Hari Singh Nalwa (biography)

Hari Singh Nalwa

Hari Singh Nalwa: The Fearless General of the Sikh Empire

IntroductionHari Singh Nalwa, the Fearless General of the Sikh Empire, is renowned for his unmatched courage, strategic brilliance, and unwavering dedication to the Sikh cause. Hari Singh Nalwa emerged as one of the most formidable military leaders of his time. This article delves into the life, achievements, and legacy of Hari Singh Nalwa, shedding light on his military campaigns, administrative abilities, and his indelible impact on the Sikh Empire.

Early Life and Rise to Prominence: Hari Singh Nalwa was born in 1 October, 1791 AD, at Gujranwala. , he is belong to the  Uppal khatri family.  His ancestors were belong from majithia  and served Sukarchakia misl . His grandfather ( Sardar Bishan Singh) was martyred from Ahmad Shah Abdali’s army at a place called Kopar Hira.  His father S. Gurdial Singh was commander of the forces of sukarchakiya misl. He was barely seven when his father died.  mata dharam kaur takes him to her parents house ,  gave full attention to his education , horsemanship and weapon training. hari singh nalwa ji known these languages:  english , farsi, Pashto.

Meeting with Maharaja Ranjit Singh: In the Basant Panchami Darbar of 1805 AD, Maharaja Ranjit Singh saw Hari Singh, who used weapons in a professional way. Maharaja Ranjit Singh recruited him as one of his personal attendants. Once, when he went hunting in the forest with Maharaja Ranjit Singh, he saw a lion there! Hari Singh said to Maharaja Ranjit Singh that I have the right to fight him before you, and Hari Singh stepped forward to face the lion, but the sword was out of his hand at that time. What he did was astonishing! They hunted that lion with their kirpan and tore his jaw in half! While the pressure of the lion’s jaw is 900 pounds to 1100 pounds per square! From this, you can guess how much life will be in their arms.

Meeting with the English officer: An English officer said in his biography that when we were going to meet Hari Singh Nalwa ji, we were imagining in our minds that the Sikh fighters were great, but they would be silly and artless. We will trap this in our diplomacy. But when we met with Hari Singh Nalwa, his level of knowledge was so high that the ground slipped under our feet. They opened the secrets of the East India Company in front of us—the secret things our main leadership did not tell the rest of the officers and the army. All the usual tactics fail in the face of This was the status of Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa.

Military Genius and Battlefield Victories: Hari Singh Nalwa’s military genius and battlefield victories solidified his reputation as an unmatched warrior. Nalwa had successful experience in multiple battles, defeating Afghan tribes and kings. Like the battle of Kasur (1807), Sialkot (1808), Attack (1813), Multan (1818), Shopian (1819), Mangal (1821), Nowshera (1823), Sirikot (1824), Sayu (1827), Peshawar (1837), and Jamrud (1837), This section explores his strategic brilliance, tactical acumen, and remarkable triumphs in numerous battles and campaigns. From the fierce battles in the northwestern frontier regions to the conquest of key territories, Hari Singh Nalwa’s leadership played a pivotal role in expanding the Sikh Empire’s boundaries.


Battle of Kasur (1807): Hari Singh’s first significant participation in the Sikh conquest, leading an independent force, was during the capture of Qasr in 1807. The location has long been an embarrassment to Ranjit Singh’s power, as it is close to Ranjit Singh’s capital city of Lahore. He was caught on his fourth attempt. The attack was led by Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Jodh Singh Ramgarhia. During the campaign, Sardar displayed remarkable courage and dexterity. Sardar was awarded the Order of Jagir in recognition of his achievements.

Battle of Sialkot (1807):Ranjit Singh appointed Hari Singh Nalwa to retake Sialkot from the ruler Jiwan Singh. This was his first battle under independent command. The two armies fought for several days, eventually being won by 17-year-old Hari Singh. Narwa led his army to victory and planted a Sikh flag atop the fort.

Battle of Attock(1813): Fort Attock was an important supply point for all armies crossing the Indus. In the early 19th century, Afghans appointed by the Kingdom of Kabul took control of the fort and much of the territory along the frontier. The battle was fought against Wazir Fateh Khan and his brother Dost Mohammad Khan on behalf of Shah Mahmud of Kabul, under the command of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s general Dewan Mokam Chand, against Sikh on the banks of the Indus River. The Christians fought and won. Besides Hari Singh Nalwa, Hukam Singh Ataliwala, Sham Singh, Khalsa Fateh Singh Alwalia and Behmam Singh Mariwala took active part in this battle. With Atok’s conquest, the neighboring regions of Hazara-i-Kallag and Gandgarh became Sikh tributaries. In 1815 Sherbaz Khan of Gundgar challenged the authority of Hari Singh Narwa and was defeated.

