Sunday, 7 December 2014

The Ranas of Pangi Valley

Chnadrabhagha river flowing through Pangi valley in Himachal Pradesh, India

The Pangi valley is located in the mid-Himalayas in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. The valley is not connected by road and is approachable through high altitude passes which open only for a short period of the year.

The general view about the inhabitants is that they are a clan of political offenders and condemned criminals sent by the Rajahs of the erstwhile states from time to time or the people moved there during the Muslim ascendancy.

There are two types of people in Pangi valley, the one with Aryan features and the other of Mangolian origin. The former comprise of Rajputs, Brahmins, Lohars, Chanal aand Hali etc. The Ranas and Thakurs dominate among the Rajput community. The surnames of the people are very confusing. In the same family some use the surname Sharma while others use Verma. The Mangolian race is a class of Bhots who at present are found to be living in the higher reaches of the valley and these places are known as Bhatories.

 Most of the Aryans owe their origin to the Bhadra and Padar, now in Jummu & Kashmir as the cultural affinity of both prove it. Even the village names are common e.g., Mahliyat and Killar villages exist in Pangi as well as in Bhadrawar in Jummu & Kashmir.  Some of the families use Negi as their surname and trace their origin to Zanskar and Ladakh.

The epigraphical records of fountain inscriptions provide sufficient evidence of historical presence of Pangi. The fountain slabs are dated both in Shastra or Saptrishi era and according to the reign of the ruling chief.

The fountain stone of Luj, dated in the first year of Raja Jasata supplies the first extract date of 1105 AD in the history of Chamba princely state and shows that it was a part of the state. The inscription on the fountan at Sahle is dated in 27th year of Lalit Verman, which corresponds to 1170 AD. This slab was erected by Raja Ludrapal whose descendants still live here. This slab mentions the name of Pangi as Pangali.

The fountain inscriptions are found near Paniharas or the public hydrants and show that Pangi was being ruled by the local Ranas and the Thakurs under the suzerainty of the Rajah of Chamba. These local petty chiefs enjoyed much autonomy. There are the instances of strife and disunity between the local rulers which was always exploited by the Rajah for extending their full authority on these small states.

At Sahli in Sechu Nullah, a Rana family ruled during the regime of Raja Lalit Verman (1141- 1170 AD) of Chamba. The last ruling Rana was Bhag Rana. He was a formidable Rans and the other Ranas were jealous of him. They made a plit with Raja of Chamba to kill him. Bhag Rana was an intimate friend of Sih, a Brahmin of Sach. Other Ranas bribed Sih to murder him. Bhag Rana was invited to dinner at Sih’s house. While he was taking dinner, the wife of Sih wounded the Rana with a daggar. Bhag Rana fled towards his house with the daggar still in his wound. He reached Hillov, where his wife met him. She gave him water and pulled the dagger out of the wound, but the Rana died and his state was annexed by the Raja of Chamba.

In Huden Nullah of Saga, there lived a brave Rana whose overbearing nature earned him several enemies. He used to remain fully armored but for a day in the year when he went to worship near Nagani Springs. Taking the advantage the Rana of Killar hid himself near the place and stabbed him. The family of Rana Saga is extinct but the family of Rana of Killar still lives in Mahliyat village.

Similarly the Rana of Istiyari exterminated the Rana family of Luj. Only one boy was left. But while hoarding the cattle along Luj River, the boy shot and arrow and killed the Rana of Istiyari.

Probably during the 10th and 11th century AD, the main Chandra- Bhaga valley as far as Tandi near the confluence of two rivers was included in the territory of Chamba state. Many tradtions of Chamba are still followed in the valley. The people of village Gus on the left bank say that they owned a copper plate deed called Sanad, granted by the Raja of Chamba, but it was taken away by the Rajah of Kullu. But rest of Lahaul seems to have been under the sway of the Rajah of Kullu from the early times. 

The annals of Kullu state that Lahaul was taken by the Raja Rudra Pal Verma of Chamba, but the region was recovered by Kullu in the following year. Though these records are legendary, yet they confirm that in earliet times Lahaul was under the rule of Kullu and Chamba.

Photo Credit- Nvvchar

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