Brief History of District Mandi – Himachal Pradesh

By | November 6, 2016

First read this: Geography of District Mandi

History of Suket Princely State

Sukshetra means “Good land”. It was under the rule of Ranas and Thakurs.

  • Vira or Bir Singh (Bir Sen) on his migration from Bengal along with his forces crossed the river Satluj at Juiri fery in 765 A.D. and started the conquest of the area and he settled at Kunnudhar.
  • He attacked the area of Kothidehr, and seized the area of Nanj, Salalu, Belu, and Thanamagra and built forts at Kaun and Magra.
  • The Thakurs of Kandikot and Saruhi surrendered before Bir Sen and he built a fort at Pangana where he made his capital at Surhi llaqa.
  • He conquered the fort of Birkot on the borders of Kumharsain.
  • After the conquest of Seraj area of Kullu, Bir Sen captured Pandoh and Nachni along with the various forts etc.
  • After subduing the northern part of the state, he turned westward towards Balh illaquas and advanced as far as Secundra-Ki-dhar.
  • The Rana of Hatli was defeated by him and the boundary with Kangra was fixed by constructing a fort called Bira on the Seer/Sir Khudd.

Suket was founded by “Bir Sen” in 765 BC. He fought with Ranas and Thakuras most of the accepted his subjugation easily. Thakur of Korali was the first who took the field against Bir Sen but was defeated and lost fort ‘Sri Magal.’

Bir Sen captured Bhup Pal of Kullu and held him as a prisoner.

Bikram Sen: 

  • He installed his brother “Tribikram Sen” as Raja soon after his accession of the throne, as he went to Haridwar on pilgrimage.
  • Tribikram proved unfaithful and plotted a plan against his own brother. For this, he gained help from Hast pal at the cost of Independence of Kullu from Suket.
  • Kullu was tributary of Suket under the rule of Hast Pal grandson of Bhup Pal.
  • When Bikram came back after two years, he got help from Raja of Keonthal and succeeded to defeat both Tribikram and Hast Pal at “Jiuri” and gained control over Kullu also.

Lakshman Sen:

  • The Raja of Kullu took advantage of his minority and asserted independence.

Bilas Sen:

  • He was a man of a tyrannical attitude.
  • He was poisoned and his brother ‘Samudr Sen’was installed Raja by Officials.

Semant Sen: 

  • He was an infant when his father ‘Bilas Sen’ was poisoned.
  • Rani of Bilas Sen along with her infant took refuge at Saraj in a zamindar’s house.
  • After becoming Raja “Semant” granted “Jagir” to Zamindar and in the same village he built a fort named it “Rani Ka kot“.

Read also: Places of religious, historical and archaeological importance and tourist interest in District Mandi

Madan Sen: 

  • He built fort “Madanpur” in a territory which he conquered from Kullu.
  • He defeated “Sri Mangal” Rana of Batwara who later founded the small principality of “Mangal”.
  • Madan sen, one of the successors of Bir sen was a strong ruler and he extended the areas of the state.
  • Under Madan Sen’s regime, Suket reached the highest of its prosperity and power.
  • He shifted the capital of the state from Pangna to Lohara in the plains of Balh.
  • Maden Sen built the temple of “Asthambnath”.
  • The decline of the state was started with his death.

Parbat Sen (1500 AD):

  • He was pronounced a curse (Shap) by Purohit, who had committed suicide after being charged for having intimacy with “Bandhi” or slave girl.
  • Raja sought to expiate Brahmin’s son by conferring them the Waziri of “Lag” and “Sari” and this area came under the elder son of Brahmin Sultan Chand.
  • He founded the city of Sultanpur which was acquired by Kullu Raja Jagat Singh who shifted the capital of Kullu from Naggar to Sultanpur.

Kartar Sen:

  • During his reign capital was shifted from “Lohara to Kartarpur“.