Conquest of Mahmudkot (1816) : In preparation for the conquest of the heavily fortified Mankhela, Maharaja Ranjit his Singh decided to approach Mankhela from its southern tip. After Baisakhi in 1816, Topkarna headed for Mahmudkot, accompanied by seven Parthans, Misl Diwan Chand, Ilahi Bakhsh, Fateh Singh Arwalia, Nihal Singh Attaliwala and Hari Singh Nalwa. When news of the conquest arrived, the Maharaja was overjoyed at the success of Sikh weapons and celebrated this victory by firing cannons. Two years later, on the way to Multan, the Sikhs captured the forts of Khangarh and Muzaffargarh.

Peshawar becomes a tributary (1818): When Shah Mahmud’s son Shah Kamran murdered Balakzai Wazir Fateh Khan in August 1818, the Sikhs took advantage of the ensuing turmoil and an army formally crossed the Indus and entered the kingdom of Kabul (now Afghanistan). entered the summer capital of Peshawar. first time. Hari Singh Nalwa was then entrusted to Peshawar to maintain and keep the pressure on the Sikh.

Mita Tiwana becomes Jagir (1818): In early 1819 Hari Singh accompanied Lord Diwan Chand to collect tribute from the Nawabs of Mankhela. Having completed his mission, Diwan Chand crossed the Chenab River with Topkana and set up camp at Pindi Batian near Siniot. He was asked to leave Hari Singh stationed outside Nurpur and Mita Tiwana. Hari Singh must have achieved great success. This was because the Maharajah had just given Sardar all the possessions of the Tiwana chief in Jagir.

Kashmir becomes part of Punjab (1819): In April 1819 Sikh forces marched on Kashmir. On this occasion, Prince Karak Singh took the nominal command. Misl Diwan Chand led the vanguard and Hari Singh Nalwa acted as the rear guard to support the lead forces. The 3rd Division, under the personal command of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, quickly transported supplies and handed them over to the frontline units. On the morning of July 5, 1819, Sikh formations advanced to the sound of trumpets. Heavy fighting broke out between the two armies, and the Sikhs conquered Kashmir. Cheers erupted in Sikh camps and the cities of Lahore and Amritsar lit up for three nights in a row. Thus ended five centuries of Muslim rule in Kashmir. Two years later, as governor of Kashmir, Hari Singh Nalwa put down a rebellion by one of the most vexing Haha chieftains, Ghulam Ali.

Battle of Pakhli (1819): Under Afghan rule, the Hazara-i-Kallag, Gandhar and Ghahal regions were ruled from Attok. Kashmir income was collected from Pakuri, Damtaur and Darband. Several attempts by Sikhs to make money from the Hazara-e-Kallag have not only failed, but have resulted in the loss of prominent Sikh rulers and commanders. After the Sikh conquest of Kashmir, tribute was paid from Pakri, Damtaur and Darband.[49] Returning from the Kashmir Valley to the Punjab plains, Hari Singh and his companions followed the traditional Kafila (caravan) route through Pakuri to collect tribute from the region. The Sikh demand for Nasrana has, as usual, resulted in “fighting and grievances.” However, the party succeeded in their mission.

Battle of Mangal (1821): Hari Singh’s greatest success in the Hazara area came two years later. Having successfully completed his duties as Governor-General of Kashmir, he left the valley and crossed the Kishanganga River at Muzaffarabad with 7000 infantry. Hari Singh Narwa successfully traversed the dangerous mountainous terrain, but when he reached Mangal he found his entourage blocking his path. Mangal, Urasa’s ancient capital, was home to the chieftains of the Jadun tribe, who now rule over the entire Damtaur territory. Hari Singh required the tribesmen to pass through his territory, but taxed all Kashmiri goods and treasures they brought back. All merchant Kafir pay this toll. Hari Singh’s assertion that the goods he carried was not for trading purposes was not accepted. When negotiations failed, we had to go to war. Hari Singh then joined the Sikh forces in preparation for an attack on Mankhela, but after he collected fines from all the houses and built a fort near here.

