Unsung Mianwal Hero
Like many Mianwal faqirs, Haji Khan Marri also died fighting in the battle of Gerelo in 1699.
The leaders and followers of the Mianwal Movement fought against the Mughals and their supporters.
Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro
There are many well-known deputies and disciples of Mian Nasir Muhammad Kalhoro (d. 1692), who played an important role in the history of the Mianwal Movement of mystics and warriors in Sindh.
The leaders and followers of the Mianwal Movement opposed and fought against the Mughals and their supporters. Many eminent deputies and disciples of Mian Nasir Muhammad Kalhoro fought against the foreign occupation of Sindh by non-local dynasts. Today, their shrines are sites of pilgrimage for thousands of people in Sindh, Balochistan and southern Punjab.
One such hero of that movement was Haji Khan Marri. He was the son of Nabi Dad Khan Marri, a disciple of Mian Nasir Muhammad Kalhoro.
Haji Khan Marri was the ancestor of the Hajizai Marris of Sindh. He was the father-in-law of Mir Suleiman alias Kako Khan, the ancestor of the Talpurs of Sindh. The tomb of Suleiman Khan Alias Kako Khan is located in the necropolis of Mir Allahyar Khan Talpur in Drigh Bala village, Johi. After the death of Mian Nasir Muhammad Kalhoro in 1692, he continued to serve Mian Din Muhammad Kalhoro, the eldest son of Mian Nasir Muhammad Kalhoro.
The growing influence and power of the Mianwal Movement and their leaders had always been a problem for the Mughal Nawabs. Imperial authorities kept trying to contain the movement but failed every time – losing their local Nawabs, governors, Faujdars and generals in various battles against the Kalhoras. The leaders of the Mianwal Movement, the Kalhoras, were also killed through deceit by Mughal Nawabs of Bakhar whe invited to peace parleys. Mian Adam Shah Kalhoro was the first from the family who was killed by the Mughal governor of Multan in 1600. The second such victim from the Kalhora leadership of the Mianwal Movement was Mian Shahal Kalhoro (d.1657) and the third (slain in 1699) was Mian Din Muhammad Kalhoro. The sacrifices of these three Kalhoras and many of their followers finally paved the way for the foundation of the Kalhora dynasty in Sindh and the Mughal viceroy Muhammad Muizzuddin of Multan conferred governorship of Derajat on Mian Yar Muhammad Kalhoro in 1701.
Like many Mianwal faqirs, Haji Khan Marri also died fighting in the battle of Gerelo in 1699. This battle was fought near Gerelo town in Dokri taluka. Mir Ali Sher Qani in Tuhfat ul Kiram and Ghulam Rasool Mahar in Tarikh-e-Sindh: Kalhora Daur (History of Sindh, Kalhora Period) write that in that battle, Feroz Verar (the founder of Nausharo Feroz), a disciple of Mian Nasir Muhammad Kalhoro and Mian Din Muhammad Kalhoro, spearheaded the Mianwal faqirs while Shaikh Jahan led the Mughal forces. The governor of Bakhar, Allahyar Khan, also took part in the battle.
Imperial authorities kept trying to contain the movement but failed every time – losing their local nawabs, governors, faujdars and generals in various battles against the Kalhoras
The Kalhoras and their faqirs completely routed the Mughals in that battle, emerging as a formidable force. Shaikh Jahan lost his life and Allahyar Khan fled from the battlefield. When the Mughal Prince Muizzuddin heard the news of the defeat of his governor Allahyar Khan and the death of his military officer Shaikh Jahan at the hands of the Kalhora Faqirs, he marched in person from Lahore to Sindh to retaliate.
According to Hakeem Khalefo Abdul Hameed Khan Chandio, the author of Sindh Jo Utar Kachho urf Chandko Kachho (Northern Kachho of Sindh alias Chandko Kachho) Mir Mondar Khan Cahndio also died with Haji Khan Marri in the Battle of Gerelo in 1699.
