Vansh Our Heritage

Overthe past several decades various people have attempted to make a genealogy of our family. My task of doing this was much simpler due to the availability of their work, the cooperation of various people and above all the current advances in computer technology.

Dr. Atma Singh emphasised the empowerment of women and education for all. He was right in thinking about the importance of education. He truly believed what happens in Kahuta will define our future generations.His aim was ambitious but the reward was transforming his generation and generations to come.The Kahuta diaspora today is well-educated and spread all over the world. Bhuva Minder - daughter of Chacha Kahn Singh, was the first graduate in the family (early 1920s) and brought us a great deal of pride. Since then we have seen many lady doctors, engineers, architects, bankers, civil servants, legal service providers, armed forces, media, civil servants, amongst others.

The basis of this genealogy is a video recording of my father Sardar Nand Singh’s video conversation with family on his 89th birthday and excerpts of which can be seen under videos, notes of Col.Kirpal Singh and Chacha Lochan Singh and the recollections of family and close relations.

There are two compelling theories to show our roots in the early 18th century. The first is that our ancestors were called TODAS – Toda is a village in Rajasthan. Our first known ancestor is Ch.Chirag Shah - his surname “Shah” is attributed to the Poonch region rather than Rajasthan. Most of our ancestors lived in the Potohar ( Potwar) region and made Kahuta as their base. During the mid-18th century, Sikhs ruled Punjab and a greater part of Afghanistan and Kashmir amongst other regions; and Potohar was a Centre for the Sikh people. It is during this time that the son of Rai Sahib Gucchae Shah, Ram Singh, converted to Sikhism and perhaps was the first Sikh in Kahuta. He was known as Singh Sahib Ram Singh.

Our ancestors were a paradigm of family unity and care; and had a sense of duty towards each other. When Uncle Kahn Singh, a barrister, came back to India from the UK, he asked his three brothers Dr. Mukha Singh, Dr.Makhan Singh, and Mr Dayal Singh to pool together money to send the next generation to study in the UK. In 1920 the four brothers chose ChachaDalip Singh, CachaLochan Singh,ChachaHukam Singh, Chacha Captain Basant Singh and Manmohan Singh,  who were sent to UK for further studies.ChachaPritam  Singh joined them soon after.  They all did very well academically, had very successful careers and did the family name proud. Our great grandfather, Atma Singh must have been well pleased with the family unity and forward thinking. Chacha Hukam Singh retired as Chief Engineer of Punjab. Chacha Lochan Singh was Post Master General and later on a member of the Railway Board. Chacha Pritam retired as Major General and Captain Basant Singh was Chief Town Planning Engineer. The brothers also took the responsibility of their sister Dhanwant who became widow at the tender age of 18 and had two young children - Lochan and Rajjah.

Chacha Kahn Singh was the first to use the surname Chowdhry. Subsequently some of us started using the same, but majority of was content with the name Singh.

The partition of India proved to be a disaster not only for the family but for many Hindus , Sikhs and  Muslims. Many lost their lives - women and children were made to jump in fire or in wells, and properties were looted and set on fire. My first cousin Surjit (son of Dr.Arjan Singh, my father’s eldest brother) was the first victim of a senseless orgy of violence in Kahuta. He was shot dead by baying mobs. My uncle was gutted to lose his only son – an incident made worse by the fact that he was unable to cremate Surjit because all men immediately gathered in the local gurudwara and were taken to a military camp in Rawalpindi. My uncle never really got over the fact and manner of Surjit’s death, which stayed with him until he died- heartbroken. My father would often talk about this incident and his brother’s sorrow with great sadness.

I think we have a very rich heritage and we need to explore more into our history .I hope when this website is up and running we will get more interesting facts about our past and recent successes. It is my endeavor to keep updating this site as and when new information is brought to my notice.

I am sincerely indebted and thankful to my sister Jaspal Kaur Bakshi, Col.Jaspal Singh Bakshi, Engr.Iqbal Singh for their support and guidance. I am also indebted and thankful to Mrs. Harsaran Bir Pandey, and Harbir Singh who both made notes of their respective fathers available to me for this genealogy. I am sure it would have not been possible without their help. Besides I would like to thank the members of my family who encouraged me to do this work and finally I thank Supreet Grewal’s help in putting this website together.

 

Chanchal Singh Chowdhry

Son of Sardar Nand Singh “Engineer”

And grandson of Sardar Dayal Singh