Most members of this clan are Hindus and reside in the following states of India: Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Indian Punjab. However, a considerable number are Muslims (who inhabit Pakistan mainly in Pakistani Punjab and Azad Kashmir). Sikh Minhas mainly inhabit Punjab (India)). Minhas is also a Jatt gotra or clan. Jatt Minhas are called 'Virk'.
They trace their ancestry to the Ikshvaku dynasty of Northern India (The same clan in which Lord Rama was born. He, therefore is the 'kuldevta'(family deity) of the Hindu Minhas Rajputs). Specifically, they claim descent from Kusha younger of the twin sons of Rama, hero of the Ramayana, to whom patrilineal descent from Surya is in turn ascribed.
A Raghuvanshi descendant of Raja Kusha, 'Agnigarba' who was living as a recluse, came to Nagarkote (Kangra, Himachal Pradesh), in the Shivalik hills. When the Raja of Kangra came to know about this person's ancestry, he offered him the hand of his daughter and a part of kingdom. The river Ravi was then the boundary of Nagarkote. Agnigarba crossed it and captured some villages in the Kathua area and declared himself as sovereign king. After his death, his son Bayusharva (1500-1530 B.C.E) married the princess of Parole (Kathua). The princess was known as Erwan and she died young.
The Raja founded a city after her which is still found near Parole, though now a small village and at the 'Samadhi' of the queen, a `Mela' (fair) is held at every `Baisakhi' (13th or 14th of April) every year. Bayusharva extended the boundaries up to the river Ujh. Bayusharva's great grandson, Bahulochan was enthroned after his death. He migrated from Erwan and built his fort on the banks of river Tawi.
Raja Bahulochan died in a bloody battle with Chadaras, Raja of Sialkot (Shayalkot) and his younger brother Jambulochan (1290-1320 B.C.E) ascended the throne. In those days the area beyond Tawi (the present city of Jammu) was used for hunting. Tradition has it that one day Jambulochan came to this area and while he was sitting behind a bush to ambush some bird or animal, he saw a lion (a tiger in some accounts ) and a goat drinking water from the same pond. This peaceful coexistence encouraged him to found the city of Jammu, which some say is named after him.
One of his descendants, Raja Shaktikaran (1177-1200 B.C.E) introduced the Dogri Script for the first time. Another of his descendants, Jasdev founded the city of Jasrota on the bank of river Ujh, and another Raja, Karan Dev built a fort on the banks of the river Basantar. In the early centuries of the first millennium the area came under the sway of the Indo-Greeks, with their capital at Sakala (Sialkot).
His later descendants, the Dogras ruled over the state for hundreds of years till 1948 C.E, when the state of Jammu and Kashmir officially acceded to India. Maharaja Hari Singh Dogra was the last in the long list of the Dogra rulers of Jammu. The Dogras also ruled over the Kashmir Valley for three brief terms, twice for short periods around 1000 C.E and one last time when Maharaja Gulab Singh Dogra became the Maharaja of Kashmir after the fall of the Sikh Kingdom of Punjab following the Second Anglo-Sikh War in 1849 C.E.
Since that time anyone in the Jamwal clan who took up agriculture or converted to Islam was called Minhas whereas the name Jamwal has been confined to the royal branch including the Maharajas of Jammu and Kashmir.
Additionally there are also large numbers of Minas in Armenia, Turkey, Persia, Russia and other Central Asian states. Often the Armenians and Turks use the name as Minasian ("of the Minas family") or Minasyan.
The Minhas and Bhatti Rajput clans were extremely powerful during the time of the Hindu Shahi dynasty of Kabul and ruled over many small kingdoms extending from eastern Afghanistan through the Jammu/Sialkot areas of West Punjab and up to the Jalandhar/Kangra area of eastern Punjab. According to Farishta, during the second battle of Tarain between Prithviraj Chauhan and Mohammad Ghori in 1192, Chauhan's left flank consisted of Hindu Pathan cavalry. It is said that this Hindu Pathan cavalry was led by a minhas raja from the northwest.
A famous Manhas/Minhas in history was Baba Chamliyal also called Duleep Singh Minhas, a warrior saint, whose Samadhi (place of cremation) is still visited by hundreds and thousands of Pakistanis and Indians each year in the month of June. The Mela (fair) which is held in honour of Baba Chamliyal, was celebrated for the 317th time on Thursday, June 22, 2006 as the man-made boundary between India and Pakistan lost its importance momentarily and people from both sides participated in the mela with vigour.
Banda Bahadur, the famous disciple of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru and the founder of the Khalsa Brotherhood was born into a Minhas Rajput family in Rajouri in the Jammu region. Banda Bahadur was an accomplished warrior-general, who almost destroyed Mughal presence in eastern Punjab and arguably created the first Sikh State.
