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Castes of India
Pundirs
Classification Kshatriya
Religions Hinduism and Sikhism
Language Hindi, Punjabi, Garhwali, Kumaoni and Awadhi
Populated States Punjab region, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh

The most powerful military vassals of the Chauhan Empire of Delhi, the Pundir are a Suryavanshi branch of Rajputs and Gurjars[1]. The Pundir Rajputs still hold riyasat in Garhwal, Nagaur and Saharanpur where their Kuldevi's are situated. Their Shakha is Koolwal and their Kuldevis are Shakumbhri Devi in Saharanpur and Rajasthan along with Punyakshini Devi in Garhwal with a few of the Gotras shared by them being Bhardwaj(भरद्वाज), Parashara and Pulastya. Most of the Pundirs are today based mainly around the North Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Haryana. Elliot writes that Uttar Pradesh (Hardwar region), where they are most prominent today, has over 1,440 villages claimed by Pundir Rajputs with high concentrations in the districts of Dehradun, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Aligarh and Etawah. According to the British census of 1891 the population of the Pundir Rajputs was recorded at approximately 29,000.

Alternate Spellings : Pandir Pundhir Pundeer Poondir Poondeer

Contents

Origins

Lord Sri Rama (center) with wife Sita, brother-- Lakshmana and devotee Hanuman. Rama and Lakshmana are always shown to be ready for battle, with bow and arrow, as it is their Kshatriya dharma to fight. Rama was from Suryavanshi lineage.

The Pundir clan has its origins with the Pundarik Rishi whose temple is situated in Katheugi village of the Kullu district in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The rishi is depicted as a white Nāga and in the Puranic lore Pundarik is the name of a White Naga and the legend of Pundarik Rishi also affirms his birth as a Naga from an earthern pot. The second born of Sita, Kusha is said to have been the progenitor of all Pundirs.

History

Edward T. Atkinson - British Civil Servant (1875):

The most numerous clan of Rajputs in Saharanpur is the Pundir, who number 14,843 souls. The Pundirs are a proud, stiff-necked people, very clannish and always ready to unite in open or secret opposition to the law; but of late there has been much improvement in these respects. They are not too proud to labour with their own hands, but make admirable horse-breeders.

A fine hardy race who at former times were much given to helping themselves from the property of their neighbours. In this respect they were worse than the Gujars, and like them were powerful by reason of their union amongst themselves. Confident in their power of combination, the Pundirs used to resist the Police and Revenue Authorities by open force. A steadily-continued course of the severest punishment at last broke their stiffneckedness, and also reduced them to a state of destitution, from which they are now, however, gradually recovering. Notorious cattle lifters the Pundirs are equally distinguished by their pride. During the Famine of 1860-1861 they preferred to die in their homes rather than seek aid at the Central Station 20 miles off.

—From Statistical, Descriptive and Historical Account of the North-Western Provinces of India by Edward T. Atkinson

