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Battle of Bhangani
Battle of Bhangani.jpg
Date18 September 1686
Bhangani, near Paonta, Punjab region (now Himachal Pradesh)
Result Sikh Victory [2][3]
Pir Budhu Shah's disciple
Alliance of Hindu Hill Rajas
Commanders and leaders
Guru Gobind Singh
Bhai Daya Singh
Bhai Sangat Singh
Bhim Chand (Kahlur)
Fateh Shah
Hari Chand

The Battle of Bhangani (Punjabi: ਭੰਗਾਣੀ ਦਾ ਯੁੱਧ) was fought between Guru Gobind Singh's army and Bhim Chand (Kahlur) of Bilaspur on 18 September 1686, at Bhangani near Paonta Sahib.Rajput Rajas of Shivalik Hills participated in the war from Bhim Chand (Kahlur)‘s Bilaspur State side.[4] It was the first battle Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru, fought at the age of 19.[5]

Bichitra Natak, an autobiography generally attributed to Guru Gobind Singh, contains a detailed description of the battle.


Guru Gobind Singh resided at Anandpur, which was though located in the territory of Raja Bhim Chand of Bilaspur (Kahlur) but Anandpur Sahib was an autonomous region held by Guru Gobind Singh as the barren land of Makhowal was purchased by his father Guru Teg Bahadur and town was developed with earlier name Chakk Nanki.[citation needed]

By the 1680s, the Guru's influence and power had increased greatly. His devotees came from distant places and brought him valuable gifts. A devotee called Duni Chand visited Anandpur in 1681, and presented him a Shamiana (a royal canopy or tent) embroidered in gold and silver, and was studded with pearls. Ratan Rai, the son of Raja Ram Rai of Assam, visited Anandpur with his mother and several ministers, and presented several gifts to the Guru, including an elephant called Prasadi (or Parsadi).[citation needed]

In the mid-1680s, Guru Gobind Singh ordered the construction of a war drum (nagara) to enthuse his army. The job of constructing the drum was entrusted to the Guru's Dewan, Nand Chand, and the drum was named Ranjit Nagara.[6] The use of such a war drum was limited to the chieftains, within their territory. Its use by the Guru was considered a hostile act by Raja Bhim Chand. On his Prime Minister's advice, the Raja arranged a meeting with the Guru, and visited his court in Anandpur. There, his eyes fell on the valuable gifts presented to the Guru by the devotees.[citation needed]

Some days later, Bhim Chand sent a message to Anandpur, asking the Guru to lend the Prasadi elephant to him. Bhim Chand wanted the elephant to make a display of his wealth to the guests at his son's proposed wedding. The Guru knew that Bhim Chand wanted to gain permanent possession of the elephant by deceptive tactics, and declined the Raja's request. He stated that the devotee who had presented the elephant didn't want it to be given away to anybody else. Bhim Chand is said to have sent his emissaries thrice to the Guru, the last one being Raja Kesari Chand of Jaswal. However, the Guru didn't accept his demand, and refused to part with the elephant.[citation needed]

The Raja felt disgraced by the Guru's refusal, and got restless with Guru's growing influence, and his interest in military exercises. Soon an atmosphere of confrontation developed between them due to Guru's sovereign and autonomous actions though Guru never seemed offensive towards territorial gains.[7]

In April 1685, Guru Gobind Singh shifted his residence to Paonta (now Poanta sahib) in Sirmur state, at the invitation of Raja Mat Prakash (a.k.a. Medni Prakash) of Sirmur. The reasons for the shift are not clear.[7] The author of Bichitra Natak doesn't mention any reason for shifting his residence to Paonta.[8] According to the Gazetteer of the Sirmur state, the Guru was compelled to quit Anadpur due to differences with Bhim Chand, and went to Toka. From Toka, he came to Nahan (the capital of Sirmur) at the request of Raja Medni Prakash. From Nahan, he proceeded to Paonta.[9] According to Ajay S. Rawat, Raja Mat(Medni) Prakash invited the Guru to his kingdom in order to strengthen his position against Raja Fateh Shah of Garhwal.[7] At the request of Raja Mat Prakash, the Guru constructed a fort at Paonta with help of his followers, in a short time. He continued to increase his army. Raja Fateh Shah also paid a visit to the Guru, and was received with honor in his court. The Guru established a peace treaty between the two Rajas.[citation needed]

The marriage of Bhim Chand's son was arranged with the daughter of Fateh Shah. Bhim Chand had to go from Bilaspur to Srinagar (the capital of Garhwal) for the marriage ceremony, and the shortest route passed through Paonta. However, the Guru had no faith in Bhim Chand, and he refused to let his heavily armed party pass through Paonta. After negotiations, the Guru permitted only the bridegroom and a small number of his companions to cross the ferry near Paonta. The rest of the marriage party, including Bhim Chand, had to follow a circuitous route to Srinagar. This increased Bhim Chand's hostility towards the Guru.[citation needed]

