First Read this: Brief Geography of District Kullu
Ancient people regarded Kullu as the farthest limit of human habitation and in the traditional folklore; it is often referred to as Kulanthpith means the end of the habitable world.
Kullu was most probably the most ancient state next to Kashmir and Kangra.
Sources of the History of Kullu
- The original name of Kullu was Kuluta which finds mention in the Vishnu Purana, Ramayana, and other Hindu mythological literature.
- The Chinese pilgrim, Hiuen Tsiang (A.D.629-645) described the country of Kiu-lu-to (Kullu) situated at 117 miles to the north-east of Jalandhar which exactly corresponds with the position of Kulata.
- Colonel A.P.F Harcourt in his book “Kooloo, Lahaul, and Spiti “has written about Kullu’s history.
- Ancient Tibetan chronicle “rGyal-rabs” book of the kings and a Kashmiri chronicle “Jonaraja” also talked about Kullu.
- Nirmand plate of 7th century which was granted by Raja Samudra Sen whose identity has not yet been fully found.
- The oldest historical record is a coin of Raja of Kullu named ‘Virayasa’ which reads as follows: Rajna Kolutsya Virayasasya which means Virayasasya The Raja of Kulluta.
In ancient times Kullu was ruled by “Seven Wazirs”.
- Waziri Parol: Kullu proper
- Waziri Rupi: The tract between Parbati and Sainj Nullah.
- Waziri Saraj: The Southern Portion of the State divided into Inner Saraj and Outer Saraj.
- Waziri Lag Maharaja: The right bank of Sarvari Nullah to Sultanpur, and of the Beas from there to Bajaura.
- Waziri Lag Sari: The tract between Phojal and Sarvari Nullah.
- Waziri Bhaghal: A portion of Chhota Bhanghal.
- Waziri Lahaul: Earlier British Lahaul.
According to the known history, it was founded in the first century of the Christian era by one Behangamani Pal whose forefathers originally came from Tripura and had migrated from there to Allahabad and then to Mayapuri near Hardwar. He was accompanied by Rani, Purohit Udai Ram, and his son Pachch Pal.
Read also: Census 2011 Highlights of District Kullu
Origin of Pal dynasty:
- It appears that the people of the higher valley of Kullu at that time were suffering under the repressive regime of the Thakurs of Spiti and their keen desire to overthrow the Thakurs was smoldering in their hearts.
- Behangamani Pal organized what may be rightly called the upper valley’s first revolution sparked off at Jagatsukh.
- A renowned astrologer of village Paljhot is believed to have helped him a lot and his endeavours duly blessed by the powerful Goddess Hadimba, were crowned with success.
- This goddess upto now is respected as the ‘grandmother and the patron-deity’ by the Rajas of Kullu. Pal dynasty was thus established.
It’s original capital was established at Jagatsukh and nearly ten generations ruled from there, till it was shifted to Naggar which remained as the seat of the Government for as many as 1,400 years till it was finally moved to Kullu.
During the struggle against the petty chiefs, Bihangmani Pal was living in the house of Chapai Ram at Jagat Sukh. After the death of Bihangmani Pal, he was succeeded by his son Pachch Pal who continued the conquest with the ‘Rana’and “Thakuras” and consolidated kingdom.
- During his reign, there was a small state name “Kothi Barsai” between Jagatsukh and Naggar whose chief Surat Chand died without male heir leaving the only daughter named Rup Sundari.
- Rajender Pal took it as an opportunity to acquire “Kothi Barsai” by force but could not succeed.
- Rajender Pal’s brother produced his brother’s likeness to Rani and she offered to marry Rajinder Pal and thus ending the hostilities between the two.
Read also: Fairs and Festivals of District Kullu
- Since beginning till Visal Pal capital of Kullu was “Nast” also known as ‘Jagat Sukh‘.
- During his time, Naggar was under a Rana named Karam Chand with whom Raja fought a war, and Rana was killed.
- During his reign capital was shifted from ‘Nast (Jagat Sukh)‘ to ‘Naggar‘.
- During his reign Raja of Spiti Rajender Sen attacked Kullu and Rudra Pal was forced to pay tribute yearly.
- Chamba is said to have conquered Lahaul from Kullu during his reign.
- He was the grandson of Rudra Pal.
