A Brief History of Suket State, Now Known as Sundernagar


Suket (Sundernagar) is a town located in the Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh, India. It has a rich history that dates back to ancient times. In this article, we will delve into the history of Suket state.

The Origin and Naming of Suket

The state of Suket is believed to be named after Sukdev, the son of Vyas Maharishi who performed penance here. According to J. Hutchinson, the name of 'Suket' is derived from the word 'Sukshetra' which means 'good land'. 

Establishment and Lineage

According to A. Cunningham, Suket was established in the eighth century AD. The ancient name of Suket was 'Old City'. The ancestors of the kings of Suket and Mandi belong to the Chandravanshi Rajput lineage, whose incarnations are considered to be Pandavas in the Mahabharata. According to the ancient customs of the hill states, the name of the royal dynasty of Suket is 'Suketi' or 'Suketar'.

Geography and Boundaries

Suket state was spread over an area of approximately 420 square kilometers. Its boundaries are Mandi in the north, Bilaspur in the south and west and Behana stream separates it from Seraj (Kullu) in the east.

Sundernagar - The Capital of Suket State

Presently the name of Suket is Sundernagar. Sundernagar was the capital of Suket state. The early history of Suket state shows that the kings of this state fought wars with the kings of many dynasties, the main one being the Kullu dynasty.


King Bir Sen

The history of Suket dates back to AD 765 when Bir Sen, a descendant of the Sen dynasty in Bengal, founded it. Prior to Bir Sen's rule, the area was controlled by Ranas and Thakurs. Bir Sen was able to conquer Kullu and many small thakurais, extending his kingdom beyond the Sutlej and Beas rivers. He built a fort named Birkot, and was succeeded by Bikram Sen and Dhartari Sen. 

King Lakshman Sen 

When Lakshman Sen was crowned Raja of Suket at the age of 2, the Raja of Kullu took advantage of his minority and declared independence. However, at the age of 14, Lakshman Sen invaded Kullu and made it a tributary to Suket. After Lakshman Sen, his son Chandrasen ruled Suket until his death without children. His brother Bijai Sen took the throne, and had two sons named Sahu Sen and Bahu Sen. 

Around 1000 AD, Sahusen ruled Suket while his brother, Bahusen, obtained Ranhun from the king of Kallu in Mangalore due to his anger towards Sahusen. In the last generation of Bahusen's rule, Karanchansen's son Vansen laid the foundation of Mandi state, which proved to be more powerful than Suket and Kullu.

King Madansen

In 240 AD, King Madansen became the ruler of Suket and established his authority over the boundaries of Suket up to the salt mines of Darang and Samluhi Dhar (Kangra) by defeating the Thakur of Mahal-Moriya. Raja Madan Sen's reign (1240 AD) is considered the 'Golden Age' of Suket, as he built Madankot fort and granted the territory from Manali to Bajaura to a local loyalist 'Rana Bhosal' on his marriage with the princess of Suket. 

One night, a goddess appeared in the dream of King Madan Sen, warning him to leave Pangana or else something untoward would happen to him. The king built a temple at that place and immediately decided to abandon Pangana, making 'Lohara' (near Balh) the new capital of Suket. In 1620 AD, King Shyamsen ascended the throne of Suket.

King Shyam Sen

Shyam Sen had two wives, one from Guler and another from Bushahr. Both of them became pregnant at the same time. The first son of Guleri Rani, Ram Sen, was recognized as tikka. Later, the same Rani gave birth to a second son named Prithi Singh and a daughter. On the other hand, Bushahri Rani gave birth to a son named Hari Singh.Bushahri Rani plotted to kill Ram Sen through Mian Jughunam to secure her son's position as the next heir.

One day, Mian Jughunam took advantage of an opportunity and pushed Ram Sen into the cellar. A thorough search was conducted, and eventually, Naurang Singh, the Raja's younger brother, came up with an idea.After discovering the plot, the Bushahri Rani was exiled from the state, and all members of the Mian Jughunam family, except for a pregnant woman, were executed. The descendants of Jughunam Mians are from this woman.Later, Hari Singh was displaced as heir presumptive in favor of Prihti Singh.

Raja Jagat Singh of Nurpur was a contemporary of Shyam Sen. He had a plan to become the supreme ruler of the hills. He conquered Chamba and Basohli and then turned his attention towards Mandi, Suket, and Guler. Mandi Raja Suraj Sen managed to escape, but Suket’s Shyam Sen and Man Singh of Guler were not as fortunate. Raja Shyam Sen and his brother Naurang Singh were imprisoned in Delhi on the complaint of Raja Jagat Singh of Nurpur as they had failed to provide troops for an expedition to Jammu Hills. Man Singh of Guler was also imprisoned on similar grounds.

During his captivity, Shyam Sen is said to have prayed to Mahunag, who appeared to him in the form of a bee and promised to help him get an early release. In 1641 AD, Raja Jagat Singh revolted against Mughal authority, leading to the early release of Shyam Sen and others.

