|Pundhir or Pundir|
|Languages||Hindi, Rajasthani, Garhwali, Kumaoni and Awadhi|
|Populated States||Punjab region, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh|
|Subdivisions||Hindustani, Punjabi, Himachali, Garhwali and Awadhi|
The Pundir (also spelled Pandeer, Pandir, Pundhir, Pundeer or Poondir) is a Suryavanshi clan of Rajputs. The word itself is derived from the Sanskrit word "Purandara" literally meaning "the destroyer of enemy". The Pundir Rajputs hold riyasat in Nahan, Garhwal, Nagaur and Saharanpur where their Kuldevis are situated. Their shakha is Koolwal and their Kuldevis are Shakumbhri Devi in Saharanpur and Rajasthan along with Punyakshini Devi in Garhwal with their gotra being Pulastya and Parashar. Most of the Pundirs are today based mainly around the North Indian states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Haryana. Elliot writes that in the Haridwar region of Uttar Pradesh, where they are most prominent today, over 1,440 villages are claimed by Pundir Rajputs with high concentrations in the districts of Dehradun, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Aligarh Etah and Etawah.
The Pundir clan has its origins with Raja Pundarik, the fourth king in line after Kusha. Pundarik is revered as a Rishi and his temple is situated in Katheugi village of the Kullu district in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The rishi is depicted as a white Nāga and in the Puranic lore Pundarik is the name of a White Naga and the legend of Pundarik Rishi also affirms his birth as a Naga from an earthen pot. Kusha, the first born of Sita & Ram, is said to have been the progenitor of the Pundirs.citation needed
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (February 2013)|
The Pundir’s were the architects of the famous Pundra dynasty here and ruled over the majority of the land in Tailang-desh, now known popularly as Telangana. King Mandhokhardev of this dynasty visited Kurukshetra where the king of Sindh gave his daughter in marriage to him along with the Kainthal area. Thus the king of Tailang added up another area to his kingdom due to his alliance with Kainthal. Tailang had yet another king Bansdhar who in 602 A.D. raised the city of Pundarik here and made it as his capital. In the Karnal region he set up "Pundari", "Dabdi" and "Churna" as his forts and cities. He set up more forts at Thaneshwar near Kurukshetra and also developed this region. Over the years, the Pundir king got the opportunity to cross over the Yamuna only to approach a vast region having 1440 villages which he seized under his control. It helped him to gain control over the region falling between Yamuna and Ganges and allowed him to choose Mayapur (Haridwar) as his capital. Mayapur is now known as Haridwar, one of the Hindu’s seven Puri’s. The King had erected a massive fort here (Mayapur) which became ruined over the long passage of time, but its original space had been converted by the Nāga saints into a large fort for use of their cult. The names of the following kings have been immortalized in the Pundra annals: Brahmadeva - Kapiladeva - Sumantaraja - Bheemadeva - Kewalaraja - Kalabhradeva - Vasudeva Paundraka - Dr. Sanjay Singh Pundir - Vedprakash Pundir - Devisharan Pundir- Dev Pundir
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (February 2013)|
The original seats of the Pundir clan were in Bathinda, Samana, Thanesar, Nardak, Karnal, Kurukshetra and Ambala. The local capitals were situated in Pundri, Pundrak, Ramba and Habri. Denzil Ibbetson mentions that the Pundirs were constantly at war with the Mandhar Gurjars of the area and that the former were always victorious against the latter; the Mandhar were not able to gain any considerable foot holdings in Pundir regions. The Chauhans under Rana Har Rai and his uncles were finally able to get the better of the outnumbered Pundir clan and for the most part the latter crossed the Yamuna taking up defensive lines east of the river. Rana Har Rai Chauhan had been bathing in the Ganges and on his return through Pundir lands, notedly Kurukshetra, fell in a quarrel with the Pundirs. The Rana was only able to subdue the Pundirs with additional aid from his uncles, before which there was little or no progress that could be made against the Pundir forces. Under Prithviraj Chauhan, the Pundirs were given command of the Lahore frontier. Some prominent Pundirs in the Chauhan Empire were the three brothers of whom the eldest, Chand Kadambavasa, was the Minister of the empire, the second brother Chand Pundir was the commander and vassal chief of the frontier region at Lahore and their youngest brother Chand Rai (Persian: Khandae Rai) was the general in the last battle between Prithviraj Chauhan and Muhammad of Ghor.
