Bhera Pakistan

From Jatland Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Bhera (Punjabi,Urdu: بهيره‎), is a city and Tehsil in Sargodha District, Punjab province of Pakistan.

Variants of name


It lies on the Jhelum river, at latitude 32.48 N, longitude 72.92. It is located on the mid of Lahore-Islamabad motorway (M2) at the left bank of river Jhelum near Southern Salt Range in Sargodha District. Before independence in 1947, Bhera was located in Shahpur District. Bhera is surrounded by green fields and its importance increased due to Motorway passes near Bhera.

Migration of Yadus

James Tod[1] writes that the tide of Yadu migration during the lapse of thirty centuries, traces them, from Indraprastha, Surapura, Mathura, Prayaga, Dwarica, Jadu Ka Dang (the mountains of Jud), Behera, Ghazni in Zabulistan ; and again refluent into India, at Salivahanpura or Salpura in the Punjab. Tannot, Derawal, Lodorva in the desert, and finally Jaisalmer, founded in S. 1212, or A.D. 1156.


"Bhera" is a Sanskrit word which means: "a place where there is no fear".

According to the "Ancient Geography of India" by Alexander Cunningham, Bhera was once known as Jobnathnagar.[2]

The modern town of Bhira or Bheda is situated on the left bank of the Jhelam; but on the opposite bank of the river, near Ahmedabad, there is a very extensive mound of ruins, called Old Bhera or Jobnathnagar, the city of Raja Jobnath or Chobnath.

At Bhera the Chinese pilgrim Faxian crossed the Jhelam in 400 AD.

The Imperial Gazetteer of India records the History of Bhera -In the seventh and eighth centuries, the Salt Range chieftain was a tributary of Kashmīr. Bhera was sacked by Mahmūd of Ghazni, and again two centuries later by the generals of Chingiz Khān.

In 1519 Bābar held it to ransom; and in 1540 Sher Shāh founded a new town, which under Akbar became the head-quarters of one of the subdivisions of the Sūbah of Lahore. In the reign of Muhammad Shāh, Rājā Salāmat Rai, a Rājput of the Anand tribe, administered Bhera and the surrounding country; while Khushāb was managed by Nawāb Ahmadyār Khān, and the south-eastern tract along the Chenāb formed part of the territories under the charge of Mahārājā Kaura Mal, governor of Multan[3]

About the same time, by the death of Nawāb Ahmdyār Khan, Khushāb also passed into the hands of Rājā Salāmat Rai. Shortly afterwards Abbās Khān a Khattak who held Pind Dādan Khān, treacherously put the Rājā to death, and seized Bhera. But Abbās Khān was himself thrown into prison as a revenue defaulter and, and Fateh Singh, nephew of Salāmat Rai then recovered his uncle's dominions.

The palace of Sopeithes which the Greek historian Arrian mentions as the place on the Hydaspes is supposed to be at Bhera. The Greeks refer to the Jhelum river as the Hydaspes River where Alexander fought Porus in Battle of the Hydaspes River in 326BC. It was at this battle that Alexander's famous horse Bucephalus was killed.

The Kukhran Khatris are a group of eleven specific clans of Punjabi Khatris who originally hailed from the town of Bhera in Punjab. Till the time of the partition of India in 1947 Bhera had a mixed population consisting of Hindu, Sikh and Muslim communities.

The demographic composition of Bhera was significantly altered however at the time of partition as almost the entire Hindu and Sikh Bhirochis migrated to India, some chose to stay back and converted to Islam.

The refugees who came to India settled in Delhi, Punjab and other cities of Northern India . N.Delhi continues to have a colony called Bhera town where a section of these refugees were resettle.

Bhera was also home to the Mohyal tribe who also claim Porus.

It is also home to the Punjabi Muslim communities of Piracha and Elahis and the Hayats.

Bhera is a historical city. Mahmud of Ghazni In his attack on Waihind (Peshawar) in 1001-3, is reported to have captured the Hindu Shahi King Jayapala and fifteen of his principal chiefs and relations some of whom like Sukhpal, were made Musalmans. At Bhera a great many inhabitants, except those who embraced Islam, were put to the sword.

