PHULKIAN MISL was an eighteenth-century Sikh ruling clan, which arose in the region south of the River Sutlej and was counted the twelfth misl though it did not form part of the Dal Khalsa like the eleven others. It traced its origin to Phul (d. 1652), a Siddhu Jatt of the village of Mehraj, now in Bathinda district of the Punjab, who had met Guru Har Rai, Nanak VII, during his travels in the Malva area and received his blessing. From amongst his seven sons Tilok Singh (Tiloka), the eldest, was the ancestor of the princely states of Nabha and Jind, and Ram Singh (Rama), next to him, forefather of the rulers of Patiala.
Tilok Singh were devoted disciples of Guru Gobind Singh, who had called upon them by a hukamnama for a detachment of cavalry and had blessed their house as his own — tera ghar mera asai. They had helped Banda Singh Bahadur with men and money in his early exploits.
Baba Ala Singh, the third son of Ram Singh, was a brave soldier and an astute politician who laid the foundation of the Phulhan fortunes by carving out the principality of Patiala. During his early career, he was engaged in warfare with the Bhattals and the Afghans.
Vast territory under control
By 1732, he had conquered a vast territory around Barnala which served as his headquarters. In the forties and fifties during the Durrani-Mughal clashes in the Punjab, Ala Singh extended his hold over a number of villages in the sarkar of Sirhind and occupied important towns such as Sunam, Samansa, Sanaur and Tohana.
In 1753, he started building a fort about 100 km east of Barnala around which grew the present city of Patiala (patti = ward; ala, of Ala Singh) and which became his capital in 1763. Baba Ala Singh died in August 1765 and was succeeded by his grandson, Amar Singh, who received the title of Raja-i-Rajgan from the Durrani king, Ahmad Shah Abdali, since he helped Abdali against Marathas and other Sikhs. For this reason alone, Phulkian misl was kicked out of Dal Khalsa and Amar Singh.
He formed a number of alliances and fought a wide variety of opponents and acquired further territory including Bathinda, Mansa, Kot Kapura, Saifabad and Pinjaur. All these territories were won over more or less in alliance with non–sikhs rulers.
Protection under the British
Under him Patiala became the most powerful state between the Yamuna and the Sutlej. Maharaja Amar Singh was succeeded in 1782 by his seven-year-old son, Sahib Singh, who like other cis-Sutlej Sikh chiefs accepted British protection in l809.
Raja Sahib Singh died in 1813. After him Patiala state was ruled successively by Maharaja Karam Singh (1813-45), Mahaaraja Narinder Singh (1845-62), Maharaja Mohinder Singh (1862-76), Maharaja Rajinder Singh (1876-1900) and Maharaja Bhupinder Singh (1900-38). Maharaja Sir Yadavinder Singh, the last ruler, signed t he instrument of accession to independent India in 1947, and the state was merged into what became Patiala and East Punjab States Union in 1948.
Hamir Singh, a descendant of Baba Phul through his eldest son Tilok Singh, laid foundation of what lasted into present times as Nabha state. He founded the town of Nabha in 1755. In 1764 he joined Baba Ala Singh and the Dal Khalsa in the conquest of Sirhind and received the “parganah of Amloh” as his share of the spoils.
He then declared his independence and exercised the right of coining money. On his death in December 1783, Hamir Singh was succeeded by his eight-year-old son Jasvant Singh, who conducted protracted campaigns first against Jind and then against Patiala to regain territory for his state.
With the help of General Perron of the Maratha service, he succeeded in checking the advance of the Irish adventurer, George Thomas. Jasvant Singh joined hands with the other cis-Sutlej princes in the 1809 treaty with the British under which they came under the protection of the East India Company.
After the death of Raja Jasvant Singh in 1840, Nabha state was successively ruled by Rija Devinder Singh (1840-46), Raja Bharpur Singh (1847-63), Raja Bhagvan Singh (1866 – 71), Maharaja Hira Singh (1871-1911), and Maharaja Ripudaman Singh (1911-23). Ripudaman Singh who was deposed in 1923 was succeeded by his son Pratap Singh who after Independence signed the instrument of succession to the Union of India in 1947.
Gajpat Singh (1738-39), the middle son of Sukhchain Singh (d. 1751), was the founder of the third of the Phulkian states Jind. Sukhchain Singh was the younger brother of Gurdit Singh from whom originated the ruling family of Nabha.
In 1764, Gajpat Singh joined the Dal Khalsa under Jassa Singh Ahluvalia and took part in the conquest of Sirhind. He seized the districts of Jind and Safidon and overran Panipat and Karnal. In 1766, he made Jind his capital. Unlike other Sikh chiefs, he continued to acknowledge the Mughal authority in Delhi. Gajpat Singh was in constant war with the Nabha chief having seized his territories.