S.Hari Singh Nalwa was born into a Uppal family Sikh of the Sukerchakia Misl. The family originally came from Majitha, near Amritsar. His grandfather, Hardas Singh, had been killed fighting against Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1762. His father, Gurdial Singh, had taken part in many of the campaigns of the Sukkarchakkias Charat Singh Sukkarchakia and Mahari Singh.
Hari Singh Nalwa was the Commander-in-chief at the most turbulent North West Frontier of Ranjit Singh’s kingdom. He took the frontier of the Sarkar Khalsaji to the very mouth of the Khyber Pass. For the past eight centuries, marauders, who had indulged in looting, plunder, rape, and forcible conversions to Islam had used this route into the subcontinent. In his lifetime, Hari Singh became a terror to the ferocious tribes inhabiting these regions. He successfully thwarted the last foreign invasion into the subcontinent through the Khyber Pass at Jamrud, permanently blocking this route of the invaders. Even in his death, Hari Singh Nalwa’s formidable reputation ensured victory for the Sikhs against an Afghan force five times as numerous.
Hari Singh Nalwa’s performance as an administrator and a military commander in the North West Frontier remains unmatched. Two centuries on, Britain, Pakistan, Russia and America have been unsuccessful in effecting law and order in this region. Hari Singh Nalwa’s spectacular achievements exemplified the tradition established by Guru Gobind Singh such that he came to be hailed as the “Champion of the Khalsa”.
Some of the more famous towns, gardens, fort and shrine associated with Hari Singh Nalwa include —
The ‘new’ town of Gujranwala (Punjab, Pakistan) Haripur (Hazara, North West Frontier Province, Pakistan) was a planned town built by Hari Singh Nalwa in 1822-23, in the North West Frontier tribal belt.
Peshawar (North West Frontier Province, Pakistan) Hari Singh built the fort that dominates the city of Peshawar in the twenty-first century. He called his fort ‘Sumergarh’, however, this fort is today more popularly known as the ‘Bala Hissar’.
Katas (Salt Range, Pakistan) Hari Singh Nalwa built two enormous havelis on the pool side at this famous place of pilgrimage.
Hari Singh ka Bagh at Amritsar (Punjab, India), Srinagar (Kashmir, India)
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