Chiniot is at the intersection of the Faisalabad-Sargodha and Lahore-Jhang roads. It is 158 kilometres northwest from Lahore and 38 kilometres north of Faisalabad. Chiniot city is spread over an area of 10 square kilometers with an average elevation of 179 meters (587 ft). Chiniot city lies on left bank of the Chenab River, and is located on a small rocky hill. Much of the surrounding area consists of alluvial plains, interspersed with rocky outcroppings of slate and sandstone that reach up to 400 feet in height around Chiniot.
Rabwah city, the headquarters of the Ahmadiyya Community is on the other side of the Chenab River. In the center of river a worship center (or Chilla Gah) of the Sufi Bu Ali Shah Qalandar is located.
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
Mughal decline and Sial rule
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 Durraniinvasion 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 Sikhs by 1760. 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 Sukerchakia 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.
The city came under British rule by 1849, and the city was constituted as a municipality in 1862. In 1875, the city’s population was 11,999. During the British period, a vast network of canals were laid to irrigate Punjab, resulting in the creation of many new “canal colonies” around Chiniot. Chiniot’s famous Omar Hayat Mahal was built between 1923 and 1935 for a businessman who made his fortune in Calcutta.
Most villages are numbered and are known as Chaks, which means outpost in the Urdu and Punjabi languages. Many of the villages were planned and established by British engineers during the colonial period. These villages were planned mostly along canal banks to distribute the population evenly.
Mehal Umer Hayat:
It is also known as Gulzar Manzil. This palace in the old centre of the ancient town of Chiniot is wrapped in mystery and silence. For long like the Taj Mehal it remained a melancholy monument to death and a symbol of tragic transience of life. Facing the Mughal Fort it was a celebrated edifice constructed from 1922 A.D to 1930 A.D at a phenomenal cost of four lac rupees. With a splendid ground floor and three storeys (initially sixstoreyed including basement)topped by a wooden pavilion, it encapsulated the finest traditions of local wood, fresco, jali, glass, plaster and brick work. Each inch of its building, exterior and interior testifies to the skill and expertise of those master craftsmen.