K. D Maini
Budhal is a beautiful valley located in between the main Pir Panchal range of mountains. The geography of the area comprises of attractive snowy peaks, thick forests, streams, dhokes, lakes, meadows and pastures.
No doubt the area is not properly developed and tourism activities are not available, but keeping in view the natural scenic beauty, the palaces like Bakori, Kandi and Budhal can easily be compared with the terrain of valley and can be developed for tourism purposes by constructing huts, tourist Sarais and Bungalows at Koteranka, and Budhal town. This will impact the economic growth of the people.
Proper Budhal is a small township having about 250 shops, a police station and about 400 houses. It is situated on an elevated place near Gabbar Nallah. The town falls on the southern range of Pir Panchal which is connected with motorable road with Rajouri as well as Gool Gulab Ghar and Reasi. This spot exists on the old route leading towards Budhal pass or Sedhu pass and then enters the Valley of Kashmir while Sedhu pass is about 24 kilometers from Shopian (Kashmir) and 25 kilometers from Budhal town. Most of the trekkers and adventure lovers are using Budhal as a base camp and track the Pir Panchal range via Sedhu pass.
Legend goes that Budhal name has been derived from the name of its ruler Budpaul who ruled this area in 11th century AD.It is also said that in the ancient time, this area was inhabited by the followers of Buddhism who had named the area as Budhal. The name of Town Budhal has been extended to Budhal Tehsil which comprises of 51 villages. The total population of the Tehsil as per census 2011 is 1.45 lacs. Originally Budhal town was the headquarters of the Tehsil but on administrative grounds the headquarter has now been shifted to an emerging township Kotranka.
Gujjar Bakarwal tribes are dominating the population of the Tehsil while Kashmiri and Pahari speaking people are also residing in the tehsil . Hindus and Muslim Rajputs are residing in a number of villages of the tehsil. This tehsil is known for Zairat Sain Sorian ,Zairat Sain Mundrian Zairat Sain Plantrar near Raj Nagar,Taliani Merg, Belu Merg,Simart Sar Lake Dakyar Peak (15290 feet ) and Budhal pass. Recently Budhal was divided in to two Tehsils namely Teshil Budhal with 36 villages and Teshil Khawas with 15 villages.
Budhal is an ancient town whose reference is available in Rajtarangni as Budiwasa. Renowned research scholar Late Moti Lal Saqi wrote in one of his articles that the native place of Khasha Tribes was between Banshala (present Banihal) and Rajapuri (present Rajouri) that is Budhal area. Khashas were great warriors of the outer hills of Kashmir who ruled Rajouri, Poonch and Kashmir in 9th and 10th century AD. From 10th century onward till 19th century, there is no direct reference about the rulers who ruled Budhal area. It appears that during this period, Budhal remained a part of Rajouri principality. The warrior tribes of Budhal were taking part in the battles along with the forces of Rajas of Rajouri.
As per Rajtarangni of Juna Raj, and Tariq-e-Farishta of Abu-ul-Qasim, Shah Mir belonged to Khasha tribe who had migrated to Srinagar and joined the court of Raja Saha Deva of Kashmir. He revealed in the Darbar of Raja Saha Deva that his ancestors were the descendents of Arjun Pandav and his native place was Panch Gahwara. His ancestors had also constructed a township near Panch Gahwara which was named as Gurab Harpur. N.K. Zutshi wrote in his book Zain-ul-Abdin that Panch Gahwara is present Panj Gabbar located on the boundary of Budhal and Rajouri while Gahrab Harpur is identified as Gabbar located exactly in the east of Budhal town, which reveals that Budhal was known as Gaharb Har Pur or Gabbar and Shah Mir was the native of Budhal who had migrated to Kashmir along with his family in 1313 AD when Saha Deva was the king of Kashmir. Keeping in view the aptitude and ability of Shah Mir,Saha Deva had appointed him as Governor and deputed to Inder Court fort. Later on Shah Mir revolted against Saha Deva and became the King of Kashmir with the title of Sultan Shams-ud-Din. After that the land lords of Budhal area remained allies of Sultans of Kashmir. In those days Khasha tribes were replaced by Thakkers who were known as the best fighters of Pir Panchal range. In 1420, during the battle fought between Ali Shah and his brother Shahi Khan at Thana, the Thakkers of this area played a vital role for the success of Sultan Shai Khan over his brother. After the victory of Shahi Khan in the battle of Thanna, he ascended to the throne of Kashmir under the title of Sultan Zain-ul-Abdin who provided number of Jagirs to Thakkers of Budhal.
During the first advance of Maharaja Ranjit Singh towards Kashmir in 1814, Thakker Namdar Khan the ruler of Budhal was an ally of Maharaja along with Aghar Khan of Rajouri. When Raja Aghar Khan of Rajouri and Ruch Allah Khan of Poonch revolted against the forces of Maharaja at Behram Galla, Sawjain and created trouble for the Punjabi forces, at that time Thakker Namdar Khan remained faithful to Maharaja Ranjeet singh and cooperated fully with him and provided all help to Punjabi forces. In 1819, when Maharaja Ranjeet Singh captured Kashmir Thakker Namdar Khan was provided Jagir in Kashmir with the title of ‘Raja.’
In 1846, Maharaja Gulab Singh captured Rajouri, and Budhal in the light of Amritsar pact of 16th March 1846.Raja Rahim Ullah Khan of Rajouri was compelled to leave the principality. At that time Bandhu Khan, the son of Thakker Nambdar Khan along with his other family members also accompanied Raja Rahim Ullah Khan. Later on , in the light of the decision taken by the resident of Lahore, Raja Rahim Ullah, Bandhu Khan and his family left their native places once for all and settled in the village Rohalu of district Kangra in Himachal Pardesh. Bandhu Khan died there leaving behind his two sons namely Sherbaz Khan and Mohd Hafiz Khan. They tried to come back to their native principality Budhal but they were not allowed by Maharaja Gulab Singh and so they left back and Budhal remained governed by the Dogras.
From 1846 onwards, Budhal became a part of Rajouri tehsil which was initially governed by Mian Hathu. In 1860, this area became the part of Bhimber district while in 1904 Budhal was separated from district Bhimber and affiliated with Reasi district like Rajouri .This administrative set up continued up to 1947.
In 1947, like other parts of the state, Budhal also became hot and tense due to the infiltration of Pakistan sponsored forces that captured almost all parts of Pir Panchal region including Rajouri Mirpur Budhal and other areas except Poonch city. Therefore Indian forces started operation in this region after January 1948.
Lieutenant Colonel Bhagwan Singh who lunched operation to recapture Budhal wrote in one of his articles 50 years of libration of Budhal’ that he was a retired officer of Second World War and was recalled by Indian Army. He was directed to advance towards Budhal from Reasi on 26th May 1948. At that time, two companies of Maharaja’s forces were active in Rajouri and Budhal area. While the rebels and deserters of the forces of Maharaja Hari Singh with two Battalions were stationed at Budhal town under the overall command of Pakistan Army.
Lieutenant Colonel Bhagwan Singh along with Brigadier Major Isher Dass left Jammu via Reasi with forces to capture Budhal. They crossed the river Chanab at Reasi and reached near Ans Nallah where two companies of 3rd JAK rifles were already stationed. After assessing the situation Lieutenant Colonel Bhagwan Singh decided frontal attack on Budhal. On 24th November they reached Tulli, a few kilometers short of Budhal. On 26th November Budhal town was stormed. The rebels vacated the town and shifted to the hill tops around Budhal town. With the passage of time the rebels were dethroned from the hill tops also and the whole Budhal area was liberated.