History of Patiala

June 1, 2011 Sushant Patiala

The history of Patiala, by way of legend, goes back to Rigvedic times. However, its early history from authentic sources, can be traced back to 1627 when Mohan Singh, blessed by the Guru Hargobind, set up the village of Mehraj. In 1631 he fought the Battle of Mehraj, along- side of Guru Hargobind against the Moghuls; but soon he and son, Roop Chand were killed in a fight against the Bhatti Rajputs. Over time by 1714, a descendant, Ala Singh took over the petty zamindary of 30 villages and carved out a separate independent principality. He was shrewd and decided to ally himself with the Afghans against the competing ambitions for territory by the Moghuls and the Marathas.

History of Patiala After a hard fought 3rd.Battle of Panipat in 1761 between the Afghans & Marathas, the victorious Afghan Ahmad Shah Abdali rewarded Ala Singh with the title of Maharaja of Patiala. Later his grandson Amar Singh took up the title of Raj-I-Rajaan. The kingdom of the subsequent Maharajas came to extend from the Shivalik hills in the north, Rajasthan to the South and the upper courses of the Yamuna & Sutlej rivers. It was a ceaseless struggle to remain independent, first against neighbors- the Bhullars& Dhaliwals(tappedars)’ next the Bhatti Rajputs, later maneuvering between the Moghuls, Afghans and the Marathas.

When the British came knocking in the east, the Maharaja of Patiala decided to sign a Treaty of amity with the latter. Consequently, the British over the next few decades showed great deference to the rajas of Patiala ie upto the time Yadavendra Singh. The Maharaja of Patiala once again exhibited similar judiciousness, when he came forward to sign the Instrument of Accession after India gained Independence. In recognition of his services, he was made “Rakpramukh” of Patiala and East Punjab States Union(PEPSU) with Patiala as capital. Today it serves as the Divisional headquarters of Malwa Region.

The foundation of the present city of Patiala is credited to Ala Singh who built the Quilla Mubarak and thus gave birth to a school of architecture in which the city takes great pride. The City had, at its centre, the King’s residence designed akin to a temple. Separate “Mohallas” developed, of the Khatris, Banias, Aroras etc. according to the status of the residents . The nobility took pride in designing their “Havellis” matching their wealth. Today, however, most such structures are not maintained. Maharaja Narendra Singh(1845-1862) fortified the city by constructing ramparts with 10 gates around it. Here the influence of Rajasthani architecture is evident.

Each successor of the dynasty either added to the Quilla or built their “abodes of peace and prosperity” such as the Moti Bagh Palace,the Sheesh Mahal the Baradari Palace with its famed gardens, the Bahadurgarh Fort and the fist degree college of the region built by Mohendra Singh. Further with the disintegration of the Moghul empire, prominent artists, musicians came to be rehabilitated under the patronage of this Sikh kingdom.

While neighboring Sikh kingdoms of Nabha and Jind have their own glorious history, Patiala’s however, is one, of achieving a blend of the Moghul, Aghan, Kangra, Rajasthani art forms and styles well displayed in its architecture, paintings, music & dance; known to locals as “Patialvi”. It displays a robust and confident culture of its own.

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