- He decided not to pay tribute to Spiti Raja which caused a battle between Prasid Pal and Chet Sen, the Spiti chief near Rohtang Pass, in which Prasad Pal emerged victorious.
Sri Dateshwar Pal:
- About 780-800 A.D., Chamba ruler Meru Varman invaded Kullu state and in a battle, Dateshwar Pal was killed.
- Now his first son Amar Pal took command but he was also killed and his second son Sital Pal fled to Bushahr state.
- Sital Pal and his five descendants could not regain their state form Chamba.
Sri Jareshwar Pal:
- He was sixth in descent from Sital Pal.
- He succeeded to regain his kingdom when Chamba was attacked by Kiras or Tibetan in battle Raja of Chamba was killed.
Read also: History of Kullu Dussehra
- During his reign, Chamba forces advanced to Majnakot a village near Rohtang Pass and built a fort.
- Kullu fought a twelve-year war against Chamba which was stopped by signing a peace treaty.
- To celebrate peace Kullu invited people from Chamba and feast was organized at Kothi village but later a great part of the Chamba people and army was drowned in Beas by Kullu people.
- He was the contemporary of Bir Sen founder of Suket state who attacked Kullu and made Bhup Pal prisoner and later he was released on a condition to pay tribute and feudal service.
- His son Anirudh Pal also contibued to pay tribute to Suket.
Hast Pal-I/Hait Pal:
- He was a grandson of Bhup Pal who was contemporary of Raja Bikram Sen grandson of Bir Sen of Suket.
- He freed Kullu from the tribute on the condition of giving aid to Suket in a civil war.
- Raja Bikram Sen a grandson of Bir Sen went on a pilgrimage to Haridwar and made his younger brother “Tribikram Sen” in charge of the state, but after two years when Raja Bikram Sen came back, he found that his brother had cheated him by joining hands with Hast Pal against him.
- Bikram Sen sought help from Keonthel and a battle took place at “Jiuri” on the bank of Satluj, in which both Hast Pal and Tribikram were killed.
- Raja Bikram Sen then advanced towards Kullu and took possession of the country.
Surat Pal/Hashir Pal:
- He liberated his state from Suket during the reign of Lakshman Sen who was minor at that time.
- After 14 years when Lakshman Sen came to the age, he again invaded Kullu and annexed Waziri Rupi, Lag, Saraj, and a portion of Waziri Parol.
- He conquered Gya-mur and other portions of Ladakh.
- He conquered Baltistan killing the chief Muhammad Khan and making his son tributary.
- He invaded Tibet but on his death Raja of Tibet Lhachen Utapala, Gya-mur (Ladakh) and Baltistan attacked Kullu and captured Raja’s son while performing his father’s funeral ceremony and put him in confinement at Mohangarh near Bhubu Pass.
- He bound him by oath to pay tribute in dzos and iron to the king of Ladakh “so long as the glaciers of the Kailasha do not melt away or the Mansarovar Lake dries up“.
- He sought help from Delhi and succeeded to capture Gya Mur, Baltistan, and Mantilac (Mansarover Lake) from Tibet.
- In his reign, Raja of Bushahr invaded Kullu and after exacting, the tribute left the country.
- Gambhir Pal was succeded to free Kullu from Bushahr and took possession of the area on the right bank of River Satluj which became the boundary of the state.
- During his reign, Kullu was conquered by Bangahal state and remained subjugated for 10 years.
- During his reign, Kullu became the tributary of Kangra.
Raja Urdan Pal:
- He built the temple of “Sandhya Devi” at Jagatsukh.
- He ruled between 1418-28 A.D.
- He was the last Raja of Kullu to use the surname of Pal and probably ruled till 1450.
- After him, there seem to have no Raja in Kullu for about 50 years.
- After Kailash Pal Kullu was controlled by Suket, Ranas, and Thakuras.
Sidh Singh (1500 A.D.):
- He changed the surname from Pal to Singh.
- He founded a new dynasty in Kullu after the gap of 50 years coming from Mayapuri.
- It is assumed that he was a descendent of the Pal family.
- Sidh Singh put forth great efforts to subdue the Ranas and Thakuras.
The story of Jhinna Rana and Muchiani:
- Jhinna Rana was a powerful chief who ruled both banks of River Beas above Jagatsukh.