In Punjab (Pakistan), the main concentration of Minhas Rajputs is in Chakwal, a town sixty miles south-east of the federal capital, Islamabad. In Chakwal, the Minhas Rajputs are called Mair-Minhas (also spelt Maair) after their ancestor, Raja Mair, a Jamwal prince who converted to Islam in 1190 C.E. According to the legend, Raja Mair (whose name before conversion was Raja Bhagir Dev) was son of the Raja of Jammu and had come to the Dhanni area (present day Chakwal) for hunting. He fell in love with a local Muslim Gujjar woman, converted to Islam and married her.
There are also reports that the title of Mair was given by Sikhs in recognition of the bravery of Chakwal's Minhas in the Battle of Chillianwala in Second Anglo-Sikh Waragainst the British.
Mair Minhas Rajputs number around six thousand at present. The 'Chaudhrials' or the Talukdars reside in Kot Sarfraz Khan, Kot Chaudhrian and the old-Chakwal city; whereas other members of the tribe, the Zamindars occupy eighty four villages in Chakwal tehsil including Behkri, Dhudial, Badsahan, Bhoun, Murid, Sarkal-Mair, Chakral, Udhwal, Chattal, Dab, Sutwal, Karhan, Chak Malook, Chak Norang and Bhagwal.
The city of Chakwal is named after their Chief, Chaku Khan who ruled the area at the time of Mughal King, Babar's invasion. The Mughal emperor Zaheerudin Babur conferred upon him the title of Chaudhry and made him the Taluqdar (area administrator) over 84 villages of the Dhani country, which since then has been known as Dhan 84. The Mair-Minhas tribe rose to further prominence during the short rule of Sher Shah Suri who handed them the control over the adjoining territories, as far as Swan River in Potohar and Kahoon in the South.
However, After the Mughal King Humayun returned to India with the help of the Persians, he handed over the entire Potohar including Dhani to the Gakhars, who had helped him escape from India during Sher Shah's revolt.
As written in the History of the Gakhars, "Kaigor Nama", the Mair-Minhas tribe proved to be notorious subjects for the Gakhars and almost never paid their revenue, killed the Ghakkar 'kardars' repeatedly and escaped in the mountains whenever military operations were launched against them. Sir Denzil Ibbetson in his Punjab census report of 1881 describes them as " ever masterful and always retaining their independence in a singular degree."
The Mair-Minhas tribe again rose to power after King Aurangzeb's death. They had supported his son Moazzam in his quest for power and in return he re-appointed their chief Gadabeg Khan as the Taluqdar and Chaudhry of 'Dhan Chaurasi'. Their rule over Dhani continued during the Sikh era as one of their chiefs Chaudhry Ghulam Mehdi had invited Sirdar Maha Singh to this side of river Jhellum. Also, their Dogra cousins Raja Gulab Singh and Dhian Singh were very powerful in the Lahore Durbar, so the influence of Chakwal Chaudhrials during the sikh era was considerable and they were considered one of the biggest Muslim land holders of the era.
It was during that era that Dhani breed of horses became very popular and even Maharaja Ranjeet Singh's personal horses were kept in the stables of the 'Chakwal Chaudhials'.
In the Second Anglo-Sikh War at Chaillianwala in 1849, the Chakwal Chaudhrials were among the very few Muslim feudal families who supported the Sikhs. Consequently, after the defeat of the Sikhs all Jagirs and titles of the 'Chakwal Chaudhrials' were confiscated. They further disgraced themselves by making over a British Lady, Lady George Lawrence. As a result they even lost proprietary rights over One hundred and seventy thousand acres of cultivated land which they had colonised and owned for many centuries.
Due to their general good conduct in the mutiny of 1857, some of their rights were restored and small Jagirs were granted to their chiefs in Chakwal. Chief of the tribe Jehan Khan and later his son Aurangzeb Khan were conferred an 'inam' of Rs.312/- per annum and the title of "Raja Sahib" as a mark of hereditary distinction. The Chaudhrials of Kot Chaudhrian were able to get more concessions with the aid of Maharaja Gulab Singh and almost half of their original lands were regranted.
The Mair-Minhas tribe is almost entirely confined to the Chakwal District. However, besides Chakwal, there are a quite a few other Minhas (other than Mair-Minhas) villages scattered all over the province including the famous village of Sagri in Rawalpindi, and in Gujar Khan, Kahuta, Sargodha and Faisalabad. Some villages are also located in the state of Azad Jammu & Kashmir. The Mair-Minhas are also resided at village Nauroz Pur Tarar near Jalal Pur Bhattian in district Hafizabad.