Battle of Mankera (1822): Sindh Sagar Doab was ruled mainly by Mankhela and Mita Tiwana. A relative of the Durrani sect, Nawab Hafiz Ahmad Khan, had great influence in the region. Besides Manquera, he commanded a large area defended by twelve forts. As Afghan control of Kabul weakened, Attok, Mankhela, Mita Tiwana, and Hushab governorates declared independence. Ranjit Singh celebrated Dushera Ravi in 1821 at Shedera across the river. The governor of Kashmir, Hari Singh, was most familiar with the area to which the maharajah now had his eyes. Narwa was hurriedly summoned to join the Lahore army en route to the Indus. The Maharajah and his army were crossing the Jhelam River when Hari Singh Nalwa joined Mita Tiwana with the Kashmir platoon. In early November, the Sikhs launched an offensive operation.

Nawab Muhammad Khan, the predecessor of Nawab Hafiz Ahmad, established Mangera in 12 forts: Hyderabad, Maujigarh, Fatehpur, Pipal, Dariya Khan, Kanpur, Jandawara, Karol, Dhrewala, Bakar, Dingana and Chauvala. surrounded. Sikh forces captured these forts and soon became the only place Mangera itself could conquer. A few years ago, Mankhela’s Nawab was an active participant in the reduction of Mita Tiwana. The Tiwanans, now vassals of Hari Singh Nalwa, took an enthusiastic part in giving back to the Nawab. The force was divided into his three parts (his one column under the command of Hari Singh) and each column entered Mangera’s territory by a different route. The three columns met near Mankhela Town and captured various points along the way. Mankhela is besieged and Narwa’s forces are to the west of the fort.

Nawab Dera was allowed to go to Ismail Khan and given to him as a jagir. His descendants occupied the area until 1836.

Battle of Naushera (Naushera): “Hari Singh Nalwa wears full armor and assumes a military stance.”
first Sikh entered Peshawar in 1818 but did not occupy the area. They were content to collect tribute from Yal Muhammad, governor of Balaksay. Asim Khan, the half-brother of Yar Muhammad of Kabul, who completely denied any favors for the Sikhs, decided to march at the head of a large army to prove the honor of the Afghans. Azim Khan wanted to avenge the pleas of the Peshawar brothers and the loss of Kashmir, he thought. Hari Singh Narwa was the first to cross the Indus at Attok and reached the Sikh garrison at Khairabad. He was accompanied by Dewan Kirpa Ram, the Maharajah’s teenage son Khalsa Shah Singh, and 8,000 soldiers.

Afghan forces were expected near Naushera on the banks of the Kabul (Landai) river. Hari Singh’s immediate plan was to capture the Fort Yousafzai of Jahangira, north of Randai, and Hattak territory of Akora Hattak, to the south. Jahangira is a masonry fortress with very sturdy towers, to which the Yousafzais of Afghanistan made a tough promise.

After Hari Singh had successfully reduced the Afghan tribal strongholds on either side of the river, Ranjit Singh departed from the fort of Attock. He crossed the Landai River at a ford below Akora, and set up his camp near the fort of Jehangira. The famous army commander Akali Phula Singh and Gurkha commander Bal Bahadur, with their respective troops, accompanied the Maharaja. The Afghan Barakzais witnessed the battle from across the river. They were not able to cross the Landai river.[54] Eventually, the inheritors of Ahmed Shah Abdali’s legacy withdrew from the area, toward the direction of Jalalabad.

Battle of Sirikot (1824): Less than ten miles north-west of Haripur is Sirikot. The village of Mashwani was strategically placed in a valley on top of the north-eastern peak of the Gandhgarh range, making its protected location a haven for rebel warlords from across the region. Before the rains of 1824, Hari Singh Nalwa marched towards Sirikot. It was another six months before the effort yielded decisive results. Sardar almost lost his life in this campaign. In the winter of 1824, Ranjit Singh’s military campaign was planned towards Peshawar and Kabul. While stationed at Wazirabad, he received an arji (written petition) from Sardar Hari Singh , informing him that he and his men were outnumbered by one Sikh to ten Afghanis. Ranjit Singh proceeded to [Rohtas], thence to Sirikot via [Rawalpindi] and [Sarai Kala]. On news of the approach of the Sikh army, the Afghans retreated.