It is located on the Lahore-Islamabad motorway, and connects with Bhera interchange. Sub-tehsil Bhera is the historical city of District Sargodha near Khushab. Its population is 100,000 is mainly dominated by Punjabis. Old Bhera is like old Lahore or old Peshawar. Its markets and streets are narrow. There is a circular road around the city. Old Bhera was situated on the right bank of the River Jehlum, on the opposite side new Bhera is located. There are heaps of ruins of old Bhera and remains of its markets and streets can still be seen on the other bank of the River Jehlum.

Old Bhera was destroyed in 1545 because of the disputes among the Pathan forces, and was rebuilt at the present location, that is the left bank of the River Jhelum. Sher Shah Suri was the founder of the new city. When he visited the old city, he was distressed upon seeing the destroyed areas. He camped at the left bank of river Jehlum, near Qaimnath's hut, and constructed the first building there. He also constructed the Shahi Jamia Mosque in the new city, which rivals the Shahi Jamia Mosques of Delhi, Agra and Lahore in beauty. Sher Shah Suri made a road, along which he built an "Eidgah" and water tanks for the passengers.

1300 years ago, many Muslim saints passed by Bhera which became famous in the whole of Asia. Businessmen and scholars arrived first and then many Afghan and Central Asian conquerors such as Mahmud Ghazni, Shahab ud Din Ghori, Mughal Babur and Ahmed Shah Abdali attacked or passed through the city in their campaigns.

Along with other things, peacocks were also presented to Hazrat Suleman. The people of this area were well educated. The people of other cities and countries had been learning Tib, etc. from here. Alexander the great after conquering Iran and passing through the Hindu Kush, reached the Punjab and came to the River Biyas and then turned back from there. Bhera earned a great status during the Mughal rule. Mughal emperor Zaheer-ud-din Babur mentioned this town in his famous book, Baburnama(Tuzk-e-Babri). The town had to face destruction when Sher Shah Suri (1540–1545) defeated Humayun and the Pathan forces took their revenge on the then pro-Mughal town of Bhera.

In the recent past centuries, Bhera was an important trading outpost on the road to Kabul, and boasted of a taksal (mint) during the rule of Ranjit Singh. The city was known for its knife and cutlery craftsmen, who made fighting daggers (Pesh-kabz) as well as hunting knives and table cutlery, often fitted with handles of serpentine (false jade) or horn.[4] Sir Robert Baden-Powell described the process by which craftsmen manufactured gem-quality serpentine aka false jade from ores obtained from Afghanistan: "The sang-i-yesham (ore) is cut by means of an iron saw, and water mixed with red sand and pounded (with) kurand (corundum). It is polished by application to the san (polishing wheel), wetted with water only, then by being kept wet with water, and rubbed with a piece of wati (smooth pottery fragment), and lastly by rubbing very finely pounded burnt sang-i-yesham on it. This last process must be done very thoroughly.

Bhera declined in importance due to the gradual shifting of the course of the Jhelum river, due to which the town lost its access to trade as the result of its location on the banks of the river.

Captain Devas came to Bhera and with the help of the local architect Dhanchand Kohli rebuilt eight Gates of the city facing different directions. These were named Multani Gate, Lahori Gate, Kashmiri Gate, Kabuli Gate, Peeranwala Gate, Chinioti Gate, Loharanwala Gate and Hajji Gulab Gate. Only four gates have survived to date, Peeranwala Gate, Hajji Gulab Gate, Loharanwala Gate and Kabuli Gate which too are in a state of disrepair now. During the reign of Mughal emperor Akbar, Bhera regained its former glory and was one of the 40 cities of Mughal India having a royal mint for minting gold and silver coins.

Ghaznavi, Ghauri and Ahmad Shah Abdali also passed through Bhera while attacking the subcontinent. After the Sikh Raj (1790 to 1849), the British occupied Bhera till independence in 1947. The town of Bhera used to have a boundary wall and eight gates. Unfortunately, there is no official or public awareness about this great city of the past.