After returning from Delhi, Shyam Sen was grateful for his deliverance and granted a Jagir of rupees 400/- a year to the temple of Mahunag, as the Nag had appeared to him in that town.

King Ram Sen

During the reign of Ram Sen in 1650, there was a struggle for the BAHL tract between the rival towns of Mandi and Suket. To protect the inhabitants of Madhopur, Ram Sen built a fort which he named Ramgarh after himself. Unfortunately, Raja Ram Sen made the unfounded accusation that his sister was unchaste and subsequently transferred her to Pangana. This accusation was so disgraceful that she took her own life. Following this tragic event, Raja Ram Sen became insane and passed away.

King Jeet Sen

After his father's death, Jeet Singh was appointed Regent due to his father's insanity, and sadly, all of his 22 children died in infancy. The Raja of Mandi, Sidh Sen, together with Bhim Chand of Kahlur, seized the Dhar of Hatli and Fort of Birkot from Suket.

In 1721, Jeet Singh died childless, and Garur Sen, the grandson of Hari Singh, son of Rani of Bushahr, became the ruler of Suket. Garur Sen founded Sundernagar, which was previously known as Baned, and made it the capital of the state. His Rani also commissioned the construction of the Surajkund Temple.

King Bikram Sen

Bikram Sen, who was the ruler in 1791, had two sons, Ugar Sen and Jagat Singh. 

William Moorcraft was probably the first European to visit Suket on his way to Kullu in 1820.

King Ugar Sen 

Ugar Sen was a historical figure in 19th century India. In 1845, the Sikh Army invaded British territory but Ugar Sen joined with the Raja of Mandi who had already pledged allegiance to the British. After the battle of Sabara, both chiefs visited Mr. Ershine at Bilaspur. Suket came under British control and a Sanad was granted to Suket in October 1846. In 1857, Ugar Sen's son Rudra Sen left Suket for one and a half years due to family trouble. In 1859, he returned to Mandi. Ugar Sen requested that if Rudra Sen did not agree to make peace, he should leave. Rudra Sen left, and two years later, a daughter was born who was afterwards married to the Raja of Sirmour. In 1866, a second son named Dusht Nikanden Sen was born. Ugar Sen suffered from paralysis and died in 1876.

King Rudra Sen 

Rudra Sen was installed as Raja in 1876. He was known to be an oppressive ruler and an enquiry was conducted regarding his actions. Based on the report prepared by the enquiry committee, Rudra Sen was deposed in 1879.

King Arimardan Sen 

Arimardan Sen was only 15 years old when he was installed as Raja. However, he died at Dharamshala soon after his accession, ruling for just one month.

Dusht Nikanden Sen was also installed as Raja in 1879. As he was a minor, the administration remained in the hands of Superintendent Sardar Hardayal Singh until his retirement in 1884. Later, Mr. Donald was appointed as wazir in 1891. Dusht Nikanden Sen took interest in improving the administration and opened a dispensary in the capital shortly after his accession. He also established a school at Bhojpur in 1893, a post office in 1900, and a telegraph office in 1906. He had two sons, Bhim Sen and Duthian Lakshman Singh.

King Bhim Sen

Bhim Sen (1908) erected a fully equipped hospital named the ‘King Edward Hospital’ at Baned, built bungalows at Daned, Seri and Dehar, and constructed a motor road from Suket to Mandi. He received the King Emperor distinction of knighthood for his services to the British during the great war. Unfortunately, he died in 1919 of pneumonia and did not leave any heirs.

King Lakshman Sen 

Raja Lakshman Sen (1919) was the ruler of Suket from 1919 to 1948. During his reign, he took a keen interest in public works and land revenue settlement. Several buildings and structures were constructed, including the ‘Lakshman Bhim club,’ ‘The Prince of Wales orphan home,’ ‘Chief Court buildings,’ temple at Jaroli, and a swimming tank in 1924.

The history of the states of Mandi and Suket is filled with wars among themselves and neighboring states. Although these two states were rivals and enemies, their warfare did not result in any significant outcome. They both desired and disputed the fertile valley of Balh. On February 21st, 1846, the chiefs of Mandi and Suket visited Mr. Erskine, the Superintendent of the Hill States for the British Government. They declared their allegiance to the British and secured their protection. On March 9th, 1846, a treaty was signed between the British Government and the Sikh Durbar, which ceded the entire Doab area between the Beas and the Sutlej to the British Government. This included the states of Mandi and Suket. On November 1st, 1921, both the state of Mandi and Suket were transferred from the political control of the Punjab Government to that of the Government of India until August 15th, 1947, India's Independence Day.

On 15.4.1948, this princely state, along with two tehsils named Karsog and Sundernagar, became a part of Mandi district.


Suket state has a rich history and the town of Sundernagar still carries the legacy of its past. It is a place worth visiting for those who are interested in history and culture.

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