Sri Guru Ram Rai Jhanda Saheb : The Founder of Dehradun

Baba Ram Rai was the eldest son of the Seventh Sikh Guru, Guru Har Rai Ji who had 2 other children. Guru Harkrishan was the youngest amongst the three siblings. Baba Ji’s sister Sarup Kaur was almost four years older than him. Ram Rai was nine years older than Guru Harkrishan. Baba Ji was born in a palace called Sheeh Mahal. It is said that this palace, the residence of Guru Har Rai, was constructed on the model of the Sheesh Mahal of Jaipur.
When Aurangzeb came to the throne, he accused Guru Har Rai of helping Dara Shikoh (Aurangzeb’s brother but arch-enemy) and sought Guru Ji appearance in Delhi. Instead, Guru Sahib sent his eldest son, Ram Rai, to Delhi. Ram Rai was well received by Aurangzeb. He not only satisfactorily responded to all charges but also impressed Aurangzeb with his cleverness. As a result, Ram Rai was asked to stay on as a state guest for some period.
One day, Aurangzeb asked (under influence from others), why Sri Guru Nanak had criticized Islam in salok “Mitti Musalman Ki”? Ram Rai satisfied the assembled Muslims by saying that the actual writing was correctly “Mitti Baimaan Ki” and not “musalman ki” as was written.

Jhanda Fair at Baba Ram Rai Darbar though Ram Rai was well-blessed with all powers and strictly instructed only to explain Guru’s position, but to sooth the minds of his host he choose to mis interprete Sri Guru Nanak’s writings which was completely forbidden. Further, he performed miracles for Aurangzeb’s pleasures. When Guru Har Rai Ji heard of this incident, he forbade Ram Rai from ever returning home. Guru’s word in Gurbani is absolute divine revelation and not subject to any modifications by anyone. Miracles although recognized by Sikh faith, are actively discouraged. Their exposition or display is considered arrogance (competing with Vaaheguru’s powers).
Though Ram Rai managed to please Aurangzeb, Guru Har Rai Ji forbade all Sikhs from ever associating with Ram Rai. Aurangzeb gave Ram Rai a jagir of four villages in the Doon area as a reward. He died there in sunmat 1788. Because of Ram Rai’s Dehra, Duun came to be popularly known as Dehradun. A historical katha suggests that when Ram Rai was engrossed in meditation, the neighbouring masands mistook him for dead and cremated his body. For this reason, Mata Punjab Kaur sought punishment of masands from Kalgidhur patshah. Today there is a small following of Ram Rai. However, by Guru Har Rai’s hukam, all Sikhs are forbidden any association with Ram Rai’s followers.
Baba Ram Rai darbar Side view Therefore instead of Ram Rai, Guru Harkrishan was installed as Guru at the tender age of five years and three months at Kiratpur. At the time of installation of Harkrishan as Guru, Ram Rai his elder brother was in the court of Emperor of Delhi. He after learning that Guruship was passed to his younger brother became furious and envious of Guru Harkrishan. He requested the emperor to summon Harkrishan to Delhi and ask him to perform the miracles similar to what he had performed. Ram Rai knew that Guru Harkrishan had taken a vow to never appear before the emperor as it was also an order given to him by his father Guru Har Rai.
It was in the year 1675, that Guru Ram Rai came and settled in the DoonValley. He may be considered the man who laid the foundation of the nucleus of the present city of Dehra dun. The Doon has always been a place, to take shelter in, for ascetics, exiles and refugees, The most important of them all, in modern times is Guru Ram Rai, the Impact of whose presence in the Valley has left an everlasting mark.
Fateh Shah succeeded Medni Shah. He is credited with fighting a number of actions on the battle field. He led a raid from the Doon Valley into Saharanpur from where he was expelled after great difficulty by the Mughal General Sayed ali. He is also credited with the extension of his power into Tibet. A head gear, coat sword and matchlock, said to have belonged to him, were kept in a monastery at Daba in Tibet and worshipped its momentos of a warrior.
He had to fight a number of battles against his traditional enemies, the rulers of Kumaun and Sirmur. The Sirmur ruler represented to Emperor Aurangzeb that the Garhwal ruler I had seized some of his territory, Whereupon the Emperor sent a force to help the Sirmur , ruler in recovering his lost areas. As a result, the Garhwal ruler withdrew his troops without any fight. The wlthdrawal of Garhwali troops without giving a fight encouraged the Sirmur ruler to try and annexe some of the enemy’s territory or himself. In this he was unsuccessful and was told by Aurangzeb not to attack the Raja of Garhwal in future.
