History of Kalabagh

Kalabagh is chiefly peopled by Awans. Tarikh-i-Murassa calls it “Bagh of Awans”. The place was formerly known as Kara-Bagh and betokens Turkish occupation. The Hindi translation for Kara, the Turkish for black, etc, is Kala. Kalabagh as well as great part of western Punjab was held by Turks before the period of accession of Lodi dynasty, as Babur badshah likewise mentions. As the Turks became weak, the Afghan tribes and Hindkis began to wax strong; and they, especially the former, began to appropriate large tracts of country towards the Indus. When Niazi Afghans had been nearly annihilated (in mid 16th century), the Hindkis around began to raise their heads, and to follow the example of Afghans.After Dhankot of the Niazis had been swept away by river Indus, one of the head men of the Awan tribe of Hindkis, who appear to have been vassals of the Niazis, took up his residence and built for himself a dwelling on the spot where Kalabagh now stands, which site must, evidently, have previously borne the same name. By a degree, a town sprung up around, which on account of its favorable position, and nearness to the salt mines, went on increasing. [“Notes on Afghanistan” by H.G.Raverty, p-371]

Band Ali, grandson of Shekh Adu, the first Awan settler, took possession of the salt-mines at Kalabagh and established himself as Chief in these parts, controlling the ferry, levying taxes on salt and alum, and taking tribute from the Bhangi Khel Khattaks occupying the hills north of Kala Bagh. The Awans continued to hold their own after Band Ali’s death in spite of temporary reverses. They lived, as did their neighbours, in a perpetual state of unrest, fighting all round for existence, sometimes victorious, often on the verge of annihilation. But they continued to make way, and gradually acquired lands in the plain and founded villages. Timur Shah Durrani, towards the end of the last century, recognized Muhammad Azam Khan Awan as head of the Kala Bagh Ilaka, and allowed him Rs. 1,200 annually for keeping his portion of the road open between Kabul and Dehli. The grant was continued by Timur’s successors. Malik Ali Yar Khan was Chief when the Sikhs annexed the district in 1822. [“Chiefs and Families of Note in the Delhi, Jalandhar, Peshawar and Derajat”, p-543]

Ferry and Kalabagh city, c1910.


Railway station, Kalabagh (Mianwali district, Punjab), c.1930. From Auchinleck album.

Portrait shot of the Nawab of Kalabagh with a crowd of local people behind. Taken at the time of Lieutenant Governor Edward Maclagan’s official visit to Kalabagh and Mianwali, November 1920.
Categories Blog

Leave a comment