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Chiniot

Chiniot is a city and the administrative headquarter of Chiniot District in the province of Punjab, Pakistan. Located on the bank of the river Chenab, it is the 28th largest city of Pakistan. It is also known for its intricate wooden furniture, architecture, and mosques, and is home to the Omar Hayat Mahal.

History

The origins of Chiniot are obscure, and historical records accurately detailing its founding are unavailable. According to some accounts, the city was founded by an ancient king's daughter named Chandan, who while on a hunting expedition, was charmed by the surrounding area, and ordered the construction of the settlement of Chandaniot, alternatively spelt Chandniot, which was named in her honour. The name Chiniot, a contracted version of the original name, eventually gained favour, though the older name had been used up until at least the 1860s.

During Mughal rule, Chiniot was governed as part of the subah, or province, of Lahore. The city reached is zenith under the reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, and his governor of the area, Nawab Sadullah Khan of the Thahim tribe, who served between 1640 and 1656. Under Sadullah Khan's governorship, Chiniot's famous Shahi Mosque was built. Chiniot's artisans were renowned for their skill during the Mughal era, and were employed in the decoration of the Taj Mahal, and Lahore's Wazir Khan Mosque.

Following the collapse of Mughal authority after the death of Emperor Aurangzeb in 1707, the local Sial tribe], a tribe of Zamindar status, s under the rule of Walidad Khan was officially granted governorship of the area on account of his loyalty to the Delhi throne. Though nominally a part of the declining Mughal realm, Walidad Khan forged an largely independent state in western Punjab that controlled the region between Mankera and Kamalia. Chiniot suffered heavily during the Durrani invasion of the late 1748.

The Sial state around Chiniot was encroached upon by Sikh chieftains in the north, and from Multani chiefs in the south, before coming under control of the Bhangi Misl Sikhs by 1765. The Sikhs imposed an annual tribute on the Sial chief, Inayatullah Khan, which he ceased paying in 1778 before also capturing Chiniot. He died in 1787, though the city had reverted to Bhangi Sikh rule before his death.

The city suffered during the Sikh Misl states period in which the city region's Bhangis battled the Suker chakia Misl. Chiniot was captured by Ranjit Singh in 1803, and thereafter became part of the Sikh Empire. The city was invested in Sial chief Ahmad Khan, who promised to pay tribute to Ranjit Singh's kingdom khan stopped paying tribute, and briefly seized full control of the region in 1808, but was decisively defeated by Ranjit Singh's forces in 1810.