Historical Research on zamindar Clans of Kshatriyas in Aligarh district including Hathras in 16 to 18 th centurywith reference to Pundirs —-
An important effect of the Musalman invasion was the movement it induced among the Rajputs od western India.Displaced from their original homes they wandered eastwards in small bodies and different times ,and many such colonies were established in the Doab .The Dors were almost exterminated by the invading armies and the Badgujars were much weakened , though they appear at all times to have successfully maintained a conciliatory policy towards their Musalman overlords .Elsewhere the fighting races seem to have vanished , and their places were taken by the Chauhans , who occupied the north and west , being led thither by the descendants of Prithvi Raj Chauhan , the Jadons in the south and scattered colonies of the Gahlots , Pundirs ,Porach and many other clans .
The presence of Musalman Garrison’s at Koil ,Jalali and elsewhere prevented the rise of the Rajputs to any eminence ; but in the rural tracts they seem to have remained undisturbed so long as they paid their tribute , and in the course of time they acquired considerable power within the limits of their petty sphere of influence.
The distribution of rajput is very uneven ,they are found in large numbers in Aligarh ,Sikandra Rao and Hathras tahsils ,while elsewhere the figure is small ,except in Khair ,where they are mainly confined to the eastern tracts .they are chief proprietary caste in the district ,and their occupations are almost wholly agricultural ,since as cultivators they hold a very large area ,which they till with fair success.The rajput community comprises representatives of many clans through only a few are of much importance in this district .
Kshatriya’s Clans in Aligarh and Hathras districts—
In 1833 ,the following rajput zamindar clans held possession in Aligarh district ; Jadon ,Chauhan ,Porach ,Pundir ,Gahlot ,Bhal , Jaiswar , Solanki ,Gaur ,Janghara ,Bangar ,Badgujar ,Baes,Kachhavaha ,Rathor ,Dor ,Gaurahar ,Chhonkar ,Tomar and Kirar.
Land holding account in Rajput clans in Aligarh district —–
The account of some of the important clans in respect of their holdings is given below .The leading place is taken by the Rajput of various clans , who in 1908 held 293,905 acres or 24.32 percent , of the total area .The amount is small in comparasion with the former figure ,for in 1840 ,Rajputs owned 466,921 acres and in 1870 their possession were 346,648 acres in extent .The actual purchage too of the village communities have been even greater than would appear , since large purchases have been made by great landowners such as the Raja of Awa-Misa (Awagarh) , in many cases at the expense of Rajputs , like Pundirs of Bijaigarh and the Porach family of Hasayan .The possession of the caste are most extensive in the Sikandra Rao and Aligarh tahsils ,but they also hold large areas in other parts except Iglas .
The principal clans are Jadons with 130 ,089 acres ; the Chauhans with 55,156 acres principally in Khair and Aligarh ,though once their estates were much larger ; Pundirs with 40,247 acres ,mainly in Sikandra Rao ; Bargujar with 25,721 acres ,for the most part in Aligarh and Atrauli .Several other clans are represented ,such as the Kirars with 8 ,530 acres in Hathras ; Jangharas with 6,168 acres in Koil ,Gorai and Hathras paraganas ;the Dors ,the descendants of the ancient lords of the district , with 4,878 acres in Aligarh tahsil ; the Gahlots of Sikandra Rao and Hatharas with 5 ,301 acres ; Bhale Sultan of the Hathras , Chandaus and Koil paragna with 5,301 acres and the Porach jadon rajputs of Hathras and Sikandra Rao , who retain only 2,600acres out of their once important estates .Altogether Rajputs still possess 544 villages , with an area of 346,648 acres in Aligarh district , in full proprietary right.
The pundirs are Suryavanshi branch of Rajput ,hold riyasat in Nahan Garwal division ,Nagaur and Saharanpur , where their Kul devis are situated. Their shakha is Koolwal and their Kuldevis are Shakambhari Devi in Saharanpur and Rajasthan along with Punyakshini Devi in Garwal with their gotra being Pulastya and Parashar .The pundir would appear to belong the ancient Dahima race ,one of the 36 royal tribes .The Dahima was the lord of Bayana and one of the most powerful vassals of the Chauhan Emperor ,Prithvi raj.Three brothers of this house held highest offices under this monarch , and the period during which the elder ,Kaunas ,was his minister ,was the brightest in the history of the chauhan. But he fell a victim to blind jealousy .Pundir , the second brother ,commanded the frontier at Lahore .The third ,Chaond Rae , was the principal leader in the last battle , where Prithvi Raj fell ,with the whole of his chivalry on the bank of the Kagar .
According to their account pundirs went from Ajodhya to Katch Baghan on the ocean ,thence to Bijapur in the Deccan , to Lohorishahr in Tilangdesh , then again to Pundri in Karnal ,and to Mayapur near Hardwar in Saharanpur district and also in Roorkee.
