Wednesday, 11 April 2018

J for Jalandhar

Jalandhar is a popular city of North India and is one of the important cities of Punjab today, but the city prides in tracing its origins to the mythological and ancient times and we find the history of the place quite well recorded throughout. Jalandhar has passed through the hands of many rulers and dynasties but unlike many cities of the same fate, its name has remained unchanged since the mythical era.

The legend of Jalandhara

The Shiva Purana describes Lord Shiva’s fight with a mighty Asura named Jalandhara, who had defeated the Devas and had become the ruler of all the three worlds. Jalandhara had been born out of the ocean and had been thus named. Shiva’s battle with Jalandhara was fought in the plains of the North-west and Shiva killed Jalandhara in the battle by crushing his head with a mountain. The region between the Sutlej and Beas rivers is the place where Jalandhara was buried after his death and hence the place is named Jalandhar after him.

Some later ancient texts attribute the origins of Jalandhar to Lav, son of Lord Rama, who is known to have set up his first kingdom in the region. Lav had founded a few cities in the region including Jalandhar, which had been named as it lay between the waters of the two rivers. Jalandhar in Sanskrit means ‘inside the water’.

Jalandhar in the later Vedic period

Sanskrit grammarian Panini’s Ashtadhyayi (in V3.116) mentions the janapada (district) Trigarta as a confederacy of states in the region which corresponds to the later Jalandhar area. The name Trigarta in Sanskrit refers to the land drained by three rivers, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej. Trigarta contained Patanaprastha (modern day Pathankot) at the entrance of the Kangra valley, and its central portion was made up of the Beas valley and the cities of Uluka (ref. Mahabharata – Sabhaparva) (modern day Kulu), Nagara (Nagarkot) and Mandamati (modern day Mandi). It is said that Nagarkot and the adjacent region was originally founded by Bhima, the second Pandava, and he lived there with his wife Hidimba (this is referenced in the popular folk-lore surrounding the Hidimba temple near Kulu, where Hidimba and her son Ghatotkatch are revered.)

Jalandhar is referred to as the capital for the janapada of Trigarta as early as the Mahabharata war, in the Padma Purana. It remained so, until the region disintegrated during the reign of the Kushana king Kanishka in about 100 AD. During the reign of Kanishka, an important Buddhist council was held in Jalandhar which met to collate and arrange the sacred writings of the Buddha and resolve differences within the different sects of Buddhism. During the reign of Emperor Harshavardhana in the 7th Century AD, the Jalandhar doab region was a tributary kingdom to Harsha’s empire, ruled over by Raja Udit. The capital remained Jalandhar and a stronghold fort was erected at Kangra. During this time, the Chinese monk and pilgrim Hieuen Tsang visited Jalandhar and his travel accounts mark the presence of considerable Buddhist stupas and viharas (monasteries) in the region.

In the period after Harsha, when the political chaos in northern and central India kept the kings of different kingdoms engaged in fighting against each other for territorial successes, the north-west region passed into the hands of the Hindu Shahi dynasty of Kabul. Jalandhar too was included in their kingdom and was an important city in the Hindu Shahi kingdom, the capital of which was Kabul. The Hindu Shahi dynasty kings ruled over the entire north-west (part of modern-day Afghanistan, Pakistan and Punjab) for 300 years, while the Kashmir and Himachal areas passed into the hands of the King of Kashmir. Towards the later part of the 10th Century, the Hindu Shahi dynasty was overthrown by Mahmud of Ghazni, who invaded the area in 1001 and defeated the Hindu Shahi kings of Kabul, Jayapala and Anandapala. It was during his invasion in 1019 that Mahmud captured the fort at Kangra and swept over the area.

The royal family of Jalandhar and Kangra is one of the oldest in India and they claim their descent from the Chandravanshi (Lunar dynasty) line of kings. Their genealogy starts with King Susarma Chandra who is said to have moved from Rajputana and established his kingdom in the Jalandhar doab region. We get to read about many scions of the Chandra family between 800 to 1300: from Jaya Malla Chandra who was King of Jalandhar in 804, to King Indra Chandra who married his daughter to the King of Kashmir in 1028, to the brothers Hari Chandra and Karmma Chandra who fell to the Muslim rulers expanding and consolidating their kingdoms in Hindustan. Thus we have historical evidence which suggests that Jalandhar existed as an independent state / kingdom for a long time before the invasions and subsequent consolidation of Muslim rule in the region.

Jalandhar: from the medieval to modern period

Jalandhar was first conquered around 1300 by Alauddin Khilji, and remained subjugated under his general-in-charge for the region. After Babur invaded and captured Jalandhar, he put Daulat Khan Lodhi in charge of the city as he proceeded further to conquer the heartland of north India. The Mughal domination of Jalandhar was briefly interrupted when it passed onto the Suri dynasty as Sher Shah overthrew Humayun, but as Humayun made a formidable return to win back his conquered kingdom, the Mughal rule once again reinstated in Jalandhar and the adjacent region. It remained subjugated to the Mughals till 1750 when the Durrani dynasty sultan from Afghanistan captured the city. Maharaja Ghamand Chandra, a Rajput from the Katoch clan was placed by the Durranis as the Nizam of Jalandhar. However, his rule was short-lived as soon rebellion broke out in the area and by 1760, Jalandhar was being ruled by 12 confederacies of the Sikhs.

By the early 1800s, as the Mughal dynasty lost its power and brilliance and the British started taking control over different kingdoms of India, Jalandhar was annexed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1811. Maharaja Ranjit Singh was a powerful king and a ferocious warrior and extended his sway from the Waziristan province in Afghanistan to the Punjab in the east. However, in 1846 Jalandhar was acquired by the British after the first Anglo-Sikh war and the Jalandhar cantonment was established. The city became a stronghold of the British in the North-west region, especially in Punjab. The British called the city 'Jullundur' in an anglicized way. There are many tales of valour recorded in Jalandhar’s participation in the 1857 mutiny and the later struggles of Indian independence.

Post-independence, Jalandhar became a part of the Indian state of Punjab and served as its capital till 1953, till Chandigarh acquired the status.


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I am participating in the #BlogchatterA2Z challenge and today’s letter is ‘J’.


  1. O wow , I never knew what Jalandhar word means . Although I have heard about the demon Jalandhara , but could never connect it with the city , never came across this mythological read . Thanks for upgrading my GK

    1. Hi Monika, thank you for reading my post and commenting. I am glad that you could learn something new from the article!

  2. Yet again, a great research and a great article. I am sure to learn many things at the end of this challenge.

    1. Thanks Sushma for your ever encouraging comments! I am happy that my posts are able to hold your interests:)

  3. I had a friend in college who was from Ludhiana and used to visit Jalandhar quiet often and he told me it was a great city. Fascinating history the city seems to have.

    1. Yes Jai.. quite an uncommon history though for a place like Jalandhar. I too was surprised to read about it. Thank you for reading the post and commenting!


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