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Hari Singh Nalwa

Hari Singh Nalwa ( 1791-1837 ) was commander-in-chief of the Sikh Khalsa Army. He is known for his role in the conquest of Kasur, Sialkot, Attok, Mustang, Kashmir, Peshawar and Jamrud. 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. At the time of his death, the western boundary of the empire was Jamrud. He served as governor of Kashmir, Peshawar and Hazara. He established a mint on behalf of the Sikh Empire to facilitate revenue collection in Kashmir and Peshawar.

Hari Singh Nalwa was born in Gujranwala, Punjab into a Khatri Sikh family of Uppal tribe. His father's name was Gurdial Singh Uppal and mother's name was Dharm Kaur. His father died in 1798, when he was only 7 years old and he was raised by his mother. In 1801, at the age of 10 , he took Amrit Sanchar and was initiated as a Khalsa. At the age of 12 , he began to manage his father’s estate and took up horse riding. In 1804, at the age of 14 , his mother sent him to the court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh to resolve a property dispute. Ranjit Singh decided the arbitration in his favour because of background and aptitude. Hari Singh explained that his father and grandfather had served under Maha Singh and Charat Singh, the Maharaja’s, ancestors and demonstrated his skill as a horseman and musketeer. Ranjit Singh gave him a position at the court as a personal attendant. He had four sons and two daughters.

During a hunt in 1804, a tiger attacked him and killed his horse. His fellow hunters attempted to protect him but he refused their offer and allegedly killed the tiger by himself. He participated or commanded in 20 major battles: Battle of Kasur 1807, Battle of Sialkot 1807, Battle of Attok 1813, Abortive attempt on Kashmir 1814, Conquest of Mahmudkat 1816, Battle of Multan 1818, Peshawar becomes tributary 1818, Mehta Tiwana becomes his Jagir 1818, Kashmir becomes a part of Punjab 1819, Battle of Pakhli 1819, Battle of Mangal1821, Battle of Mankera 1822, Battle of Nowshera 1823, Battle of Sirikot 1824, Battle of Saider 1827, occupies Peshawar 1834, Dost Mohammad Khan withdraws 1835, Jamrud 1836, Panjtaar defeated 1936, and Battle of Jamrud 1837.

He was also a builder and built 56 buildings, which included forts, ramparts, towers, gurdawaras, tanks, samadhis, templates, mosques, towns, havelis, Sarai’s, and gardens. He built the fortified town of Haripur in 1822. This was the first planned town in the region, with a superb water distribution system. His very strong fort of Harkishengarh, situated in the valley at the foothills of mountains, had four gates. It was surrounded by thick four yards wall and was 16 yards high. A large numbers of Khatris migrated there and established a flourishing trade. He built forts like Jehangira, Nowshera, Summergarh, Fatehgarh ( Jamrud Fort ), and Uri Kashmir. He built Gurdawara Panjandrum Sahib and donated gold required to cover the dome of the Akal Takht.

Hari Singh Nalwa Sahib was martyred fighting the forces of Dost Mohammed Khan of Afghanistan. He was cremated in Jamrud Fort. He defended Jamrud and Peshawar. He went outside of the Fort to inspect a breach in a wall, he was stuck by two balls, one in the side and the other in stomach. Following his death, his sons Jawahar Singh Nalwa and Arjan Singh Nalwa fought against the British to protect the sovereignty of the Kingdom of the Sikhs.

Hari Singh’s administrative rule covered one third of the Sikh Empire. He served as the Governor of Kashmir ( 1820-21 ) Greater Hazara ( 1822-37 ) and was twice appointed the Governor of Peshawar ( 1834-35, 1836-37 ). In 1831, Hari Singh was deputed to head a diplomatic mission to Lord William Bentinck, Governor General of British India. The Ropar meeting between Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the head of the British India followed soon thereafter. Hari Singh Nalwa’s performance as an administrative and a military commander in the North West Frontier remains unmatched. Two centuries Britain, Pakistan, Russia, America have been unsuccessful in effecting laws and orders in this region. Hari Singh Nalwa’s spectacular achievements examplified the tradition established by Guru Gobind Singh such that he came to be hailed as the “Champion of the Khalsa”.

A commemorative postage stamp was issued by the Government of India in 2013, marking the 176th of Hari Singh Nalwa’s death.

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