Nishanawali Misl owed its origin to Dasaundha Singh whose jatha were the standard-bearers of the Dal Khalsa. Hence the name of the jatha or “misl Nishananvali”, nishan in Punjabi meaning a flag or standard. The misl was originally based in Amritsar where it guarded the Holy Harimandar and also served as a reserve force of the Dal.
Dasaundha Singh, son of Chaudhari Sahib Rai was a Gill Jatt belonging to the village of Mansur in Firozpur district, who, after the conquest of Sirhind by Sikhs inJanuary 1764, took possession of Singhanvala, again in Firozpur district, Sahneval, Sarai Lashkari Khan, Amloh, Doraha, Zirfi, and Ambala, establishing his headquarters at the lastnamed station.
Sangat Singh succeeds
On his death in 1767, Dasaundha Singh was succeeded to the headship of the misl by his younger brother Sangat Singh who made over charge of Ambala to his cousins, Lal Singh and Gurbakhsh Singh, and himself retired to Singhavala. On Sangat Singh’s death in 1774, Lal Singh’s three sons Mohar Singh, Kapur Singh, and Anup Singh drove out Gurbakhsh Singh from Ambala dividing the Nishananvali territories among themselves.
Mohar Singh soon became an influential figure among the cis-Sutlej chiefs. On 9 May 1785, he and Dulcha Singh made treaties of friendship with Mahadji Scindia, the all-powerful Maratha deputy of the Mughal empire, and both of them received robes of honour and cash awards from him.
Among other leaders of the misal, Naudh Singh, who was severely wounded in the battle of Sirhind (January 1764), took possession of Khen close to Sirhind, Sudha Singh Bajva seized Machhivara east of Ludhiana, while Rai Singh secured 16 villages southwest of Khanna.
Large territories captured
Jai Singh, another member of the misl, captured 27 villages in Kharar. Karam Singh acquired the parganahs of Shahabad and Ismailabad in the present Kurukshetra district. Savan Singh, a cousin of Dasaundha Singh and Sangat Singh, appropriated to himself several villages around Saunti, near Amloh.
The military strength of the Nishananvali misl had risen to 12,000 horse under Sangat Singh. Its territories included Ambala, Shahabad, Saunti, Kheri, Morinda, Amloh, Khanna, Doraha, Sahneval, Machhivara and Zira. Ambala was last ruled by Daya Kaur, widow of Gurbaksh Singh who had died in 1786. Upon Daya Kaur’s death in 1823, her estates and property lapsed to the British government.