The titular chief of the Pundirs is the Rana of Jasmaur who belongs to the Hindu faith and resides near Haridwar. In Saharanpur, other than the Mawals of the region the Pundirs are the only other Rajput clan which is considered to be pure. Ibbetson writes that the Doab Pundirs in Uttar Pradesh, of the area between the rivers Ganges and Yamuna, ruled up to Haridwar. Raja Jagat Singh Pundir of Mau was the ruler of the Pundirs during the reign of Shah Jehan and he commanded 1000 infantry and 500 cavalry amongst the Pundirs. Raja Jagat Singh rebelled at Mau to overthrow the Mughal yoke as soon as he heard that Aurangzeb had rebelled against his father. In the nineteenth century, the Pundirs established their rule under the leadership of Raja Damar Singh Pundir of Gambhira in district Aligarh and based themselves at Fort Vijaygarh (named after Damar Singh's brother). During the Anglo-Pundir war of 1803 the British suffered many casualties along with the loss of Colonel Gordon but were eventually able to capture the fort. After their defeat at Vijaygarh, the Pundirs were settled at Suhawali near Sikandra Rao(Hathras). Prior to Muslim rule in the area, Jalalabad in Muzaffarnagar was known as Manhar Kheda, styled after Thakur Manhar Singh Pundir, the then ruler of that region. Pundirs, while constructing a road for Shakumbri Devi picked a fight with Aurangzeb and after initial victories, lost due to treachery by Baloch and Pathan tribals. Later the Baloch and the Pathans loyal to Aurangzeb ruled this Fort of Manhar Kheda. The ancestors of the Pundirs of Akrabad were of the Parashara gotra who had migrated from Bang Tilang in 1456 AD. In Akrabad there was once a region of Pundirs (Purindrana) comprising 64 villages in the area of the township. Rao Pratap Bhan Singh, Rao Bikram Singh and Rao Singh were some of the Pundir chiefs who settled in this tract during the sixteenth century. Rohan Singh Pundir founded the village Rohana Singhpur by capturing various villages originally held by the Mughals. During the Maratha rule (1750) Rao Manik Singh was the chief of the Pundir clan of the area. The Pundirs of the Kahtah tract occupied forty-two townships and were of a robust and turbulent stock who had acquired an unenviable notoriety during the Sikh invasions and have maintained their reputation during the present century. In Saharanpur, Bahaila village is considered to be a biggest village of Pundir's community followed by Rankhandi near Deoband having population more than 12,000 in 2011.citation needed
In the Katha the Pundir Rajputs stood out as the dominant landholders, dwelling together as a formidable clan that had never been properly brought under close administration. A proud, hardy race who possessed a long history of turbulence. Significantly they had successfully warded off alien intrusion. Strong, moreover, as the power of combination is among the gujjars it is stronger amongst these particular Rajputs, so that they have been able to keep their possessions almost intact, while all around them the ancestral rights of other castes have succumbed to the wealth and acts of the userer. So formidable did they appear as adversaries before the recapture of Delhi at the end of September 1857 that the British left them severely alone, despite their attacks on Deoband town and in similar depredations.1page needed
In Garhwal and Kumaon the center of the Pundir rajputs was Mayapur also known as Haridwar. Here smaller forts under petty chieftains were prevalent and this area was under the rule of a famous and powerful Pundir king named Vatsrajdeva. Mayapur had been a religious place right from the prehistoric period. The Mughals always saw in destroying famous idols of gods and goddess and deseperating the religious places of the hindus as serving purposes of their own religion, Islam. Pursuant to these fanatical tactics of theirs, in the same century, Mayapur had to face the turbulent invasion/attack of Nasir ud din Mahmud. The king of Mayapur, Vatsrajdeva had to face this calamity by himself. Subsequent to this, in that very century Timur had waged a fierce attack that completely ruined the forts and temples of worship at Mayapur. In this battle the Pundirs, Chauhans and Ranghars had been killed. The entire citizenry of Mayapur had been compelled to convert into Islam due to this devastating destruction in a wanton manner. Timur’s first invasion took place at Dhaunspur and one commander Shehkar had fought Timur's army valiantly till the last before laying down his own life. The Muslim writers of the time used to write or refer to Vatsrajdeva as "Behmeg", and in the slang as "Vatsaru". This Vatsaru somehow or the other had escaped death in the battle and was quite