CHĀRYĀRĪ SOWĀRS was the name given to an irregular cavalry regiment in Sikh times. It owed its origin to four friends, or Chār (four) Yār (friends), who were seen together all the time. Their names were : Bhūp Siṅgh Siddhū, Jīt Siṅgh, Rām Siṅgh Saddozaī and Hardās Siṅgh Bāṇīā. They were all young men of the same age, very handsome, well built and always elegantly dressed. Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh became very fond of the foursome and employed them as soldiers. He was so impressed by their bearing that he gave them fine horses to ride and created a regiment named Chāryārī Sowārs after them. The force grew in strength under the patronage of the Mahārājā. It was placed under the command of Rājā Suchet Siṅgh, who was himself always splendidly turned out and who was known as the dandy of the Punjab. He was assigned a ḍerā, i. e. lodgings, near the Shālāmār Gardens at Lahore. The Khālsā Darbār Records as well as the 'Umdāt-ut-Twārīkh includes it amongst the seventeen ḍerās of the ghoṛchaṛās of different sizes under the name of the Ḍerā Naulakkhā or the Ḍerā Chāryārī. The ḍerā consisted of a number of squadrons of varying strength. Each horseman wore a velvet coat, a shirt of mail and a steel helmet; the horses were bedecked with metal-capped peacock plumes. The recruitment was voluntary. The troops were seldom paid a salary, though provision was made for their food, uniform and equipment. The horses were their own, and they were under no feudal obligations.

         The Chāryārī force was a fine body of horse, richly clad and mounted, strutting pompously on all ceremonial occasions during Raṇjīt Siṅgh's reign. After the death of the Mahārājā, it became involved in partisan feuds. It took the part of Rāṇī Chand Kaur when, in January 1841, Sher Siṅgh invested the Lahore Fort. Later, Sher Siṅgh won over the Chāryārī Sowārs, who, with Rājā Dhiān Siṅgh, joined his standard. But they deserted the Mahārājā to support his mukhtiār or attorney, Javālā Siṅgh, who had revolted against his master. The Chāryārī force sided with Rājā Hīrā Siṅgh in the fight with Atar Siṅgh Sandhāṅvālīā, who had taken shelter with Bhāī Bīr Siṅgh of Nauraṅgābād. On 18 December 1844, Rājā Hīrā Siṅgh discharged about five hundred men of the Chāryārī force. That was the end of this colourful and picturesque regiment.


  1. Sūrī, Sohan Lāl, 'Umdāt-ut-Twārīkh'. Lahore, 1885-89
  2. Giān Siṅgh, Giānī, Panth Prakāsh. Patiala, 1970
  3. Griffin, Lepel, and C. F. Massy, Chiefs and Families of Note in the Punjab. Lahore, 1890

Harī Rām Gupta