The Alha Khand (c. 12th Century) is an early poetic work in Hindi which consists of a number of ballads describing the brave acts of two Banaphar Rajput heroes, Alha and Udal. This work has been entirely handed down by oral tradition and presently exists in many recensions, which differ from one another both in language and subject matter. The Bundeli, the Bagheli, the Awadhi, the Bhojpuri and the Kannauji recensions are the most well known among these. The original language of this work has been continuously modernized over the centuries to suit the dialect of the reciter and it has been lost wholly in this process. This epical work was probably written by Jagnayak (or Jagnik), a contemporary to Chand Bardai and the court poet of Chandela ruler Paramardi Deva (Parmal) of Mahoba in Bundelkhand. This work is also known as the Parmal Raso. The work was written in the Alha metre.
The ballads from this work are still sung during the monsoons by the professional bardic singers (known as the Alhets) in various parts of northern India, mostly in Bihar, eastern Uttar Pradesh and northern Madhya Pradesh. No manuscript of this text has been found so far. In 1865, Charles Elliott compiled a recension by collating various oral versions into 23 cantos and this recension was the basis of the first printed edition in 1871. Later George Abraham Grierson enlarged this recension with additional inputs. Portions of this recension was translated into English ballad metre by William Waterfield, under the title of The Nine-Lakh Chain or the Maro Feud (1876). Later, this translation, along with the abstracts of the untranslated portions and an introduction written by Grierson was published under the title of The Lay of Alha: A Saga of Rajput Chivalry as Sung by Minstrels of Northern India (1923).
The heroes of this poem are two brothers, Alha and Udal (or Udan), the generals of Parmal’s army who fought in the battle of Mahoba between Prithviraj III and Parmal in c.1182. The narration begins with the early exploits of Alha and Udal. They fought with the Karingarai (or Kalingarai) and killed him to avenge the killings of their father Dassaraj (or Dasraj) and uncle Baccharaj. Later they fought the battle of Mahoba. According to the Bhojpuri and the Kannauji recensions, Alha married Sonvati (Sonva), the princess of Nainagarh (Chunar), while according to the some other Western Hindi recensions he married Macchil, the daughter of Raghomacch of Haridwar. Apart from Alha and Udal, the brave deeds of other heroes like Malkhan and Sulkhan (the sons of Baccharaj), Brahamjit (the son of Parmal) and Talhan Syed are also described in this work. This work narrates the details of fifty-two wars in total.
- A website on the Alha Khand (in Hindi).
- Mishra, Pt. Lalita Prasad (2007). Alhakhand (in Hindi) (15 ed.). Lucknow (India): Tejkumar Book Depot (Pvt) Ltd. p. 614.