Shyam Sen:

  • His Rani from Bushahr made a plot to kill prince Ram Singh who was born from Guleri Rani, because she wanted her own son Prithi Singh as a successor of Shyam Singh.
  • Bushahri Rani appointed Mian Jughanun for this task.
  • One day he found favorable opportunity and pushed Ram Singh into Cellar.
  • Raja’s younger brother “Naurang Singh” found Ram Sen and got to know about the plot against the prince.
  • Bushahri Rani was banished from state and Mian Jughanun along with his family was executed.
  • Shyam Sen and his brother Naurang Singh helped Aurangzeb’s forces to capture forts at Lahore. For this Raja was honored with “Khillat” and was allowed to issue his own coins.
  • Raja Shyam Sen’s daughter was married to Kalian Chand, Raja of Kahlur.
  • Due to some unknown reasons, Shyam Sen fought a battle against Kalian Chand of Kahlur and Suraj Sen of Mandi. Both were defeated at “Mahadeo”.
  • Suraj Sen fled and Kalian Chand was severely wounded. Raja Shyam Sen ordered to bring wounded Raja in a palki to Suket, but he died on the way in the place which is today called “Kalian Chand ki Darwari”.
  • Raja Jagat Singh of Nurpur attacked Suket and imprisoned Shyam Singh and his brother along with Man Singh of Guler at Delhi.
  • During his captivity, Shyam Singh is said to have prayed to “Mahun Nag” who appeared to him in the form of a Bee and promised his early release.
  • When in 1641, Raja Jagat Singh of Nupur revolted against Mughals, which pave the way for the early release of Shyam Sen.
  • On his way back home, he was attacked by Raja of Bushahr, but Shyam Sen emerged victorious.
  • On gratitude for his deliverance, he granted a Jagir of Rs. 400/- per year to the temple of Mahun Nag (bee).

Ram Sen:

  • He removed his sister to Pangana on the suspicion of her chastity, his suspicion was false and she poisoned herself.
  • Soon afterward Raja became insane and died.

Jit Sen:

  • In 1663 AD, Jeet Sen was installed Raja.
  • It is said that Jeet Sen lost every battle he fought.
  • During his regime, Mandi annexed Balh area as far as Suketi Nallah. Jeet Sen died childless and he was succeeded by Garur Sen.
  • He worshiped the dead princess as a malevolent spirit. His twenty-two child died in infancy.
  • He fought a battle against “Shyam Singh” of Mandi on the “Balh” plain.

Garur Sen (1721):

  • He was the grandson of Hari Singh who was the son of Bushahri Rani. He was supported to gain kingdom by Kullu and Kangra.
  • He founded the new city “Baned” now which is known as Sundernagar.
  • His Rani constructed “Suraj Kund temple“.

Read more: Economy of District Mandi – Himachal Pradesh

Bhikam/Bikram Sen:

  • Bikram Sen became the Raja of Suket in 1748 AD and his reign was covered by a period of great political importance in Punjab.
  • Ahmed Shah Durani invaded Punjab in 1747 and in 1752 it was ceded to him by Ahmad Shah of Delhi.
  • During this period, Suket became independent like other hill states, as there was turmoil in the area.
  • During this period, Sikhs had also risen to power and Jassa Singh Ramgarhia invaded Kangra hills and established his sovereignty over several hill States.
  • Probably Suket was also engulfed.

Ranjit Sen (1762):

  • He tried to recover Nachan from Mandi.
  • He had great reliance on his wazir Narpat and his period was considered that of peace and prosperity in Suket.
  • But Prince Bikram was not in good terms with Narpat.
  • Narpat was his faithful and able minister,
  • Once younger prince in anger drew his sword to strike minister but his father intervened.
  • The law was strictly upheld. Ranjit Singh died in 1769 of accidental poisoning

Vikram Sen (1791):

