History of the Balti dynasties of Gilgit Baltistan

The major local Dynasties of Baltistan

The major local Dynasties of Baltistan are the Maqpon dynasty of Skardu, the Amacha Dynasty of Shigar and the Yabgo dynasty of Khaplu. Baltistan has been ruled by the Maqpon, Amacha and Yabgo dynasties.

But there is no authoritative detail on the history of other dynasties of  Baltistan except for the Maqpon dynasty. However, the royal palaces and historic buildings in Baltistan reveal several ruling families. 

The royal palaces of Maqpoon Bridge, Mendoq Khar Skardu, Canal Gangopi, Khaplo, Shigar Fort and Kharmang Forts indicate that many families have been in power in Baltistan.

Kharpocho Fort

Kharpocho fort is a testament to Baltistan’s great military history. In its heyday, the rulers of Baltistan ruled from Ladakh to Hunza. Hunza still has a Baltit Khar (a palace built by Balti).

The area came under Tibetan rule in the ninth century AD. During the Tibetan period, the Baltis and Tibetans combined to defeat the Chinese army at the site of the Yassin valley.

The influence of Tibetan culture is still evident in Gilgit Baltistan. Balti is the 28th branch of the Tibetan language. After the fall of the Tibetan Empire, Gilgit Baltistan was divided into different parts and Gilgit, Chilas, Dardistan, Hunza and Nagar, Broshal, while in Baltistan, the states of Shigar, Khaplo and Skardu came into existence.

The major local Dynasties of Baltistan, Maqpon dynasty

In the sixteenth century AD, Raja Ali Sher Khan Anchan, an eyewitness of the Maqpon family of Skardu (referred to by the Mughal historian Ali Rai Tibetan- Tareekh-e-Hind) reunited the whole of Gilgit-Baltistan and established a government from Chitral to Ladakh. The splendor of this government is reflected in the forts at Khaplo, Shigar and Kharmang.

The major local Dynasties of Baltistan: Baltit and Altit forts

It is said that Baltit and Altit forts in Hunza were built by the Balti king for his princess who was married to the ruler of Hunza. There is also a polo ground near the confluence of the Gilgit and Indus rivers called Maqpoon Polo Ground, and Maqpoon Das is also a monument of that period.

The Kharpocho fort in Skardu, the Gangopi Canal, the dam on Sadpara Lake and the trade route with China via Muztagh are also among the monuments of this period.

The major local Dynasties of Baltistan: Links with Mughals 

In History of India and History of Farishta, Mullah Qasim Farishta mentions the historical event when the Mughal army fought with the Tibetan (Balti) army in the northern mountains of Kashmir. The Mughal army was defeated in this battle.

Later, the Mughal emperor Akbar sent his ambassador to the Balti king Ali Rai ( Ali Sher Khan Anchan) and expressed his desire to establish diplomatic relations. Thus, at the Mughal court, Ali Sher Khan Anchan met Akbar and married a Mughal princess to the Balti prince.

The name of the Mughal princess was Gul Khatun, the historical proof of which is the Mendoq Khar built in the name of the Mughal princess in Skardu (Mendoq is called flower in Balti language). The reign of Ali Sher Khan Anchan was the heyday of the Maqpoon dynasty.

The clash between Balti Kings

But history has it that after Ali Sher Khan Anchan’s death, a civil war between his sons shattered the Maqpon family. After the death of Ali Sher Khan II in 1800, his eldest son Raja Ahmad Shah Maqpon became the ruler of the kingdom.

At that time Raja Azam Khan of Shigar was dead and his son Haider Khan was the Raja of Shigar. Raja Ahmad Shah under the leadership of his nephew Abdal Khan attacked Khaplo because it is said that (Parkuta) Mehdiabad was invaded.

It is recorded in the history books that at that time Mehdi Ali Khan was the ruler of Khaplu, who in the days of Bamdad Raja Ladakh had expelled his brothers Daulat Ali Khan and Muhammad Shah from the country and imprisoned them in Nawabra (Nobra Ladakh).

Mehdi Ali Khan defeated Abdul Khan and imprisoned the army and chiefs and sent Abdul Khan to Nawabra. Ahmad Shah was shocked by the incident and tried to free his prisoners through the embassy and handed over the responsibility to Mullah Jabir of Keris valley.

Ahmad Shah promised that he would never interfere if all the prisoners were released, but Mehdi Ali Khan flatly refused to release the prisoners. Ahmad Shah offered equal weight of gold in exchange for the release of the prisoners.