dejected over mass killings of his own men and on their forced conversion to Islam. During the mid-eighteenth century the King of Garhwal,Lalit Shah, in order to appease rebelling Jagirdars as well as to put an end to incursions made by Rajputs, Sikhs and Gujjars, gave out grants of villages. Due to the fact that the Rajputs and Gujjars made more mischief than the Sikhs the King of Garhwal awarded land grants to many chiefs in return for their loyalty with regards to guarding the borders against marauders. Rana Gulab Singh Pundir of Dehradun obtained twelve villages with the hand of Lalit Shah's daughter in marriage. Later in 1787, Gulab Singh's son Bahadur Singh Pundir secured the fiscal management of the Dehradun Valley. During the early nineteenth century the kingdom of Garhwal saw much infighing between Lalit Shah's sons Jai Kirat Shah and Pradyumna Shah and thus fell under threat of invasion from the north east by the Gurkhas. Lalit Shah's second son Pradyumna Shah, with the help of the Gujjar Sardar Ramdayal Singh of Landhaur, assembled a force of approximately 12,000 men composed of Raghars, Pundir Rajputs and Gujars after which he headed towards Saharanpur. The commanding general of the Gurkha army, Amar Singh Thapa, reached there from Srinagar and on Mag 22, 1860 (January 1804) a fierce battle was fought in the plain of Khadbuda, about half of mile away from the palace of Guru Ram Rai. Pradyumna Shah's two brothers, namely, Parakrama Shah and Pritam Shah, and his two sons, namely, Sudarshan Shah and Devi Simha, were present in the battle. The Garhwali king was on horseback near his camp talking to Miyan Dulal Singh of Prithvipur when he was struck by a shot fired by Ranajit Kanwar. The Gurkhas were eventually dispossesd of their newly conquered lands and most of the Dun was left at the mercy of the Pundir and Gujar musclemen.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (January 2013)|
- Following the Anglo-Pundir war of 1803, with the defeat of Raja Damar Singh Pundir at Fort Vijaygarh (present day Aligarh), the Pundirs took service in the British Army. Many Pundir rajputs of the Akrabad and Katha regions rose in rebellion against the British Crown during the Mutiny. The Pundirs of western and southern Saharanpur flared readily into rebellion out of resentment of the heavy differential taxation. Under their leader Thakur Narayan Singh Pundir and his sons Mehtab Singh Pundir and Mangal Singh Pundir an army of Pundir Rajputs attacked the city of Saharanpur. So formidable did the Pundirs appear as adversaries before the recapture of Delhi at the end of September 1857 that the British left them severely alone, despite their attacks on Deoband town and in similar depredations. One Daleep Singh of this clan led the sack on Deoband and was later captured by the British and hanged for rebelling with his clansmen against the British Raj; however his clansmen would not part with their weapons and the Magistrate made an example out of them by burning half of their village.
- During this time many Pundirs, under their leaders, Thakur Jawahar Singh Pundir, Thakur Kundan Singh Pundir and Thakur Ganga Singh Pundir son of Thakur Shriram Singh Pundir of Mau Chirayal protected the British Tahsildar at the town of Sikandra Rao, Hathras and subdued the Muhammadan population of the town which was led by the Afghan rebel Ghaus Khan.
The vast majority of Pundirs in India are followers of Hinduism and are classified as being Shiva worshippers while their Kuldevis are notedly Shakumbhri Devi in Saharanpur and Jaipur along with Punyakshini Devi in Garhwal. A smaller percentage of Pundirs are followers of Sikhism and are concentrated in and around the towns of Karnal, Kurukshetra, Ambala, and Chandigarh. Mata Shakumbhri Devi's most famous shrine is situated near Jasmaur, in the Shivalik mountain range 40 kilometers to the north of Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India.2 The temple is on the site of the ruins of a more ancient temple and was constructed by the Pundir Rajputs under Rana Bahadur Singh Pundir who was the representative of Rana Pitambar Singh Pundir of Jasmaur.citation needed
- Stokes, Eric. The Peasant and the Raj: Studies in Agrarian Society and Peasant Rebellion.
- Religious places of Saharanpur
- Evatt, John T. Historical Record of the Royal Garhwal Rifles (p. 78; p. 103)
- Roy, K. The Construction of Regiments in the Indian Army: 1859-1913. War in History, 1 April 2001, vol. 8, no. 2 (pp. 127–148)
- Bajpai, Shiv Chandra. The Northern Frontier of India: Central and Western Sector (p. 23)
- Siddiqi, Jamal Muhammad. A Historical Survey: Ancient Times to 1803 AD (p. 124; p. 180)
- Indian Army
- Britain at War - Roll of Honour