During the reigns of Fateh Shah and Medni Prakash of Sirmur, the Sikh Guru, Govind Singh, came to Sirmur State from Anandpur because of his rift with Raia Shim Chand of Bilaspur. The rift between the Guru and Bilaspur Raja occurred over an elephant named Prasadi of the Guru and Given to him by Raja Man Singh of Bangala. Bhim Chand, of whose domain Anandpur formed a part, asked the Guru for the elephant which he refused. As a result of the refusal the Guru was banished from Anandpur. The Guru came and camped at Mirpur village near Nahan. Medni Prakash invited the Guru to west bank of the river Yamuna, in Kyarda Dun. Here with the Raja’s permission he built a fort, the remains of which are still seen In the locality. The ladies of Govind Singh’s family heaved a sigh of relief in getting a suitable place to rest, and thanked the Almighty for having given them a safe site to keep their feet on (Paaon-than). Thus the place got its name Paonta. While he Guru was at Paonta, the marriage of a son of Raja Bhim Chand was settled with the daughter of Raja Fateh Shah of Garhwal, who was also a friend of the Guru.
On the occasion of Guru Gobind Singh sent gifts for the bride to her father Fateh Shah. Raja Bhim Chand learnt about his and wrote to Fateh Shah reminding him about the old estrangment between him (Bhim Chand) and Guru Gobind Singh. The Garhwal ruler was threatened that the marriage would not take place if the friendship between him and Guru Govind Singh continued. Consequently F ateh Shah, much against his wishes, had to return the gifts of the Guru. The Guru was cut to the quick by this uprovoked indignity and he threw down the guantlet when Bhim Chand was returning from Srinagar via the Doon Valiey after the wedding of his son.
As a result a battle was fought at Bhangani about nine miles north of Paonta. Raja Kirpal Chand of Katoch (Kangra), Kesri Chand of Jasanwala, Sukhdev Chand of Jasrota. I Hari Chand of Hindur and others who were in the marriage party took part in this battle as Bhim Chand’s allies. The fight Iasted three days and ended in favour of Guru Govind Singh. Rajas Hari Chand, Kesri Chand and Sukhdev Chand fell in the field. Although some Sikh chroniclers mention the presence of Fateh Shah at this battle, it seems improbable as he would not have left Srinagar immediately after the wedding.
At Bhangani there are monuments ( Chattries ) over the spots where the Ranis of the fallen Rajas probably committed “Sati” or the Rajas were cremated. Guru Govind Singh made his camp at Bhangani where a Gurudwara still exists. After sometime the friendship between Medni Prakash and guru incurred the displeasure of the Emperor Alamgir (Aurangzeb). This resulted in the Guru leaving Sirmur territory and the severance of relations between him and the sirmur Raja.
During Fateh Shah’s reign the Doon Valley had a peaceful time and the people by and large prospered. There were no raids by the marauders from across the Shiwalik and Yamuna. Fateh Shah was succeeded by his son Dalip in 1717. He reigned for a few months when he was succeeded by his brother Upendra Shah.
Upendra Shah ruled for a period of nine months and was succeeded by his nephew. Pradip Shah, son of Dalip Shah. Pradip Shah is supposed to have ruled for over 50 years from 1718 to 1772
According to Mola Ram, the poet-cum-historian of Garhwal State, Pradip Shah was five years old when he came to the throne. Because of his minority his mother who was a Himachal princess ruled as Queen Regent. Right from Medni Shah’s time were two factions at court namely the Khasia Rajputs (the original Inhabitants of Garhwal ) and the other Rajputs who had come settled there, from other parts of the country as mercenary soldiers. Amongst latter category were five Katoch brothers from Kangra. They had worked their way into Queen Regent’s confidence (because of being Himachalies like her), and were appointed to all the important and high offices. Because they were in power they started harrassing the local populance by imposing a number of taxes. Some the taxes imposed by them were:
a) Married women’s Tax. This as a tax levied on a family, according to the number at married women in it. The family had to give one measure of grain, per woman, per year, to the royal granary.
b) Tax on cooking places. This was a tax of one rupee per cooking fire place, per year, in a household.
c) Income Tax was levied on the famiyl’s income as the present times; and
d) Cattle tax on the number of animals owned by a person.
Because of the atrocities committed by them the five brothers were eventually assassinated.