Date: September 12, 1897

Location: Saragarhi, North-West Frontier Province (now in Pakistan)


  • British Indian Army (specifically the 36th Sikhs, a regiment of the British Indian Army)
  • Afghan tribesmen (primarily the Orakzai and Afridi tribes)


The Battle of Saragrahi, fought on September 12, 1897, is a testament to the indomitable spirit and unwavering courage of a small group of soldiers who stood their ground against overwhelming odds. This historic battle took place in the region of Saragrahi, in present-day Pakistan, during the period of British rule in India.

The story begins with the British Empire extending its control over various parts of India. The region of Saragrahi, situated on the Samana Range in the North-West Frontier Province, was strategically important due to its proximity to the border with Afghanistan. The British constructed a series of forts along the border to maintain control and establish a strong presence in the region.

One of these forts was Fort Lockhart, which was located at the highest point of the Samana Range. To further strengthen their control, the British built a smaller outpost, Saragrahi, between Fort Lockhart and Fort Gulistan. This outpost housed a contingent of 21 Sikh soldiers from the 36th Sikh Regiment, under the command of Havildar Ishar Singh.

The Battle:

On that fateful morning of September 12, a force of over 10,000 Afghan tribesmen, led by Gul Badshah, surrounded the outpost. The Sikhs, vastly outnumbered and cut off from any reinforcements, knew that they were facing certain death. However, they refused to surrender and resolved to fight till their last breath.

The battle began with a fierce assault from the Afghan tribesmen. The Sikhs, armed with rifles and ammunition, defended their position with remarkable skill and bravery. Despite being vastly outnumbered, they held their ground and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy.

As the battle raged on, the Sikhs fought with unwavering determination. They repelled wave after wave of attacks, never once wavering in their resolve. Their valor and resilience became a source of inspiration for soldiers across the world.

Tragically, after several hours of intense fighting, the fort was ultimately overrun by the Afghan tribesmen. The last surviving Sikh soldier, Havildar Ishar Singh, fought till his last breath, refusing to surrender. The Battle of Saragrahi resulted in the death of all 21 Sikh soldiers, but their sacrifice was not in vain.


The British recognized the bravery of the 36th Sikhs. All 21 soldiers who defended Saragarhi were posthumously awarded the Indian Order of Merit, the highest military award given to Indian troops at the time. This act of collective bravery by the Sikhs at Saragarhi is remembered as one of the most heroic last stands in military history.

The battle is still celebrated annually as Saragarhi Day by the Sikh Regiment of the Indian Army.

The story of the battle has been the subject of various books, documentaries, and films, serving as a lasting testament to unparalleled bravery and sacrifice.

The Battle of Saragrahi has come to symbolize the ideals of bravery, sacrifice, and courage in the face of adversity. It serves as a reminder of the heroism displayed by the Sikh soldiers and their commitment to duty.

Today, the site of the Battle of Saragrahi is marked by a memorial in honor of the fallen soldiers. It serves as a constant reminder of their sacrifice and is a place of pilgrimage for people from all walks of life.

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