Haji Khan Marri was taken to Phasi Laki. His tomb is perched on a hillock which is located about 50 km west of Kamber town in Kamber Shahdadkot district. His son Ibrahim Shah also got killed in the ‘Battle of Gerelo. Ibrahim Shah was buried where he was posted in the present-day village of Jamo Khan Sial, about 12 km south-west of Larkana town.
Professor Atta Muhammad Hami in Khairpur Jay Miran Jo Adab, Siyast, Ain Saqafat Mein Hisso (The role of Mirs of Khairpur in Literature, Politics and Culture) and Rahim Dad Khan Moulai Sheedai in Jannat ul Sindh state that Haji Khan Marri left behind eight sons – Ibrahim Shah, Masti Khan, Hyder Khan, Jaffar Khan, Daulat Khan, Shakal Khan, Shadi Khan, and Shahdad Khan. His three sons, Daulat Khan, Shakal Khan and Shadi Khan played very important roles during the tenure of Mian Noor Muhammad Kalhoro.
Many Hajizai Marris also served the Talpurs as their generals; prominent among them were Muhbat Khan, Gul Hasan Khan, Jahan Khan, Ghanwar Khan, Kamal Khan, Khair Muhammad Khan, Sajawal Khan, Qaim Khan, Jalal Khan, Masti Khan and Adam Khan.
I visited the graveyard of Haji Khan Marri thrice: in 2004, 2007 and 2017. I first visited the tomb of Haji Khan Marri with my friend late comrade Wali Muhammad Maganhar. Late Comrade Wali Muhammad Maganhar was a good guide for tourists to Darhayaro, Kute ji Qabar and other sites in Khirthar in Sindh.
Today, Haji Khan Marri is venerated by the members of the Marri, Chandia, Khosa, Machhi, Gopang, Burara and Gaincha communities who leave various objects as supplications at his tomb
The tomb of Haji Khan Marri was built during the reign of Mian Noor Muhammad Kalhoro (1718-1753). Later it was renovated during the reign of Mian Ghulam Shah (1757-1772) and Mir Karam Ali Khan Talpur. It is built in a square plan superimposed with a hemispherical dome. One of the distinctive features of the tomb is the boundary wall which has now collapsed. The entrance gate of the boundary wall was crowned with a cupola, which was a special feature of Kalhora architecture. The cupola still survives. The interior of the tomb is adorned with floral designs but many of the paintings have lost their original beauty.
Charles Masson (d.1853) also mentioned the Haji Khan tomb in his travelogue Narrative of Various Journeys in Balochistan, Afghanistan the Punjab and Kalat. He camped at the tomb of Haji Khan Marri in 1838 while on his way to Balochistan. J.W. Smith also mentioned it as “Haji Khan’s Kuba” in Gazetteer of the Province of Sindh: Larkana District.
The Kalhoras bestowed jagirs upon the sons of Haji Khan Marri in Sanghar and Khairpur districts where they established villages and towns. One of the prominent graveyards of the Hajizai Marris is located in Sanghar district, locally called Tila Shah jo Qabaristan (the graveyard of Tila Shah). In one of the tombs at the necropolis of Tila Shah, the name of Mian Daulat Khan Marri son of Haji Khan Marri is painted on the northern wall of his tomb.
Many nobles from the Hajizai Marris also served the Talpurs and their tombs are also located across various districts of Sindh.
Today, Haji Khan Marri is venerated by the members of the Marri, Chandia, Khosa, Machhi, Gopang, Burara and Gaincha communities who leave various objects as supplications at his tomb. No annual fair or mela is held at the tomb of Haji Khan Marri. The Marris of Sher Muhammad village take care of the tomb of Haji Khan Marri.
Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro is an anthropologist and author of 12 books including ‘Symbols in Stone: The Rock Art of Sindh’, ‘Perspectives on the art and architecture of Sindh’, ‘Memorial Stones: Tharparkar’ and ‘Archaeology, Religion and Art in Sindh’. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Courtesy: The Friday Times Lahore