  • First, he imprisoned Wazir Narpat in the fort of “Batwara” where he was executed.
  • In 1792, Raja Sansar Chand invaded Mandi and made Ishwari Sen Prisoner at Nadaun for 12 years.
  • In this venture, Raja Sansar Chand was helped by “Kishan Sen” younger brother of Ranjit Singh, whose daughter was married to Sansar Chand.
  • The Hill chiefs of Kangra jointly sent an invitation through the Raja of Bilaspur to Amar Singh Thapa, Gorkha Commander for invading Kangra.
  • Sansar chand’s forces were defeated at Mehalmori and the fort of Kangra was captured by the Gorkhas.
  • Raja Ishwari Sen of Mandi held by Sansar Chand in captivity was also released by the Gorkhas.
  • Vikram Sen was made prisoner for about six months when he visited Bilaspur.
  • He was compelled to surrender six forts seized from Mandi including Hatli and Balh.
  • He managed his release in the night by leaving his Hukabardar in his place and reached his territory on foot.
  • The Gorkhas were unable to retain their hold on Kangra and in 1809 with the help of Maharja Ranjit Singh, Sansar Chand expelled them to the east of the Satluj but the famous Kangra fort was gulped by the Sikhs.
  • Thus the supremacy over the hill States passed into the hands of the Sikhs and Suket also became their tributary.
  • During this period, Pali and Dudar forts were constructed.
  • During Vikram Sen’s period William Moor Croft visited Suket in 1820 on his travel to Kullu and Ladakh and probably was the first European to visit Suket.
  • Vikram Sen was considered to be a strict administrator and he punished thieves, robbers and traffickers in women with the utmost rigour.
  • The capital of the state was established at Baned now called Sundarnagar about 3 Kilometres south of Suket which was founded by Garur Sen.
  • Suket or Naggar was called Purana Naggar but lost importance as new town namely Bhojpur sprang up halfway between Baned and Suket.

Ugar Sen (1838):

  • Uggar Sen became the Raja of Suket in 1838.
  • During his reign, a revolt took place in Kehlur in which Ugar Sen played the role of a good neighbour to bring peace in Kehlur.
  • Mr. Vigne, the traveller visited Suket during his time in 1839 on his way back from the inner mountains.
  • According to Mr. Vigne, Suket-Mandi valley was 8-10 miles in length and 3-4 miles in breadth richly cultivated and having numerous villages surrounded by various forests on hilltops.
  • In 1840, Nau Nihal Singh grandson of Ranjit Sigh under the command of General Ventura Sen force to attack Suket, Mandi, and Kullu. Raja Ugar Sen accepted submission so he was treated kindly.
  • In 1845, Uggar Sen refused to oblige the Sikhs when they asked for contingent against the Britishers who had invaded the territory.
  • Uggar sen joined hand with Balbir Sen of Mandi and had a meeting with Mr Erskine, the Superintendent of Shimla Hill States at Bilaspur tendering their allegiance to the British Government and requested for an interview.
  • On conclusion of the treaty of March 9, 1846 between the British Government and Sikh darbar, the whole of Doab between the Satluj and Beas were ceded in perpetuity to the former.
  • Mandi and Suket falling within the ceded territory came directly under the British control and were placed under the charge of Commissioner of Jalandhar in October, 1846 and ‘Sanad’ was granted to Uggar Sen defining his rights and obligations and confirming his possession.
  • The right of adoption was also granted to the State on failure of direct heirs.
  • Uggar Sen built the Shiva temple at Amla-Bimla and in 1876 died due to paralysis.
  • He was well respected by his people for his liberal view, courtesy and courage.
  • He was well versed in Sanskrit and was also fond of music and well acquainted with the science of medicines.

Rudar Sen:

  • Rudar Sen imposed ‘Dhal’ on the land instead of tax on each house.
  • His rules were considered very oppressive and land revenue was increased in addition to the various levies imposed on the Zamindars which created resentment among the people.
  • He was deposed in 1879 and finally he settled at Hoshiarpur till his death in 1887.