The original seat of the Punjab pundirs was Thanesar and the Kurukshetra of Karnal and Ambala ,with local capitals at Pundri ,Ramba ,Habri and Pundrak ;but they were dispossessed by the Chauhan under Rana Har Rai ,and for the most part fled beyond the Jamuna .From this event most probably their settlement in these Provinces dates.In the Duab they say that their ancestors came from Hardwar in the Saharanpur district .They own a cluster of 36 villages in the tract known as the Katha ,once a separate pargana ,and now pundirs are distributed amongst paraganas Deoband ,Nagal and Rampur ,but in former days they appear to have reside further north in the country called Raotala ,which extends from the uplands to the Jamuna , running along the outskirts of Saharanpur .They are a strong and proud race ,who in earlier days more reputation as marauders to which even the Gujars could not attain .In their midst there is one small colony of Mawals .In Rampur pargana once held a cluster of 12 villages ,still named the Nathabarah .
According to Elliots Haridwar region of Uttar Pradesh , where they are most prominent today over 1440 villages are claimed by pundir rajputs with high concentration in Deharadoon and Saharanpur , Muzzafarnagar ,Aligarh and Etah .He say that Pundir clan has its origin with Raja Pundik , the fourth king in the line after Kush.Pundrik is revered as a Rishi and his temple is situated in Katheugi village of the Kulen district of Himachal Pradesh.
Pundirs in Aligarh District —-
The pudirs also called purirs, form an important clain, and in Aligarh district are more prosperous than any other of the old Rajput clains. Their chief settlement was in Aligarh from Mayapur near Hardwar in Saharanpur district under the leadership of Raja Damar Singh, who established himself at Gambhira in pargana Akrabad of the Aligarh district, which was called Bijaigarh after Bijai, the brother of Damar Singh .Damar Singh died without issue, but the descendants of his brother are still landlords in Aligarh.Their fort was Bijaygarh, which took its name from Bijay, brother of Damar Singh.
Pundirs are found chiefly in the Sikandra Rao and Aligarh Tahsils, and in the former days they hold large estates, their chief families being those of Sahaoli, Akrabad, Nai and Bijaigarh .
The town is often known as Gambhira ,the name Bijaigarh being properly applied to the large fort.This fort was built by Bijai Singh ,a member of pundir family in 1700A.D.
Abul Fazl lists Pundir zamindars in the mahal of Jalali ,Akbarabad (now Akrabad ) and Sikandra Rao.According to the tradition , there was once a Purindrana (region of pundirs ) ,comprising of 64 villages round about Akrabad town .They belong to the Parasur gotra .Rao Madhav Singh ,Rao Pratap Bhan Singh ,Rao Bikram Singh and Rao Singh were some of the pundir chiefs who settled in this tract during the 16th century .Thakur Roshan Singh founded the village of Rohana Singhpur .They captured various villages which were originally held by theJatavs .
Rao Manik Singh was the chief of the pundir rajput clan in Akrabad region under the Jat-Maratha rule in 1750 A.D.In the days of the Marathas the estate was taken from Rao Manik Singh and he was expelled by the Jat –Marhatta Government ,and his estate was given to Raja Bhagwant Singh of Mursan .But ,as later on ,in 1802 ,Raja Bhagwant Singh opposed the British occupation of this area , he was forced to vacate the Bijaigarh fort .The fort of Bijaigarh was captured by the Commander –in-Chief Lord Lake in 1802 from Jat raja Bhagwant Singh of Mursan after great loss .The graves of those who fell in the attack are in the low duhur lands below the fort.In 1805-06 Rao Manik Singh was recognized as the zamindar of this tract and admitted to engage for the revenue ,and was succeeded by his son Rao Khawan Singh ,with whome the settlement under Regulation IX.of 1833 was made and whose extravagance and weakness ruined the estate ().In 1838 Khawan Singh mortgaged the taluka to Man Singh ,a banker of Koil ,who in 1840 sub –mortgaged it to Mr.J.O’B.Saunders ,at that time an indigo-planter in this district .In 1852 Khawan Singh obtained a decree in the local Court for redemption of the mortgage ,but this was reversed by the Sadr Diwani in 1853.Khawan Singh died the same year ,leaving as his heirs his widow ,Baldeo Kunwar , a son Balwant Singh ,only four years of age ,and his mother ,Jai Kunwar .He left the estate encumbered with debt to the amount of Rs .75 ,000.The taluka originally contained 32 villages ,of which 8 were sold prior to the revision of settlement in 1838 ,and 13 were sold subsequently .Balwant Singh hold only 11 villages ,most of which are small .’’ He would appear to have accepted the warning tanght by the ruinous excesses of his father, and limits his expenditure by the reduced amount of his income .’’The new settlement has enhanced the demand on his villages, but with ordinary prudence he ought to be able to pay the increased land –revenue without difficulty.
Balwant Singh recovered his projection .Shortly before his death in 1901,he devided his property between his three sons,Sultan Singh ,Karan Singh and Sheodan Singh of whome the first died a fews days before his father,living a son Brij Raj Singh.The latter owns two mahals in akrabad,with an area of 2586 acers and a revenue demand of Rs3167.Karan Singh has two villages and one Mahal assessed at Rs,1950 and Sheodan Singh has four villages pays Rs1845.All the owner resides at Sahaoli in pragana Akrabad .