Bhera was also called Wheat center and market of Mehndi. Camels were used as a means of transportation before the train and bus. There were many inns where businessmen and travellers stayed. Bhera was a great centre of industries. Knives and swords were made craft-fully. Wood work from here was famous all over the Indian sub continent. One of the carved door from Bhera city exists even today in the Museum of Lahore. In the city there are many beautiful buildings in Mohala Khawajgan, Ansari and Sheesh Mehol. Aurangzeb Alamgeer constructed a mosque near Chinioti Gate Markzi Mosque Mohala Sheikhanwal's Mosque and Chinese tomb near Kabuli gate. At first, Bhera was situated on a circular road, but as the population n 1004 CE

  • Changiz Khan
  • Babar holds it to ransom in 1519
  • Ahmad Shah Durani attacks in 1757

New City Bhera is now in progress to settle at the junction of Bhera-Bhalwal Rd and Bhera Jhawarian Rd.

Attacks on Bhera through history

Bhera has also been attacked by a series of invaders including

Bhera in Ferishta's Chronicle

Farishta records[6] that after attacking Ajoodhun now Pakpattan. The King marched from thence to another town in the neighbourhood called Dera the inhabitants of which were originally Khukhrain and were banished thither with their families by Afrasiab, for frequent rebellions. Here they had formed themselves into a small independent state and being cut off from intercourse with their neighbours by a belt of mountains nearly impassable, had preserved their ancient custom and rites, by not intermarrying with any other people. The King, having with infinite labour cleared a road for his army over the mountains advanced towards Dera which was well fortified. This place was remarkable for a fine lake of water about one parsang and a half in circumference.

Dera seems here to be a derivative of Bhera as it is close to Pakpattan and the lake close by Kallar Kahar lake and the people Khukhrain.

Bhera as per James Tod

According to James Tod[7] The precise knowledge of the topograpny of these regions, displayed in the Bhatti annals, is the most satisfactory proof of their authenticity. In the present day, it would be in vain to ask any native of Jessulmer the position of the hill of Jud," or the site of Behera ; and but for the valuable translation of Babar's Memoirs, by Mr. Erskine, we should have been unable to adduce the following testimony. Baber crossed the Indus the l7th February 1619, and on the 19th, between that river and one of its great towns, the Behat, he reached the very tract where the descendant of Krishna established himself twenty-five centuries before. Baber says, " Seven kos from Behreh to the north there is a hill. This hill in the Zefer Nameh (History of Timoor), and other books, is called the Hill of Jud. At first I was ignorant of the origin of its name, but afterwards discovered that in this hill there were two races of men descended of the same father. One tribe is called Jud, the other Jenjuheh. From old times they have been the rulers and lords of the inhabitants of this hill, and of the Ils and Uluses (political divisions) between Nilab and Behreh. Their power is exerted in a friendly and brotherly way. They cannot take from them whatever they please. They take as their share a portion that has been fixed from very remote times. The Jud is divided into various branches or families, as well as the Jenjuheh. The chief man amongst them gets the name of Rae. — Erskine's Baber, p, 254.

Here is a decided confirmation that this Hindu colony preserved all their original manners and customs even to Baber's day. The tribe of Jenjuheh beyond a doubt, is the tribe of Johya, so celebrated in the region skirting the Sutlej, and which will be noticed hereafter. I presented a small work entirely relating to their history, to the Royal Asiatic Society. As Baber says they are of the same family as the Juds, they are probably toe descendants of Jinj, the brother of Bhatti, who changed the family patronymic from Jadoo or Judoo to Bhatti ; and thus it appears, that when the elder branch was driven from Gujni, they retreated amongst their relations of the hills of Jud. Baber was quite enamoured with the beauty of the hill of Jud, which, with its lake and valleys, he describes as a miniature Kashmir. — P. 266,

Bhera as per Alexander Cunningham

Alexander Cunningham[8] writes about Jobnathnagar or Bhiṛa:

