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katochgarh

Katochgarh

The history of Hamirpur is closely associated with the Katoch dynasty which ruled the area between the Ravi and Satluj rivers in the olden days. It is evident from the “Puranas” and Panini’s “Ashtadhyai” that during the Mahabharta period, Hamirpur was a part of the old Jallandhar-Trigarta empire. Panini referred to the people of this kingdom as great warriors and fighters. The tradition of those people seems to have continued till today, as is evident from the large number of people from the region in Indian Defence Forces. It is believed that in the ancient period, the rulers of Gupta dynasty had set up their sovereignty over this part of the land. During the middle ages, presumably the area fell under the control of Mohammed Gazani, Timurlang and later Sultans. But with the passage of time, all the aforesaid rulers went away and at the time of Hamir Chand, a Katoch ruler, the area was under the control of ‘Ranas’ (Feudal Hill Chiefs). Some of the prominent Ranas were, Ranas of Mewa, Ranas of Mehalta and Dhatwal. There was no time when these feudal chiefs were not in quarrel against each other. It was only the Katoch dynasty which put these Ranas under its control, to ensure an orderly society. The Katoch dynasty became predominant during the period of Hamir Chand who ruled from 1700 A.D. to 1740 A.D.

It was this ruler who built the fort at Hamirpur and the present town of Hamirpur derives its name from this ruler. Hamirpur came to much lime–light only during the period of Raja Sansar Chand-II. He made ‘Sujanpur Tira’ his capital and erected palaces and temples at this place. Raja Sansar Chand ruled from 1775 A.D. to 1823 A.D. He dreamt of establishing the old empire of Jallandhar-Trigarta, which his ancestors had held at one time. According to some historians, he tried twice unsuccessfully. The rise of Raja Ranjit Singh proved a great hurdle for his ambitions. Therefore, he diverted his attention towards the local Hill Chiefs. He attached Mandi state and made Raja Ishwari Sen a prisoner for 12 years at Nadaun. He also obliged the Suket ruler to pay an annual tribute and annexed parts of Bilaspur state on the right bank of Satluj. Becoming alarmed by the advancement of Sansar Chand, all the Hills Chiefs joined hands and invited the Gurkhas to stop the uncontrolled might of Katoch ruler. The combined armies fought against Sansar Chand’s army at Mahal Morian in Hamirpur. Raja Sansar Chand’s army gave a crushing defeat to the combined forces and compelled them to retreat on the left banks of river Satluj. By that time, Raja Sansar Chand, on the advice of his General Ghulam Mohammed tried to effect the economy in the army by replacing the existing ones with Rohillas. This proved a self defeating folly on his part. On hearing about the weakness of Katoch’s army, the combined forces again attacked the forces of Kangra at Mahal Morian in the second battle and forced a crushing defeat in 1806 A.D. Raja Sansar Chand along with family took shelter in the Kangra fort. The Gurkhas sieged the Kangra fort and ruthlessly looted the area between the fort of Kangra and Mahal Morian and virtually destroyed the villages. Ishwari Sen was liberated by the Gurkhas from Nadaun jail. The siege of the fort continued for three years. Raja Ranjit Singh on the request of Sansar Chand, waged war against the Gurkhas and defeated them in 1809 A.D. But Sansar Chand had to pay a heavy price whereby he had to lose Kangra fort and 66 villages to the Sikhs. The Sikhs maintained their sovereignty over Kangra and Hamirpur till 1846 when they were defeated by the British Army in the first Anglo-Sikh war. Ever since, the supremacy of the British continued in the area which became a part of the British Empire. Sansar Chand died as a most disillusioned man. His successor (grandson) Raja Pramodh Chand in alliance with the Sikhs and other rulers tried vainly to dislodge the British.

The British made Kangra, of which Hamirpur formed a part, a district in which Kullu and Lahaul-Sipiti were also merged to form the part of the district. In 1846, after annexation of Kangra, Nadaun was made the tehsil headquarters. This settlement was revised in 1868, and as a result the tehsil headquarters was changed from Nadaun to Hamirpur. In 1888, Palampur tehsil was created, merging part of the areas of Hamirpur and Kangra tehsils. Hamirpur remained a part of the Punjab province until 1st November 1966, when these areas were merged in Himachal Pardesh consequent upon the reorganization of the Punjab. As a result of the re-arrangement of the districts in the merged areas on 1st September 1972, Hamirpur was created as a separate district with two tehsils of Hamirpur and Barsar. In 1980 three more tehsils viz. Tihra Sujanpur, Nadaun and Bhoranj were created with the further reorganization of the tehsils. Of these, Nadaun and Bhoranj have become full tehsils in 1991 census. Presently, district has 8 tehsils viz, Hamirpur, Barsar, Bhoranj, Nadaun, Sujanpur Tihra, Bamson at Tauni Devi, Dhatwal at Bijhari and Galore alongwith 2 Sub-Tehsils as Kangoo and Bhota. It consists of 5 Revenue Sub-Divisions namely, Hamirpur, Barsar, Nadaun, Bhoranj and Sujanpur Tihra. The Hamirpur Sub-Division comprises of Tehsils Hamirpur and Bamson at Tauni Devi; the Barsar Sub-Division comprises Tehsils Barsar, Dhatwal at Bijhari and Sub Tehsil Bhota; Nadaun Sub-Division comprises Tehsils Nadaun, Galore and Sub Tehsil Kangoo. Bhoranj Sub-Division comprises of Tehsil Bhoranj whereas Sunjanpur Sub-Division comprises of Tehsil Sujanpur Tihra. The district has been divided into 6 Development Blocks viz. Hamirpur, Bijhari, Bhoranj, Nadaun, Sujanpur and Bamsan at Touni Devi.