  • Pundirs in the Punjab Region: The original seats of the Pundir clan were in Bathinda, Samana, Thanesar, Nardak, Karnal, Kurukshetra and Ambala. The local capitals were situated in Pundri, Pundrak, Ramba and Habri. Denzil Ibbetson mentions that the Pundirs were constantly at war with the Mandhar Gurjars of the area and that the former were always victorious against the latter; the Mandhar were not able to gain any considerable foot holdings in Pundir regions. The Chauhans under Rana Har Rai and his uncles were finally able to get the better of the outnumbered Pundir clan and for the most part the latter crossed the Yamuna taking up defensive lines east of the river. Rana Har Rai Chauhan had been bathing in the Ganges and on his return through Pundir lands, notedly Kurukshetra, fell in a quarrel with the Pundirs. The Rana was only able to subdue the Pundirs with additional aid from his uncles, before which there was little or no progress that could be made against the Pundir forces. Under Prithviraj Chauhan, the Pundirs were given command of the Lahore frontier. Some prominent Pundirs in the Chauhan Empire were the three brothers of whom the eldest, Chand Kadambavasa, was the Minister of the empire, the second brother Chand Pundir was the commander and vassal chief of the frontier region at Lahore and their youngest brother Chand Rai (Persian: Khandae Rai) was the general in the last battle between Prithviraj Chauhan and Muhammad of Ghor.
  • Pundirs in the Doab: In Saharanpur, other than the Mawals of the region the Pundirs are the only other Rajput clan which is considered to be pure. Ibbetson writes that the Doab Pundirs in Uttar Pradesh, of the area between the rivers Ganga and Yamuna, ruled up to Haridwar. Raja Jagat Singh Pundir of Mau was the ruler of the Pundirs during the reign of Shah Jehan and he commanded 1000 infantry and 500 cavalry amongst the Pundirs. Raja Jagat Singh rebelled at Mau to overthrow the Mughal yoke as soon as he heard that Aurangzeb had rebelled against his father. In the nineteenth century, the Pundirs established their rule under the leadership of Raja Damar Singh Pundir of Gambhira in district Aligarh and based themselves at Fort Bijaigarh (named after Damar Singh's brother). During the Anglo-Pundir war of 1803 the British suffered many casualties along with the loss of Colonel Gordon but were eventually able to capture the fort. Prior to Muslim rule in the area, Jalalabad in Muzaffarnagar was known as Manhar Kheda, styled after Thakur Manhar Singh Pundir, the then ruler of that region. Pundirs, while constructing a road for Shakumbri Devi picked a fight with Aurangzeb and after initial victories, lost due to treachery by Baloch and Pathan tribals. Later the Baloch and the Pathans loyal to Aurangzeb ruled this Fort of Manhar Kheda. The ancestors of the Pundirs of Akrabad were of the Parashara gotra who had migrated from Bang Tilang in 1456 AD. In Akrabad there was once a region of Pundirs (Purindrana) comprising of 64 villages in the area of the township. Rao Pratap Bhan Singh, Rao Bikram Singh and Rao Singh were some of the Pundir chiefs who settled in this tract during the sixteenth century. Rohan Singh Pundir founded the village of Rohana Singhpur by capturing various villages originally held by chamaars & mugal (muslim). During the Maratha rule (1750) Rao Manik Singh was the chief of the Pundir clan of the area.
  • Pundirs in the Garhwal: During the mid-eighteenth century the King of Garhwal, Lalit Shah, in order to appease rebelling Jagirdars as well as to put an end to incursions made by Rajputs, Sikhs and Gujjars, gave out grants of villages. Due to the fact that the Rajputs and Gujjars made more mischief than the Sikhs the King of Garhwal awarded land grants to many chiefs in return for their loyalty with regards to guarding the borders against marauders. Rana Gulab Singh Pundir of Dehradun obtained twelve villages with the hand of Lalit Shah's daughter in marriage. Later in 1787, Gulab Singh's son Bahadur Singh Pundir secured the fiscal management of the Dehradun Valley. During the early nineteenth century the kingdom of Garhwal saw much infighing between Lalit Shah's sons Jai Kirat Shah and Pradyumna Shah and thus fell under threat of invasion from the north east by the Gurkhas. Lalit Shah's second son Pradyumna Shah, with the help of the Gujjar Sardar Ramdayal Singh of Landhaur, assembled a force of approximately 12,000 men composed of Raghars, Pundir Rajputs and Gujars after which he headed towards Saharanpur. The commanding general of the Gurkha army, Amar Singh Thapa, reached there from Srinagar and on Mag 22, 1860 (January 1804) a fierce battle was fought in the plain of Khadbuda, about half of mile away from the palace of Guru Ram Rai. Pradyumna Shah's two brothers, namely, Parakrama Shah and Pritam Shah, and his two sons, namely, Sudarshan Shah and Devi Simha, were present in the battle. The Garhwali king was on horseback near his camp talking to Miyan Dulal Singh of Prithvipur when he was struck by a shot fired by Ranajit Kanwar. The Gurkhas were eventually dispossesd of their newly conquered lands and most of the Dun was left at the mercy of the Pundir and Gujar musclemen.

Sepoy Mutiny of 1857

  • Following the Anglo-Pundir war of 1803, with the defeat of Raja Damar Singh Pundir at Fort Bijaigarh, the Pundirs took service in the British Army. The Pundirs of Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar and Aligarh remained loyal to the British during the Sepoy Mutiny with the Pundirs of Muzaffarabad having supplied 20 cavalry and 200 foot soldiers during the ordeal; Pundirs of Akrabad, a Pundir pargana, having contributed 500 cavalry and 5000 foot soldiers and the Sikandra Rao pargana, which was being held by Afghans and Pundirs, contributed 400 cavalry and 4000 foot soldiers. During this time the Pundirs, under their leaders, Thakur Jawahar Singh Pundir and Thakur Kundan Singh Pundir, protected the Tahsildar at the town of Sikandra Rao and subdued the Muhammadan population of the town.
  • Unlike their brethren many Pundir rajputs of the Akrabad and Katha regions rose in rebellion against the British Crown during the Mutiny. Under their leader Thakur Narayan Singh Pundir and his sons Mehtab Singh Pundir and Mangal Singh Pundir an army of Pundir Rajputs along with some Gujjar and Ranghar recruits attacked the city of Saharanpur.

Culture

Religion

The majority of Pundirs in India who are followers of Hinduism are classified as being Shiva worshippers while their Kuldevis are notedly Shakumbhri Devi in Saharanpur and Punyakshini Devi in Garhwal. A smaller percentage of Pundirs are followers of Sikhism and are concentrated in and around the towns of Karnal, Kurukshetra, Ambala, and Chandigarh.

