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Bhatinda, also spelled as Bathinda, was earlier known as Bikramgarh according to Khalifa Muhammad Hassan, the writer of “History of Patiala”. Ibn Battutah opined differently and wrote that Bhatinda was earlier known as “Batrind”. Located in the Malwa Region in North-West India, Bhatinda was also called “Tabar-e-Hind” or “the gateway to India”.

This old city of Punjab boasts of a rich and interesting history. After the Saka and the Kushan rule, the region was ruled by Jayapala, the Hindu Shahi king, in 965 AD. Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni challenged Emperor Jayapala and captured the local fort in 1004 AD. Later, in 1189 AD, the fort of Bhatinda was attacked and captured by Muhammad Ghori. The first battle of Tarain took place more than a year later in 1191 AD and Prithvi Raj Chauhan, the then ruler of the region, recovered control over the fort 13 months after losing it.

The Delhi Sultanate was founded after the demise of Muhammad Ghori. Iltutmish, the fourth emperor of the Sultanate, named Raziya, his daughter, as his successor. When Raziya Sultan became the first Empress of India, Malik Altunia, the then Governor of Bhatinda, joined a rebel group that consisted of all the provincial governors who denied Raziya’s authority. In April 1240, Raziya was held captive at the Bhatinda Fort called Qila Mubarak.

The city of Bhatinda was later ruled by the Sidhu-Brars, who were brought back by Babur after they had been ousted once during the reign of Lodhi. Historians opine that the Bhati Gurjar kings, who ruled Punjab in 3rd Century AD, had built the city and named it Bitunda or Whatinda after their last name. It came to be known as Bhatinda or Bathinda following the local pronunciation.

The Maharaja of Patiala, Maharaja Ala Singh, conquered the area around the year 1754 and from that period the history of Bhatinda coincided with the history of Patiala, the erstwhile “princely” state. When India won independence, East Punjab States and Patiala were merged into a division named “PEPSU” and Bhatinda became a complete district, Bhatinda city being the head-quarter.

Presently, Bhatinda is a city bustling with industrial activities. It boasts of being one of the largest cotton and food grain markets in India and has turned into a hub with a dozen medium and small towns surrounding it. The Bhatinda railway junction is one of the largest junctions in the country. Bhatinda also boasts of being the largest cantonment in Asia.Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant, Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant, National Fertilizers Plant, Sugar Mills, Citrus Fruit Belts, Textile Plants and Petrochemical Plants are the significant industries based in the city.. With a population of around 218,000, Bhatinda has also become the educational hub of the area.

Visiting Bhatinda as a tourist is an enriching experience because of the prolific cultural and religious heritage of the place. The Qila Mubarak inspires awe as the tallest and the oldest small-brick monument and the Rose Garden is a paradise for nature-lovers. It showcases a rich variety of roses and is a popular picnic spot. The Zoological Garden with a tiny zoo within a modest forest is another well-loved picnic spot. The Bahia Fort which was the official residence of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh’s army has now been made into a 4-Star Hotel. Lakhi Jungle, where the practice of “langar” was introduced, remains a place of religious interest with the ancient Gurudwara and sacred memories of Shri Guru Nanak Dev. The Mazaar of Peer Haji Ratan also attracts a large number of devotees.

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