Sheikhupura (Urdu: شَيخُوپُورہ, Punjabi: شیخاپورا) is a city the Pakistani province of Punjab. Founded but the Mughal Emperor Jehangir in 1607, Sheikhupura is now the 16th largest city in Pakistan, and is the headquarters of Sheikhupura District. The city is an industrial centre, and satellite town, located about 40 km northwest of Lahore.
|• Total||5,960 km2 (2,300 sq mi)|
|Elevation||236 m (774 ft)|
|Time zone||PST (UTC+5)|
|Union council number||51|
The region around Sheikhupura was previous known as Virk Garh, or "Virk Fort", in reference to the Jat tribe that inhabited the area. The city, founded in 1607, was named by Jehangir himself - the city's first name is recorded in the Emperor's autobiography, the Tuzk-e-Jahangiri, in which he refers to the town as Jehangirabad. The city then came to be known by its current name, which derives from Jehangir's nickname Sheikhu that was given to him by his mother, wife of Akbar the Great.
Mughal Emperor Jahangir laid the foundations of Sheikhupura in 1607 near the older town of Jandiala Sher Khan, an important provincial town during the early to middle Mughal era. He also erected the nearby Hiran Minar, Sheikhpura's most renowned site, between 1607 and 1620 as a monument to his beloved pet deer, Mansiraj, at a time when the area served as a royal hunting ground for the Mughal Emperor. Jehangir laid the foundation of the Sheikhupura Fort in 1607, which is situated in the city's centre.
Following the collapse of Mughal authority, the city came under the control of the Bhatti tribe. The tribe struggled to maintain control of the area, as bandits and Sikhs began encroaching upon the area. In 1797, the Durrani king Shah Zaman briefly seized the city and fortress during his campaign to capture Lahore. The city's fort then was captured by the Sikh bandit, Inder Singh.
Sheikhupura was then captured from the Bhattis by the forces of Lehna Singh in 1799. Sheikhupura thus came under the rule of the Sikh Sukherchakia Misl state under Lehna Singh's ally, Ranjit Singh, forcing the Bhatti tribe to retreat to Pindi Bhattian and Jalalpur. Sheikhupura then changed hands several more times, before finally being captured by Ranjit Singh in 1808.
Sheikhupura remained under suzerainty of the Sikh Empire until 1847, when the British seized control of the area. The British imprisoned the last Queen of the Sikh Empire, Maharani Jind Kaur, at the Sheikhpura Fort for ten months until 1848 before ultimately condemning her to exile abroad.
Following establishment of British colonial rule, Bhatti possessions that had been seized by the Sikhs were restored. The large area between the Chenab and Ravi rivers were initially consolidated into a single district with Sheikhupura serving as its first headquarters, until 1851. The area around Sheikhupura attained District status in 1919, with M.M.L. Karry serving as its first administrator.
On the eve of the Partition of British India, Sikhs made up 19% of the district's population. Despite the area's Muslim majority, Sikhs had hoped that the boundary commission would award the area to India, given the proximity of Sheikhupura to the city of Nankana Sahib - revered as the birthplace of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak. The city was spared the large-scale rioting that engulfed Lahore earlier in 1947, and the city's Sikh population did not shift to India before the Radcliffe Line that demarcated the border of the newly independent states of Pakistan and India was announced.
The Sikh population had not made arrangements to leave and remained trapped in the city until 31 August 1947. The city's Sacha Sauda refugee camp hosted upwards of 100,000 Sikh refugees who had come to the city after fleeing nearby Gujranwala and other surrounding areas earlier that year. Fierce violence erupted in the city, and an estimated 10,000 people were killed in Sheikhupura between 16 August and 31 August in communal rioting between Sikhs and Muslims. Large numbers of Sikh women were killed by Sikh men in an attempt to prevent Muslim rioters from reaching them.