A village of Punjab (Pakistan) situated in tehsil Kallar Syedan is identified as dera khalsa. The name was given by the administration of Sub continent of this region during 18th century on demand of Sikh community. This name is still used to refer this village. Presently entire population of this village is Muslims, having strong religious believes and 95% of existing families are migrated from Jammu in 1947.
This is a historical village and during Sikh,s rule on Punjab in the 18th Century it was a kind of religious center of Sikhism. In 1855 this village was entirely a Sikh village and in the later days of the Sikh rule in the Punjab, this village was the head quarter of Sikh Sardars. There was a Sikh Dhara-mshala where all strangers and preachers could come and stay and enlighten the village people who gather every morning and evening to listen to the holy chanting of the Great Gurus’ hymns of Sikh religion. In the early fifties and sixties of the eighteenth century, the dominant personality of this village were sons of the Malik Sardar family. Even after termination of Sikh rule in Punjab, members of this family remain prominent personalities of this village till 1930.
This village was attacked by an epidemic disease Plague in 1906 and turned many lives in to dead , almost all the survivor left this village and scattered at great distances all over the country to save their lives.
The saint Attar Singh a famous Sikh preacher visited Dera Khalsa in early 20th century for propagation of Guru message. Saint Attar Singh who almost remained away from his family during his religious activities, Dera Khalsa is a place where Matta ji (Bholi Ji) mother of saint Attar Singh met him after a long time. When Attar Singh met her mother he bowed his head and humorously asked ,,mother am i engaged in some bad work? Matta Ji replied innocently, No my dear son, You are doing a very good work.
Professor Puran Singh was a famous Sikh poet and scientist of Sub continent in early 20th Century. He was born at Salhad, Abbottabad on 17th February 1881 when his father Kartar Singh was posted there during his service in revenue department. Puran Singh belonged to an Ahluwalia Khatri family of Dera Khalsa therefore, his ancestral home was in the village of dera khalsa. He had considerable achievements in the field of poetry and science. He died on 31st March 1931.
An other Sikh leader Master Tara Singh and Bhai Guru Singh administered Amrit(religious oath) by Santiji at Dera Khalsa. Tara Singh was also a famous leader of Sikhs during 1947. He is remembered for two things one steering Sikhs towards opting for India in 1947 and second to campaign for the state of punjab in independent India.Tara Sing vigorously campaigned against demand of Pakistan. Tara Sing during his middle education at Rawalpindi, whenever he came home (Harial Rawalpindi) on some holidays he along with several others went to have darshan of Attar Sing at Dera Khalsa. During the violence in 1947 the Sikhs opted for India and left Dera Khalsa on 08 March 1947. This was the last day of Sikhs at Dera Khalsa.A view of dera khalsa and surrounding areas during 1860 to 1930 (History In the words of Malik Jay Singh of Dera Khalsa)
Dera Khalsa is a tiny village of about one hundred mud-houses mostly belonging to the Sikh farmers and petty traders, the mud houses providing an open terrace on their roofs when a few houses fall in groups on both sides of the narrow lane running through the whole village. Dera Khalsa has no roads about it for miles but for those that the feet of the inhabitants, or the hoof of the cows and horses and mules and similar other natural influences. Such as the flow of rain water etc had made for them and from my infancy upward to my old age, the village has not changed; it is the same old Dera Khalsa. The mud walls of these houses absorb in an extra-ordinary manner the orders of ripe corn, and maize and wheat which are stored-in air-tight mud-walled vertical chambers with a circular aperture at the bottom hung up with a tight stop-cock made my putting together a lot of rags. It seems these walls serve as great purifiers of the inner air by diffusing gases through their porous surfaces. And there are other advantages such as the protection afforded to the dwellers from the extremes of summer and winter temperatures.
