NIHĀL SIṄGH AṬĀRĪVĀLĀ (d. 1817), soldier and courtier in the time of Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh, was born the son of Gauhar Siṅgh Aṭārīvālā. The Atārīvālās were Siddhū Jaṭṭs, settled at Ṭibbā, a mound midway between Lahore and Amritsar, where Gauhar Siṅgh built a house which because of its imposing facade came to be called an aṭārī, in Punjabi a house with a high elevation. This was the origin of the name of the family and of the village that grew around the house. Gauhar Siṅgh (d. 1763) joined in those days of high adventure the jathā of Sardār Gurbakhsh Siṅgh Roṛāṅvālā and in 1737 took under his rākhī or protection a number of villages around Aṭārī. Later he joined the Bhaṅgī misl under Gujjar Siṅgh and acquired a military command and a jāgīr. His son, Nihāl Siṅgh served under Sāhib Siṅgh Bhaṅgī and took part in the campaign against the Afghāns. He won special distinction fighting in 1798 against Ahmad Khān Shahāñchībāshī, one of the generals of Zamān Shāh Durrānī. With the Bhaṅgīs, he confronted Raṇjīt Siṅgh at Bhasīn in 1800, but later took up service under him. From 1801 to 1817, he participated in most of the Mahārājā's military expeditions, including those of Kashmīr and Multān. In 1803, he was assigned to a jāgīr worth 50,000 Rupees annually at Sukkho in Poṭhohār and in 1807 he was put in charge of Kasūr after the defeat and expulsion of its Paṭhān ruler, Qutb ud-Dīn. He accompanied Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh in the first two of his campaigns across the Sutlej in 1806-07.

         Nihāl Siṅgh was known for his loyalty and devotion to the person of Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh. The family tradition recounts how he sacrificed his life for the sake of the Mahārājā. When in 1817, Raṇjīt Siṅgh fell seriously ill and the remedies applied by royal physicians had proved of little avail, Nihāl Siṅgh walked round his bed praying that his ailment be transferred to him. He retired to Aṭārī where he languished and died soon afterwards. Raṇjīt Siṅgh had meanwhile recovered from his illness.


  1. Griffin, Lepel, The Punjab Chiefs. Lahore, 1890
  2. Hasrat, Bikrama Jit, Life and Times of Ranjit Singh. Hoshiarpur, 1977
  3. Gaṇḍā Siṅgh, Sardār Shām Siṅgh Aṭārīvālā. Amritsar, 1942

Gaṇḍā Siṅgh