[p.155]:The modern town of Bhira, or Bheda, is situated on the left, or eastern bank, of the Jhelam ; but on the opposite bank of the river, near Ahmedabad, there is a very extensive mound of ruins, called Old Bhira, or Jobnathnagar, the city of Raja Jobnath, or Chobnath. At this point the two great routes of the salt caravans diverge to Lahor and Multan ; and here, accordingly, was the capital of the country in ancient times ; and here also, as I believe, was the capital of Sophites, or Sopeithes, the contemporary of Alexander the Great. According to Arrian, the capital of Sopeithes was fixed by Alexander as the point where the camps of Kraterus and Hephsestion were to be pitched on opposite banks of the river, there to await the arrival of the fleet of boats under his own command, and of the main body of the army under Philip.1 As Alexander reached the appointed place on the third day, we know that the capital of Sophites was on the Hydaspes, at three days' sail from Nikaea for laden boats. Now Bhira is just three days' boat distance from Mong, which, as I will presently show, was almost certainly the position of Nikaea, where Alexander defeated Porus. Bhira also, until it was supplanted by Pind Dadan Khan, has always been the principal city in this part of the country. At Bhira 2 the Chinese pilgrim, Fa-Hian, crossed the Jhelam in A.D. 400 ; and against Bhira, eleven centuries later, the enterprising Baber conducted his first Indian expedition.

The classical notices of the country over which

1 ' Anabasis,' vi. 3. 2 Beal's translation, chap. xv. ; Fa-Hian calls it Pi-cha or Bhi-ḍa — the Chinese ch being the usual representative of the cerebral .

[p.156]: Sophites ruled are very conflicting. Thus Strabo1 records : —

" Some writers place Kathaea and the country of Sopeithes, one of the monarchs, in the tract between the rivers (Hydaspes and Akesines) ; some on the other side of the Akesines and of the Hyarotes, on the confines of the territory of the other Porus, — the nephew of Porus, who was taken prisoner by Alexander, and call the country subject to him Gandaris".

This name may, I believe, be identified with the present district of Gundalbar, or Gundar-bar. Bar is a term applied only to the central portion of each Doab, comprising the high lands beyond the reach of irrigation from the two including rivers. Thus Sandal, or Sandar-bar, is the name of the central tract of the Doab between the Jhelam and the Chenab. The upper portion of the Gundal Bar Doab, which now forms the district of Gujrat, belonged to the famous Porus, the antagonist of Alexander, and the upper part of the Sandar-Bar Doab belonged to his nephew, the other Porus, who is said to have sought refuge among the Gandaridae. The commentators have altered this name to Gangaridae, or inhabitants of the Ganges ; but it seems to me that the text of Diodorus2 is most probably correct, and that the name of Gandaridae must refer to the people of the neighbouring district of Gandaris, who were the subjects of Sophites. The rule of the Indian prince was not, however, confined to the Doab between the Hydaspes and Akesines; for Strabo: relates that "in the territory of

1 Geogr., XV. 1, 30. 2 Hist., xix. 47.

3 Geogr., XV. 1-30. This notice was most probably derived from Kleitarchoa, one of the companions of Alexander, as Strabo quotes him in another place (v. 2-6) as having mentioned the salt mines of India, <greek>.

[p.157]: Sopeithes there is a mountain composed of fossil salt sufficient for the whole of India." As this notice can only refer to the well-known mines of rock salt in the Salt Range, the whole of the upper portion of the Sindh Sagar Doab must have been included in the territories of Sopeithes. His sway, therefore, would have extended from the Indus on the west to the Akesines on the east, thus comprising the whole of the present districts of Pind Dadan and Shahpur. This assignment of the valuable salt mines to Sopeithes, or Sophites, may also be deduced from a passage in Pliny by the simple transposition of two letters in the name of a country, which has hitherto puzzled all the commentators. Pliny says, " when Alexander the Great was on his Indian expedition, he was presented by the king of Albania with a dog of unusual size," which successfully attacked both a lion and an elephant in his presence.1 The same story is repeated by his copyist, Solinus,2 without any change in the name of the country. Now, we know from the united testimony of Strabo, Diodorus, and Curtius, that the Indian king who presented Alexander with these fighting dogs was Sophites, and he, therefore, must have been the king of Albania. For this name I propose to read Labania, by the simple transposition of the first two letters. AABAN would, therefore, become AABAN, which at once suggests the Sanskrit word lavana, or ' salt,' as the original of this hitherto puzzling name. The mountain itself is named Orumenus by Pliny,3 who notes that the kings of the country

