Legendary Sikh General Hari Singh Nalwa was known as the “most feared Sikh warrior” when he had subdued the unruly forces in Afghanistan. After beating the Afghans and seizing control of several areas along Afghanistan’s border, Nalwa gained notoriety. Additionally, he forbade Afghans from crossing the Khyber Pass, which was the principal entrance for foreign invaders into India from 1000 AD until the early 19th century.
Hari Singh Nalwa was born in 1791 into an Uppal Khatri family and was originally from Majitha, a town in Punjab close to Amritsar. He came from a Sikh family known for their bravery and aggressive demeanour, the Sukerchakia Misl. Both his father and grandfather were outstanding fighters who took part in numerous battles. Hardas Singh, his great-grandfather, was engaged in combat with Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1762.
After his father passed away in 1804, his mother raised him, and when he was fourteen, she sent him to work in Ranjit Singh’s court. Being an expert horseman and musketeer, Maharaja Ranjit Singh engaged him to serve as his personal attendant at his court. He was awarded the title of “Sardar,” while serving in Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s troops. He had command over a sizeable force that included 800 horses and several foot soldiers. Maharaja Ranjit Singh made the decision to take measures to create a safe empire as the Afghans attempted to make repeated incursions into Punjab and Delhi. He organised two distinct armies. For one of these, he brought in modern weapons as well as soldiers from France, Germany, Italy, Russia, and Greece. He delegated control of the other army to Nalwa, who at that point had routed thousands of Hazaras, an Afghani tribe, with only three times their size.
Once he and Maharaja Ranjit Singh were travelling through a jungle, a lion suddenly charged at the Maharaja’s horse. In order to defend the Maharaja from the attack, Nalwa leaped and grabbed the lion’s head, then bare handedly severed his jaws. Since that time, he has been referred to as “Baaghmaar” (Tiger Killer)
After he was appointed Commander-in-Chief, Hari Singh Nalwa was given control of the Khyber Pass’s most covert path, which was frequently used for looting, murder, and kidnapping. According to legend, he developed a reputation as a terrifying figure among the criminals, and when his army had taken control of the area, their fear of him had thwarted all similar incidents along the road. For instance, Nalwa defeated Afghan monarch Kutab-ud-din Khan at the Battle of Kasur in 1807 while he was just 16-years-old (Kasur is now in Pakistan). Following that, Nalwa and other commanders triumphed at the battle of Attock in 1813 over Azim Khan and his brother Dost Mohammad Khan, who fought on behalf of Shah Mahmud of Kabul. The Sikhs had just achieved their first significant triumph over the Durrani Pathans. A Sikh force led by Nalwa won the battle of Peshawar in 1818.
Taking On Might of A Lion
As a result of his conquests of States like Mahmudkot, Peshawar, Mitha Tiwana, and Panjtaar, Hari Singh Nalwa was made Governor of several provinces. He was reportedly the richest jagirdar in the kingdom, according to another report. The world is well known for the tales of his aggression. Once he and Maharaja Ranjit Singh were travelling through a jungle, a lion suddenly charged at the Maharaja’s horse. In order to defend the Maharaja from the attack, Nalwa leaped and grabbed the lion’s head, then bare handedly severed his jaws. Since that time, he has been referred to as “Baaghmaar” (Tiger Killer). He received a special favour from Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1821, allowing him to launch the Hari Singh Rupee, a brand-new currency.
Until the very end of the late 19th century, these coins were in circulation. He established a fort close to Salik Serai and gave it the name Hari Kishangarh in honour of the eighth Guru of the Sikhs when in charge of the Pathan area of Hazara in 1822, which was to the North West of the Sikh empire.
Having created at least 56 structures, including forts, ramparts, towers, gurdwaras, tanks, temples, mosques, towns, and gardens, he was also a talented architect. He constructed Haripur, the first planned town in the area with an excellent water distribution system, in 1822. Moreover, Jamrud, a fort at the Khyber Pass’s entrance into Afghanistan, came under Nalwa’s control in 1837. Against the Afghan monarch Akbar Khan on April 30, 1837, he suffered two terrible cuts to his chest and four gunshot wounds to his body, yet he persisted in fighting until, eventually, he began to lose stamina. When he passed away, his army men carried him securely to the Jamrud Fort, which was built at the entrance to the Khyber Pass in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and cremated him there.
Creating Fear In Enemy’s Heart
It is reported that before he passed away, he had instructed his army men to keep the news of his passing a secret inside the fort in order to keep the enemy forces guessing. It is also claimed that the adversaries were so terrified by Hari Singh’s aggression that they refrained from marching inside the fort for a week. After learning that Hari Singh had passed away, the Afghans withdrew. In addition to defending Jamrud and Peshawar, Hari Singh Nalwa stopped the Afghans from pillaging the entire North Western boundary. As a result, he was unable to attack Afghanistan himself. This Sikh setback was costly for the very reason that Hari Singh Nalwa’s loss was irreparable.
Ranjit Singh wanted to talk about the successes in fights that were won against the Afghans. By ordering a shawl from Kashmir for the then-record price of Rs 5,000, on which the battles fought with them were represented, he was to immortalise these. Hari Singh Nalwa’s death meant that no more conquests were accomplished in this area. Until the British annexed the Punjab, the Khyber Pass served as the Sikh boundary. It is said that decades after his death, Yusufzai women used to say, Chup sha, Hari Singh Raghlay (“Keep quiet, Hari Singh is coming”) to frighten their children into obedience.