Battle of Saidu (1827): Portrait of Hari Singh Nalwa wearing a red turban, leaning on a baluster and armed with a black-sheathed sword.
Yusufzai’s savior came in the form of Syed Ahmad , who despite being a ‘Hindaki’ was accepted as their leader. Buddha Singh Sandhanwalia, a force of 4,000 cavalry, was deployed towards Attock to help suppress the Yusufzai rebellion. The Maharaja’s brief required him to go to Peshawar and collect tribute from Yar Mohammad Khan Barakzai. Buddha Singh first heard of Syed after crossing the Indus and encamping near the fort of Khairabad. Ranjit Singh was still ill when the news reached him of Syed’s arrival at the head of a large army of Yusufzai peasants. Yusufzai’s heroic defense at the Battle of Nowshera was still vivid in his mind. On receiving this news, he immediately mobilized all the troops he could muster and immediately marched towards the border.

Although the Barakzais of Peshawar outwardly professed allegiance to the Sikhs, in reality they were with other Afghans. The Sayyids marched from Peshawar to Nowshera. Sardar Buddha Singh wrote to the Syed and explained his intentions. Syed replied that he wanted to take the fort of Attock first and engage Buddha Singh in the battle.

Hari Singh Nalwa was guarding the fort of Atta with the intention of preventing the Sayyid and his men from crossing the river until reinforcements arrived from Lahore. The news of Syed’s number of Jihadis in the thousands reached the Sikhs. On 14 Fagun (23 February) 1827, a war broke out between the Syeds and the Sikhs. The operation started from around 10 am. Sikhs say Allah hu akbar, or “God is great,” bole so nihal, sat shri akal, or “those who affirm the name of God, the only immortal truth, will be fulfilled.” . Ironically, the opposing forces claimed the glory of the same Almighty God, before they started killing each other, in different languages. The shooting continued for about two hours. The Sikhs charged their opponents, routed them and continued the victorious pursuit for six miles with all their guns, revolvers and camp equipment. 150,000

Capture of Peshawar (1834): The capture of the great city of Peshawar and its ruined fort, Bala Hisar, shows that the region was a reflection of the great prestige of Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa. Masson reached Peshawar just in time for the capture of the city by the Sikhs. According to his eyewitness accounts, the Afghans withdrew from the region and took control of Peshawar without a struggle from Hari Singh Nalwa.

Dost Muhammad Khan withdrew (1835): Hari Singh Nalwa was the governor of Peshawar when Dost Mohammad came in person at the head of a large army to challenge the Sikhs. After defeating Shah Shuja at Kandahar, in the first quarter of 1835, Dost Mohammad proclaimed himself Padshah (King), called for jihad and set out from Kabul to capture Peshawar from the Sikhs. Ranjit Singh directed his generals to entertain the Afghans through negotiations and win over Sultan Mohammad Khan. He instructed them that without reason, if attacked, not to make a general engagement until they arrived.

Hari Singh Nalwa and other Sikh chieftains requested Ranjit Singh to be allowed to have relations with the Afghans. 30 Baisakh (10 May 1835), Sardar Hari Singh, Raja Gulab Singh, Misr Sukh Raj, Sardar Attar Singh Sandhanwalia, Jamadar Khushal Singh, Raja Kalan (Dhyan Singh), Mahashay Adalat, Signor Avitabile, Sardar Tej Singh, Dhunkal Singh, Artillery Elahi Bakhsh, Sardar Jawla Singh and Sardar Lehna Singh Majithia were ordered to move. The army spread out in five divisions and formed a semi-circle in front of the Amir’s camp. Sardar Hari Singh proposed that the water of twelve rivers flowing towards Dost Mohammad Khan’s camp should be dammed. When the Ghazis appeared, Sardar Hari Singh started firing his guns. However, the Maharaja forbade him to participate in the war and sent his lawyers to negotiate with the Amir.

Dost Mohammad Khan was assured that the Sikhs would enforce a truce as long as their advocates were not in his camp. He accused Fakir Aziz-ud-Din of “using much language, many leaves but few fruits”. With Jabbar and Sultan both half-brothers lost beyond reach, Dost Mohammad decided to retire from the field with his entire army, weapons and equipment. He left at night, ensuring that the Fakirs would not return to the Sikh camp until he passed through the Khyber Pass.

Battle of Michni
A Hindu once complained about the theft of his spouse by Dela Khan of Michni while Hari Singh Nalwa was hunting in the vicinity of Michni with 100 horsemen. Later more Hindus came forward about the atrocities of Khan. Learning about all this, Hari Singh Nalwa  agreed to help the Hindus.

