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Location of Uchh in Bahawalpur District Map

Uch/Uchh or Uch Sharif (Urdu: اوچ شریف‎, Greek: Alexandria En Indo Potamo) is 73 kms from Bahawalpur in Bahawalpur District, South Punjab province of Pakistan.

Variants of name


Uch is an important historical city, having been founded by Alexander the Great. Formerly located at the confluence of the Indus and Chenab rivers, it is now 100 kms from that confluence, which has moved to Mithankot. It was an important centre in medieval India, as an early stronghold of the Delhi Sultanate in the 13th century during the Muslim conquest.


It is believed that in 325 BCE Alexander the Great founded a city called Alexandria on the Indus at the site of the last confluence of Punjab rivers with the Indus.[1]

Nevertheless, some historians believe that Uch predates the advent of Bikramjit when Jains and Buddhists ruled over the area, and that Mithankot or Chacharan Sharif was the true settlement of Alexandria.

In AD 712, Muhammad bin Qasim conquered the city and during the Muslim period Uch was one of the centres of Islamic studies of South Asia. There are several tombs of famous mystics (Sufis) in Uch, notably the tombs of Syed Jalaluddin Bukhari and his family. These structures were joined by a series of domed tombs; the first is said to have been built for Baha’al-Halim by his pupil, the Suharwardiya Sufi saint Jahaniyan Jahangasht (1307–1383), the second for the latter’s great-granddaughter, Bibi Jawindi, in 1494, and the third for the latter’s architect.

Alexander Cunningham on Uchh

Alexander Cunningham[2] writes that -

[p.242]:The old town of Uchh is situated on the eastern bank of the Panjnad, 70 miles to the south-south-west of Multan, and 45 miles to the north-east of the present confluence with the Indus at Mithunkot. The change in the course of the Indus has taken place since the time of "Wilford's surveyor, Mirza Mogal Beg, who surveyed the Panjab and Kabul between the years 1786 and 1796, and this part in 1787-88. The former channel still exists under the name of Nala Puran, or the " Old Stream." Uchcha means " high, lofty," both in Sanskrit and in Hindi ; and Uchchangar is therefore a common name for any place situated on a height. Thus we have Uchchagaon or Bulandshahr, as the Muhammadans call it, on the high bank of the Kali Nadi, 40 miles to the south-east of Delhi. "We have another Uchh on a mound to the west of the confluence of the Chenab and Jhelam ; and a third Uchh, which is also situated on a mound, is the subject of the present description. According to Burnes, 1 Uchh is formed of three distinct towns, a few hundred yards apart from each other, and each encompassed by a brick wall, now in ruins. Masson2 mentions only two separate towns ; but the people themselves say that there were once seven different towns named Uchchnnagar. In Mogal Beg's map Uchh is entered with the remark, " consisting of seven distinct villages." According to Masson, Uchh is chiefly "distinguished by the ruins of the former towns, which are very extensive, and attest the pristine prosperity of the locality." According to Burnes,

1 ' Bokhara,' i. 79. 2 ' Travels,' i. 22,

[p.243]: the town of Uchh stands on a mound, which he judged, from a section exposed by an inundation of the Chenab, to be formed of the ruins of houses. This opinion is doubtless correct, as the place has been repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt. After the last great siege, in A.H. 931, or A.D. 1524-25, by Husen Shah Arghun, the walls of Uchh were levelled to the ground, and the gates and other materials were carried off to Bakar in boats. 1 Its favourable position at the old confluence of the Panjab rivers must have made it a place of importance from the earliest times. Accordingly, we learn from Arrian that Alexander " ordered a city to be built at the confluence of the two rivers, imagining that by the advantage of such a situation it would become rich and populous."2 It is probably this city which is mentioned by Rashid ud din, as the capital of one of the four principalities of Sindh under Ayand, the son of Kafand, who reigned after Alexander. He calls the place Askaland-usah, which would be an easy corruption of Alexandria Uchcha, or Ussa, as the Greeks must have written it. I think, also, that Uchh must be the Iskandar, or Alexandria, of the Chach-namah, which was captured by Chach on his expedition against Multan. 3 After the Muhammadan conquest the place is mentioned only by its native name of Uchh. It was captured by Mahmud of Ghazni, and Muhammad Ghori, and it was the chief city of Upper Sindh under Naser ud din Kubachah. At a later period it formed part of the independent kingdom of Multan, which was established shortly

1 Postans, Journ. Asiat. Soc. Bengal, 1841, p. 275.

2 ' Anabasis,' vi. 15.

3 Postans, Journ. Asiat. Soc. Bengal, 1838, p. 94.

[p.244]: after the troubles that followed the invasion of Timur. 1 In A.D. 1524 it was taken by storm by Shah Husen or Hasan Arghun of Sindh, when its walls were dismantled, as I have already noticed. But after the capture of Multan, Husen ordered the fort of Uchh to be rebuilt, in which he left a large garrison to secure the possession of his recent conquests. In the reign of Akbar, Uchh was permanently annexed to the Mogal empire, and is included by Abul Fazl amongst the separate districts of the Subah of Multan.

The country at the confluence of the Panjab rivers is assigned by Curtius to the Sambracae or Sabracae, and by Diodorus to the Sambastae. They are not mentioned by Arrian, at least under this name ; but I think that the Ossadii, who tendered their allegiance to Alexander at the confluence of the rivers, were the same people. It is probable also that the Abastani, who were subdued by Perdikkas, belonged to the same class. Perdikkas had been dispatched by Alexander to the east of the Ravi, where he captured a town which I have identified with Harapa. I infer that his campaign must have been an extended one, as Alexander, whose own movements had been delayed by his wound, was still obliged to halt for him at the confluence of the rivers.

