Hari Singh Nalwa was born in the year 1791 in Gujranwala which falls in Majha region of Punjab in Kshatriya family. His parents were Dharam Kaur and Sardar Gurdial Singh. He was the only child of his parents. Sardar Hardas Singh was his grandfather was enrolled in Sukarchakia Misl service. He was killed in 1762 in an expedition. Hari Singh Nalwa's father Sardar Gurdial Singh took same services as that of his father. He died in 1799 after which Hari Singh Nalwa was looked after by his mother and maternal uncle.
Hari Singh Nalwa at the early age of 10 was baptized as Sikh. Since early age itself he started to take care of his father's estate as well as started learning various sports like horse riding. At the age of 14 he was appointed as personal attendant in the court of Ranjit Singh.
During one hunting expedition, Nalwa was attacked by a tiger. Other army men came to his rescue. However, he refused their help and wanted to kill tiger on his own. He did not have enough time to pull his sword and thus tried to hold jaws of the tiger and pushed it away before killing it with his sword. This incident gave him the name Nalwa as he tried to grasp head and jaws of tiger when it was about to kill him. He was also known as Baagh Maar i.e., tiger killer. Later he was commissioned as Sardar and was given 800 horses and footmen.
Military Expedition against Afghans:-
Hari Singh Nalwa in his life time participated in almost 20 battles. Among them battles of Kasur, Attock, Peshawar Mankera and Jamrud are important ones. Maharaja Ranjit Singh fought battles against Afghans for almost three decades and Hari Singh Nalwa has participated in all the battles bravely from 1807 to 1837 A.D. Hari Singh played a vital role in capture of Multan in 1818 A.D. Six expeditions were sent to Lahore before capture of Multan and Hari Singh contributed equally in all these six expeditions. Multan was gateway to Afghanistan and had great financial and strategic significance. Once Multan was captivated, Hari Singh also captured Rajauri, Naushera, Mitha Tiwana etc.....
Around Peshawar across river Indus, Afghanis were divided into many tribes. These tribes revolted from time to time, not obeying any rules. Hari Singh Nalwa was sent their by Maharaja Ranjit Singh to take control over those areas and was also asked to built forts from Attock to Khyber Pass to check invasion of Punjab. Borders of Kabul were sealed and Attock was conquered. Later Kabul was invaded. Dost Mohammad Khan and Yar Mohammad Khan in 1822, succeeded to expel Maharaja Ranjit Singh's nominee Jahan Dad Khan from Peshawar. Forces were sent which was led by Hari Singh to defeat them.
In 1827, Hari Singh was sent to recapture Peshawar along with other areas around Khyber pass from Sayad Ahmad Bareli. Hari Singh along with 25,000 men defeated Sayad Ahmad Bareli and stopped them from crossing Indus. In 1834, Peshawar was made part of Punjab and Hari Singh was made first non- Muslim governor.
Battle of Jamrud:-
In 1836, Hari Singh conquered Jamrud. It was a fort located at the mouth of Khyber pass. It means Sikhs would launch offensive at any time against Kabul. Dost Mohammad Khan was aware of this. Maharaja's grandson was about to get married and thus the whole army was withdrawn from their to put a show of strength. Dost Mohammad Khan took advantage of this situation to seize Jamrud. However, Hari Singh did not leave the place as he was not unaware of his enemy's intentions. Dost Mohammad Khan marched towards Jamrud fort along with his five sons and army. Hari Singh who was in Peshawar was told not to engage in any war until reinforcements arrived. Fort of Jamrud at that time had only 600 soldiers and this number was totally outnumbered by enemies. However, arrival of Hari Singh put Afghanis in panic. In this war, Hari Singh was wounded but he asked his lieutenant not to let news of his death out. Afghani army waited there doing nothing until news of death was confirmed and then went back to Kabul when saw arrival of reinforcements.
Terror to Afghan:-
Afghan mothers by taking Hari Singh Nalwa's name used to quiten newborns. Such was his terror. American generals too would narrate his story to create enthusiasm in their troops when they were fighting against Afghan army. He was the man who brought Afghani on their knees. No matter how many times they tried to invade soil of Punjab, they were always stopped by Hari Singh and were made to pay tribute. He participated bravely in each and every battle in his life time rather than passionately. He was terror to Afghani people. He was a great hero and well known to Punjab region. However, in other areas of India he is not that popular and the reason may be lack of an attempt to address this hero in our history textbooks. Greatness and bravery of such heroic souls should be narrated to each and every child so that it instills a sense of braveness in them too.