Hari Singh Nalwa (Punjabi: ਹਰੀ ਸਿੰਘ ਨਲਵਾ) (1791–1837) was Commander-in-chief of the Khalsa, the army of the Sikh Empire. He is known for his role in the conquests of Kasur, Sialkot, Multan, Kashmir, Attock, Peshawar and Jamrud. In 1813 he accompanied Diwan Mohkam Chand on an expedition to Kashmir which helped Maharaja Ranjit Singh to become the master of the Koh-i-Noor diamond.
Hari Singh Nalwa was responsible for expanding the frontier of Sikh Empire to beyond the Indus River right up to the mouth of the Khyber Pass. In 1831, he opposed moves by Ranjit Singh to appoint Kharak Singh as his successor as Maharaja of the Sikh Empire. At the time of his death, the western boundary of the Sikh Kingdom was Jamrud. His frontier policy of holding the Khyber Pass was later used by the British Raj.
He served as governor of Kashmir, Peshawar and Hazara and established a mint on behalf of the Sikh Empire to facilitate revenue collection.
Hari Singh's ancestors came to Majitha and served the Sukerchakia Misl. His grandfather, Hardas Singh, was killed in action in 1762. His father, Gurdial Singh, served under Charat Singh and Maha Singh as a Risaldar and received the Jagir of Balloki, a village in the modern day Kasur District of Pakistan.
Hari Singh Nalwa was born into an Uppal Khatri family, in Gujranwala, Punjab to Gurdas Singh uppal and Dharam Kaur. After his father died in 1798, he was raised by his mother with help from his uncle. His mother fought off attempts to seize the family's Jagir after his father's death. In 1801, at age ten, he took Amrit Sanskar and was baptized as a Sikh. At the age of twelve, he began to manage his father's estate and took up horseriding.
In 1804, at the age of fourteen, his mother sent him to Ranjit Singh's court to resolve a property dispute. Ranjit Singh decided the arbitration in his favour and asked him about his background. Hari Singh explained that his father and grandfather had served under Maha Singh and Charat Singh, the Maharaja's ancestors, and demonstrated his skills as horseman and musketeer. Ranjit Singh gave him a position at the court as a personal attendant.
His military career began in 1804 on a hunting trip. At some time during the hunt, he was temporarily separated from the hunting party and a lion attacked him, killing his horse. The rest of the hunters found him but he refused their attempts to protect him and killed the lion by himself with a shield and short sword. Ranjit Singh rewarded him with a commission as Sardar and the command of 800 cavalry.
Sir Henry Griffin called Nalwa the "Murat of the Khalsa". He participated in the conquests of Sialkot, Kasur (1807), Multan (1818), Kashmir (1819), Pakhli and Damtaur (1821-2), Peshawar (1834) and finally Jamrud in the Khyber Hills (1837). He defeated the Afghans and annexed a segment of what was the Kingdom of Kabul to the Sikh Kingdom. In Peshawar, he rebuilt the Bala Hisar Fort in Ranjit Singh's name.
Hari Singh served as the governor of both Kashmir and Peshawar. A coin minted in Kashmir came to be known as the 'Hari Singhee'. The coin is on display in museums.
Hari Singh Nalwa built the fortified town of Haripur, Pakistan in 1822. This was the first planned town in this entire region. Haripur city, tehsil and district, in Hazara, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan, are named after him.
Hari Singh Nalwa's sons Jawahir Singh Nalwa and Arjan Singh Nalwa carried forth his legacy and valiantly fought against the British. Jawahir Singh's heroic defense in the Battle of Chillianwala went down in history.
"General Hari Singh Nalwa seated in full armor adopting a militant stance" by Sir John McQueen
Hari Singh Nalwa's meeting with British travellers and a German are recorded. Baron Charles von Hügel remembers him fondly in his memoirs. He met the Sardar at his residence in Gujranwala. On that occasion the German was given a portrait of Nalwa in the act of killing a tiger. Hari Singh Nalwa was fluent in the Persian language. He was conversant with Punjabi, Gurmukhi script and Pushtu, the latter being the language of the Pashtuns. He was familiar with world politics, including details about the European states.
Accolades continued to be delivered long after Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa's death. Pannikar sums him up as "The noblest and the most gallant of the Sikh generals of his time, the very embodiment of honour, chivalry, and courage..."
For decades after his death, Yusufzai women would say "Raghe Hari Singh" ("Hari Singh is coming") to frighten their children into obedience.
The only person in the world who defeated afghans and tribal areas(north and south waziristan) of Pakistan.
Ok got it... I read about Nalwa long time back... it was said that he was kinda terror among Afghans... and his name was used to scare kids "So ja nahin to Naluwa aa jaega".
That was indeed golden period of Sikh Empire because they were able to capture the land often termed as graveyard of empires.The best in this empire was that muslims were not forced to convert rather assimilate in the empire and became part of Ranjit Sing's fauj.
I first read about Ranjit Singh in Class 8 history book, but it was a small section. It was in class 10, while preparing for board exam , and having an eye on scoring good marks, I read advanced history books and was amazed by the feats of Ranjit Singh- it almost looked incredible. The Afghans had been successfully invading us since the dawn of first millennium and as late as 18th century. And here was an Indian king who actually invaded and ruled them just a few decades later.It was mesmerizing.
the important thing about this is that the afghans were never able to recover peshawar after nalwa captured it---that peshawar which was the winter capital of the afghan kings . after the demise of the sikh empire peshawar went into british hands and then into pakistani hands .
thus the barbarians who had invaded india time and again were taught a lesson they would never forget......
Peshawar was historically Indian anyway. Purushottam Puru, or Porus, was from the region around Jhelum and Chenab rivers and Peshawar was probably his territory. Territories change hands all the time.
So after Chandragupta Maurya, Hari Singh Nalwa was the second Indian General to have captured major parts of Afghanistan. There was another Rajput King who allied with Akbar and raided Kabul, but he never captured those territories. All the wealth they brought were hidden in Amber Palace, that was allegedly taken away by India Gandhi and given to World Bank in lieu of loans. [this is hearsay]
BTW, I see that Peshawar is close to Kabul river, the river that lends its name to Kabul, the Afghan capital.
Last edited by pmaitra; 16-04-12 at 12:07 AM.
Reason: Corrected error - Nalwa was a general, not a king.
Nadir shah, yes; Alexander, no. He came, he conquered, fell in love with Rukhsana, had a baby, died of disease, and soon after, Afghanistan was taken over from Seleucus Nicator by Chandragupta Maurya. The Greek conquest was very short lived.
Also, Chandragupta Maurya. The Mauryas ruled most of Afghanistan for 300 years, which shines above the Greek conquests.
However, in modern times, with 'human rights' and similar things styming any possibility of full scale territorial conquest, we should not expect any country just going an capturing another country.
I had just finished reading the Romance of Alexander by Valerio Manfredi, and couldn't ressist the urge.Forgive me for nitpicking - the name is Roxana.
However I second your assessment of Alexander's conquest -Alexander defeated them, but the Greeks couldn't rule them.