Padder valley is the farthest corner of district Kishtwar on touching the Himachal Pradesh, Zanskar valley of Ladakh and Marwah-Wadwan Valley. On the South-Eastern side Paddar is known for sapphire deposits and other forest products like zeera and Guchhi. Although vast areas of the valley is under forest cover yet few villages are also known for producing green dry vegetables pulses such as peas & Rajmash.
No concrete material is available about the early history of Padder. However, it is said that there was no one in Padder till 8th century. It was just a meadow. The people from nearby areas such as Bhaderwah, Lahol and Ladakh were attracted to see the fascinating grazing lands. So., they used to come here to graze their cattles. With the passage of time, they settled here permanently. Some historians say that it was known by the name ‘Palder’ in the beginning. Later the name was changed to Padder.
According to available sources, Padder was under Googay rule, during 10th century. It remained under their rule till 14th century. After 14th century, Padder got separated from Googay rule and divided into smaller parts. These parts were ruled, by smaller Petty Ranas (Rana is an Old Hindu word for a ruler who is less in Power than a Raja). The Ranas of Padder were Rajputs, Every village or every two or three villages used to have a Rana who often fought against the next village Rana.
The area was inhabited mostly by Thakur community. People were serpent worshippers but they observed other Hindu rites and rituals as well. One can see temples of different Nagdevtas or Serpent Gods which are adorned with wood carvings of snakes of many forms. Besides Hindus there are also Muslims and Budhists. The first Muslim came to Padder during the period of Shantar Kantar Rana from Chamba who used to make the pots of soil. The descendants of those Muslims are still living at Atholi and kijai.
In the middle of 17th century A.D chattar Singh, the Raja of Chamba also attacked Padder. He first conquered Pangi from where he advanced with about 200 men to Paddar and annexed it. He constructed a fort after his name as well. The local Ranas could not face the onslaught of Raja Chattar Singh. They accepted his suzeranity and became his tributaries and began to work as his Kardars. The impact of Chatter Singh’s conquest lasted long and Paddar area continued to be the part of Chamba upto 1836. From Chattar Singhs period onward Paddar remained comfortably under the Raja’s of Chamba for five to six generations.
Under the leadership of Ratnu Thakur the people of Paddar attacked Zanskar in 1820 or 1825 (Zanskar was with a Bhot Raja under Ladakh). He made it his tributary. The Bhot Raja agreed to pay 1000 rupees, besides musk bags and other things annually as Nazar (present) to the Chamba Raja.
As soon as Gen. Zorawar Singh reached Kishtwar he heard of an uprising in Ladakh. Therefore, he left for Ladakh via Zanskar. From this route Leh is 275 miles from Kishtwar, Which is the shortest route between these two places. Zanskar area falls enroute Bhot Nullah. The army of Gen. Zorawar Singh entered Zanskar(Ladakh) through Paddar. This time wazir Lakhpat Rai Padyar, who was a trusted officer of Gulab Singh, also joined Zorawar Singh in the second attack on Ladakh. After conquering Ladakh a part of the Army was sent to Zanskar under the command of Wazir Lakhpat Rai and Col. Mehta Basti Ram as Zanskar was not under them till then. After conquering Zanskar, the army returned to Jammu through Paddar. 30 soldiers of Dogra army were kept in Chattar Garh fort to keep in touch with the soldiers fortified in Zanskar. During this period a rebellion broke out in Zánskar and the Dogra soldiers present there were massacred.On hearing the news Ratnu Thakur, who was the highest employee of Chamba Govt. instigated people and caught hold of Dogra soldioers. Some of them were made prisoners and sent to Chamba. This made Gen. Zorawar Singh mad with rage. He intended to attack paddar.
In 1836 Gen. Zorawar Singh along with 3000 soldiers, attacked paddar from Zanskar through Bhot Nullah route. To escape from the onslaught frightened Ratnu demolished the bridge on Chenab. For this reason, the Dogra army had to wait for 3 months. With the help of some local peasants they made a ropeway bridge and crossed the Bhot Nullah and led a furious attack on Chattar Garh. The whole town was set on fire. It was heaps of stone all around. Many people were hanged some were disfigured. A new fort was built in place of Chattar Garh. An officer along with a few soldiers was stationed there for the watch of the fort and Padder became a part of Dogra State. Ratnu was arrested and sent to Jammu, where he remained under detentions for three to four years. Subsequently, he was released and granted an estate in Kishtwar. Those days Padder was under the Tehsildar of Bhardarwah.
After conquering Padder Gen, Zorawar Singh went to Zanskar via Umasi La (Dharlang) about 17370 feet from sea-level to quell the rebellion there. He succeeded in establishing peace. In 1837 a fierce rebellion broke out in Leh and Gen. Zorawar Singh covered the journey from Kishtwar to Leh in about 10 days. In May 1838 Zorawar Singh got a fort built at Chisoti (Paddar) on his way back to Kishtwar.
In 1845, during the rule of Maharaja Gulab Singh, both Paddar and Zanskar were given the status of Tehsil. Later on, when Leh got district status, Ladakh was merged with Leh and Paddar was merged with Tehsil kishtwar during the period of Maharaja Ranbir Singh. In 1963, Paddar was given the status of block by the govt. of J&K. Now, it enjoys the status of a Tehsil.
Courtesy:- Daily Excelsior