He attacked the Khan’s residence at night with his 100 horsemen. Dela Khan’s army numbered over 5,000, but he fought with only 500 men in the first half of the war. There are two accounts of what happened next. First it is mentioned that Dela Khan was killed in battle and then his son attacked the Sikhs with the rest of the army, in which he was also killed. Another says that the Khan apologized and offered to return the bride, only to be punished.

The bride was returned to her husband and both converted to Sikhism. The bride was Bibi Harsharan Kaur, a Sikh who later became chief during the martyrdom of Harisingh Nalwa.

Brahmin in Hari Singh Nalwa’s court: When Maharaja Ranjit Singh ji had won the area of Michni and built a fort there, and Hari Singh Nalua ji was holding his court, then a Brahmin in the court came with a request, Sardar Saab, that we were going to take our son‘s marriage. On the way, Pathana will pick up our bride, and they have to take her and hand her over to their leader, and we know that whenever Pathans pick up a girl and, after being raped with her, they kill her. So she never came back to her family. Hari Singh ji asked the Brahmin how many Pathans were there and how many were Baratis. And the Brahmin replied that there were 5 Pathans and 50–60 Baratis. Hearing this, Hari Singh smiled and said, If 50 of you did not save the honour of the house, then the same situation would have happened to you. So Hari Singh ji attacked the Pathan area, taught them a lesson, and brought the baby to safety, and now it was time for the lady to go. Hari Singh Nalwa ji says to the girl, “Sister What if we have taken care of you? Now you can go to your home with your husband.” That lady caught the word sister and said, General, you called me your sister. And I have accepted you as my brother, and you did not send me with such a fool, a jackass; you [her husband] did not want to save my respect before, and even now, you will save me today. If someone like this kind of animal picks me up again, no one will say whether they will pick up anyone’s sister-in-law or anyone’s wife. Everyone has to say that Hari Singh has taken Nalua’s sister away. I don’t want to go with those who don’t protect my honour. At that time, that girl did amrit paan and became a Sikhni, so her name was kept as Bibi Harsharan Kaur.

Jamrud (Khyber Pass) (1836): After Dussehra celebrations at Amritsar in October 1836, Hari Singh made a surprise attack on the village of Jamrud at the mouth of the Khyber Pass. The owner of this village, Misha Khel Khyberi, was famous for his excellent marksmanship and complete disregard for any authority. Hari Singh Nalwa’s first encounter with this tribe was after the battle of Nowshera when he pursued the fugitive Azim Khan; And again, when he chased Dost Mohammad Khan in 1835.

The capture of Jamrud was strongly opposed but the place was taken by surprise. On its capture, Hari Singh Nalwa ordered to strengthen the position without delay. A small fort, which now exists, was soon repaired. The news of this incident immediately reached Kabul. In a letter dated October 31, 1836, Mason informed Wade of frontier developments. With Jamrud’s victory at the mouth of the Khyber, the boundaries of the Sikh empire lay at the foot of the Hindu Kush. mountain

Captured Darya e Khehbar: Being the governor of Peshawar, Hari Singh Nalwa ji had built a network of many forts and had built many new forts and repaired some of them when Nazar Khan came to know that Hari Singh had captured Darya-e-Khebar. And he said to his son, Pack your bag; we have to go from here now, and he told his son, We are running away from here because we can’t fight in front of him. And that son goes to take his fiancee, and he says that we should leave this area because Hari Singh Nalwa has reached here. Bano said, You used to say that when I shoot an arrow, no enemy comes to fight with me. I had promised to marry you because you are the strongest of all the Pathans of Dariya and Khehbar, but you turned out to be a coward. The boy says now is not the time to fight, so let’s get the bag ready quickly. The girl said that she wants to see who the general is that you are afraid of. The boy explains to the girl that it is not safe for you to go there because Hari Singh is our enemy. But soon she fulfilled her insistence, and Bano reached Hari Singh Nalwa’s destination. Bano asked, Who are you? And Hari Singh Ji would reply that I am the son of Guru Nanak. Bano said, Why have you occupied our territory? So Hari Singh Nalua replied that we did not occupy anyone’s territory; we just protected our own territory. Bano Kehandi, did I wish that I would marry a brave man and a Sikh general? I want a brave son like you to be born from my womb. And Hari Singh replied that the son may not be to your liking, but pray to Allah that he will follow good principles. Bano says I want to marry you, and then a general like you will be born from my womb. At that time, Hari Singh Nalwa was married, and he had two sons and a daughter! And he tells Bano this and says, Of course you are married, but I want a son from you! You married me. Hari Singh Nalwa got angry after hearing this, and Hari Singh Nalwa grabbed his sword and said, Escape from here as soon as possible; I know you have come to test the Sikhs. The girl started to know that there were tears in her eyes, and she stopped at the door as she was leaving and said, I heard that no one leaves Guru Nanak’s house empty-handed, and you are letting me go empty-handed! Hari Singh Nalwa asks for his name, and Bano says her name! And Hari Singh ji placed the chadar on the woman’s head, and Hari Singh Nalwa said with his hands that you wanted a son like me to be born from your womb! So from today on, I am your son. At that time, Hari Singh Nalwa was over 42 years old, and Bano was 20 years old! Bano had tears in her eyes after hearing this! It started to be said that I had heard stories of Singha’s high character, and now I have seen it! Bano decided to become a Sikh! She was named Bibi Bhano Ji!

