Thursday, May 7, 2009


Kotli Azad Kashmir
Kotli (Urdu: کوٹلی) is the chief town of Kotli District, in the Pakistani-controlled Azad Kashmir. Kotli is linked with Mirpur by two metalled roads, one via Rajdhani, (90 km) and the other via Charhoi. It is also directly linked with Rawalakot via Trarkhal (82 km) and a double road which links Kotli with the rest of Pakistan via Sehnsa, another major town in Azad Kashmir. Kotli is roughly 4½ hours from Islamabad and Rawalpindi, at a distance of 141 km via Sehnsa.
1 History
1.1 Kotli Mangralan
1.2 Ranjit Singh and the Dogras
1.3 1947: Azadi (Freedom)
2 Modern Kotli
3 Sights of Kotli
4 Notable People
5 Friendship cities
6 External links
7 References

[edit] History

[edit] Kotli Mangralan

As stated in History of the Panjab Hill States by J.Hutchinson and J.P. Vogel: "Kotli was founded about the fifteenth century by a branch of the royal family of Kashmir. Kotli and Punch remained independent until subdued by Ranjit Singh in 1815 and 1819 respectively."
The royal family of Kashmir Hutchinson and Vogel are referring to is the family of Raja Mangar Pal.
Kotli was historically known as Kotli Mangralan.
There is a famous saying in Kashmir: "Kotli Mangrallan da, Rajouri Jarrallan da, Bhimber Chiban da, Mirpur Gakharan da"
• Kotli is ruled by the Mangral
Rajouri is ruled by the Jarral
Bhimber is ruled by the Chib
Mirpur is ruled by the Gakhar

[edit] Ranjit Singh and the Dogras
History of the Panjab Tribes by J. Hutchinson and J.P.Vogel lists a total of 22 states 16 Hindu and 6 Muhammadan that formed the State of Jammu following the conquest of Raja Ranjit Singh in 1820. Of these 6 Muhammadan States two (Kotli and Punch) were ruled by Mangrals, two (Bhimber and Khari-Khariyala) by Chibs one (Rajouri) by the Jarrals and one (Khashtwar) by the Khashtwaria. Of these 22 states 21 formed a pact with Ranjit Singh and formed the State of Jammu. Only Poonch ruled by the Mangrals retained a state of semi-autonomy. Following the War of 1947 Poonch was divided and is now split between Pakistan Administered Kashmir Poonch District (AJK) and Indian Administered Kashmir Poonch
The Mangrals ruled Kotli state for several centuries until they were defeated by the army of the Sikh leader Ranjit Singh (referred to locally by the derogatory name 'Kaala Kaana' i.e. the black faced 'boz-eye' - a reference to his dark complexion and the fact that he had only one eye) following three bloody battles. The Mangrals led by Raja Shah Sawar Khan (the last Mangral ruler of Kotli) defeated the Sikh forces in the first two battles (1812 and 1814) though at very high cost in loss of life. Following these two battles the Sikh army returned in 1815 with 30,000 soldiers and a final battle ensued. Having lost many fighters the Mangrals agreed to a compromise with the forces of Ranjit Singh. The Mangrals agreed to give up control of the City (which was then actually based in Baraali near to modern day Kotli) which was handed to Ranjit Singh.
These were by no means the first battles between the Mangrals and the Sikhs. In fact the armies of the Panjab Hill Tribe Rajputs were a main source of strength to the Mughal empire and together they had fought and defeated the Sikhs in many previous battles over the previous two centuries beginning with the campaigns of the emperor Aurangzeb. However, with the decline in Mughal power and the rise of the British, the power of the Panjab Hill State Rajputs weakened enabling the Sikhs a foothold and pathway to conquer the whole of Kashmir.
(NOTE: Raja Shah Sawar Khan and Rani Hashu are buried in Dhanwan, Kotli Mangralan. Their funerals were conducted by the ancestors of Mistari Hassan Din, the president of Muslim Conference of Dhanwan who were also the record keepers and manufacturers of arms for the Mangral army.)
The Panjab Hill States were merged by Ranjit Singh into the state of Jammu which was passed into the control of Kishore Singh the father of Gulab Singh and a distant relative of Jit Singh the Raja of Jammu. Gulab Singh had joined the army of Ranjit Singh in 1812 and had risen through the ranks and found favour with Ranjit Singh. The granting of Jammu was a reward for the services of Gulab Singh and family.
The 27 years of Sikh rule followed by the 100 years of Dogra rule were a period considered to be the biggest calamity ever to befall the people of Kashmir. Although the majority of the population was Muslim many mosques were closed, cow slaughter was prohibited and an immense tax burden was placed on the people. Ranjit Singh even taxed the poor people something which had never happened before under Muslim rule. Muslim's were denied access to basic education, were banned from carrying arms and were not admitted to the armed services. The result was mass emigration of Kashmiri's to the Muslim areas of the Punjab where they were granted refuge, education and employment in military service.
Kotli was populated by Sikhs imported by Ranjit Singh from the Punjab. In particular, they set up in Kotli Sikh Blacksmith's workshops which supplied the Sikh army with weaponry.Alas, these weapons were not only used in warfare but were also used to terrorise and subdue the civilian population of Kashmir. As reported to the Viceroy Lord Reading following a visit by Muslim scholars to Srinagar in 1921:
Military was sent for and most inhumane treatment was meted out to the poor, helpless, unarmed, peace-loving labourers who were assaulted with spears, lances and other implements of warfare[1]
Following the death of Ranjit Singh in 1839 the Sikh Empire went into rapid decline. Ranjit Singh was succeeded by his eldest son Kharak Singh who was in power for only a few months before being removed and replaced by his son Nau Nihal Singh. Kharak Singh the eldest legitimate son of Ranjit Singh was imprisoned by the Sikhs and suffered a painful death through slow torturing. Whilst returning from the funeral of his father, Nau Nihal Singh was injured when the archway of a wall was made to collapse on him. He was rushed away to a tent unconscious but suffering from relatively mild injuries. When the tent was later opened, Nau Nihal Singh lay there with his head crushed in probably having been smashed in by a rock. The collapse of the building is believed to have been orchestrated by non other than the Dogra brothers Gulab Singh and Dhian Singh. Nau Nihal Singh was replaced by another son of Ranjit Singh, namely Sher Singh. Sher Singh was himself killed only two years later in 1841 as he reached for a new shotgun held by his cousin Ajit Singh Sandhawalia, who pulled the trigger. Sher Singh only had time to utter the words "what treachery" before Ajit Singh removed his head with a single blow from his sword.
During the First Anglo-Sikh War (1845-1846), Gulab Singh betrayed the Sikhs and sided with the British. In return for his treachery towards his own people he was awarded Kashmir by the British in 1846 as a fiefdom for eternity for the paltry sum of 7.5m Rupees.
Gulab Singh ruled Kashmir with immense cruelty and was famously resisted by the Mangrals of Kotli, the Gakhar of Mirpur, the Jarral of Rajouri and the Chib of Bhimber.
However, having double crossed their own people the Dogra's were not averse to also double crossing the British. Having seen the erosion of Sikh power they colluded with the Russian's in a plan to invade India. On discovering this the British replaced Pratap Singh (the Grandson of Gulab Singh) with his brother Amar Singh who in turn was succeeded by his own son Hari Singh. There the line of Dogra rulers would end as the heir apparent Karan Singh never took the throne. Karan Singh's own legitimacy was the subject of much speculation. As Tariq Ali writes:
"On the French Riviera, Tara Devi, the fourth wife of the dissolute and infertile Maharaja Hari Singh – he had shunted aside the first three for failing to produce any children – gave birth to a boy, Karan Singh. In the Srinagar bazaar every second person claimed to be the father of the heir-apparent. Five days of lavish entertainment and feasting marked the infant heir’s arrival in Srinagar. A few weeks later, public agitation broke out, punctuated by lampoons concerning the Maharaja’s lack of sexual prowess, among other things."[2]
Under the Dogra rule the people of Kashmir were reduced to a state of slavery. The muslims whilst comprising 96% of the population had a literacy rate of only 0.8%.
The wretched state of the people was summed up in a 1921 poem by the Great Kashmiri Poet Allama Iqbal:
"In the bitter chill of winter shivers his naked body, whose skill wraps the rich in royal shawls."