There is also a considerable population of Minhas families in Sialkot in the districts of Rangpura and Heerawalapura. They are descendants of Hashim Minhas (1781), and his son Ghulam Mui-Din Minhas. However in Sailkot, they were largely engaged in the tailoring and clothing trades. Many of their descendants emigrated for economic reasons from Sialkot to the Middle East, UK and the US.
The Mair Minhas tribe has a long martial tradition which has continued into modern times.
Some of the most respected officers of the Pakistan Army including its first General, PA 1, Muhammed Akbar Khan(Order of the British Empire), PA 2 General Muhammad Iftikhar Khan(designated to become the first C-in-C, but died in an aircrash) and PA 48 General Muhammad Anwar Khan (Pakistan's first E-in-C) all hail from this clan. General Anwar is considered the father of Pakistan's Corps of Engineers, and also served as Chairman OGDC. Subaidar Khudadad Khan(Victoria Cross) from the village of Dub, also belongs to the tribe.
His son, Raja Muhammed Sarfraz Khan (MLA 1929-58) played an important role in the local politics during Pakistan Movement. He was also instrumental in the educational progress of the region, and gave generous donations to set up schools and the Government College, Chakwal in 1949.
During the 1950s Raja Allahdad Khan of village Jaund emerged as a powerful bureaucrat and served as the Commissioner of Lahore and Chief Secretary of the North West Frontier Province. Later on, his younger brother Raja Ahemad Khan also served as Chief Secretary of Baluchistan.
In the 1960s Chaudhry Khizar Hayat Khan from the village of Kot Chaudhrian became member of the national assembly and remained so for the rest of the decade. Later on, he became a Senator in 1985. In 1970 Chaudhry Ameer Khan, belonging to the 'Zamindar' faction of the tribe from village Bhagwal was elected Member of National Assembly. His son Ayaz Amir is now a world famous Journalist.
During 1980s and 1990s the Mair-Minhas tribe produced many parliamentarians like Sirdar Ghulam Abbas (Provincial Minister), Chaudhry Ayaz Amir (Member of Provincial Assembly, MPA), Major Sajjad Akbar (MPA 1985-90), Chaudhry Liaqat Ali Khan (MPA 1985-1999), Raja Riaz Ahemad Khan (MPA 1993-Present).
Another notable and one of the most prominent families in Rawalpindi, having very strong political, bureaucratic and military background is from Gujar Khan District Rawalpindi. This family has seen many shining names like KhanSahab Bahadur Subaidar Raja Muhammad Nazar Khan (Viceroy Commissioned Officer and a strong landlord), Col. Raja Muhammad Ashraf Khan (Chairman District Board Rawalpindi, Member National Assembly & Member Provincial Assembly), Major General Retd. Raja Muhammad Aslam and Raja Pervez Ashraf (Member National Assembly and General Secretary Pakistan People's Party Paliamentarian - Present).
Another prominent figure, well known educationist Raja Abdul Rauf Minhas (1933-98) from Rawalpindi area Village Taraiya, Retired as a Deputy Director in Federal Government Educational Institutions Cantt Garrison in 1993. A Gold-Medalist in mathematics from The University of Southampton, United Kingdom as well as top position holder in the University of Punjab, Pakistan. He served as a Principal in F.G. Schools-Colleges at Muree, Okara, Attock, Rawalpindi, Kharian etc. Also remained Professor of Mathematics in the renowned Lawrence College, Ghora Gali, Muree in the sixties. During his life as a principal, He was awarded the "BEST PRINCIPAL" award twice by Prime Minister of Pakistan. He has a younger brother, Raja Abdul Lateef Minhas, who retired as a senior Doctor of Fauji Foundation Hospital, Rawalpindi.
In Gujjar Khan tehsil the Bhakral branch of the Minhas tribe produced Raja Anwar, a famous firebrand student leader of late sixties. He was also a founding member of Pakistan People's Party and advisor to prime minister Bhutto (1973-77). Later he became a journalist and is an author of eight books.
Famous bureaucrat/technocrat, Dr. Gulfaraz Ahmed is also from Gujar Khan tehsil and belongs to the Bhakral branch of Minhas tribe: he has the unique distinction of holding the positions of Chairman OGDCL, Chairman NEPRA, Member National Reconstruction Bureau, Member Pakistan Planning Commission, Member 6th National Finance Commission, Member Nuclear Regulatory Board, Member Board of Trustees of Pakistan Science Foundation and Federal Secretary Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources. He is a Gold Medalist in civil engineering and holds MS and PhD degrees from Stanford University USA and currently is a visiting faculty in a number of national universities/institutions and is an honorary Professor in NUST.
