The Ambala District has claims of being one of the Historical famous Districts of Haryana State . The District was explored during British period by A.C.Cunningham and C.Rodgers and later by B.B.Lal and many others. On the basis of various literary and archeological evidences it is possible to give an outline of culture and History of Ambala District.The earliest literacy reference to the region comprising the Ambala District in the Taittiriya Aranayaka which mentions Turghna as the bordering region towards the North of Kurukshetra. This locality identified with Shrughna Sugh also finds mention in Panini (Ancient Indian Literature). It is surmised that Ambala District to have been founded by Amba Rajput during the 14th century AD. Another version is that the name is a corruption of Amba Wala or the mango-village judging from mango groves that existed in its immediate neighborhood. Still another version is that the District has taken its name after goddess "Bhawani Amba" whose Temple still exists in Ambala city.
The earliest inhabitants of district were a primitive people using stone tools of lower palacolithic Age. These tools were found at various sites in the district like Tarlokpur etc. Unfortunately this district has not yielded any pre Harappan or mature Harappan site. However there has been some satisfactory evidence in kins of late Harappan. The Various evidence specially that of painted Grey ware pottery support the fact that the Aryans also inhabited the region. The Ambala region was included in the Kingdom of Pandava and there successors.The Edicts of Ashoka Chiefly Topara edicts and stupas at Singh and Chaneti associate this district with Maurayan Empire which further add to the district with Mauryan Empire adding to the importance of place. The discovering of Sunga Terralottas suggests that they held this area. Several coins of menander have also been recovered from the area.
The district has also yielded Coins of Indo Parthian Gondophernes and a coin of Mahakshtrapa Rajuvala (from Ambala and Nariangarh). At some places Kushan Bricks have also been found which justify the conclusion that this district was included in the Kushana empire. According to Dr.R.C. Majumdar the region between Lahore and Karnal formed a part of Samudra Gupta empire . This evidence is supported by Mehrauli Pillar Inscription and silver coins found at various places.The region formed an integral part of nearly all the premier ruling dynasties of India. In 7th Century it was a part of Sukantha Janpada of puspabhuti of Thanesar. Some foreign sources specially those of Chinese pilgrimage Hiven Tsang who visited during Harsha regime show that this District was also under some influence of Buddhism . The district further witnessed the Imperial ambition of Yaso Verman of Kanauj and laladitya. After the invasion of Mohammed Ghaznavi, Charuhaus brought it under their control. The Topara Pillar stands Testimony of this fact. Finally the Muslims under took the district after the defeat of Prithviraj Chauhan in the second Battle of Terrain 1192. Between 9th to12th century this district retained its importance as a centre of religious pilgrimage. The discovery of image of lords at several places suggests existence of beautiful temples which were probably destroyed during Muslim invasions.
Under the Muslims, district formed a part of Kutab-Bin-Abak Empire. The region also witnessed the invasion of Timur. In 1450 Bahlol Lodhi the then governor of Punjab brought the area under his Sway till Babur's invasion in 1526. Akbar's reign was full of events in Din-E-Akbari .It is mentioned that mahals of Ambala to be part of Sirhind of Delhi suba. After the Aurangjeb death the political position and various forces rose in opposition to the Empire. Banda Bahudar, a disciple of Guru Gobind Singh launched a fierce attack on Ambala area (1709-10) however he lost to Mughals at Sadhaura in 1710. After Banda ,Khidmat, a Mughal official governed the Ambala Terrritory till 1739. When Nadir Shah's invasion a dark period followed with the division of Ambala in to small principalities Abdali held this area from 1757 onwards. The restive sikhs in 1763 came in possession of this territory after slaying Abdalis Governor. In short, during medieval age this reign was full of Political activities and Turmoil's.
The advent of British Rule Marked the growth of Sikh Power in this region and the consequent destruction by British in 1805. The British in order to increase their sway beyond Yamuna took the Chiefs in Ambala under their protection. The British Controlled the affairs of all states in the region in a most effective manner through the political agency at Ambala . In 1845, the Sikh chief showed passive obstruction or open hostility to the British. The result was the police jurisdiction of most of the chief as well as transit and custom duty were abolished and a commutation was accepted for the personal service of the chief of his contingent. The political agency of Ambala was transformed into Commissionership under the commissioner of the cis-Satluj states. By 1846 several chiefships had lapsed owing to their failure to have male heirs and the so called break down of administrative machinery. The British acquired strips of territory around Ambala district in 1847. In 1849, Punjab was annexed and then it was declared that expect Buria and Kalsia all chiefs would cease to hold sovereign powers.
