The Battle of Bhangani 1686:Key Insights and Highlights


The Battle of Bhangani, a significant event in Sikh history, took place in the year 1686 A.D., near Paonta Sahib. It was a clash born out of complex political dynamics, personal rivalries, and shifting allegiances. This article delves into the circumstances leading to the battle and the heroic accounts of those who took part in it.

Background and Precursors

Causes of the Battle of Bhangani

In the late 17th century, Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru, found himself embroiled in a series of events that eventually led to the Battle of Bhangani. This battle marked a significant turning point in his life and the Sikh faith. 

Guru Gobind Singh's Residence in Anandpur

Guru Gobind Singh resided in Anandpur, a region within the territory of Raja Bhim Chand of Bilaspur (Kahlur). Anandpur Sahib, as it came to be known, held a unique status as an autonomous region. This autonomy was rooted in history, as the barren land of Makhowal had been purchased by Guru Gobind Singh's father, Guru Tegh Bahadur. Under Guru Gobind Singh's leadership, the town had evolved, originally named Chakk Nanki.

The Growing Influence and Power of Guru Gobind Singh

By the 1680s, Guru Gobind Singh's influence and power had expanded significantly. Devotees from distant places were drawn to him, bringing with them valuable gifts as tokens of their devotion. Notable examples include Duni Chand, who presented an exquisite Shamiana, an imperial canopy adorned with gold, silver, and pearls, and Ratan Rai, the son of Raja Ram Rai of Assam, who offered precious gifts, including an elephant named Prasadi (or Parsadi).

The Construction of the Ranjit Nagara

In the mid-1680s, Guru Gobind Singh initiated the construction of a war drum known as "Ranjit Nagara" to inspire and galvanize his growing army. The responsibility for this task was entrusted to the Guru's Dewan, Nand Chand. However, this seemingly innocuous act would soon become a point of contention.

Bhim Chand's Request for the Prasadi Elephant

A significant rift developed when Bhim Chand, motivated by a desire to flaunt his wealth, sent a request to Guru Gobind Singh. He asked to borrow the Prasadi elephant ,for a display at his son's forthcoming wedding. However, the Guru perceived Bhim Chand's intentions as an attempt to secure permanent possession of the elephant through deceitful means. Despite multiple emissaries sent by Bhim Chand, including the last one being Raja Kesari Chand of Jaswan, Guru Gobind Singh stood firm in his refusal.

Escalating Tensions

Bhim Chand's disgruntlement grew as the Guru continued to amass influence and engage in military exercises. This led to a growing atmosphere of confrontation, even though Guru Gobind Singh's actions were not overtly offensive in terms of territorial ambitions.

Relocation to Paonta Sahib

In April 1685, Guru Gobind Singh made a significant decision to shift his residence to Paonta (now Poanta Sahib) in the Sirmur state. Raja Mat Prakash (also known as Medni Prakash) of Sirmur extended an invitation, and the reasons behind this move remain a topic of debate among historians. Some argue that differences with Raja Bhim Chand forced the Guru's departure, while others point to political considerations.

Marriage Arrangements and Heightening Hostility

As events unfolded, Bhim Chand's son's marriage was arranged with the daughter of Raja Fateh Shah. The shortest route to the wedding in Srinagar, the capital of Garhwal, passed through Paonta. However, Guru Gobind Singh, given his lack of trust in Bhim Chand, refused passage to the heavily armed marriage party through Paonta. Negotiations allowed only the bridegroom and a select few companions to cross the ferry near Paonta, further exacerbating Bhim Chand's hostility.

The Gift and Its Rejection

The Guru's involvement in the wedding celebrations continued as he sent representatives, Bhai Nand Chand (or Namd Chand) and Bhai Daya Ram, along with valuable jewelry worth approximately a hundred thousand rupees as a gift for the bride. A contingent of 500 horsemen was dispatched to safeguard the gift. However, Bhim Chand's reaction to the gift threatened to disrupt the wedding plans.

Preparations for Conflict

As the situation escalated, the Guru's horsemen, on their return journey to Paonta, found themselves under attack from the forces of the Rajas. They successfully defended themselves and promptly reported the incident to the Guru. Anticipating further aggression from the Hill Rajas, Guru Gobind Singh began preparations for what would become the Battle of Bhangani.

Armies in the Battle of Bhangani

The Battle of Bhangani was not just a clash between Guru Gobind Singh's Sikh forces and the combined armies of Raja Bhim Chand of Bilaspur and Raja Fateh Shah of Garhwal. It involved several Hill Rajas and diverse military contingents.

Bhim Chand and Fateh Shah's Alliance

Bhim Chand and Fateh Shah, as the principal antagonists, formed a formidable alliance, bringing together 14 other Hill Rajas to support their cause. These Rajas included:

  • Kirpal of Katoch
  • Gopala of Guler (or Guleria)
  • Hari Chand of Hindur
  • Kesari Chand of Jaswan

Their combined forces added to the strength of Bhim Chand and Fateh Shah, setting the stage for a significant confrontation.

Guru Gobind Singh's Forces

On the other side of the conflict, Guru Gobind Singh Ji's army comprised a diverse group of individuals who rallied behind the Guru's leadership. Here's a breakdown of the key components of his forces:

  • Sikhs: Guru Gobind Singh had around 4,000 Sikh warriors at his disposal. These dedicated followers formed the core of his army, driven by their unwavering commitment to the Guru's cause.
  • Udasis and Pathans: While some Udasis and Pathans were part of the Guru's forces, it's important to note that many had abandoned his cause. Only a few, like Mahant Kirpa Das, remained loyal.
  • Pathans' Betrayal: The Guru had employed Pathans at the recommendation of Pir Buddhu Shah(a fakir, who lived at Sadhaura near Paonta), but unfortunately, they were swayed by promises of a share of the loot at Paonta Sahib. Their disloyalty prompted Guru Ji to take decisive action.

The Battle of Bhangani was a fierce and bloody conflict. It exacted a heavy toll on both sides. 

The Battle Unfolds

The Battle of Bhangani lasted for a day, although some historians argue that it only lasted for about nine hours. Nevertheless, it was a fierce and intense battle. As the armies of the hill Rajas advanced towards Paonta, Guru Gobind Singh and his followers also marched towards them. The two opposing forces clashed on the banks of the Yamuna river at Bhangani, which was located about 6 miles (9.7 km) away from Paonta. Unfortunately, the battle resulted in the deaths of several of the Guru's and the Pir's disciples, including the Pir's two sons.


Guru Gobind Singh did not do well in the beginning but ultimately came out victorious, and won the battle. The author of Bichitra Natak also mentions that the battle resulted in the victory of the Guru's forces, and the enemy forces fled from the battlefield.

Bichitra Natak, an autobiography attributed to Guru Gobind Singh, describes the battle in detail.


The tombs of the deceased hill chieftains were built in Bhangani. It is believed that the Guru raised his victory flag in Bhangani, and a Gurdwara now stands at the location. According to the author of Bichitra Natak, the Guru did not stay in Paonta after the battle, but instead returned to Anandpur. The warriors who fought in the battle were rewarded while those who did not participate were expelled from the town.

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