Spreading of Bubonic Plague and its Consequences in Punjab in 1616 AD


Bubonic plague broke out in the Punjab in 1616. It spread to Sirhind and the Doab as far as Delhi. Jahangir has described the disease in these words: “When it was about to break out, a mouse would run out of its hole as if mad, and striking itself against the door and walls of the house, would expire. If immediately after this signal, the occupants left the house and went to he jungle, their lives were saved; if otherwise, the inhabitants of the whole village would be swept by the hand of death.”

“If any person touched the dead or even the cloths of a dead man, he also could not survive the fatal attack. The effect of the epidemic was comparatively more severe upon the Hindus. In Lahore, its ravages were so great that in one house 10 to 20 persons would die, and their surviving neighbours annoyed by the stench, would be compelled to desert their houses full of habitations.

The dead were left locked, and no person dare to go near them through fear of his life. It was also very severe in Kashmir where its effect was so great that a Darvesh who had performed the last said offices of washing the corpse of a friend, the very next day was met the same fate.


A cow, which had fed upon the grass in which the body of the man was washed, also died. The dogs also, which ate the flesh of the cow fell dead upon the spot. In Hindustan ic place was free from this visitation which continued to devastate the country for a space of e!fe.!’t years.”

The plague broke out in Agra in 1618-19 and spread to all the surrounding areas. About 100 persons died every day. Both rich and the poor were affected. In spite of heavy mortality, the State did not devise any methods to check the deaths.

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