Once upon a time, in the heart of Punjab, there existed a city called Chunian. Its roots delved deep into history, echoing tales of conquerors, saints, and epic battles.
Legend has it that Chunian was once a bustling hub of arms and ammunition during the majestic Mughal era. Now, only remnants of its glorious past remain, scattered like whispers in the wind. Large iron pieces stand as silent witnesses to its former importance, casting shadows of bygone days.
But Chunian's story is not just about war and weaponry. It is also woven with threads of spirituality and rebellion. Peer Jahania, a revered saint, is said to have transformed the city, bringing its people under the embrace of Islam. His tomb marks the city's centre even today.
The fields of Harchoki also bore witness to an epic battle between warring clans in the 17th century. As the story goes, in the early 16th century, when Babar was on his way to capture Delhi, an ongoing inter-tribal war amongst the Pashtuns led to the exodus of some tribes. These tribes joined Babar and helped him win the decisive battle of Panipat in 1526. Rewarding their courage and loyalty, Babur bestowed upon them titles and control of Bengal.
Several decades later, when Jahangir was born, the nobility came to pay their respects, but the Pashtun tribesmen did not. Offended, Emperor Akbar issued a Shahi Farman ordering the confiscation of their titles and property. When the tribesmen set off for Kabul, Akbar, on second thought, realised that they were an asset to the empire, and sent Abu Fazl, author of the Akbar-Nama, to reconcile with them.
They were permitted to settle anywhere except Delhi. Most of these tribes settled in Kasur. At the time, a dacoit, Pera Baloch had irked the Raja Rai of Chunian. When he attacked the Pashtuns however, he was killed in battle, and the Pashtuns, former nobility of Bengal now established their authority in Kasur and Chunian.
In the 17th century, the Pashtuns allied with Nawab of Kasur, and Sardar of Chunian, against the Mughals. The battle was fought with valour, despite being a lopsided fight, with the Punjabi and Pashtun together numbering a mere 10,000, against 70,000 soldiers of the Governor of Lahore.
However, this historic battle became entrenched in local folklore as a symbolic rebellion against tyranny, after it was mentioned in Waris Shah’s Heer. Another legend, that of Sassi Punnu, a romance between a Sindhi Princess and a Baloch Prince is also tied to Chunian. Legend has it that Sassi was the daughter of the King of Bhambor, but other narrations claim that she was born in Chunian. Her life was threatened because of a prophecy that a newborn girl would bring shame to the city, and as an infant, Sassi was put in a basket, and she floated on the river till she reached Bhambor.