Read also: Major Characteristics of District Mandi

Dusht Nikandan Sen:

  • Being minor the administration remained in the hands of the Superintendent until the Raja received full power.
  • The land assessment was reduced in 1888 and two systems of land assessment were introduced and also carried out many improvements in the State.
  • He opened a dispensary at Baned and a school at Bhojpur.
  • A post office was opened in 1900 and a telegraph office in 1906.
  • The work on various important public utility buildings was also undertaken.
  • A bridge on Satluj at Juiri was also completed in 1889 and the roads were maintained in good condition.
  • The sepoy lines and a new jail building were constructed in addition to office complex and granaries.
  • He was succeeded by his son Bhim Sen in 1908.

Bhim Sen:

  • During his regime, a fully equipped hospital was constructed at Baned, and rest houses at Baned, Seri, and Dehar were also constructed.
  • The road from Suket to Mandi was made motorable.
  • The Raja rendered valuable services during the first World War and the title of Knighthood was conferred on him.
  • Bhim Sen died in 1919 and was succeeded by his younger brother Lakshman Sen as the late Raja had no issue.

Lakshman Sen: 

  • Land revenue settlements were carried out during the time of Raja Lakshman Sen and the department of the judiciary and other government departments were recognized.
  • Schools for boys and girls were also opened.
  • Club building, orphanage, and Chief Court were also constructed during his time.

The political control of the State was transferred to the Government of India from the government of Punjab on 1st November 1921.

The State was merged with Himachal Pradesh on 15th April 1948 and a separate district of Mandi came into existence by merging Mandi and the Suket States.

Read also: Fairs and Festivals of District Mandi – Himachal Pradesh

History of Mandi Princely State

The chiefs of Mandi, Suket, Keonthal and Kishtwar are said to be from a common ancestor of the Chandravanshi line of Rajputs of Sen dynasty of Bengal and they claim their descent from the Pandavas of Mahabharta.

Mandi is known by the name of Zahor among the Tibetan. It has an interesting association with the
great Buddhist teacher and missionary, Padma Sambhava (AD 750-800), for it was from Zahor or Mandi that he went at the request of the Tibetan King Srongld btzen, to preach the doctrines of Buddhism in Tibet. Pandit Hira Nand Shastri states that in his lamaist representations, Padma sambhava appears in the ancient Mandi garb and the special head dress worn by him is still called
Zahorma.

The separation of Mandi from Suket took place about the year 1200 AD. It is said that Bahu Sen having a quarrel with his elder brother Sahu Sen, So Bahu Sen left Suket and settled at “Manglan” in Kullu where his descendants lived for eleven generations.

Karanchena Sen was the tenth descendant from Bahu Sen and his Rani was the daughter of Rana of Seokot. Being an ambitious ruler he subdued the Ranas of Bans, Neru, and Baggi, Thachi, and forced them to pay tributes to him. The subdued Ranas appealed to the Kullu chief and requested for his help.

Karanchena Sen was killed while fighting against Kullu Raja and his Rani was pregnant at that time fled to her father who was chief of “Seokot” in Mandi. She gave birth to a child on her way under a Ban tree. Her father had no son and brought up his daughter’s son and gave him the name Ban Sen.

Ban Sen (1301-1346 A.D.): 

  • At the age of 15, Ban Sen killed the chief of “Kilti” who used to plunder travelers.
  • After the death of his maternal grandfather, he changed his residence to “Bhiu” near the present Mandi.
  • He died about 1300 AD. He was succeeded by his son Kalyan Sen who built a palace at Batahuli on the right bank of the river Beas which remained capital of Mandi state till the present Mandi town was established.
  • Ban Sen built Prashar Temple in A.D. 1340. This temple is built in Pagoda Style.

Raja Ajbar Sen:

  • He was the 19th descendant of Bahu Sen.
  • He succeeded his father in 1527, he may be called the first Raja of Mandi.
  • He was considered an able and benevolent ruler.
  • He founded the present Mandi town and shifted his capital to this place.
  • The temple of Bhutnath in the heart of the town was constructed during his reign and that of Triloknath by the inspiration of his queen Surat Rani or Sultana Devi.
  • The Ranas of Kamlah and Kalar were subjugated by him and Chattar Sen, his son built a fort in Kalar called Lakargarh.
  • Most of the Ranas of the adjoining areas accepted the supremacy of Mandi and were subjected to pay tributaries in cash and kind.
  • He was succeeded by Chhatar Sen followed by Sahib Sen.