1 Hist. Nat., viii. 61.

2 Ibid., xxxi. 39. " Sunt et montes nativi salis, ut in Indis Oro- menus.

3 Ibid.

[p.158]: derived a greater revenue from the rock salt than from either gold or pearls. This name is probably intended for the Sanskrit Raumaka, which, according to the Pandits, is the name of the salt brought from the hill country of Ruma. H. H. Wilson, however, identifies Ruma with Sambhar ;1 and as rauma means " salt," it is probable that the term may have been applied to the Sambhar lake in Rajasthan, as well as to the Salt Range of hills in the Panjab.2

The historians of Alexander have preserved several curious particulars regarding Sophites and the country and people over which he ruled. Of the king himself, Curtius3 records that he was pre-eminent amongst the barbarians for beauty ; and Diodorus4 adds, that he was six feet in height. I possess a coin of fine Greek workmanship, bearing a helmeted head on one side, and on the reverse a cock standing, with the legend ΣΩΦΥΤΟΥ, which, there seems good reason to believe, must have belonged to this Indian prince. The face is remarkable for its very striking and peculiar features. The subjects of Sophites also were distinguished by personal beauty, which, according to Diodorus, they endeavoured to preserve, by destroying all their children who were not well formed. Strabo relates the same thing of the Katheai, but, as he adds, that they elected the handsomest person for their king,5 his account must be referred to the subjects of Sophites, as the Katheai of Sangala had no king. There is, however, so much confusion between all the authorities in their accounts of the Katheai and

1 See his Sanskrit Dictionary in voce. Ruma, Rauma, Raumaka.

2 See Maps Nos. V. and VI. 3 Vita Alex., ix. 1.

4 Hist., xvii. 49. 5 Geogr., xv. 1, .30.

[p.159]: of the subjects of Sophites, that it seems highly probable that they were one and the same people. They were certainly neighbours ; and as both of them would appear to have had the same peculiar customs, and to have been equally remarkable for personal beauty, I conclude that they must have been only different tribes of the same race of people,

Visit by Fahian

James Legge[9] writes - After they had crossed the river, there was a country named Pe-t’oo,1 where Buddhism was very flourishing, and (the monks) studied both the mahayana and hinayana. When they saw their fellow-disciples from Ts’in passing along, they were moved with great pity and sympathy, and expressed themselves thus: “How is it that these men from a border-land should have learned to become monks,2 and come for the sake of our doctrines from such a distance in search of the Law of Buddha?” They supplied them with what they needed, and treated them in accordance with the rules of the Law.

1 Bhida. Eitel says, “The present Punjab;” i.e. it was a portion of that.

2 “To come forth from their families;” that is, to become celibates, and adopt the tonsure.

Conquest of Bhatia

Sir H. M. Elliot Edited by John Dowson[10] write: In the year 396 Hijra (1006 A.D.) Yaminu-d daula fought against Bhatia, one of the dependencies of Hind, which is situated beyond Multan. The chief of the place was named Bahírá. It is a fine city, enclosed with high walls, and a deep ditch. The chief marched out to meet his enemy, and fought for three days with the Musulmans. On the fourth he fled, and sought to get back into the city ; but the Musulmans reached the gate before the fugitives, overpowered them, and disarmed them. A dreadful slaughter ensued, the women were dishonoured, and the property seized. When Bahira saw this destruction, he fled with some trusty followers to the tops of the mountains. Mahmud sent a force in pursuit, which overtook and surrounded the party, and put all the chiefs to the sword. Bahira saw that no hope was left, so he drew a dagger and killed himself. Mahmud remained in Bhatia until he had settled its affairs, and drawn up rules for its governance. He then returned towards Ghazna, having appointed a representative at Bhatia to instruct the people who had become Muhammadans. On his journey home he encountered great difficulties from heavy rains and swollen rivers, and great quantities of things belonging to him and his army were carried away by the waters.

