Dulla Bhatti was a famous legendary hero of Punjab, who led a rebellion against the famous mughal king Akbar. There is a kind of epic in Punjabi language called Dulle di var, which narrates the battle events of Dulla Bhatti. Still there is a famous region in Punjab, Pakistan, called Dulle Di Bar means the forest of Dulla Bhatti. This legendary Punjabi hero is buried at Miani Sahib Qabristan (Graveyard) in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan.
Dulla Bhatti was born to mother Ladhi and father Farid Khan in the area of Sandal Baar, near Lahore now in Pakistan (Sandal Bar is also related to the legend of Mirza Sahiba). He belonged to the warrior like rajput clan of Bhattis who would not bow down to the then Mughal Emperor Akbar’s authority. So prideful they were that they refused to pay any taxes and even admit Akbar as their ruler. When Akbar came to Lahore, he ordered the execution of the rebels. Dulla’s father and his grandfather were both killed. To instill fear into the hearts of the common man, Akbar got their skins stuffed with wheat hay (toori) and hung the dead-bodies on the main door.
Dulla wasn’t even born yet. For some reason, he was never told of the cause of his father’s and grandfather’s death till he was a young man. One theory has it that at the same time as Dulla was born, Akbar’s gave birth to Salim (who would later become Emperor Jahangir). But Salim was a weakling and on doctors’ suggestions Akbar brought in Ladhi (Dulla’s mother and a strong rajput woman) to his palace in Delhi and made her to breast feed Salim. So both Dulla and Salim were practically brought up by Ladhi. As adolescents, these two had a good friendship. Dulla and his mother went back to their homeland.
The story of Dulla has been poetically treated by many, and has been written in style known as Saddaan (similar to Mirza by Peelu and Bhagwan Singh). The above incident is thus narrated:
Tera saandal dada maareya, ditta bhore vich paa, Mughlaan puthhiyaan khallaan laah ke bhariyaan naal hawaa.
Rise of Dulla
As Dulla grew up he became a real fighter and warrior learning the art with his keen eye from here and there, unknowingly in the foot-steps of his father and grandfather. When he was young enough, his mother told him the about the past and from then on Dulla pledged that his only purpose in life was to defeat Akbar and kill him. In the meantime, Salim had a fall out with Akbar over Salim’s love affair with Anarkali. Salim rebelled and came up North-west and met up with Dulla. Salim instigated Dulla further to achieve his own motive as well. With Salim’s support, Dulla built up a small army of dacoits which made loots from the imperial treasure and merchants in the area of Sandal Bar. The famous loots among them being stealing horses from a merchant who was supposed to be working for the Akbar, then robbing Akbar’s gifts sent from the middle east. His loots were distributed among the poor and this made him a popular and a heroic rebel. His compassion for the poor and his help in getting poor girls married is still remembered, especially during the times of celebrating the festival of Lohri (mostly falls on 13th January). Although different versions of the festive song are sung in different regions, it sounds something like: Sundar munderiye Tera kaun vichaara Dulla bhatti waala Dulle ne dhii vehaayi Ser shakkar paayi Kudi da saalu paata Kudi da jeeve chacha Kudi de maame aaye Gin gin paule laaye Ikk paula khus geya Te zimiindaar russ geya Aayiin aayiin chachi Tera putt chadhu ga haathi Haathi de kann vich jaun Ni tere putt hon ge nau Nau(h)aan di kamaayi Ni tere dar dar chadh di aayi
Seeing so much support for his nephew, Dulla’s uncle Jalaludin, got envious and complained to Akbar against the mischievous Dulla.
In the meantime, Dulla kidnapped two of Akbar’s wives who were going for the Haj pilgrimage. This infuriated Akbar and he ordered immediate capture or killing of Dulla and the safe release of his queens. A huge army was sent for the task, and Dulla would not binge. People of that area wanted to save Dulla and tried to distract the army; so much so that one girl tried to lure the army chief.
Anyway, Dulla fought bravely and for once the mughal army had to call for reinforcements because the rebels and the public support were too hot to handle. Dulla son was killed in the war. Dulla was deceitfully captured and brought to emperor’s court in Delhi. He was hanged to death.
Variation in Literature
Another version of this famous song with reference to Dulla Bhatti, which is sung by people on the festival of Lohri goes thus: Sundar Mundri ae..ho Tera kaun vichara..ho Dulla Bhatti walla..ho Dulle ne dhi viahi..ho Saer Shakar payi..ho Kudi de boje payee..ho Shallu kaun samete..ho Chacha galee dese..ho Chache choori kutee..ho Zamindaran lutee..ho Zamindara sidaye..ho Gin-gin pole layee..ho Ik pola reh gaya..ho Sipahi pharhh ke le gya..ho Aakho mundeo taana.. Mukai da dana.. (Aana lei ke jana..