There are many pundris villages in paragna Sikandra Rao but no large states.
The Taluka of Nai has been broken up, threw the family of Kundan Singh ,who recived two villages for his loyality in 1857 retin small shares Nai,Nagla Tahir, Baghra and Dariapur . Jodh Singh of Kutila owns two villages and one Mahal assessed at Rs4234 and several Mahals are healed by the thakur of Kapasia, Layak Singh, Dario Singh and Pratap Bhan Singh, the state of the last, comprising 5 Mahals assessed at Rs6815 being know under the court of Wards.There is a garhi in Kapasia of Thakur Sujan Singh .
Pundirs of Nai —
The pundirs of Nai ,represented by Thakur Kundan Singh,received two villages in reward for their good service on the British side during the mutiny .And for some times held the Pargna in there bhalf as Nazim.He was rewarded for his service, and Devidas, Baniya also received the thanks of the district authorities for the assistance that he was able to afort .Mr .Bramly writes ;– ‘’ Kundan Singh’s estates are small ,but his influence in his clan is great .His presence in the neighbourhood of Sikandra Rao continually served as a check to the Muhammadan population of that town ,who never dared to do any overt act of rebellion without the help and screen of rebel troops ,on whom they could afterwards throw the blame .During the month of June and a portion of July ,the Tahsildar ,though his functions were entirely in abeyance ,still was allowed to live in the town without molestation .During this time the only two men who visited him , or showed him any countenance ,were Kundan Singh and Debi Prasad ,Baniya .After the departure of Mr.Watson for Agra ,the Tahsildar ,being no longer safe in the town ,took shelter with Kundan Singh .In the end of August ,after the defeat of Ghaus Khan’s followers near Koil ,Kundan Singh having been made Nazim of the parganah ,entered the town of Sikandra Rao with a body of some 1,500 of his own followers ,reinstated the Tahsildar ,and maintained him in that position till our authority was thoroughly established .I have always heard Kundan Singh well spoken of as an upright man .He is one of the best specimens of the home-bred ,untraveled Rajput Ihave ever met .’’
Pundirs of Akrabad were Great freedom fighters in the Mutiny of 1857—
One section of the Pundirs of Paragana Akrabad rose in the rebellion against the British in 1857. Mangal Singh and Mehtab Singh, sons of Narayan Singh of Akrabad, Sitaram of Khera and Mangal Sen of Madapur were prominent among them. The rebels in Koil fled down at G. T road to Akrabad ,whither , Cornel Greathed sent in pursuit the 9th Lancers under Major Quvry .The latter came up with the flying mutineers and cut up about 250 .Then , pushing onto Akrabad ,he surprised Mangal Singh and Mahtab Singh two real brothers in their fort , and hanged them after a summary trial .In this proceeding he was assisted by Tej Singh and Jawahar Singh ,loyal pundirs of Akrabad ,who had ever refused to join with their kinsmen and had done their almost to keep the neighbhourhood quite.On the 9th october Greathed reached Bijaigarh,which had been untouched by the rebellion , even the furniture in an indigo factory being found intact ,and thence he proceeded by forced march to Agra.
History of Bijaigarh Fort—-
The earlier name of the village was Gambhira ,the fort was latter named Bijaigarh ( ).The fort of Bijaigarh was founded in 1700 A.D., by Bijai Singh Pundir , brother of raja Damar Singh who came from Hardwar in Saharanpur district .The Bijaigarh was held by Bhagwant Singh in 1803,and was not taken without some trouble .The fort was captured from Bhagwant Singh, the raja of Mursan in 1803AD at the cost of lives of Colonel Gordon and other British officers. Colonel Gordon was killed here in a battle in 1803 AD by the accidental explosion of a tumbril after the fort had been taken .The neighbouring fort of Kacharua was held by thakur Harkism Singh of Beswn ,and in the attack major nairn,of the 2nd Cavalry, lost his life.The slave erected to his memory was in 1853 removed to Bhadwas, on the Grand Trunk road between Etah and Aligarh .The Graves of those who fell at Bijaigarh are in the low duhar lands below the forts, and those who fell at Kachaura are buried in Lohar-ke-Nagla.
There is a monument of Colonel Gordon lies inside the fort. Graves of men killed in the fort assault on the fort are to be seen in the low the ground near the fort (). Remains of an old Shiva Temple made of Kakai bricks lies west of the fort.The temple of Gambhir Devi lies east of the Fort. The village posseses a Temple, an old Mosque and old Church. The fort has now passed into the hands of the raja Prithi Singh of Awa Misa who acquired the later greater portion of the Bijayagarh Taluka, which belonged to the Pundi Rajput in the late years.
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10-Crooke William C.A.1886 .The Tribes and Castes of North-Western India.Voll.I to V.
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12-Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of Punjab and North-West .Vol 1.
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14-S.H.M.Elliot .Supplemental Glossary of Terms used in N.W.P
Author-Dr Dhirendra Singh Jadaun
Village-Larhota near Sasni
Associate Professor in Agriculture
Shahid Captain Ripudman Singh Govt.College , Sawaimadhopur ,Rajasthan ,322001.