- His chief strongholds were Madankot and Manali, and being too powerful to be attacked openly, Sidh Sen resorted to treachery after the manner of the times.
- Jhinna Rana had a groom of Dagi caste bearing the nickname “Muchiani” because of long Moustache and a noted sportsman with bow and arrow.
- Rana Jhinna had disliked for his mustache and ordered him to cut them, but he refused.
- Then Jhinna Rana asked Muchiani to kill ‘Maina‘ sitting on cow’s back, without wounding the cow, failing which his mustache would be shorn. Muchiani had to cut his mustache finally.
- Sidh Sen took advantage of this conflict between them and bribed “Muchiani” to kill the Rana.
- When Rani heard the news that Rana has been killed she set fire to the fort became Sati with her all-women including Muchiani’s wife except one of Rana’s wife who was pregnant at that time.
- These ladies are worshiped as Jogin (Goddess in Kullu).
- After the death of Rana, Raja Sidh Sen was succeeded in capturing Madankot and Manali.
- He captured Baragarh fort which was under the control of Suket garrison.
Read also: Minerals found in District Kullu
Bahadur Singh (1532 A.D.):
- Waziri Ruppi was still under the control of Suket and during his reign Ranas of Ruppi decided to become part of Kullu again because Suketi Raja was notorious and arrogant.
- Bahadur Singh’s capital remained Naggar but he built his residence at Makarasa.
- It is said that Makarasa place was associated with Makas who was the son of Vidura of Mahabharata, married to a daughter of Tandi (demon) chief of the south of Rohtang Pass.
- Makas was brought up and taught by “Vayasa Rishi”.
- Bahadur Singh’s three daughters married to Pratap Singh who was the son Raja Ganesh Verman of Chamba.
- He annexed the Lag area which was under the control of two brothers Jai Chand and Sultan Chand from whom he captured Sultanpur and shifted his capital from Naggar to Sultanpur in 1660. He also captured the outer Saraj area.
- During his reign a Brahmin Durga Dutt residing at “Tippari” was said to have three pounds of pearls when Raja was on his way to Manikaran, he ordered Brahmin to give him pearls but Brahmin refused when Raja sent his man before their arrival Brahmin set fire to his house and perished with the whole family.
- This incident caused guilt and restlessness to Raja.
- A Brahmin came from Suket told him that sin of Brahmin’s murder could be expiated only by bringing the image of ‘Raghunath Ji’ from Ayodhya, which was brought by Damodar Das (Brahmin) in 1653 AD.
- On receiving the image Raja placed it on “Gaddi” after then Kullu Raja considered themselves subordinate of Raghunath Ji.
Man Singh (1688-1719):
- He invaded Mandi and conquered an area including “Darang salt” mine.
- He forced the ruler of Ladakh to fix a boundary between Kullu and Ladakh at “Lingti Plain” and Spiti was made to pay tribute.
- Passing through the River Satluj he captured ‘Shangri‘ from Thakur.
- He built a palace at Rath village.
- Raja Man Singh was assassinated by Rana of Kumarsain with whose wife Raja had fallen in love.
Read also: Bhutti Weavers Cooperative Society, Kullu
Raj Singh (1719 – 1731):
- During his reign, Guru Govind Singh visited Kullu to seek Raja’s help against Muslim but Raja refused to help Guru.
- He was not in good terms with his Wazir “Kalu of Diyar” and expelled him from the country. Wazir raised revolt Raja went Lahore to seek Mughal’s viceroy support.
- Raja Shamsher Sen of Mandi took advantage of this and acquires Chauhar territory.
- Raja Jai Singh did not return to Kullu but went to Ayodhya to start living there to worship Raghunath Ji till death.
- During his reign in 1778 a combined force of Sansar Chand (Kangra), Shamsher Sen (Mandi) and Raj Singh (Chamba) attacked Kullu.
- They seized the Banghal area and Wazir Bhag Chand was captured.
Bikram Singh (1806-1816):
- In 1809 A.D., Kangra fort came under the possession of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who forced Kullu also to pay tribute.
- In 1813, Sikh forced under Mokham Chand entered the Kullu valley by Dulchi pass and asked for Rs. 50,000, when Raja refused to Pay, the Sikh army plundered the territory and forced Raja to fled to the village “Sangla”.