Raja Sahib Sen:

  • With the initiative of Rani of Sahib Sen, the ferry on the Beas between Batahuli and Mandi and drinking water fountains were constructed along the main roads.
  • Sahib Sen invaded the Rana of Drang and acquired the salt mines.
  • It is said that the area known as Seraj Kullu became the part of Mandi when Raja Jagat Singh of Kullu with the assistance of Mandi defeated the Raja Jai Chand of Laksari.

Narayan Sen: 

  • Narayan Sen was a son of Sahib Sen and succeeded him in 1575AD.
  • Further extension of territory were made during his reign and Ranas of Ner, Pandoh and Chuhar were subdued and seven garhs illaguas of Chuhar and five of Pandoh were annexed to the State.
  • He built the fort of Naraingarh and annexed a large portion of Suket by fixing the boundary at Balh and Lohara.
  • He was succeeded by Keshav Sen in 1595 AD.

Keshav Sen: 

  • Mandi came under the influence of Mughals during the reign of Keshav Sen but the Mughals did not interfere in the internal matters of the state.
  • The Mughal emperor was acknowledged by payment of annual tribute and furnishing a contingent for military expeditions.
  • The ‘Satli/Sati pillars’ of Mandi Rajas and their families locally known as Barsetas still stand on the left bank of Suketi Nallah.

Read also: District Mandi Highlights of 2011 Census

Raja Surya/Suraj Sen (1637/1664 or 1623/1658):  

  • He was an ambitious chief, but his efforts to extend his territory did not materialize and rather brought disaster to the state.
  • The Mughal supremacy had been fully established and Mandi like other hill states became a tributary to the Mughal Empire.
  • During his time, the state suffered territorial losses to Kullu and Guler chiefs and state was sacked.
  • He built the “Kamlagarh” fort in 1625 A.D.
  • He built the second palace at Mandi, known a Damdama.
  • He had eighteen sons but they all died in his lifetime so he made a silver image which he named “Madho Rai” to which he assigned kingdom.

Raja Shyam Sen:

  • Suraj Sen was succeeded by his brother Shyam Sen to the throne in 1658.
  • He was a great traveler, visited Nepal, Banaras, and Jaganath.
  • He built Shama Kali temple, on the “Dhar Tarna” above Mandi town.

Raja Gur Sen:

  • He brought the image of God from Jaganath.
  • With the assistance of the ruler of Bilaspur, he conquered and annexed the areas of Dhayara, Bira, and Patri from Suket.
  • He made alliances with Kehlur against Raja of Kangra and a battle took place at “Hatoli”.

Raja Sidh Sen:  

  • He succeeded the throne in 1678.
  • Jippu the illegitimate brother of his father Gur Sen, was a great minister during Sidh Sen rule.
  • He killed Prithi Pal his son-in-law of Bhanghal at Damdama Palace.
  • He annexed good number of territories to the state from Banaghal, Suket, and Kullu.
  • The revenue system introduced by him remains to enforce in the state until the regular settlement in 1917.
  • He also introduced the system of advancing state loans to private persons.
  • The areas of Nachan, Hatli, and Lad were acquired from Suket by conquest in 1688 and he also captured the forts of Danesargarh and Sarakpur.
  • Shivpur was also recovered and Raipur and Madhopur belonging to Suket were annexed.
  • Guru Govind Singh visited Mandi in the close of the 17th century.
  • Guru Gobind Singh had been imprisoned at Sultanpur by Raja Raj Singh of Kullu, from whom he had sought assistance against Mughals. It is said that Guru escaped by using miraculous powers.
  • Raja Sidh Sen built a temple to the Ganesha which is known as “Sidhganesha” and Triloknath.
  • He died at the age of 100 years and his only son “Jawala Sen” died during his life, so he was succeeded by grandson “Shamsher Sen”.

