The following article* chronicles the foundation and dissolution of a minor principality in Kullu, a significant part of which stretched across what is today known as the Laug or Lag Valley.

*The article is also available in Hindi.

I. The Backdrop

Circa AD 1240

The Raja of Suket Mantar Sen died without a male heir and a kinsman of his, Mian Madan, was proclaimed Raja by the state officials.

Mian Madan acquired the name Madan Sen and had a long and successful reign (AD 1240–80). At the time of his ascension, Beas river was the northern boundary of Suket and separated it from Bangahal state. In his military campaigns to the North across the Beas Madan Sen first subdued the thakurs and ranas of Drang and Gumma in Bangahal. And then, in Kulu, he managed to obtain the right bank of Beas up to Siunsa and the whole Parvati valley in Rupi waziri. The ruler of Kulu at the time was Keral Pal.

Madan Sen made Rana Bhosal, a local petty chief, his subordinate and assigned him to control the land on the right bank of the Beas between Siunsa and Bajaura. Bhosal married a sister of a kinsman of Madan Sen, Rup Chand.

The Suket king also built a fort in Khokhan kothi called ‘Madanpur.’ During the early decades of the twentieth century, the remnants of this fort were claimed to still be visible.

Madanpur on a map from the 1870s. (Calvert, 1873)

Madan Sen moved Suket’s capital from Pangna to Lohara towards the end of his reign.

Circa AD 1500

Around the beginning of the sixteenth century, Parbat Sen (r. 1500–1520) was the ruler of Suket. The thakurs and ranas of Rupi, Saraj (Kulu Saraj, Mandi Saraj, northwest and southwest quarters of Outer Saraj), the tract on the right bank of river Beas from Siunsa to Bajaura, and some portion of Chota Bangahal, held their allegiance to Suket. The remaining area of Saraj i.e. the eastern half of Outer Saraj was under the control of Bashahr state.

The portion of upper Kulu above Siunsa Nala on the right bank and Jagatsukh on the left bank of river Beas belonged to a Rana named Jhina. He was assassinated by Sidh Singh (r. 1500-32), the Kulu Raja, who also took back from Suket the right bank of Beas down to Fozal Nala.

Formation of Laug or Lag

It is reported that during Parbat Sen’s reign in Suket, a raj-purohit was accused of having an affair with a royal zenana girl. When the Raja learned of this, he ordered the raj-purohit to be punished without any proof or investigation; for a crime of which the man was said to be innocent. The raj-purohit committed suicide in consequence to the humiliation he had suffered for the false accusation.

Shortly after this incident, Parbat Sen became gravely ill. Believing it was due to the sin of Brahmahatya the Raja, in an attempt to atone for his fault, granted the region from Fozal nala to Bajaura as a jagir to the raj-purohit’s family—or the Raja simply made them his diwan or vazir. It was insufficient, however, for the Raja died not long after.

Because it was given as an expiation for a sin, the jagir was called Lag or Laug (lit. fault or sin; also burning dues). It encompassed the lands that became known as vaziri Lag Sari (right bank of Beas between Fozal nala and Sarvari river) and vaziri Lag Maharaja (right bank of Beas from Sarvari river to Bajaura).

II. Bahadur Singh and the declining power of Suket in Saraj and Kulu

Annexation of Rupi

Sidh Singh’s son Bahadur Singh (r. 1532-59) succeeded him as Raja of Kulu after his death. The thakurs of Rupi had grown dissatisfied with Suket’s arrogant Raja, Arjun Sen (r. 1540–60). After being dishonoured by this Raja at his court, several of the thakurs offered their loyalty to Bahadur Singh. They then assisted the Kulu Raja in subjugating the thakurs of Harkandi, Chung, and Kunawar kothis, and as a result, Bahadur Singh took control over the part of Rupi waziri in the Parvati valley.

The remaining part of Rupi waziri was captured by Hathi, Thakur of Ladhiyara and commander-in-chief of Bahadur Singh. He defeated thakurs of Kot-Kandhi, Bhalan and Shenshar kothis. The Thakur of Shensher, Hul, was defeated with the help of his own kinsmen from Talyara.

The entire waziri of Rupi was thus annexed into Kulu.

Kulu as Makraha

Following the successful conquest of Rupi waziri, Bahadur Singh repopulated the ancient town of Makraha (or Makrasa) in Kothi Kot-Kandhi and also built a fort at the place.

Makraha is believed to be situated on the left bank of Beas near its confluence with Hurla nala.

Despite the fact that the capital was in Nagar, Bahadur Singh, and his successors all the way down to Jagat Singh (r. 1637-72), lived at Makraha, which was undeniably a strategic location for his conquest of Saraj.

