Gujranwala city appears to be 500 years old. The origin of the name Gujranwala is shrouded in mists of time. The first name of the settlement according to the compilers of the first edition of the district Gazette was khanpur Shansi after an individual of the JAT cast called Khan Shansi who founded 11 villages in the nearby area. For some reason the Jaat Tribe Gujar occupied the land. They reach such dominance that the town came to be known as Gujranwala. It seems likely that the district once contained the capital of the Punjab, at an epoch when Lahore had not begun to exist. We learn from the Chinese Buddhist pilgrim, Hsuan Tsang, that about the year 630 he visited a town known as Tse-kia (or Taki), the metropolis of the whole country of the five rivers. A mound near the modern village of Asarur has been identified as the site of the ancient capital. Until the Mahommedan invasions little is known of Gujranwala, except that Taki had fallen into oblivion and Lahore had become the chief city. ‘Under Mahommedan rule the district flourished for a time; but a mysterious depopulation fell upon the tract, and the whole region seems to have been almost entirely abandoned. The Compilers of the district Gazetteer Gujranwala date this name to Approximately 300 years, giving us a rough estimate of the middle of the 16th century . Other smaller town in the vicinity for example Sohdara Eminabad Wazirabad and Ghakhar have older antecedent than Gujranwala itself. In the indispensable 1969 Essay ” Gujranwala ; past and present ” Dr.Waheed Quereshi names four villages in the Vicinity at the time of Abdalies invasion i.e. in the late 18th century.
1. Sirai Kachi: a European merchant in the area in 1608 A.D. mentioned in his memorial book a place he calls Coojes Serai. Before finch there is a very little evidence in history of Sirai Kachi . by the late 18th century it was a wagon stop village and a graveyard. Probably the antecedent of Chaman Shah graveyard in existence today.
2. Sirai Gujran : this village existed in the area inside the current Khiyaaly Gate in the city. Hafiz Abdul haq in his ” Tareekh-e-Gujranwala” and ” Molvi Adbul Malik in his ” Shahan-e-Gujran” mention Sirai Gujran.
3. Sirai Kambohaan: Charat Singh a Sikh leader built a Mud Fort here in 1758.
4. Thatta : this village existed between the current railway line and the G.T. Road. Charat Singh son Mahaan Singh develop this village
Sikh Period: 1762-1849 A.D.
The Sikhs established their Empire in the Punjab after the death of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir in 1707. With the death of Aurangzeb the country saw a series of rapid governmental changes that stressed it in to the depths of anarchy. Taking advantage of this certain Charat Singh, who was the head of one of the Sikh Clans, established his stronghold in Gujranwala in 1763. Charat Singh died in 1774 and was succeeded by his son, Mahan Singh, who in turn fathered the most brilliant leader in the history of the Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It was this short scattered man, addicted to strong drink, unlettered; blind in one eye who united the Punjab under one flag. His rule stretched from the banks of the Gambian to the Khyber and from Kashmir to Multan. Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the most powerful of all the Sikh Rulers and ruled over for complete 40 years. After his death in 1840 the Sikh Empire was divided into small principalities looked after by several Sikh Jagirdars. This weak situation provided a good opportunity to the British of East India Company to put an end to the Sikh strong hold in the Punjab in 1849.
British Period: 1849-1947 A.D.
The area was annexed by the British in 1849. The Deputy Commissioner of that time Sir Bernardth Rebuilt the “Sialkoti Gate” , “Lahore Gate” and “Khiyaaly Gate”. A railway line was built along G.T. Road which then was moved 100 yards towards the Eastern Punjab in 1881. That railway line interconnected Gujranwala with other cities of Punjab and made the commercial trade between cities more convenient. British ruled the city until Pakistan’s independence in 1947.After Independence
After the distribution of subcontinent India, all the Sikhs and the Hindus migrated to India and the Muslim pilgrims of the Eastern Indian-Punjab moved to Gujranwala.