Read also: History of Mandi Town – Himachal Pradesh

Ishwari Sen:

  • He was only 5 years of age when his father Shiv Man Sen died.
  • Sansar Chand took advantage of his minority, invaded Mandi, and took Ishwari Sen to Kangra, and kept him at “Nadaun” as a prisoner for 12 years.
  • He was released by Gurkhas in 1806. After the defeat of Gurkhas by the forces of Maharaj Ranjit Singh in 1809, Ishwari Sen was forced to pay a “Nazrana” or tribute annually to Sikhs.
  • Nazrana was hiked in 1815, when Zalim Sen, brother of Ishwari Sen, went Lahore to sought Ranjit help to obtain the throne for himself. Zalim Sen came to power in 1826 A.D.
  • During his fight against his brother Ishwari, he took refuge at Kangra under the protection of Sansar Chand of Kangra.
  • He died in 1839 A.D., before his death he handed over the administration of the state to his younger nephew Balbir Sen son of a concubine (not a son of the queen) of Raja Ishwari Sen.

Balbir Sen: 

  • After the death of Ranjit Singh in 1839, his grandson Naunihal Singh attacked Suket, Mandi, and Kullu before an expedition taken to the Chinese land (Tibet).
  • The Sikh army came under the command of “General Ventura” (French).
  • Balbir Sen having paid his tribute and was ordered to attend the Sikh general in his camp.
  • On his arrival, he was captured and imprisoned in Govindgarh Fort at Amritsar.
  • In January 1841, “Sher Singh” became Maharaja of Lahore and ordered the release of Balbir Sen and he was allowed to take with him the silver image of Goddess Devi.
  • In the first Anglo Sikh war 1845-46, Mandi supported Britishers along with his neighboring state Suket.
  • After the battle, Britishers granted “Sanad” to Balbir Sen with many restrictions and conditions.
  • Raja Balbir Sen died in 1851, leaving a four-year son Bijai Sen, under the protection of Wazir “Gasaon”.

Lord Lawrence, then Commissioner of Jalandhar and Political Agent of the hill states visited Mandi on his way to Kullu in the autumn of 1846 and advised the Raja to build roads in the state.

Mr. Barnes, the First Deputy Commissioner of Kangra also settled the boundaries between Mandi, Suket, and Kangra.

Suspension or Victoria bridge over river Beas was built by Raja Bijai Sen in 1877.

British authority decided to constitute a council to run the state. Wazir Gasaon was appointed president and “Mian Bhag Singh” and Purohit were appointed spiritual advisers of state.

During the rule of council number of reforms were introduced such as reduction of forced labour and marriage of widows.

William Moorcroft was the first European to visit Mandi in March, 1820 during the reign of Ishwari Sen.

Mandi was visited by Mr Vigne in 1839 AD.

In 1863 Mr. Clark was appointed as superintendent of the Raja Bijai’s education.

The government of India in 1864 honored the Raja with a salute of 11 guns on his arrival at the headquarters of the district.

In 1866 Mr. E. Harrison was appointed a new adviser of Raja.

In 1871, Lord Mayo, Viceroy of India paid a visit to Mandi via Bilaspur and Suket.

In September 1899, Mandi was visited by “Lord Elgin”.

Raja Joginder Sen Bahadur was last Raja of Mandi who died in 1986.

From 16 November 1921, the political control of the state was transferred from Punjab government to the government of India till 15th august 1947.

On 8″ March 1948, the last Raja Col. Joginder Sen decided to abolish the separate symbol of Mandi and finally, Mandi became part of Himachal on 15 April 1948.

Read more: History of District Hamirpur

3 thoughts on “Brief History of District Mandi – Himachal Pradesh

    1. HP General Studies Post author

      Thanks for your kind words Aditi. This article will be updated within a week.

      Keep visiting!! 🙂

      Reply

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