Monument honours lives lost in battle 166 years ago

Published December 28, 2014
A cross erected at the monument to pay tribute to those soldiers who died in battle.
A cross erected at the monument to pay tribute to those soldiers who died in battle.

The battles of the Second Anglo Sikh war (1848-49) are considered the last form of resistance mounted by Sikh Khalsa forces against the armies of the British East India Company before the British took complete control over Punjab.

One of these battles was fought between the British and the Khalsa army near the banks of River Jhelum in a region known as Chillianwala, which is around 25 kilometres from Sarai Alamgir.

The battle of Chillianwala was fought on January 13, 1849 and continued for several days. British soldiers fought under Sir Hugh Gough and the Khalsa army was commanded by Raja Sher Singh Attariwala.

Historians believe that 757 soldiers of Gough’s army were killed, 1,651 were wounded and 104 went missing. Around 3,600 Khalsa soldiers died in the battle. Following the battle, both armies claimed victory.

CATTLE tied next to the monument’s boundary wall.
CATTLE tied next to the monument’s boundary wall.

In 1871, an obelisk was erected at Chillianwalla by the British government to pay tribute to the soldiers on both sides who lost their lives in the battle of Chillianwala.

The monument still stands today, along with a cross bearing the names of the British soldiers and their battalions. The obelisk also stands bearing plaques in English, Gurmukhi script of Punjabi, Urdu and Persian languages, which honour the memory of soldiers who died on both sides.

THE marble plaque on the battle monument. (L) A monument on the premises of Chillianwala battleground. (R)
THE marble plaque on the battle monument. (L) A monument on the premises of Chillianwala battleground. (R)

The monument can be visited from the G.T. Road when travelling from Lahore towards Islamabad. According to locals, the place has been long abandoned with only the occasional Sikh visitor coming to see this historical monument.

THE obelisk at Chillianwala.
THE obelisk at Chillianwala.
LOCAL men doing business just outside the battle monument. — Photos by the writer
LOCAL men doing business just outside the battle monument. — Photos by the writer

Correction: The headline of this story had initially said that the battle of Chillianwala took place 266 years ago. The error is regretted.

Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2014

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