But it had the opposite effect on Mehdi Ali Khan and he stabbed Abdul Khan in the head and killed him in prison. Traces of Abdul Khan’s grave are still reported in Nobra Ladakh.

All these matters pushed Ahmad Shah into the fire of vengeance and he attacked Khaplo and defeated and imprisoned Mehdi Ali Khan. Khaplu was annexed to Skardu and Yul Strong Karim was appointed as the ruler of Khaplo.

The attack of Dogras

Since Baltistan was in a state of war in a way and taking advantage of this war situation, the Dogra government also decided to attack Baltistan. After the capture of Ladakh, General Zorawar Singh of Dogra government invaded Skardu in 1840 AD and occupied Baltistan.

He was a Rajput of Kishtwar and at that time Maharaja Gulab Singh was in the army. When he was very busy fighting against the Tibetan army. On December 12, 1841, Zor Awar Singh was killed.

In 1842, the Maqpon family was arrested and taken to Srinagar and locked up in Kishtwar Jail as a prisoner, where he died sometime later.

The Maqpon Family

Below is the family tree of the descendants of Raja Ahmad Shah Maqpoon. Shah Murad and Muhammad Shah had two sons from the Queen of Astor. While, Muhammad Ali Khan, Lutf Ali Khan, Hussain Ali Khan, Amir Haider were from the Shigar Queen.

Hussain Ali Khan was the son of Mohib Lutf Ali Khan. The Dogras first detained all the sons of Daulat Khatun in Jammu. On the death of Ahmad Shah, Daulat Khatun and his sons were given some land in Tral, (a hilly place in Kashmir). He was under house arrest.  His children are still there. A few of them are working in Srinagar.

Ali Shah was the son of Raja Muhammad Shah, the Dogra ruler of Skardu. He became a king at a young age and lived a long life. His son was Hassan Khan and Muhammad Ali Shah Bedal was the son of Hassan Khan.

Jafar Ali Khan was the son of Bedal and the son of Jafar Ali Khan was Zulfiqar Ali Khan. The son of Zulfiqar Ali Khan is Raja Jalal Hussain. He is the present Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan.

Ahmed Shah Maqpoon, imprisoned in Srinagar, was accused of oppressing his Crown Prince Mohammad Shah and depriving him of his inheritance, while Mohammad Shah was a refugee with the Dogra government, which sent Ahmed Shah to Ladakh with his men. He was abducted and taken to Skardu Jail.

Raja Ahmad Shah Maqpoon had four sons, one of whom was Raja Hussain Ali Khan Mohib (1830-1949), known as Mir Anees of Baltistan in Balti literature and Poetry.

He lamented the atrocities committed against him during his captivity, which is a living history of Baltistan.

Maqpon Ahmad Shah’s family has a total of 15 families who still live in Kashmir and still speak their mother tongue Balti, Maqpoon Ahmad Shah’s family still keeps Balti history and poetry and Balti culture alive.

The Balti kings loyal to Dogras 

The revolt and arrest of Raja Ahmad Khan and his deportation, on the other hand, the manipulation by Balti Kings by keeping their promises to the Dogras is a dark chapter in the history of Baltistan. Dogras imposed these Kings on the Balti people and they a kind of land mafia in Baltistan.

That is why even today in many parts of Baltistan, farmers are the poor people, but on official papers, the land is owned by the kings.

Not only was that, but the people at that time not allowed to wear even white clothes. No one was allowed to open their mouths in front of the king.

The kings of Baltistan enslaved the people here. It is even said that the income from any livestock and agriculture had to be set aside for the kings first.

The locals used to take on hunting without any compensation. It was a sign of terror that in the history of Baltistan, suicides due to fear of Rajgans are still mentioned in many areas of Baltistan.

Most of the lands are in the name of Rajgans, while a poor man still does not own the lands under cultivation for decades.

But may God have mercy on Bhutto who liberated the people of Baltistan from the slavery of the local Rajagans. The real patriot of Baltistan Raja Ahmad Shah Maqpoon is buried in Kashmir and his descendants do meager government service in the world of exile away from home but the loyal kings of Dogras in Baltistan were in luxury yesterday and still in power and privileges.

May Allah grant a place to the real Balti King of Baltistan, Ahmad Shah Maqpon. Ameen

Read also: History of Baltistan

 

 

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