Criterion for Marriage

TAKE BRIDES FROM GIVE BRIDES TO
Chauhan Chauhan
Bhati Bhati
Gahlot Gahlot
Tanwar Tanwar
Badgurjar Badgurjar
Bais Bais
Jatu Jatu
Sisodia Kachwaha
Panwar Kathiyar
Indoria Janghara

Famous Pundirs

Armed Forces

2006 Capt Ashwin Pundir Armoured Corps
2005 Lt.Col. J.S. Pundir Army Forward Logistics Siachen Glacier
2005 Maj. Ashish Singh Pundhir Madras Regiment Armoured Corps
2004 2Lt. Pradeep Singh Poondir Kumaon Regiment Silver Salver - Siachen Glacier (Poondir Post)
2004 Bishan Singh Pundir Indian Air Force Air Force Commendation
2004 Suresh Pundir Assam Rifles Governor's Silver Medal
2003 Maj. Ajay Singh Pundir Sikh Light Infantry & Rashtriya Rifles Sena Medal & Parakram Padak
n/a Capt. K.S. Pundir Rajput Regiment Retired
2001 Maj. Vinay Kumar Pundir Assam Rifles Sena Medal
2001 Bhagat Singh Pundir Garhwal Rifles Operation Rakshak (Jammu & Kashmir)
1999 Sqn. Ldr. Rajiv Pundir Indian Air Force Kargil War - Vayu Sena Medal
1971-90 Col. B.S. Pundir (Retired) Sikh Light Infantry Yudh Seva Medal - IPKF
1971 Sangram Singh Pundir Marine Medicine Specialist Indo-Pak War
1971 Mohan Singh Pundir Assam Rifles Retired
1965-71 Rajkumar Singh Pundhir Rajput Regiment Indo-Pak Wars
1965 Keshar Singh Pundir Garhwal Rifles Operation Riddle (Lahore & Rajkot)
1962 Balwant Singh Pundir Garhwal Rifles Indo-China War
1962 Madan Singh Pundir Garhwal Rifles Indo-China War
1962 Satya Singh Pundir Garhwal Rifles Indo-China War
1945-46 Fateh Singh Pundir Royal Garhwal Rifles S.E. Asia - General Service Medal
1942 Bhawan Singh Pundir (POW) Royal Garhwal Rifles Japanese Occupation of Singapore
1942 Bhajan Singh Pundir (POW) Royal Garhwal Rifles Japanese Occupation of Singapore
1942 Gian Singh Pundir (POW) Royal Garhwal Rifles Japanese Occupation of Singapore
1942 Indar Singh Pundir (POW) Royal Garhwal Rifles Japanese Occupation of Singapore
1942 Padam Singh Pundir (POW) Royal Garhwal Rifles Japanese Occupation of Singapore
1942 Dhirat Singh Pundir Royal Garhwal Rifles Military Cross
1942 Matbar Singh Pundir Royal Garhwal Rifles Rangoon (Burma)
1942 Naurat Singh Pundir Royal Garhwal Rifles Rangoon (Burma)
1941 Mohan Singh Pundir Royal Garhwal Rifles Battle of Rabaul
1920 Daulat Singh Pundir Royal Garhwal Rifles Waziristan - Indian Order of Merit
1920 Diwan Singh Pundir Royal Garhwal Rifles Palestine
1919 Jit Singh Pundir Royal Garhwal Rifles Mesopotamian Campaign - Distinguished Service Medal
1915 Ranjor Singh Pundir Royal Garhwal Rifles France - Distinguished Service Medal

Royalty

Bollywood

References

  • Atkinson, Edward T. Statistical, Descriptive and Historical Account of the North-Western Provinces of India (p. 181)
  • Elliot, Henry M. Memoirs on the History, Folklore and Races of the Northwest Provinces of India (pp. 56-57)
  • Evatt, John T. Historical Record of the Royal Garhwal Rifles (p. 78; p. 103)
  • Crooke, W. Tribes and Castes of North-Western Provinces and Oudh (pp. 179-180; p. 442)
  • Bingley, A.H. Handbook on Rajputs. (pp. 113-114)
  • Roy, K. The Construction of Regiments in the Indian Army: 1859-1913. War in History, 1 April 2001, vol. 8, no. 2 (pp. 127-148)
  • Rose, H.A. A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province (p. 291; p. 473)
  • Tod, James. Annals and Antiquites of Rajasthan.
  • Sir Denzil Ibbetson. Punjab Castes: Races, Castes, and Tribes of Punjab
  • Bajpai, Shiv Chandra. The Northern Frontier of India: Central and Western Sector (p. 23)
  • Siddiqi, Jamal Muhammad. A Historical Survey: Ancient Times to 1803 AD (p. 124; p. 180)
  • Indian Army
  • Britain at War - Roll of Honour
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