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K D Maini , Samba From the Past to Present "Daily Excelsior" 26/3/2017

It is said that Samba town drived its name from Samyial Rajput Clan who were the original habitants of this area. Nursing Das Nargas writes in Tehik-e-Dogra Desh that around 1400 AD Sangram Dev of Lakhanpuria family was having two sons.

The name of his second son was Mal Dev alias Mallu. Mallu was a renowned person. He stayed in Delhi Darbar for a pretty long time. He was honoured by the emperor with the title of Khan for his extra ordinary qualities. After returning from Delhi he was married in a family of Gotra Rajputs of Samba. Later on due to tussle between him and his father in law he captured the whole area after banishing his father in law and became the founder of Samba principality. Mall Khan was having twenty two sons. Therefore in his last days, he had divided his principality into twenty two Mandis and allotted one Mandi to each of his sons. These Mandis includes Mandi Sangawli, Khari, Thalora, Kotle, Pacci, Dansal, Futwal, Khely and so on. All these Mandis are located in the north eastern and southern sides of Samba town. Each Mandi was having a pond, Thakur Dawara and a habitation.

Samba was origionally a part of Jammu District. On administrative grounds it emerged as a District on 13th March 2008 and now the whole of district is known as Samba District after the name of Samba town. As per Census 2011, Samba District has a population of 318611 souls. The density of population is 318 per square Km while the growth rate is 16.9% and sex ratio is 886 females against per thousand males. The literacy rate is 82.48%.

The District consists of tehsil Samba and Vijaypur with four blocks namely Block Samba, Purmandal, Vijaypur and Ghagwal. The district has two assembly constituencies namely Samba and Vijaypur. Samba town is situated on the right bank of Basanter stream on Jammu Pathankot road. The district is bounded by District Udhampur on the North, Kathua in the East, Jammu in the West while the southern side of the District is touching the international border with Pakistan. The climate of Samba is hot and dry in summer and cold in winter. The temperature ranges between -2o to 47o Celsius. The elevation of the town from the sea level is 1259 feets. About two third area of the district is Kandi and rain-fed. However, the area to the south of national highway is irrigated through Ravi-Tawi irrigation canal network which contributes major cereal crops and vegetable cultivation. A modern industrial complex has come up on the left bank of the river Basanter at Samba as an industrial growth center. The sacred lakes of Surinsar and Mansar are located in this District which are the centre of religious and scenic tourism of Samba District.

It is said that Samba principality was established around 1400 AD, by Mal Dev. As per folklore, Mal Dev the younger son of Rai Saidu of Lakhanpur was the founder of Samba principality who had married in Gotar Rajputs, after marriage he stayed at Samba and made himself the master of the track with Samba as its capital. He and his decendents ruled Samba for about 200 years. In 1816 Samba came under the supremacy of Rajas of Jammu during the period of Raja Hari Dev. In 1822, when Maharaja Ranjit Singh accorded Raj Tilak of Jammu principality to Gulab Singh at Akhnoor, his younger brother Suchat Singh was also accorded Raj Tilak of Samba-Jasrota principality. Suchat Singh after taking over the principality from local Sardars constructed his palace at Samba. C.E Bats, wrote in ‘The Gazetteer of Kashmir’ that half a mile from the town there is a palace which belonged to Raja Suchat Singh, the brother of Raja Gulab Singh. Suchat Singh was killed during the disturbance in Lahore Darbar in March 1844. He was cremated at Prade Badami Bagh Lahore by his nephew Raja Hira Singh the Prime Minister of Punjab Darbar. When the news of death of Raja Suchat Singh reached Samba, his three wives and twenty two female servants came out from the palace and opened the doors of treasure to public. Then accompanied with the public they sit in Palkis and a procession moved towards Basanter stream in lower part of Samba where all of them burnt themselves before the public.

After the death of Raja Suchat Singh, the Jagir was taken over by Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu in 1844. On the other hand Raja Hira Singh, the nephew of Raja Gulab Singh also claimed the Jagir of Raja Suchat Singh who was having no issue. However, Raja Gulab Singh refused to accept his claim on the plea that Suchat Singh had adopted his son Ranbir Singh during his life time, therefore he was the real owner of the Samba-Jasrota. In the meantime, Raja Hira Singh, the Prime Minister of Punjab and son of Raja Dhyan Singh was also killed in the disturbance of Lahore Darbar. After the Amritsar pact of 16th March 1846, when Gulab Singh became the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir Jasrota -Samba merged within the new state. During Dogra rule Samba area was attached with Jammu Wizarat. After 1947, Samba became a tehsil of Jammu District. This system continued up to 2008 when Samba emerged as a new District on administrative grounds.

Dogri speaking population is traditionally inhabiting District Samba where more than 85% people speak Dogri. Hindus are dominating the population, majority of which is Rajputs followed by Brahmins and others. During the Dogra rule Rajputs of Samba were given Jagirs by Maharaja Gulab Singh in Kashmir for their contribution in the state forces. Samyial and other Rajputs mostly inhabit Samba, Ramnagar and Kangara. Majority of them prefer to serve in belt forces. They are considered the best fighters of Dogra region. Now, the youth of Samba area also compete for the civil service exam and work on higher posts due to their aptitude and hard work.

First of all it may not be confused with Jammu Raj, where Sangram Dev was the Raja of Jammu: the period when this country was under Moghuls and Raja Mal Dev was not his son but the Raja of Jammu under Tughlaq rule or the invasion of Timur, much before Raja Sangram Dev. Of course Raja Sangram Dev had two sons but not Mal Dev alias Mallu or Khan a title bestowed by the emperor. Hence this Mal Dev or Mallu who established the Samba principality in 1400 AD was neither the son of Sangram Dev nor Mal Dev the Raja of Jammu but a separate personality identified by the writer as the second son of Rai Saidu of Lakhanpur in the same write up.

Further, it may be a coincidence that this Mallu or Mall Khan had twenty two sons, like Raja Kapur Dev of Jammu with whose reference twenty two small and big principalities in Jammu Raj have a clear mention in the history. Similar authenticity is needed in the case of twenty two Mandis of Samba. Whether these mandis came into existence in the same period or appeared on the scene one after the other with the passage of time and is there any relevance in their names with their creators: a matter of proper research work to find the facts.

Any how, this article would have been more informative with the mention of Thakur Raghunath Singh Samyal, a poet and one among the pioneers of Modern Dogri literature, or Col. Narain Singh who among others sacrificed his life to defend the State during Pakistani intrusion in 1947, or how many soldiers of the rank of Colonels and Generals have so far been produced by this single belt with a detailed information of gallantry and other prestigious awards etc etc. Similarly, mention of Cheechi Mata, Purmandal, Uttar Behni and particularly of Chamalyal Shrine which is still being revered by both Indians and the Pakistanis, Samba Fort as well as this town known for the art of printing sheets would have added more glamour to it. And finally I may add to the knowledge of those who are not aware of it, that after indeepndence, tehsil Samba was a part and parcel of District Kathua. After 1965 Indo-Pak war, probably in 1967-68, only two main Police Stations of this area i.e Samba and Ramgarh were transferred to Distt. Jammu for administrative purposes and they remained under Jammu till Samba was declared as an independent District.

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