[edit] 1947: Azadi (Freedom)
Regardless of the true parentage of Karan Singh, the Yuvraj (young Prince) would never sit on the royal throne of Kashmir. Instead, salvation finally came in 1947 when the brave people of Kashmir led by the likes of General Raja Sakhi Daler Khan, Raja Colonel Mahmood and Raja Saif Ali Khan (to name but a few) soundly defeated and expelled the Dogra's and liberated a large part of Kashmir which is now Azad Kashmir. In recognition for his services Raja Sakhi Daler Khan was named Fatih-e-Kotli by the War Council.

[edit] Modern Kotli
Today Kotli is a summer boom town. Noticeable villages in Kotli are Tinda Kalah, Kurti, Roli, Brali and Dhamol. The town has become a vision of three-storey mansions that have taken over the once-barren roads between the outer ring villages and the ever-expanding city sitting on the brim of the Poonch River.
The most famous and notable buildings are the three Khan-Wali fortresses: Khan-Wali House, Khan-Wali Palace & Khan-Wali Towers.
The mass emigration that took over the country in the 1960s has now created a steady boom of summer holiday makers from Britain and beyond who seek to reconnect their European-born children to the old country.
Kotli has international links throughout Europe and the Americas. Like many southern Kashmiris living on the fringes of the Mangla Dam in Mirpur, emigration fever took hold of the surrounding country from the mid 1950s onwards.
Kotli has ties with many European cities such as Amsterdam, Hamburg and the larger industrial cities of central England. Many Kotli city residents have ties to British nationals in the town of Luton, Bedfordshire.Kotli is also known as the city of mosques,as there are more than three hundered mosques in kotli.

[edit] Sights of Kotli
Kurti Village
Gulhar Sharif
Lal Masjid
Shaheed Chowk
Dahra Mandi
Tatta pani