Defeat of Panjtar (1836): The defeat at Khyberis sent shock waves through the Afghans. Hari Singh Nalwa, accompanied by Kanwar Sher Singh, now advanced towards the Yusafzai forts north-east of Peshawar, which held off tribute for three years. The Sikhs defeated Yusufzai, their chief Fateh Khan of Panjtar lost his territory. It was reported that 15,000 Mulkiya fled before the Sikhs, many were killed and the rest took refuge in the hills. After burning Panjtar to the ground, Hari Singh returned to Peshawar with all arrears of revenue realized. Fateh Khan was released on condition of being forced to sign an agreement to pay ransom. Fireworks were set off when news of Panjtar’s victory reached the Lahore court.

Sarvala: Even today, when someone gets married, a sarbala must be made, and he is also dressed in the same clothes as the groom! But have you ever thought about why it was prepared? In fact, a married boy is called Var, and a girl is called Bala! That’s why the word became a word! Hindu intellectuals had found a way when the brats were looted like this! When the bridegroom went, they were attacked to steal their jewels, and the groom was killed for saving the bride. So they found a solution: they will prepare a boy as a groom; he will be of his age; he will be kept behind the barat; if the groom dies, he will be married to a girl! The boy’s name was Sarvala.

Successful Jarnail of the World: In 1881, when an Englishman started writing about the successful generals of the world, he bowed his head while writing the name of Hari Singh Nalwa and said that his great general would be Sikandar or Jungez Khan, but in my eyes, Hari Singh Nalwa would be the bravest general. Because he said that every warrior who came to Darya e Khehbar was defeated, and only Hari Singh Nalwa ji conquered him! Another Englishman says that if the English army was with Hari Singh Nalwa, he could have conquered the whole world.

Attack on Kasoor by Maharaj Ranjit Singh: On February 10, 1807 AD. When gunfire failed to have any impact on the wall of the fort, Hari Singh planted gunpowder under the walls on the night of February 27 and blew them up in three places. Having made the gaps,  the Khalsa entered the fort with swords drawn out. In the ensuing battle, the soldiers of the Sher Dil regiment captured Nawab Kutab ul Din Khan Alive. As a mark of appreciation for the bravery and fearlessness of Hari Singh, the Maharaja granted him a feoff of thirty thousand rupees a year and made him the commander of eight hundred horsemen

Command of the Khyber Pass: One of Hari Singh Nalwa’s most notable achievements was his command over the strategically vital Khyber Pass. This section delves into his successful defence and management of the pass because he prevented Afghans from entering Punjab through the Khyber Pass, which was the main route that foreign invaders used at the time of his death. The western boundary of the empire was Jamrud, which not only ensured the security of the Sikh Empire’s western frontier but also established a lasting Sikh presence in the region. His leadership and ability to forge alliances with local tribes were crucial to maintaining control over this crucial trade route.

Administration and Governance: Hari Singh’s administrative rule covered one-third of the Sikh Empire. He served as Governor of Kashmir (1820–21), Greater Hazara (1822–1837) and was twice appointed Governor of Peshawar (1834–5 and 1836–his death). He worked with the Khalsa Sena, in many aspects of administration under the leadership of the Sikh Brahmin ‘Raja Mahan Singh Mirpuri’ 2 .