Read also: Major Characteristics of the District Kullu
Ajit Singh 1816-41 A.D.:
- He was not the legitimate son of Raja Bikram Singh.
- He was installed as Raja by Raja of Mandi.
- Ajit’s uncle Krishan Singh defeated him with the help of Kangra. But very soon Ajit Singh regained the throne with the help of Mandi and his able Wazir Shoba Singh.
- In 1816-17, he gave asylum to ex-amir of Kabul “Shahshuja” when Raja Ranjit Singh Sent force to arrest him, but Raja Ajit Singh allowed him to escape for which Ranjit Singh imposed a fine of Rs. 80,000 on Raja.
- To pay this heavy amount Ajit plundered Spiti and Lahaul’s Chief helped Kullu, to raid Zanskar where they came up with heavy booty.
- In 1820, Mr. Moorcraft was the first European to visit Kullu on his way to Ladakh.
- In 1820, Kullu raised a trade dispute with Ladakh. The case was brought for decision before Moorcraft. In his judgment, Moorcraft found Kullu guilty of attacking neighboring states in order to get money to pay Ranjit Singh.
- In 1839, the Sikh army under “Sindhanwala Sardars” captured Ajit Singh and forced him to surrender the state. When the Sikh army was returning back by outer Saraj and Basloh pass where Kullu people ambushed, and they librated their Raja. In the clash, approximately 1000 men of the Sikh force were killed.
- Raja took shelter in his old territory Shangri which was now under the control of Britisher where he died in 1841.
- Kullu state along with capital Sultanpur remained under the control of the British.
- Britisher granted Shangri to Ranbir Singh who was the first cousin of Ajit Singh.
- Sikh selected Thakur Singh another cousin of Ajit Singh as Raja of “Waziri Ruppi”. After the first Anglo-Sikh war, the hill country between the Satluj and Indus was ceded to the British government and Kullu was also part of the ceded territory.
- By Britisher, Spiti was separated from Ladakh and merged with Kullu. Thakur Singh died in 1852 and succeeded by his illegitimate son Gayan Singh, Britishers withdrew all political power from him and gave the title of Rai instead of Raja.
- Shortly before 1857, Pratap Singh son of Krishan Singh (Uncle of Raja Ajit Singh) appeared in Kullu, Put forward his claim for ‘Gaddi’. He was arrested by Major Hay and after the trial was hanged at Dharamshala’.
- Since 1846 A.D., Kullu became a subdivision of Kangra and a separate district in 1963.
- Till 31″ October 1966, it continued as part of Punjab.
Read also: The Economy of District Kullu
People of Kullu
- The main population consists of Hindu followed by Buddhists and a fraction of Sikh and Christian religions.
- The predominant class consists of Rajputs, Brahmins, and then Scheduled Castes. Though no record of the above-mentioned castes settlement is available, however, brief evidence are available in the Epic of Mahabharata about the existence of Kulindas, Khashas, and Vedic Aryans.
- There is also a mention of non-Aryans as is evident from the battle by Bhimsen of Mahabharata with the demon king of Tandi.
- The culture and the language have also been influenced by the trade routes which show that the people have links with Tibet and Yarkand of Russia.
- The Chinese pilgrim Hieun Tsang also visited Kullu and described it as a beautiful place and existence of Devta Temples belonging to different sects in each village.
Read also: Cave Temple of Hadimba – Manali
- According to Hiuen-Tsang there were about 20 Buddhist “Sanghams” mostly associated with “Mahayana”.
- Kullu has the distinction of having the oldest democracy in the world in the village “Malana” where old customs and conventions are held as high esteem than the rules of the modern state. It is also believed that idol worship was first ever started in Kullu valley.
- The district is known as Dev Bhumi in local dialect as each village has its own local deity known as Deo-Devta or Devi.
- These Deo or Devi play a vital role in the lives of people. People still have remarkable faith in worshipping their deities.
- Each Devta or Devi has its own fair which is celebrated regularly. These Gods and Goddesses are held in great esteem as birth, marriages, ailments, and disputes are settled by these deities through their oracles.
- The economic life of the people has changed through the spread of education and most of the people shifted from agriculture to horticulture.
- Other developmental activities have also made an impact on the living standard of the people.