07.2017)

A room on the first floor(22.07.2017)

Ceiling of a room. (22.07.2017)

Wooden doors of a room on the first floor. (22.07.2017)

Another door and room. (22.07.2017)

A closer view of a door, shows intricate carvings(22.07.2017)

Beautiful designs on a ceiling(22.07.2017)

Another room on the first floor. (22.07.2017)

Grave of Maulvi Mahmood Yaseen, on the first floor. (22.07.2017)

An interesting discovery was the grave of Maulvi Mahmood Yaseen. It is located on the first floor. We were informed that part of the ground floor were filled with dirt and Maulvi Sahib was buried in one of the rooms of the first floor.

A part of the first floor. (22.07.2017)

View of the by lane, where the entrance to the haveli exists. (22.07.2017)

Old Shops near the haveli. (22.07.2017)

Not far from the haveli of Hari Singh, a temple exists, or better to say its ruins. I have no information about its history but it must be a very big and important temple in its good days. It is called Bhabhrian Aala Mandir (بھابھڑیاں آلا مندر - भाभड़ेां आला मंदिर - ਭਾਭ੍ੜੇਆਂ ਆਲਾ ਮੰਦਿਰ ).

An old Hindu Temple near the haveli(22.07.2017)

Spire of the temple. (22.07.2017)

Old houses near the temple(22.07.2017)

Another view of the temple. (22.07.2017)

A section of temple complex. (22.07.2017)

Main entrance to the temple existed here in the main street. (22.07.2017)

Another view of the temple. (22.07.2017)

Beautifully carved wooden doors. (22.07.2017)

Now something briefly about the subject of this post, Hari Singh Nalwa. His grandfather and father both were part of Sukerchakia Misls and served under the ancestors of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He was born in Gujranwala, the capital of Sukerchakias, in 1791. His father died in 1798 and his mother raised him. She arranged best kind of education available at the time and he could read Urdu, Persian and Punjabi. He also took great interest in martial arts and excelled in them.  

He met Ranjit Singh first time in 1804 in Lahore. He visited the darbar to settle a property dispute. Ranjit Singh was a capable man and saw the potential in the young boy. He employed Hari Singh in his court as a personal attendant. 

He started his military career as a commander of a detachment in a campaign against Kasur in 1807. Subsequently he participated in 20 or so major battles and earned a great name and fame. He was awarded many jagirs. Some of the campaigns in which he participated were against Sialkot, Attock, Mitha Tiwana, Kashmir, Multan, Attock, Mankera, Nowshera, Peshawar etc. He rose to such a high position that he was made the governor of Kashmir in 1820. 

Perhaps a few would now that the famous city in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Haripur, is named after this man. As per Wikipedia, he founded this town in 1822. He also built a fort to protect the city and as a stronghold of his army in the area. The fort still exists in the city, though not in a good condition. Wikipedia gives following details of his other building projects:

He built all the main Sikh forts in the trans-Indus region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Jehangira and Nowshera on the left and right bank respectively of the river Kabul, Sumergarh (or Bala Hisar Fort in the city of Peshawar), for the Sikh Kingdom. In addition, he laid the foundation for the fort of Fatehgarh, at Jamrud (Jamrud Fort). He reinforced Akbar's Attock fort situated on the left bank of the river Indus by building very high bastions at each of the gates. He also built the fort of Uri in Kashmir.

A religious man, Nalwa built Gurdwara Panja Sahib in the town of Hassan Abdal, south-west of Haripur and north-west of Rawalpindi in Pakistan, to commemorate Guru Nanak's journey through that region. He had donated the gold required to cover the dome of the Akal Takht within the Harmandir Sahib complex in Amritsar.

 Hari Singh was made the governor of Peshawar in 1834, which proved to be his last posting. He consolidated the borders with Afghanistan, which was not an easy task. He captured the strategic fort of Jamrud at the mouth of Khyber Pass. This development alarmed Dost Mohammad, the king of Afghanistan. He launched a massive attack to capture the fort and put it under siege. Hari Singh came with a relieving force under his command. In the ensuing battle, though he succeeded in repulsing the attack of Afghans, but died of his wounds. He was cremated in the fort of Jamrud. His death greatly saddened the ageing Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

It is not clear that when exactly the haveli was constructed. But mostly probably by Hari Singh himself in his lifetime. It is an important historical heritage and should be preserved as a tourist attraction. 

Tariq Amir

January 18, 2018.
Doha - Qatar. 


  1. It was rangit singh era and hari singh was his governor and dewan chand of pindi also held some post. After many Sikh battles in hazara these warriors somehow took prisoner Mohammad khan tareen in 1822.Mohammad Khan tareen of haripur hazara was doubled crossed by these sikhs warriors and killed in prison.rangit singh invited him as his guest and then taken to Lahore fort in 1822.If there is anything about him in Sikh history want to know where he was prisoned and killed and buried.later his son Ghulam Khan tareen captured fort of haripur from sikhs in 1834.Ghulam Khan tareen was taken prisoner by James Abbott in 1848 and later was hanged in Naini central prison ALLAH abad india.

    1. Dear Sir, Thank you for you comments and sharing this information with me. Regards.

  2. My grandfather who came from Gujranwala during the partition remembers the haveli and misses his then home alot. He remembers many details about the thateron wali gali, Gujranwala.

  3. Asalam O Alikum
    My name is Noor Ul Qamar. We are looking forward to this place. We are owner of this place since 1947.if anyone want any information about the place we are here. I am son of Sahibzada Mubashar Mahmood.
    Address= Yaseen Manzil, Bazar Kasera, Old City Market, Near Fish Market, Gujranwala, Pakistan.
    Contact No # +92 3158915800 , 055-4212121