Rohtak District - History


The antiquity of the region goes back to the pre-Vedic Chalcolithic/Bronze Age. The ancient remains of the villages and towns related to the last phase of Indus Civilisation, going back at least 4,000 years, can still be seen around the region, particularly at Farmana near Mahem and Lahot near Dhansa border and khokra kot near rohtak city. After the fall of the Indus towns, the village settlements of the Late Harappa tradition survived until the middle of the second millennium BC in its decadent phase.

The advent of a new cultural tradition around 1500 BC most probably from the North-West of the subcontinent and beyond displaced the preceding Chalcolihthic/Indus survivors from the Gandhara region of Pakistan to Bihar. It manifested into at least three related regional cultures, the Gandhara Grave culture (c. 1500-500 BC), the Painted Grey Ware (PGW) culture (c.1100- 500 BC) and the Black Slipped Ware (BSW) culture (c.800-600 BC).

The peasant-pastoral PGW culture was distinguished by the use of iron, horse and cattle and a thin grey coloured and painted pottery. It spread from Sutlej to the Ganges and particularly along the Saraswati valley in northern plains. Its discovery from Hastinapur, Panipat, Pehowa, Kurukshetra, Mathura. Indraprastha or Delhi excited the imagination of the traditional archaeologists to associate the culture with the Mahabharat heroes. However, the geographical distribution, chronology and the cultural milieu of the PGW culture can be well compared with the culture of the Vedic (later phase) literature or Aryans. The discovery of the PGW culture from the lowest levels of Khokhrakot at Rohtak attests the intrusion of the Vedic people at Rohtak in the later Vedic period. The semi-agricultural and pastoral Aryans of the Rig Veda had by now taken to settled Janapadas and developed agrarian economy assisted by relevant iron technology and social organisation comprising the Varna System. It is about this period that the Gana Rajyas (tribal republics) or chiefdoms came into existence.

The political struggle for domination ensued and the more successful established city states or the Mahajanapadas in the 7th century BC. It is from now onwards that the history of India growingly becomes the history of the struggle of centripetal and centrifugal forces. The Magadhan empire emerged successful in establishing almost a pan-Indian hegemony under the Nandas and the Mauryas and gave impetus to the rise of regional cities.

The Rohtak tract saw the growth of Second Urbanisation in the early historic times in the 4th century BC as evidenced by the excavations at Khokhra Kot mound near the town. The discovery of Ashokan pillars at Topra in North Haryana and at Hissar and Fatehabad attests the expansion of the Mauryan Empire in our region. The period was marked by the popularity of Prakrit language, the spread of Buddhism, the beginning of brick architecture, coinage and the Brahmi alphabets (a new script). After the collapse of the Mauryan empire the region saw the resurgence of the Tribal republic of the Yaudheyas to be subdued again by the invading Indo- Greeks, Sakas and Kushanas before the beginning of the Christian era. The Kushana rule integrated North India with Central Asia. The period saw the growth of urbanisation to higher peaks by boosting trade with Central and Western Asia and Europe. The assimilation of a variety of foreign elements enriched the Culture of India. The early historical period was also distinguished by the prevalence of slavery, caste system, decline in the status of women and untouchables under the sanction of the state and the Dharma Shastras.

The disintegration of the Kushana empire in the 3rd century AD again led to the rise of the Yaudheyas (tribal republic) at Rohtak as attested by the discovery of their seals and coin mounds. They were, however, subjugated by another Magadhan empire of the Guptas in the 4th century AD. Soon after, the urban centres decayed gradually giving way to the rise of feudal society and culture, agrarian economy, decentralisation of power and a new hierarchical social order. The town of Rohtak also decayed. The invasion by the Hunas, indicated anarchic conditions of the times.

The early centuries of the Christian era was a great era of cultural fusion when the foreign invaders like the Indo-Greeks, Sakas, Kushanas and the Hunas were assimilated. Stupas, pillars and sculptures, decorated bricks of temples and seals bear testimony to the beautiful art tradition of the region—wrestling and lute playing with drums were the popular pastime of the people.

The latter half of the 6th century AD saw the rise of the Puspabhutis or Vardhanas as the rulers of Shrikanth kingdom of Thanesar. Prabhakar Vardhan was a powerful king and ousted the Huna power from the region. Rohtak formed part of the Thanesar kingdom and later of the Kanauj empire of Harsha Vardhana, the Pushpabhuti prince of Thanesar. Anarchic conditions again set in the region with the death of Harsha. Peace was established by Pratiharas of Ujjain. They conquered North India in the 9th century and ruled from Kanauj.

The Tomaras of Delhi, the Samantas of the Pratiharas, asserted their independence in the 10th century and ruled over Haryana including Rohtak. Subsequently the area saw itself ruled by the Mamluks, Lodis, Mughals etc. until it was won over by the Sinsinwar dynasty of Bharatpur in the later half of eighteenth century under Maharaja Suraj Mal and his son Jawahar Singh. Ultimately a weakened royal household of the sinsinwar (or sansanwal) royal household saw the area come under first the Marathas, then a European mercenary, again the Maratha and subsequently the predominance of the British who continued to rule it until independence with portions of it being awarded intermittently to the JatSikh king of Jind or his subordinate Jamindars/Jagirdars.

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