Alexander encountered with the Johiya: It seems highly probable therefore that he may have carried the Greek arms to Ajudhan on the banks of the Satlej, from which his march would have been along the course of that river by Ludhan, Mailsi, Kahror, and Lodhran, to Alexander's camp at Uchh. In this route he must have encountered the Johiya Rajputs, who have occupied

1 Briggs's ' Ferishta,' iv, 380.

[p.245]: both banks of the Satlej from Ajudhan to Uchh from time immemorial. I think therefore that the Abastani, whom Perdikkas subdued have a strong claim to be identified with the Johiya Rajputs. The country about Multan is still called Johiya-bar or Yaudheya-wara.

The Johiyas are divided into three tribes, named Langavira or Lakvira, Madhovira or Madhera, and Adamvira or Admera. The Sambracae would appear to have been divided into three clans, as being a free people without kings they chose three generals to lead them against the Greeks. Now Johiya is an abbreviation of Jodhiya, which is the Sanskrit Yaudheya, and there are coins of this clan of as early a date as the first century of the Christian era, which show that the Yaudheyas were even then divided into three tribes. These coins are of three classes, of which the first bears the simple inscription Jaya-Yaudheya-ganasya, that is (money) " of the victorious Yaudheya tribe. The second class has dwi at the end of the legend, and the third has tri, which I take to be contractions for dwitiyasya and tritiyasya, or second and third, as the money of the second and third tribes of the Yaudheyas. As the coins are found to the west of the Satlej, in Depalpur, Satgarha, Ajudhan, Kahror, and Multan, and to the eastward in Bhatner, Abohar, Sirsa, Hansi, Panipat, and Sonipat, it is almost certain that they belong to the Johiyas, who now occupy the line of the Satlej, and who were still to be found in Sirsa as late as the time of Akbar. The Yaudheyas are mentioned in the Allahabad inscription of Samudra Gupta, and at a still earlier date by Panini in the Junagarh inscription of Rudra Dama. 1 Now the great grammarian was

1 Dr. Bhau Daji in ' Bombay Journal,' vii. 120.

[p.246]: certainly anterior to Chandra Gupta Maurya, and his mention of the Yaudheyas proves that they must have been a recognised clan before the time of Alexander. The inscription of Rudra Dama, in which he boasts of having "rooted out the Yaudheyas, shows that this powerful clan must have extended their arms very far to the south, otherwise they would not have come into collision with the princes of Surashtra. From these facts I am led to infer that the possessions of the Johiyas in the time of Alexander most probably extended from Bhatner and Pakpatan to Sabzalkot, about halfway between Uchh and Bhakar.

I will now examine the different names of the people who made their submission to Alexander during his halt at the confluence of the Panjab rivers. According to Curtius they were called Sambracae or Sabracae ; 1 according to Orosius Sabagrae ; and according to Diodorus, who placed them to the east of the river, Sambastae. 2 They were a powerful nation, second to none in India for courage and numbers. Their forces consisted of 60,000 foot, 6000 horse, and 500 chariots. The military reputation of the clan suggests the probability that the Greek name may be descriptive of their warlike character, just as Yaudheya means " warrior or soldier." I think, therefore, that the true Greek name may have been Sambagrae, for the Sanskrit Samvagri, that is, the "united warriors," or <greek> which, as they were formed of three allied tribes, would have been an appropriate appellation. In confirmation of this suggestion, I may note the fact that

1 Vita Alex., ix. 8. "Inde Sabracas adiit, Talidam Indiae gentem, qua' populi, non regum, imperio regebatur." 2 Hist., xvii. 10.


the country of which Bikaner is now the capital was originally called Bagar-des, or the land of the Bagri, or " Warriors," whose leader was Bagri Rao. 1 Bhati also means " warrior or soldier." We thus find three tribes at the present day, all calling themselves " warriors," who form a large proportion of the population in the countries to the east of the Satlej ; namely, Johiyas or Yaudheyas along the river, Bagris in Bikaner, and Bhatis in Jesalmer. All three are of acknowledged Lunar descent ; and if my suggested interpretation of Sambagri be correct, it is possible that the name might have been applied to these three clans, and not to the three tribes of the Yaudheyas. I think, how-ever, that the Yaudheyas have a superior claim, both on account of their position along the banks of the Satlej, and of their undoubted antiquity. To them I would attribute the foundation of the town of Ajudhan, or Ayodhanam, the " battle-field," which is evidently connected with their own name of Yaudheya, or Ajudhiya, the " warriors." The latter form of the name is most probably preserved in the Ossadii of Arrian, a free people, who tendered their allegiance to Alexander at the confluence of the Panjab rivers. The Ossadii of Arrian would therefore correspond with the Sambastae of Diodorus and the Sambracae of Curtius, who made their submission to Alexander at the same place. Now Ossadioi or Assodioi is as close a rendering of Ajudhiya as could be made in Greek characters. We have thus a double correspondence both of name and

1 This information I obtained at the famous fortress of Bhatner in the Bikaner territory. The name is certainly as old as the time of Jahangir, as Chaplain Terry describes ' Bikaneer ' as the chief city of ' Bakar.' See 'A Voyage to East India,' p. 86.

[p.248]: position in favour of my identification of the Sabagrae or Sambracae with the Johiyas of the present day.

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