Khawaja Shaikh of Bhera in the census of 1883

The first census of the Punjab was conducted by Denzil Ibbetson and Edward MacLagan in 1883 and 1892. According to their reports, the Khawajas of Bhera in Shahpur, Sargodha District were converted from Khatris.The sections of Khawajas from Bhera were reported as follows: Vohra, Sahgal, Kapur, Duggal, Rawar (or Ror), Gorwala, Magun, Mehndru, Motali. These are all Khatri sections.

While those from Jhang were said to be converted from Arora.

At Chiniot in Jhang District, the Khawajas are mainly Khatris, though some are Arora. They reported the following sections (gotras) of Khatris from Chiniot:

Adal, Behrara, Churra, Maggun (or Maghoon), Sahgal, Wadhaun (or Vadhavan), Wihara, Talwar, Puri, Topra.

The following Arora sections were reported from Chiniot:

The Khawajas of Layyah, Jhelum, Miani, Sargodha, Chakwal, Punjab have following Khatri sections:

Khatris after accepting Islam adopted Khawaja Shaikh (Arabic: خواجہ شيخ ) as title and it is generally assumed to belong to Muslim trading families. Although large number of them were employed in government services.

When Khatri from the western districts of the Punjab; Sargodha, Jhang, Jehlum, Pind Dadan Khan, Chakwal, Faisalabad; accepted Islam called themselves Khawaja and adopted Shaikh as title. They are also called Khawaja Shaikh. Some of them adopted Mian as title. In recent years traders from a small town of Chiniot of district Jhang became prominent due to their contribution in the industries of Pakistan. These traders are known as Chiniotis or Chinioti Shaikhs.

Famous trading family Sahgals, Sahgal Khatris of Chakwal, Pind Dadan Khan are known as Punjabi Shaikh instead of Khawaja Shaikh. They use Mian as title.

Conversion to Islam

The Khawaja originally from the western districts of the Punjab. They converted from Hinduism to Islam and belong to the Khatri and Arora classes. Khawaja is a term derived from the (Arabic and (Persian meaning "a wealthy, respectable person".

Although conversions to Islam in the Punjab started in the 11th century, it is uncertain when the Khatri and Arora traders embraced Islam. The earliest reference to Khawajas in the Punjab literature is in the Heer Ranjha of Waris Shah (1735–1790):

The beauty of her Heer's red lips slays rich Khawajas and Khatris in bazaar, like Qizilbash [Afghan soldiers] troopers riding out of the royal camp into bazaar with a sword. These verses of Heer- Ranjha, written by Waris Shah in 1766, describe the conditions of the post-Mughal Punjab. Khatris and Khawajas occupied an important place in the economy of the Punjabi towns. This was probably the earliest reference to the emerging role of Hindu and Muslim Khatris as rich traders, instead of performing their Vedic functions as fighters and governors.

Last Raja of Bhera

The last chief or Raja of Bhera was Diwan Bahadur Jawahir Mal.[11] a Khukhrain. The Diwan Family originally came from Peshawar and tradition ascribes the abolition the jazia in Peshawar to his influence.

British Era

E. Pop. (1901) 18,680. It is the terminus of a branch of the North-Western Railway. It is an important centre of trade, with manufactures of cotton goods, metal-work, carving. Bhera was founded about 1540 on its present site, but it took the place of a city on the opposite bank of the river, of far greater antiquity, which was destroyed at this period.

Notable persons

External links


  1. James Tod: Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, Volume II, Annals of Jaisalmer, p.194-195
  2. Ancient Geography of India, Page 130 – Alexander Cunningham
  3. Imperial Gazetteer of India v22 page 214
  4. Watt, Sir George, The Commercial Products of India, London: John Murray Publishers (1908), p. 561
  5. Imperial Gazetteer of India v2 page 213
  6. Farishta Vo1 Page 80 Translation by John Briggs
  7. James Tod:Annals of Jaisalmer, Vol.II, p.196,f.n.2
  8. The Ancient Geography of India/Taki,pp.
  9. A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms/Chapter 15
  10. The history of India : as told by its own historians. Volume II/VI. Kamilu-t Tawarikh of Ibn Asir,p.248
  11. The Punjab Chiefs " by authors W.L.Conran and H.D Craik and published by Sang-E-Meel publications of Lahore Pakistan Page 197