There is a small hillock at the back of the village which is called Mahal or the Palace, possibly the ruin-heaps of some former palace, where the cow-herd boys find, now and then, the old coins. So far Indian archaeological department has neglected it, apparently for want of funds. To find old treasures one has to spend new treasures and this business too like all other business has its own risks. In short, the Mahal is, to the simple village people, Just a hill; and it is a beloved hill, for when the villagers go out to the cities of Jhelum and Rawalpindi; on their return, it is at the sight of the Mahal, from a distance of about three miles that they cry with joy, there is their beloved village, the Dera Khalsa. The expectant brides get on the top and shading their eyes with their right hand, they stain them to recognize the riders that are seen far in the distant horizon coming towards the village. Standing on the top of the Mahal, now thickly overgrown with dwarfed acacias, one has the magnificent sight of a water tank on its left, a hollow basin about four furlongs long and about one furlong wide in which collects water in the rainy season, and the tankful lasts the village for a whole year for general purposes such as washing clothes, bathing themselves and their cattle and teaching their children the art of swimming etc. On the edge of this tank, there is a grove of huge Bunyan trees whose shades cover the whole length and breath of the tank, in whose-rippling surface, the red Bunyan berries and green leaves fall and float for a while, then sink to the bottom. These shades provide a king of pleasant summer resort for the villagers, for under these Bunyan’s, there blows, for most of the year, a cool breeze touched by which they enjoy their midday siesta. In addition to this magnificent luxury of almost having the temperatures of an Indian hill station without the latter’s cost, the good deep wells of drinking water, there being on each a magnificent pipal tree standing as a guardian angel of the water below. One well is quite close to the village and the other, the old one about J” alf a mile away toward the hillside on an elevation, and it is reported that the water of the latter old well has many curative properties to take advantage of which Dera Khalsa, many a time, has the honour to entertain guests from far and near who come for water treatment for their different ailments. And towards the Southern extremity of the village which is situated on a kind of slope, flows the Kas a little streamlet which in Sawan becomes full and turbulent, but throughout the year, it flows in its own volume of wate that irrigates much of the land of dera khalsa the lies about it. The villagers dig temporary wells near this streamlet and irrigate their land by lifting water by means of a lever consisting of a long pole at one end of which is fastened a bucket with string and at the other end a heavy weight, The pole is drawn downward from its resting position by hand and the bucket allowed to fall into water, and as it gets filled, it is lifted up automatically by the excess of weight attached on the other end of the pole, when released by lifting off the pressure of the hand. And at two prominent places there are irrigation wells in which are fitted up the Persian wheels for lifting water. And around the cracking sing –song music of the Persian wheels drawn by a pair of bullocks, the people assemble for eating radish and carrots by washing them in the water falling from the red clay water-pots fastened to the wheel that goes down empty and comes up filled with water worked by a crude wooden rack and pinion arrangement. At about two miles down the course of this little streamlet, the people of Dera Khalsa have a great waterfall, this very streamlet falling down a high rock making a very beautiful deep-blue lake of water below in which there is a good deal of fishing. On the Hindu New Year's day and for the Baisakhi and other festive occasions, all those surrounding the water, gather at this lake and around the waterfall, called Kumbikyali. And there is all fun of a big fair, where they have sports, cock-fights and quail fights and a little betting on the latter.
Thus the village of Dera Khalsa is country in itself, having many advantages of natural aspects all so inviting, made still further beautiful by irrigation wells having around them kitchen and fruit gardens which provide an oasis to the eye in an otherwise rugged country, torn by ravines and having the appearance of a piece of cheese nibbled by rats.
The deep cool shades of Dera Khalsa Bunyan’s and pipals in summer and curative water of its wells and a little fishing place at the lake and waterfall of Kumbikyali gibe Dera Khalsa a distinction of Pothohar, the ravine torn country between the pass of Margalla towards Peshawar side and the River Jhelum on the Lahore side. The people of this side of Margalla pass are mostly small land holders who till their own soil and labour hard on the field and they live in comparative ease.
The modern knowledge has not till today penetrated to Dera Khalsa, otherwise it would be a very simple thing for these enterprise-ing people to harness the Kumbhikyali waterfall and get electricity to light their mud housed and run a little flour mill, for they have still to go a long way to get their wheat milled into flour. The elements of electrical engineering ought to be in this age a matter of common country knowledge, but our alien government is too busy with devicing methods to keep the people down and their ammunition of intellect is exhausted in trying to preserve in hypnotic atmosphere of Anglo-Saxon superiority under which the people may just pass their days; they should neither die nor live, just exist. Otherwise Dera Khalsa could have electric light and fan.
As regard their oil mills, they have their wooden presses and the oil men, and in that respect the village is quite self contained. They have their own blacksmith, carpenter, shoemaker and all. On the whole, the people, so far, have been quite well off and comparatively happy and lucky, as they have enough strength to oppose the usual official tyranny with a visible effect and the official world just passes by Dera Khalsa doing its routine work causing not much vexation to the people.
(1) History of sikh,s in punjab
(2) History of sikh,s in pothohar
(3) Professor Puran singh,s books