The Trakhan dynasty in Central Asia

In Gilgit sub-region, the Trakhan was the leading dynasty of local rulers, and it was the main branch, from which the rules of Nagar and Hunza radiated during the mediaeval period. The rulers of Yasin, Punial and Chitral had also close ties with them, and the tribal regions of Gor, Darel, Chilas, Tangir and Herban, including Nuristan on the west had their origin and history linked with the Trakhan dynasty.

The extant traditions sound more romantic than real for the historical purpose. Summing up the accessible materials, it is however known that during the second period of the Trakhan dynasty (387/997 to 640/1241), Shah Mirza, also known as Mirza I, was formally enthroned in 521/1127 and ruled until 602/1205. He is said to have died at the age of 109 years, and was succeeded by his son Tartorra Khan at the age of 31 years. He had two queens, one of his own royal family, and another hailed from Darel. The first queen Shah Begum gave birth to Torra Khan, and the second gave birth to Shah Rais. Torra Khan was brought up in the valley of Hodur under the care of a local chief. While Shah Rais had several maternal uncles in Darel, who being supported with his mother, intended Shah Rais to be the next ruler; but the king preferred Torra Khan. This succession wrangle led to trouble. The Darel queen and her brothers conspired against the king and the prince. Once upon a time, they invited Tartorra Khan at Darel for playing polo. The king won the game and caused all the seven brothers executed when he was assailed. The Dareli queen became forlorn, and poisoned the king in 635/1236, and herself took the power. She intended to kill Torra Khan, but his step-father, who was the chief of Hodur, sent Torra Khan away in Khanberi and hid him in an unknown place. The queen made all arrangements to pass on the throne to her own son, Shah Rais. In the meantime, she died in 640/1241, and it was followed by a war of succession between the two brothers. The local people ultimately confessed Torra Khan (1310-1335) as their ruler.

Henceforward, the name Torra Khan, or Trakhan was applied to this dynasty after his name. Before him, the dynasty was known as Kisra or Kiyani. During his rule, his cousin Raja Rais Khan had left Gilgit and took refuge in Badakhshan with an Ismaili dai, Taj Mughal, the son-in-law of the ruler. According to Dr. Ahmad Hasan Dani in "History of Northern Areas of Pakistan" (Islamabad, 1991, p. 170), "Taj Mughal is said to be a follower of Ismaili sect and very ardent in its propagation. He received Raja Shah Rais Khan with great pomp and made him stay in an elegant place. Shah Rais is said to have accepted Ismaili faith alongwith his followers." Shah Rais Khan also married to the daughter of Taj Mughal, and after some years, he persuaded Taj Mughal to invade Gilgit. Preparations were made for one full year. First Chitral was conquered and annexed, and then the regions of Yasin, Koh Ghizr and Punial were subdued and finally entered in Gilgit ruled by Torra Khan, who at length accepted Ismailism. He also made necessary arrangements to preach Ismailism in Gilgit. The rule of Torra Khan had been restored, and Shah Rais Khan was made the ruler of Chitral, where he founded the Raisia dynasty, and promulgated the Ismaili faith.

It was at this time that the Ismaili faith penetrated in Gilgit and Hunza with the proselytizing mission of Taj Mughal. He is said to have built a Mughlai Tower at Jutial, and another on the way to Hunza, near Thol. Taj Mughal is said to have proceeded to Sikiang through Pamir, and thus he dominated most of the prominent regions of Central Asia. The historians place an extensive territory under his domination. On the north greater part of Turkistan, on the west the whole area including the city of Herat, and on the south-east right upto the border of Chitral. The biography of Taj Mughal is shrouded in mist, and nothing else is known. He died most probably in 725/1325. It seems likely that Gilgit had been ruled by the local Ismaili rulers from 710/1310 to 973/1565, and they remained in close contact with the Ismailis of Badakhshan.

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