Chronicles of Governance: Kullu’s Administrative Symphony through the Ages
In the historical backdrop of Kullu, the administration during the reign of Rajas unfolded with a nuanced elegance. The governing structure, characterized by the provinces known as ‘waziris,’ boasted a meticulously crafted hierarchy of ‘kothis’ and ‘phatis.’ At the heart of each ‘waziri’ was a dance of governance orchestrated by civil virtuosos known as Wazirs, answering to the Raja’s Prime Minister, the esteemed Chauntra Wazir.
Within the confines of a ‘kothi,’ a realm pulsating with tradition and heritage, an ensemble of officials played integral roles.
The Palsara, akin to a steward of regal proportions, presided over the intricacies of civil administration.
The Kothiala, a venerable treasurer, safeguarded the kingdom’s wealth within the vaults of history.
Panjauli, with grace reminiscent of a royal choreographer, collected essential supplies for the royal kitchen—milk, curds, wood, and more.
The Kaith, a meticulous scribe, inscribed the fiscal heartbeat of the land in the grand ledger of legacy.
Zathali, a watchful messenger, stood sentinel, weaving tales across the hills and valleys.
The Seok, a custodian of ‘begar,’ orchestrated the ballet of forced labor, known as Bhatangaru in the enchanted realm of Saraj.
Amidst these custodial luminaries were the Negis, whose roles seamlessly transcended the boundaries between military commandants and village administrators. Notably, Negis commanded the ‘misl’ i.e. the militia regiments of ‘kothis,’ or presided over specific hill forts or ‘garhs’ as ‘garhiya’ Negis, embodying both martial and administrative prowess.
The very nomenclature of ‘kothi,’ once a humble granary, evolved into a symbol representing the interconnected circuit of villages that contributed to its storied abundance. This transition underscored the evolution of administrative semantics in a land steeped in history.
However, the harmonious rhythms of this feudal political framework faced a brief disruption during the fleeting Sikh occupation from 1840 to 1846. The subsequent arrival of the British marked a pivotal juncture, as they, with imperial finesse, modified and repurposed the existing administrative opus to suit their needs for revenue assessment.
Under British influence, each ‘kothi’ and its ethereal ‘phatis’ received carefully demarcated boundaries. A sagacious headman, bestowed with the title of Negi, emerged as the steward of revenue within this defined territory. Lumberdars, the custodians of fiscal symphony, Kraunks as village watchmen, and Rakhas as guardians of sylvan sanctuaries performed in orchestrated harmony under the discerning gaze of the Negi. This symphony not only orchestrated revenue collection but also meticulously arranged the intricacies of begar—where labor and supplies were tendered by the phatis, each act conducted with finesse by their respective Lumberdars.
The reverberations of this administrative symphony persisted post-Independence, albeit with nuanced alterations masterfully orchestrated by the virtuosos of the Revenue Department. The legacy of ‘kothis’ and ‘phatis’ endured, a testament to the enduring influence of historical administrative intricacies.
The grandeur of Kullu’s administrative heritage extended beyond its temporal boundaries, manifesting in the seven traditional Waziris that once constituted the Kingdom of Kullu. Each Waziri, like a poetic stanza etched in the geography of history, bore its distinct name—Waziri Parol, Waziri Lag-Sari, Waziri Lag-Maharaja, Waziri Rupi, Waziri Saraj, Waziri Mangahal, and Waziri Lahul. These Waziris, each with its specific geographical boundaries, stood as eloquent chapters in the unfolding saga of Kullu’s governance, a legacy that resonated through the annals of time.
The seven Waziris, or provinces, that made up Kullu were as follows:
1. Waziri Parol, or Kulu proper: The Beas valley from Rotang in the north all the way down to the Phozal Nala, which falls into the Beas on its right bank at Duara, in the south; the entire left bank of Bead down to its confluence with Parvati at Bhuin. The whole Malana valley and the right side of the Parvati from its confluence with the Malana Nala all the way down to its confluence with the Beas.
2. Waziri Lag-Sari: It refers to the land on the right bank of the Beas that is located between the Phozal Nala in the north and the Sarvari Nala at Sultanpur in the south.
3. Waziri Lag-Maharaja: The region stretching from the right bank of the Sarvari Nala all the way down to where it meets the Beas at Kullu, as well as the territory stretching from the right bank of the Beas all the way down to Bajaura in the south.
4. Waziri Rupi: The land between the rivers Parvati and Sainj; the right bank of Parvati above its junction with Malana nala, except the Malana valley. The region got its name from the silver (rupa) mines of which it was renowned in the past.
5. Waziri Saraj: The southern part of Kulu that is located between the Sainj and the Satluj River, and divided into Inner and Outer Saraj by the Jalori range.
6. Waziri Mangahal: A portion of Chhota Mangahal.
7. Waziri Lahul: The southeastern portion of Lahul.