Hari Singh Nalwa was required to manage his vast jagir spread across the kingdom in his private capacity. He was sent to the most troubled parts of the Sikh Empire to create a “tradition of vigorous and efficient administration”. The territories under his control later became part of the British districts of Peshawar, Hazara (Pakhli, Damtaur, Haripur, Darband, Gandgarh, Dhund, Karal and Khanpur), Attock (Chachch, Hasan Abdal), Jehlum (Pindi Geb, Katus). Mianwali (Kachhi), Shahpur (Upper, Mitha Tiwana and Noorpur), Dera Ismail Khan (Bannu, Taki and Kundi), Rawalpindi (Rawalpindi, Kallar) and Gujranwala. In 1832, at the special request of William Bentick, His Majesty proposed a fixed schedule of duties for all his territories. Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa was one of the three persons appointed to fix duty from Attock (on the Indus) to Philaur (on the Sutlej). 

In Kashmir, however, Sikh rule was generally considered repressive, perhaps protected by Kashmir’s remoteness from the capital of the Sikh Empire at Lahore. The Sikhs enacted several anti-Muslim laws, the death penalty for cow slaughter, the closure of the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar,  and the banning of the Azan, the public Muslim prayer. Kashmir now began to attract European visitors, many of whom wrote of the poverty of the vast Muslim peasantry and the excessive taxation under Sikh rule.

Sikh rule was an exception in later political history in a land dominated by Muslims for centuries. Rule by an ‘infidel’ was the worst form for Muslims.[84] Before the arrival of the Sikhs in Kashmir (1819), the Afghans ruled there for 67 years. For Muslims, Sikh rule was a dark period in the history of the place, while for Kashmiri Pandits (Hindus) it was no worse than Afghan rule. The Sikh conquest of Kashmir was motivated by its appeal to its Hindu population. Oppressed Hindus were forcibly converted, their women were raped, their temples were desecrated and cows were slaughtered. Efforts by Sikhs to maintain peace in remote areas were forced to close mosques and ban calls to prayer as Muslim clerics whipped the population into a frenzy by calling for ‘jihad’ at every pretext. Cow slaughter (sacred cows) offended the religious sentiments of the Hindu population and was punishable by death in the Sikh Empire. In Peshawar, Hari Singh’s methods were most appropriate, given the “distress of the outcast tribes… and the geographical and political exigencies of the situation”.

Relations with Local Tribes and Powers: Hari Singh Nalwa skillfully navigated relations with the local tribes and powers in the regions under his influence. This section delves into his diplomatic endeavours, alliances, and negotiations with Pashtun tribes, Afghan rulers, and other regional powers. His ability to foster peaceful coexistence and maintain stability in the region contributed significantly to the Sikh Empire’s success.

Contributions to Sikh Architecture and Infrastructure: Hari Singh Nalwa’s patronage of art, architecture, and infrastructure development is a testament to his visionary leadership. This section explores his contributions to the construction of forts, palaces, and other architectural marvels, which not only served defensive purposes but also showcased the grandeur of the Sikh Empire. Additionally, his focus on infrastructure development, such as roads and irrigation systems, further facilitated the empire’s expansion and prosperity.

Conquest of Multan (1818): One of Hari Singh Nalwa’s remarkable military achievements was the conquest of Multan, a strategically important city in present-day Pakistan. In the Multan campaign of 1810 AD, the Maharaja observed that cannon fire was having no effect on the walls of the fort with gunpowder. Hari Singh Nalwa was the first to come forward for the job. Under the shower of bullets, he went ahead and placed gunpowder under the walls. After the fall of the wall, Nawab Muzzafar Khan got burning pots thrown at the Singhs from inside the fort. One pot fell on Hari Singh, which caused him severe injustice. After the victory of Multan, the Maharaja increased his feoff.

Disorder spread in Kashmir: In 1819 AD, the Maharaja annexed Kashmir to Khalsa rule and appointed Diwan Moti Ram as its governor. Due to his kind nature, disorder spread in the state of Diwan Moti Ram, its governor. Due to his kind nature, disorder spread in the state. Hari Singh was appointed governor in his place on August 20, 1820 AD. He first of all brought to book all those who were defying the state. Second, he reduced the rate of land revenue, due to which the landowners started depositing the revenue on their own accord without any force. Third, he abolished forced labour, which the farmers had to do for government officials at the cost of losing their own crops. Fourth, he abolished the tax on marriages, births, and engagements that was previously in force. Fifth, he provided financial assistance to increase the production of saffron and fine wool. Sixth, he standardised weights and measures. Seven, he abolished the law under which none except the Muslims could wear shoes or turbans. These reforms brought peace to Kashmir, and there was an increase in income.