The annals of Tinan (Gundhla) Thakurs in Lahul speaks of Bahadur Singh, Pratap Singh and Parbat Singh residing at Makarsang i.e. Makarsa. Francisco de Azevedo, a Portugese Jesuit missionary, who travelled through Kulu in AD 1631, in the reign of Prithi Singh, called the capital (possibly Nagar) as Magar Sara. Furthermore, some Takri documents at the Bhuri Singh Museum in Chamba all concerning Raja Pritam Singh (r. 1767–1808) of Kulu mentions the state by name of Makrasa (Makraha).

In the Tinan annals the capital of Kulu is first mentioned as Setanpur (Sultanpur) in the reign of Pritam Singh.

Raja Pritam Singh of Kulu, ca. 1780. Pahari Style, Unknown Artist. Source: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

It is apparent from all these sources that the entire kingdom of Kulu, including Nagar, the capital, was known as Makraha, Makrasa, or Makarsa from the time of Bahadur Singh through the period of Pritam Singh.

Conquest of Saraj and the first invasion of Lag

Bahadur Singh, now settled in Makraha, turned his attention to Saraj. He sent expeditions, led by Thakur Hathi, to Inner Saraj who captured half of the land for the Raja. Shangharh, Banogi, Nohanda, Tung, Baramgarh(?) and Chehni kothis were all taken over by Hathi.

The temple to Hirma Devi in Dhungri was built (A.D. 1553) by Bahadur Singh probably after the successful conquests over the thakurs and ranas of Kulu, Rupi and half of Inner Saraj.

Temple of Devi Hirma, ca. 1870. Source: Victoria and Albert Museum.

Bahadur Singh turned his eyes back to Saraj in the latter years of his reign. He annexed the remaining regions of Saraj held by Suket, the parts of Inner Saraj and northwest Outer Saraj, in conjunction with the Raja of Mandi, Sahib Sen (r. 1554-75/1534-60), who claimed for himself the territory that became known as Mandi-Saraj.

In a following coordinated expedition Bahadur Singh captured Madanpur (Khokhan kothi), Pirkot (Bairkot?) and twelve neighbouring villages of Laug. The waziris of Sanor and Badar, which were possibly under direct authority of Suket, were taken by Sahib Sen.

In 1559, Bahadur Singh and his Chamba counterpart made a matrimonial alliance. In a copper-plate inscription it is recorded that Bahadur Singh made a grant of lands at Hat (near Bajaura) on the occasion of marriage of his three daughters with the heir-apparent of Chamba. The grantee was rajguru (spiritual preceptor) of the Chamba Raja who had assisted in arranging the royal marriage. Along with some land in Hat and Shayari, a shop, possibly in the Bajaura fort, was also granted to the rajguru. This indicates that these locations were all in the jurisdiction of Kulu under Bahadur Singh.

A facsimile of Bahadur Singh’s copper-plate grant (AD 1559). Source: ASI Annual Report, 1903-04.

Subsequently, Suket’s power in the region waned and as a result, Laug, which remained under the rule of the raj-purohit’s descendants, likely gained independence.

III. The Annexation of Lag by Jagat Singh (about AD 1656-57)

Jagat Singh, like his forefathers, lived in Makraha. The Laug or Lagwati rulers were able to hold a large territory till his reign and their dominion included: Maharaja waziri (probably leaving Bajaura and Khokhan kothis) and all of waziri Sari of Kulu; Kodhsawar (Kothi-Sowar) and all the slopes to the Uhl river from the outer Himalaya, the upper part of which was called Chuhar.

The concurrent rulers of Lag were the brothers Jog Chand and Sultan Chand. Sultan Chand lived in Sultanpur and had a fort, Sarigarh, above the settlement, whilst Jog Chand dwelt in Dhughilag and had key forts at Choja and Goja.

According to one tradition, Sultanpur was founded and named after Sultan Chand.

After Jog Chand’s demise, Jagat Singh and Raja of Mandi Suraj Sen (r. 1623–58/1637–64) invaded Laug. Jagat Singh took control of the forts of Sari, Shoja, Goja, Tarapur, Mandalgarh, Raison, and Hurang-garh in Kulu. Sultan Chand was killed in action, and Jagat Singh kidnapped Jog Chand’s grandson and other kinsmen. Suraj Sen assumed command from the opposite side and seized control of the entire Chuhar region.

Looking northwards from the ruins of Tarapur Garh. (2019 Photo)

Lag was thus finally annexed to Kulu and Mandi, and it was probably then that the territory of Lag acquired by Kulu was divided into Lag-Sari and Lag-Maharaja waziris (districts).

The following couplet in Kullui shows how this invasion is remembered in the oral tradition of Kulu:

सारी मॉत मेढ़दा राज़ेआ, सारी पाली पतारी;
छोज गोज मेरे राज़ेआ, सारी होली ‘लग’ थम्हारी।

“O King destroy not Sari, It gives thee nothing;
destroy Shoja and Goja, all Lag is thine.”