Fateh Shah had invited the Guru to the wedding celebrations. The Guru sent his representatives Bhai Nand Chand (or Namd Chand) and Bhai Daya Ram to the wedding celebrations. He also sent jewellery worth approximately a hundred thousand rupees as a gift for the bride. His representatives were accompanied by 500 horsemen to guard the gift. When Bhim Chand learns of the gift from the Guru, he threatened to cancel the marriage if Fateh Shah accepted the gift.[7] Fateh Shah, fearing for his daughter's future, refused to accept the gift, and sent back the Guru's contingent.[citation needed]

On their way back to Paonta, the Guru's horsemen were attacked by the Rajas' forces. They managed to defend themselves, and told the Guru about the incident. The Guru, anticipating an attack from the Rajas, made preparations for the war.[9]

Guru Gobind Singh in his autobiographical work Bichitra Natak wrote that Fateh Shah fought with him for no reason.[10][3][11]


Bhim Chand and Fateh Shah formed an alliance with the other hill Rajas: Kirpal of Katoch, Gopala of Guler (or Guleria), Hari Chand of Hindur and Kesari Chand of Jaswal.[citation needed]

According to Harjinder Dilgeer there was no Pathan in the Guru's army, and story of Pir Budhu Shah sending his sons is a later concoction.[citation needed] Pir Budhu Shah was at Sadhaura, about 60 km from Paonta; it was not possible for him to receive the news of betrayal by Pathan soldiers.[12] Even if it is accepted, there is no explanation for how he could get the news the same day and dispatch his son from Sadhaura to Bhangani: it would mean that the battle continued for several days. Thus, he concludes that Pir Budhu Shah's story is a concoction; however, there is no doubt that Pir was an admirer of the Guru and for this 'crime' Usman Khan the chief of Sadhaura had punished (killed) the Pir and his two sons.[13]

The battle

The battle of Bhangani lasted for a day; some historians argue that it lasted for nine hours. But it was fought with great fury.[14] As the combined armies of the hill Rajas marched towards Paonta, Guru Gobind Singh also marched towards them. The opposing forces met on the banks of Yamuna river, at Bhangani, 6 miles (9.7 km) away from Paonta. The battle resulted in the death of several of the Guru's and the Pir's disciples, including the two sons of the Pir.[15]

Description in Bachittar Natak

The author of Bachittar Natak, believed to be Guru Gobind Singh, praises his own soldiers, as well as those of the enemy forces. According to him, the Guru's soldiers included the five sons of Bibi Viro (the daughter of Guru Har Gobind): Sango Shah, Jit Mall, Gulab Chand, Mahri Chand and Ganga Ram.[16] Sango Shah fell down after killing Najbat Khan[17] of the opposing army.[18] The Guru praises the heroism of Daya Ram, and equates him to Dronacharya of Mahabharata.[19] He also says that his maternal uncle Kirpal Chand fought like a true Kshatriya and killed one Hayat Khan with his Kutka (mace).[20]

The other soldiers mentioned by the author include Lal Chand, Sahib Chand, Maharu, Nand Chand or Namd Chand (who fought with his dagger after his sword broke).[21] The enemies mentioned by him include Gopal (the king of Guleria), the Raja of Chandel, and the chiefs of Jaswal and Dadhwal.

The author praises the archery skills of Hari Chand.[22] Hari Chand killed Jit Mall in a duel, but himself fainted. After coming to his senses, he fired arrows at the Guru, who survived and killed Hari Chand with an arrow.[23]

The author said that he himself went into the battlefield when an arrow struck his body.[citation needed]


Guru Gobind Singh came out victorious,[24] and won the battle.[25] Guru Gobind Singh in Bichitra Natak also mentions that the battle resulted in the victory of the Guru's forces, and the enemy forces fled from the battlefield.[26]

The Guru, though victorious, did not occupy the territory of defeated hill chiefs.[27] Some historians such as H. Raturi, Anil Chandra Banerjee and A. S. Rawat speculate that the battle must have ended without any conclusive result, since the Guru's victory is not substantiated by any territorial annexations, and the Guru entered into an understanding with Bhim Chand soon after the battle.[7][28] However, this was most likely because the Guru was not after any territorial gains, just as his grandfather, Guru Hargobind had done when winning his battles against the Mughals.