Mehreen Anwar Raja (Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, MNA) and her father, famous lawyer Raja Anwar of Kahuta also belong to Gujjar Khan tehsil and the Bhakral branch of Minhas tribe. Raja Anwar's brother, Raja Mehmood Akhter is also a well known lawyer in Lahore. Migrants Minhas Rajput from Indian held Kashmir are also living in Chakwal district mainly in village called Karriala. Raja Mohammad Sarwar khan and Raja Fazal Rehman Khan(Raja Sardar Ali Khans son) are there head. Raja Zafer Ali Khan(retired) Director of rural area is also from same family. Raja Marwat Ali Khan son of Raja Sardar Ali Khan was Senior Superintendent of Police in Azad Kashmir. This Minhas Rajput Family have very important role in Chakwal politics.
Ahsan Minhas, Director (REV) National Telecomm Corp. Islamabad belongs to M. Sarwar village of the Minhas tribe.
Anshupal & Baba Mati Dev, both grandsons of Biram Dev Minhas, a commander with first Mughal emperor, Babar established the Minhas clan villages of Daroli Kalan, Droli Khurd, Damunda, Padhiana & Paldi in East Punjab around the year 1530. Almost all these villages are located approximately seven kilometres from the town of Adampur except the village of Paldi and Dughe, which is in the Garhshankar Teshil in the Hoshiarpur District. The villages of Manko and Rajowal adjacent to Droli Kalan are inhabited by the Dhillon, Nijjar and Sandhu Jat clans. The villages of Dughe and areas of the Hoshiarpur District were settled by the Minhas-Dogras that trace their ancestry to Kaliash in the late 1500s.
The village of Haripur which is just 2.5 kilometres from Adampur, also initially belonged to Haria Singh Minhas of the village of Damunda (the birthplace of world famous economist Professor Bagicha Singh Minhas recipient of the Padma Bhushan in 2003). This village was however surrendered, because of the criminal charges brought up against Haria Singh of molesting labourer women, on the direction of Lehna Singh Majithia, the in charge of Droli Kalan during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Today, although the owners of lands in these villages are mostly Jats because of the enforcement of new Land Laws by the British in the year 1920, the land revenue record even today stands in the name of the Minhas Rajputs of Droli, Padhiana & Damunda.
This war happened in Vikrami Samvat, 1748. After this, there was peace for the next eight years. During this period, Guru Gobind Singh kept on training his army to ward off any attack by the Mughals. Meanwhile, Bhai Bachittar Singh Minhas of Padhiana in the Jalandhar district joined the army along with a large group of Doaba Rajputs.
Anandpur and the state of Kahlur were neighbouring states. Raja Bhim Chand of Kahlur got fearful because of the growing power of Guru Gobind Singh and his forces. He called upon all Hill Rajput chiefs to wage a war against the Guru. As a result of this meeting, the chiefs walked to Anandpur and gave a notice to Guru Gobind Singh to leave the town because they are feeling insecure due to his presence in the area. They told him that if he would leave Anandpur Sahib, they would help him. Guru Gobind refused to leave Anandpur Sahib at any cost.
The Hill Chiefs had army of almost 20,000 men and on top of this, Mughal forces from Lahore and Sirhind joined them. Guru Gobind Singh had only 2000 men under the command of Bhai Bachittar Singh Minhas. The battle between the Guru's forces and those of the hill chiefs started and soon, the stocks of food in Anandpur ran out.
The chiefs attacked the fort of Anandgarh and tried to break its main gate. Bhai Bachittar Singh managed to prevent them from entering the fort. Guru Gobind's army was nearly decimated. Due to this great loss, the Guru was commanded by the "Panj Piyaras" (the Five Beloved) to leave Anandpur Sahib, so as to carry forward the larger cause of fight against the oppressive Mughal regime. From here, the Guru went towards the Nabha and Jind states during Vikrami Samvat 1763.
Bhai Bachittar Singh and another Doaba Rajput, Kharak Singh Minhas assisted Guru Gobind Singh in many of his future campaigns. After Guru Gobind Singh’s death, Banda Bahadur took over the torch of the Khalsa to fight against Mughal oppression.
Banda reorganised the Khalsa Army and declared a war against the Mughal administration. From the Doaba region, he got help from Sikh Rajputs including:
Banda won almost half of the province and he offered Jagirs to his army commanders including the Rajputs, whose heirs are still holding their forts in the villages Chukhiara, Bhungarni, Dihana and Bohan.
In Port Alberni a living descendat of the Minhas-Rajput Clan is Bhav Minhas
Mr. Raja Zafer Ali Khan(uncle of Raja Mohammad Sarwar Khan and Raja Fazal Rehman Khan of Karriala) was director of rural area in Azad Kashmir.