When Jagat Singh took the Sari fort, gaining control of Lag-Sari area, an elderly lady from upper Kulu instructed him to send troops to Shoja and Goja, the two remaining forts in Dughilag, as these were regarded the strongholds of Lagwati rajas, through the above couplet.

Dara Shikoh’s Warning

Jog Chand was under Mughal protection. Knowing about the annexation of Laug after his death, Dara Shikoh, in a farman dated AD 1657, ordered Jagat Singh to liberate the grandson and restore his rights, or suffer dire repercussions. Jagat Singh presumably ignored the warning because he was aware of the Mughal prince’s looming succession battles with his brother Aurangzeb.

IV. Aftermath

Around AD 1660, Jagat Singh built a palace and a temple to Raghunath in Sultanpur, and declared it the new capital. Makraha was abandoned and, once again, fell into ruins. Many of the exquisite carved stones of Makraha were used by a British officer to build a bridge over the Beas at Dalasni in the early years of the British Raj. The bridge was later swept away by a flood.

Raja Jagat Singh is said to have resided alternatively at Sultanpur, Nagar and Thawa, a little above Naggar.

Most of Outer Saraj was still in the possession of Suket and Bashahr. Jagat Singh towards the end of his reign invaded Outer Saraj and took Naraingarh, Sirigarh and Himri from Suket.

Worship of Raghunath and Kulu Dussehra

According to the tradition, in expiation of a great sin, Jagat Singh conveyed his kingdom to Raghunath and acted as a vicegerent of the god, ruling only in his name. A couple of copper-plate grants, dated AD 1651 and AD 1656, show that the worship of Vishnu in the form of Rama and Krishna, became the State religion during the reign of Jagat Singh. He is also said to have started the Dussehra festival in Kulu about AD 1661.

Rath of Raghunathji, Kulu Dussehra, early 1910s.
Source: Kangra Gazetteer, 1917.

A similar transfer had taken place in Mandi about AD 1648 when the heirless Raja Suraj Sen assigned his state to Madho Rai (or lord Krishna).


  • Annual report of the Archaeological Survey of India, 1903-04.
  • Annual report of the Archaeological Survey of India, 1907-08.
  • Brentnall, Mark (ed.) (2004). The Princely and Noble Families of the Former Indian Empire: Himachal Pradesh.
  • Calvert, John (1873). Kulu: its beauties, antiquities and silver mines, including a trip over the Snowy Range and glaciers.
  • Chakravarti, Balram (1999). The Sens of Himachal: Their Pan-Indian Heritage, Volume 1.
  • Gazetteer of the Mandi State, 1920.
  • Gazetteer of the Suket State, 1927.
  • Griffin (1870). The Rajas of the Punjab.
  • Hutchison & Vogel (1919). The History of Kulu State. Journal of the Panjab Historical Society, 7 (2), 1919.
  • Hutchison & Vogel (1933). History of the Panjab hill states.
  • Ohri & Sharma (2010). Takri Documents relating to the History of Western Himalaya.
  • Singh, Hardyal (1885). Majma-i-Tawarikh-i-Riasatha-i-Kohistan-i-Punjab.
  • Tobdan (2000). Kullu, a study in history: from the earliest to AD 1900.
  • Tobdan & Dorje (1996). Historical documents from western trans-Himalaya Lahul, Zanskar, and Ladakh.
  • Tobdan & Dorje (2008). Moravian Missionaries in Western Trans-Himalaya: Lahul, Ladakh, and Kinnaur.
  • Wessels (1924). Early Jesuit Travellers in Central Asia, 1603–1721.
  • बेबस, चन्द्रशेखर (1978)। संवत् १६०० के बाद का कुल्लू का इतिहास। सोमसी, 4 (अक्तूबर)।
  • भटनागर, सत्यपाल (2007)। कुल्लू का इतिहास एवम संस्कृति। द्वितीय संस्करण।


Tsering · 7 December 2021 at 23:05


कुल्लू व सराज के ‘ठाकुर’ और ‘राणा’ (1907-10) – Tharah Kardu · 11 May 2021 at 11:28

[…] ने ‘रूपी’ का वज़ीर नियुक्त किया था, जब रूपी सुकेत के अधीन थी। पारशा व कोट चुनेर के ठाकुरों को […]

कुल्लू व सराज के ‘ठाकुर’ और ‘राणा’ (1907-10) - Tharah Kardu · 11 April 2024 at 13:39

[…] ने ‘रूपी’ का वज़ीर नियुक्त किया था, जब रूपी सुकेत के अधीन थी। पारशा व कोट चुनेर के ठाकुरों को […]

कुल्लू में लौग जागीर - Tharah Kardu · 14 April 2024 at 13:42

[…] The Jagir of Laug [Lag Valley] […]

Leave a Reply

Sorry, you cannot copy the contents of this page.

Discover more from Tharah Kardu

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading