Bhai Ala Singh


Ala Singh (1691–1765) was the first king of the princely state of Patiala. He was born in 1691 at Phul, in present-day Bathinda district of the Punjab, in a Jat Sikh family to Chaudhary Ram Singh of Phulkian Misl. His father had six children, from eldest to youngest Dunna, Subha, Ala, Bakha, Budha, Ludha. The Chowdhriat of the Misl had been originally conferred on his ancestor Brahm by Babur, after the First battle of Panipat in 1526 A.D. During the Vadda Ghalughara in April 1762, Ala Singh failed to assist his religious kin. He stayed neutral during the events and did not initiate hostilities against the Durranis. However, this neutrality would not save Ala Singh as Abdali, whom had been told that Ala Singh was a "secret ally of the Majhi Sikhs" by Zain Khan and Bikhan Khan, would later burn down Barnala and advanced upon Bhawanigarh, where Ala Singh was holed up. Ala Singh sought out the help of Najib-ud-Daula and was forced to pay a humiliating fee of "five lakhs of rupees as tribute and a hundred and twenty-five thousand rupees more for permission to appear before him with his long hair intact" to placate Abdali. After this, Ala Singh was detained for a short-while but was released on the promise that his polity would pay an annual tribute to the Durranis. Ahmad Shah Durani attacked Barnala in the absence of the Maharaja, when he was at Moonak. He forced the Maharaja to pay Rs. four lacs, out of which only Rs. fifty thousand were paid. The Durani King conferred upon him the title of "Raja" and granted him an area comprising 727 villages. Ala Singh at the age of 57, in 1763 A.D., laid the foundation of the city of Patiala. In the same year heading the Sikh confederacy he conquered Sirhind and surrounding territories along with Nanu Singh Saini.