The Maharaja was pleased with Hari Singh and conferred on him the right to mint coins in his name. After setting right the administration of Kashmir to Diwan Moti Ram on November 6, 1821, AD, on the orders of the Maharaja, he marched on the Munghar campaign himself.

Battle of Jamrud(1837) : An oil painting by Hari Singh Nalwa is exhibited in the Lahore Museum, Maharaj’s grandson Nau nihal Singh was to be married in March 1837. Troops were withdrawn from across the Punjab to demonstrate the power of the British Commander-in-Chief, who had been invited to the wedding. Dost Mohammad Khan was invited for this grand function. Hari Singh Nalwa was also supposed to be in Amritsar, but was actually in Peshawar (according to some accounts he was ill) when Dost Mohammad ordered his army to march to Jamrud along with his five sons and chief advisers. Engaged with the Sikhs, but try more as a display of power and wrestling in the forts of Shabaqadar, Jamrud and Peshawar. Hari Singh was also instructed not to engage with the Afghans until reinforcements arrived from Lahore.[69] Harisingh’s lieutenant, Mahan Singh, was in the fort of Jamrud with 600 men and limited supplies. Hari Singh was in the strong fort of Peshawar. He was forced to rescue his men surrounded by Afghan forces in a small fort without water. Although the Sikhs were outnumbered, the presence of Hari Singh Nalwa scared the Afghan army. Hari Singh Nalwa was seriously injured in this fight. Before his death, he asked his lieutenants to withhold news of his death until reinforcements arrived, which they did. Although the Afghans knew that Hari Singh was wounded, they waited for more than a week without doing anything until the news of his death arrived. The Afghans saw Nalwa’s body hanging outside the fort and retreated. Hari Singh Nalwa not only defended Jamrud and Peshawar but prevented the Afghans from ravaging the entire North-West Frontier, resulting in an inability to invade Afghanistan himself. The defeat of Harisingh Nalwa was irreparable and the defeat of the Sikhs was costly for the same reason.

Victory in the battle against the Afghans was Ranjit Singh’s favorite topic of discussion. He immortalized him by ordering a shawl from Kashmir at a record price of Rs 5000, depicting his battle scenes. After the death of Hari Singh Nalwa, there were no further conquests in this direction. The Khyber Pass continued to be the frontier of the Sikhs until the British took control of the Punjab.

Death: Hari Singh Nalwa Sahib was seriously injured while fighting the army of Dost Mohammad Khan of Afghanistan. He died of his injuries and was cremated at Jamrud Fort at the mouth of the Khyber Pass in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. According to Afghan history, Siraj al Tawarikh, he was killed in a duel with Wazir Akbar Khan. According to historian Hari Ram Gupta, Hari Singh rallied his men and rode to the front where he was shot twice and later died after escaping inside the fort. Babu Gajju Mall Kapur, a Hindu resident of Peshawar, commemorated his memory by erecting a monument in the fort in 1892.

Significance of Nalwa: Many historians maintain that if Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his commander Hari Singh Nalwa had not taken control of Peshawar and the northwest frontier, which are parts of Pakistan now, then these areas could have been part of Afghanistan.

Without Nalwa and his coalition against Afghan lords, we could see more incursions into Punjab and Delhi.

Legacy and Impact: Hari Singh Nalwa’s legacy extends far beyond his military accomplishments. This section explores his lasting impact on the Sikh Empire and Sikh history. It reflects on his contributions to Sikhism, his role in the expansion and consolidation of the empire, and his influence on subsequent Sikh military leaders. His unwavering loyalty to the Sikh cause and his commitment to Sikh principles continue to inspire generations.

Conclusion: Hari Singh Nalwa’s legacy as a fearless general, visionary leader, and devoted Sikh remains an inspiration for generations. His military exploits, administrative reforms, and unwavering commitment to Sikh values have left an indelible mark on Sikh history. Hari Singh Nalwa’s contributions to the Sikh Empire’s expansion, military might, and cultural preservation continue to be celebrated, ensuring that his name and legacy live on in the hearts of Sikhs and history enthusiasts alike.

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