The tombs of the dead hill chieftains were constructed at Bhangani.[9] The Guru is said to have pitched his flag at Bhangani, and today a Gurdwara marks the spot.[9]

The author of Bichitra Natak states that after the battle, the Guru didn't remain at Paonta, and returned to Anandpur. Those who fought in the battle were rewarded, and those who didn't were turned out of the town.[29]

Sometime after the Guru's return to Anandpur, peace was established between Raja Bhim Chand and Guru Gobind Singh,[15] after the former paid a visit to the Guru with his minister.[30]


  1. ^ Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh (February 2012). Birth of the Khalsa, The: A Feminist Re-Memory of Sikh Identity. SUNY Press. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-7914-8266-7.
  2. ^ Raj Pal Singh (2004). The Sikhs : Their Journey Of Five Hundred Years. Pentagon Press. p. 35. ISBN 9788186505465.
  3. ^ a b Phyllis G. Jestice (2004). Holy People of the World: A Cross-cultural Encyclopedia, Volume 1. ABC-CLIO. pp. 345, 346. ISBN 9781576073551.
  4. ^ "Garhwal (Princely State)". Archived from the original on 27 October 2007. Retrieved 1 December 2007.
  5. ^ Singh, Bhagat Lakshman (1995). A Short Sketch of the Life and Works of Guru Gobind Singh. Asian Educational Services. p. 78. ISBN 978-81-206-0576-3. OCLC 55854929.
  6. ^ Dilgeer, Harjinder Singh, SIKH HISTORY in 10 volumes (in English), Sikh University Press, 2010-11.
  7. ^ a b c d e Rawat, Ajay Singh (2002). Garhwal Himalaya : a study in historical perspective. Indus Publishing. pp. 50–54. ISBN 81-7387-136-1. OCLC 52088426.
  8. ^ Bichitra Natak. Chapter 8, Chaupai 1.[dead link] "Then I left my home and went to place named Paonta.".
  9. ^ a b c d Gazetteer of the Sirmur State. New Delhi: Indus Publishing. 1996. p. 16. ISBN 978-81-7387-056-9. OCLC 41357468.
  10. ^ Bichitra Natak. Chapter 8, Chaupai 3. Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine "...Fateh Shah became angry and fought with me without any reason.".
  11. ^ Arvind-Pal Singh Mandair (2013). Sikhism: A Guide for the Perplexed. A & C Black. p. 55. ISBN 9781441117083.
  12. ^ It is worth mentioning here that the whole story of the so-called 'Pathans' and of Budhu Shah's sons, etc., is apocryphal. According to a contemporary memoir (1692) by one Haji Samiullah, a scholar of Rohtak (preserved in the Punjab Archives, Lahore, Pakistan), probably Budhu Shah or some other Muslim Sufi divine did join the Guru's forces with some 45 (forty-five) 'Syeds and Kizilbashes' who were of the Shiah persuasion; and they played a modest part in the battle's proceedings. This incident was in all probability blown up into the popular story
  13. ^ Dilgeer, Harjinder Singh (2010), Sikh History (in 10 volumes), publisher Sikh University Press & Singh Brothers Amritsar, 2010–11
  14. ^ Singh, Prithi Pal (2007). The History of Sikh Gurus. Lotus Press. p. 137. ISBN 978-81-8382-075-2.
  15. ^ a b Singh, Prithi Pal (2007). The History of Sikh Gurus. Lotus Books. pp. 137–138. ISBN 978-81-8382-075-2.
  16. ^ Bichitra Natak. Chapter 8, Chaupai 4-5 Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Not to be confused with another famous Najabat Khan Nawab of Kunjpura
  18. ^ Bichitra Natak. Chapter 8, Chaupai 23 Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ Bichitra Natak. Chapter 8, Chaupai 6 Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ Bichitra Natak. Chapter 8, Chaupai 7-8 Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Bichitra Natak. Chapter 8, Chaupai 8 Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ Bichitra Natak. Chapter 8, Chaupai 12 Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine and [Chaupai 26]
  23. ^ Bichitra Natak. Chapter 8, Chaupai 28-8.33 Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ Mahajan, Vidya Dhar (1970). Muslim Rule In India. S.Chand, New Delhi. p. 235.
  25. ^ Singh, Bhagat Lakshman. Short Sketch of the Life and Works of Guru Gobind Singh. Asian Educational Services. p. 78. ISBN 81-206-0576-4.
  26. ^ Bichitra Natak. Chapter 8, Chaupai 34 Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Singh, Prithi Pal (2006). The History of Sikh Gurus. Lotus Press. pp. Guru Gobind Singh, 137. ISBN 81-8382-075-1.
  28. ^ Raturi, Harikrishna (1980) [1928]. Garhwal ka Itihas. Bhagirathi Prakashan Griha. ISBN 81-86424-00-8. OCLC 7250188.
  29. ^ Bichitra Natak. Chapter 8, Chaupai 35-8.37 Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ Singh, Bhagat Lakshman. Short Sketch of the Life and Works of Guru Gobind Singh. Asian Educational Services. p. 80. ISBN 81-206-0576-4.