The Revolt of 1857
The Ambala district played a significant role in uprising of 1857. Ambala was a military depot of great Importance then. Sham Singh ,a sepoy of the 5th Native infantry told Forsyth, the then Deputy Commissioner Ambala, in the end of April 1857, that a general rising of the Sepoys would take place in the beginning of May. He was proved Correct at approximately 9 A.M.on Sunday 10th May 1857 an Indian regiment the 60th Native Infantry rose in open revolt at Ambala followed by 5th native infantry at 12 noon but the Britsh were too alert and suppressed the revolt. Like the sepoys, the civil population was also badly affected . Indeed everyone among them irrespective of their caste , creed and religion stood against Britishers and played a significant Role in Struggle.
Rise of National Awakening
For a long time after the uprising the people of Haryana kept in suffering . On account of their opposition and indifference towards the British in the crisis but soon various changes swept in the country as well as the region as the result , the people of Ambala were influenced and became politically awakened and enlightened . Some organizations took the task of reformation . The organizations which rendered services in this district are as follows.
|Year||Name of Organization||Aims and Objectives|
|1883||Arya Samaj Ambala Cantonment||Socio-Religious reforms of Hindus|
|1884||Anjunam-Rifah-i-Am,Ambala City||Socio-political awakening of India|
|1886||Anjuman-islamiya ,Ambala City||Bettering Muslim 'lot|
|1886||Singh Sabha,Ambala City||Reforming sikh religion|
|1886||Central National Mohamedans Association Ambala City||Bettering Muslim lot|
|1888||Anjuman -Islamiya,Ambala Cantoment||Bettering Muslims' lot|
|1888||Singh Sabha Ambala Cantoment||Reforming Sikh religion|
|1890||Arya Samaj,Ambala City||Socio-religious reform of Hindus|
|1896||Sanatan Dharam Sabha Ambala Cantonment||Hindu revivalism|
During this period the people also made efforts to establish re-organization at national level. Lala Murli Dhar of Ambala (1820-1924) was one of the founding fathers of Indian National Congress at Bombay in 1885. Later on during early twentieth century Indian National Congress organization spread its roots at various places in Ambala District.
The people of Ambala helped government in its war efforts. The village peasants gave recruits to Army but in the period following the first world war they were rendered jobless and a feeling of discontentment creeped into them. Mahatma Gandhi found a great opportunity and launched an all India agitation in 1919.The Post war Scenario witnessed a great deal of Political activity in Ambala District.Like in other parts of India, people opposed Rowllatt Bills. The people over here opposed the Bills and passed resolution condemning the government action. After the arrest of Mahatma Gandhi and Jallianwala Bagh Tragedy some voilent disturbances also took place at number of places.The burning of the office of a military regiment 1/34 Sikh Pioneer at Ambala Cantonment was indeed very serious. The people contributed shoulder to shoulder with Gandhi's Non Co-operation movement. But in 1922, the Movement was withdrawn as a result of Chauri-Chaura Incident.
The Civil disobedience Movement
In 1930, an all India civil-disobedience Movement was launched by Mahatma Gandhi which spread throughout the nation and Ambala was no exception. On April 6th,1930, a huge procession marched through the main streets of the city and leaders made soul-stirring speeches. At this stage Naujawan Bharat Sabha , a progressive leftist Movement was established. The Sabha had its Base in the villages and also among the works in Ambala. The Swadeshi Movement also gained momentum at this time. The merchants of Ambala took a vow not to sell foreign clothes and Bar association passed a resolution to wear Khadi. Even ladies came forward on 26th April 1920, and women volunteers prepared salt in Anaj Mandi Ambala. The auctioned salt fetched 63/- ( sixty three Rupees). The struggle went on unabated except for a brief halt in 1931 till 1933, when Mahatma Gandhi withdrew it and turned it into an individual Satyagrah. However , it did not make any impressive impact on the people and the district offered only 171 arrests during the wake of individual Satyagraha Movement in 1941.
Quit India Movement
The situation changed in 1942, when the Quit India Movement was launched. The Congress was declared as unlawful. The people of Ambala were not disheartened and gave a tough fight to the Britishers. There were violent activities also. There were lathi charges at about two dozen occasions and about 298 persons were arrested. The Movement in 1944 was as a result of arrest of leaders and repressive measures of government.The people of Ambala fought overseas also in the Indian National Army under one of the inspiring leadership of Subash Chander Bose.To sum up, the people of Ambala District made a great sacrifice like their counter parts in the other parts of the country . The achievement of Independence on August 15,1947 was celebrated in the district with migration of population from both sides on account of the partition of the country.This survey of the pre-independence and historical events indicates that the Ambala District nearly always remained a part of the main stream of the Indian History.