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The city of Patiala is located at a distance of 65 kilometers from Chandigarh. Historians believe that Mohan Singh, the predecessor of the Sikh Patiala Royal House, was once harassed by the neighboring “tappedars”, namely, the Dhaliwals and the Bhullars. It is said that Guru Hargobind even intervened on behalf of Mohan Singh but in vain. This resulted in an armed combat and the Guru’s troupe defeated the Dhaliwals. Mohan Singh then founded the village of Meharaj in 1627. Later, Guru Hargobind’s troupe and Mohan Singh fought the Mughals in 1631 at the Battle of Mehraj. Subsequently, in a struggle against the Bhatti Rajputs, Mohan Singh and his first son Rup Chand got killed. Mohan’s younger son, Kala, became the successor of the “Chaudriyat” and ended up being a guardian to the sons of his elder brother Rup Chand. After Kala’s death, Phul, Rup Chand’s son, founded his own village in 1663 and named it “Phul”. The formation of this village, at a distance of five miles from Meharaj, was possible because of the Sikh Gurus’ blessings. “Phul” was one of the premiere Jat Sikh Kingdoms to be established in Punjab. It is believed that the title of the “Phulkiyan” dynasty owes its origin to the common initiator.

Phul’s son Chhota Ram Singh also known as Bhai Ram Singh was blessed and baptized by Guru Gobind Singh.  Baba Ala Singh, descendant of Bhai Ram Singh, thought of forming a Sikh domain where the “Singhs” would be able to live in safety and security. Helped and encouraged by Deep Singh Ji, Ala Singh challenged the Mughal chiefs of Barnala and succeeded in winning over the area after a battle that continued for six months. He decided to construct a city where the Sikhs could prosper and soon a safe boundary was marked inside which work began. This place was termed as “area of Ala Singh” or “Aale di patti” which eventually became “Patiala”. The “Panth” made Aala Singh the first “king” of Patiala who, along with his brothers, ruled the territory up to Bhatinda.

Baba Ala Singh was shrewder than most of his contemporaries and dealt with the Marathas, Afghans and Mughals tactically during the middle years of the 18th Century. In 1761, the Marathas were undone in the 3rd Battle of Panipat and the Afghans ruled the entire Punjab. During this stage, the Patiala rulers started acquiring distinct tokens of royalty. The prestigious title of “Maharaja of Patiala” was bestowed upon Ala Singh by Ahmad Shah Abdali.

Marred by 40 years of endless struggle with the Marathas, Afghans and Mughals, the eastern boundaries of the state of Patiala experienced the wrath of the British while the northern boundaries witnessed the might of Ranjit Singh. The Raja of Patiala, blessed with grit and the instinct of making the right decisions at opportune moments, entered into an agreement with the British in 1808 against Ranjit Singh. Thus the rulers of Patiala became the associates of the British in building the British Empire in the Indian sub-continent. Maharaja Bhupinder Singh who ruled from 1900 to 1938 was one of the many rulers of Patiala who were treated by the British with respect. He made Patiala prominent on India’s political map as well as in the arena of international sports. Later, Maharaja Yadavindra Singh, Bhupinder’s son, became the first “prince” of India to sign the “Instrument of Accession”. This helped in the process of integrating India after the independence in 1947 and Yadavindra was made the “Rajpramukh” of the newly formed PEPSU (Patiala and East Punjab States Union) from its initiation in 1948 till its unification with Punjab in 1956.

If you plan to visit Patiala, you must visit historical places like Qila Mubarak, Qila Androon, Ran Baas, Sheesh Mahal, Rang Mahal, Darbar Hall, Moti Bagh Palace (presently housing the National Institute of Sports), Lachhman Jhoola, Shahi Samadhan, Qila Bahadurgarh, Bir Moti Bagh, and Rajindera Kothi. The Kali Temple, the Panj Bali Gurdwara and the Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib also draw religious enthusiasts from all over India.

Interestingly, Patiala has a unique place in the psyche of the average Indian. The word has interesting connotations – there is the celebrated “Patiala Gharana” of Hindustani Classical Music, the term “Patiala Peg” refers to a huge peg of whiskey and finally “Patialas” may refer to the popular dhoti salwars or lower body apparel for women.

Map of Patiala

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