Indore History

Holkar Dynasty IndoreThe history of Indore moves round the continuous strive between the Mughals, Marathas and the Britisheres who were struggling to gain the dominance of Central India. The land lords and the zamindar (landlord) of the Malwa region had the full control over the region and made their headquarters at Kampel village. Among them Rao Nandlal Choudhary was Chief Zamindar and was founder of Indore. During his visit to Indershwar on bank of Saraswati river, Rao Nandlal found the location at confluence of Khan & Saraswati rivers, strategically important and safe from enemies as it was surrounded by river from all sides. He decided to made a fort their called Shree Sansthan Bada Rawala and settle down with his people. During that time he had army of 2000 soldiers. Derived from Lord Indreshwar, city was earlier named Indrapur which become Indore with the passage to time. The landlords and there families led a very luxurious and a Royal life. In Mughals time they were awarded with title called "Chaudhari" which means they had claim over land. They controlled the area till 18th centuary.

Holkar Dynasty Rulers With the appointment of Nizam as controller of Deccan plateau region, struggle between Mughals & Marathas became more severe. Malwa was in route of Marathas to travel from Deccan to North India. With the proceeding of 18th centuary, Marathas became powerful in this area. In the same time relation of Nandlal Chaudhary with Mughals also became bitter. Nandlal Chaudhary decided to go with Marathas and he allowed Maratha forces led by Malhar Rao Holkar Baji Rao Peshwa took control of Malwa in 1733 AD. During this time Chaudharis were named "Mandloi" which means controller of Mandals (District) as regions is divided between small Mandals. Each Mandal has one Mandloi. Peshwas appointed Malhar Rao Holkar (1694 - 1766) as "Subhedar" means chief-controller of Subhe (region). From here Holkar's reign in Malwa begins. Indore came under rule of Holkar dynasty.Emblem if Holkar dynasty is given above in fig.1.

Malhar Rao Holkar's son died in 1754 and after 12 years in 1766, Malhar Rao Holkar passed away. After that, Rani Ahilya Bai succeeded the throne and started ruling from Maheshwar fort in Maheshwar. Holkar Dynasty Indore She was very religious and architectural patron ruler. Her rule lasts from 1767 to 1795. In 1818, Holkars were defeated by British forces in Third Anglo-Maratha Battle. During that time Holkars are led by Queen Krishnabai Holkar. They were defeated at Mahidpur and signed a treaty in Mandsaur according to which Mhow Cantonment was handed over to British forces and capital of Holkar state was shifted from Maheshwar to Indore. In 1947, after India's independence, Indore became part of Indian state of Madhya Bharat. Indore was designated as summer capital of Madhya Pradesh. Later in 01/Nov./1965, Madhya Bharat was merged into Madhya Pradesh State and Bhopal became capital of state. Now a days, Indore is considered as commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh state.

Holkar Rulers Ruling Years (AD)
Malhar Rao Holkar
1694 - 1766
Ahilya Bai Holkar
1767 - 1795
Tukoji Rao Hoklar
1795 - 1797
Yashwant Rao Holkar
1797 - 1811
Malhar Rao Hokar-III
1811 - 1833
Martand Rao Hoklar
1834 - 1843
Khande Rao Hoklar
1843 - 1844
Tukoji Rao Holkar-II
1844 - 1886
Shivaji Rao Holkar
1886 - 1903
Tukoji Rao Hoklar-III
1903 - 1926
Yashwant Rao Holkar-II
1926 - 1961
Shobhagyavati Usha Devi
1961 onwards
History of Indore is incomplete without knowing about Holkar dynasty. It was Malhar Rao Holkar (16/Mar/1693 - 20/May/1966) who established Holkar Dynasty in Malwa region of Central India. Image of Malhar Rao Holkar is given above in fig.3. He was first Maratha subedar of Malwa region. He was born in shepherd family at Hol village in Pune district and rose to a level of ruler of Indore. In 1724, Peshwa appointed him to collect revenue from Malwa region. In 1728, he was granted jagir of 11 Palaces. In 1730, he was appointed as Chief of Army & Sarjami of 74 Parganas. In November 1731, he was granted 2 regions of Malwa and this way he laid down the foundation of Holkar Dynasty. In 1734, Nandlal Mandloi allowed access to Malhar Rao and he established camp accross Khan river, now a day's known as Malharganj. In 1747, construction of Rajwada begins. After death of Malhar Rao in 1766, his daughter in law Rani Ahilya Bai ruled the region till 1795. She has great interest in building hindu temples across north India like at Dwarka in Gujarat, Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi and many temples in Maheshwar etc. Holkar's lost the war of Mahidpur in 1818 under leadership of Malhar Rao Holkar-III and signed a treaty with Britisher forces. In 1948, under leadership of Yashwant Rao-II they joined independent India and their rule was over.

RANI AHILYA BAI HOLKAR (31 May 1725 - 13 Aug.1795)
Rani Ahilya Bai Holkar If we study the who Holkar dynasty and their ruling period, two names came out prominently Malhar Rao Holkar who founded Holkar dynasty and Rani Ahilya Bai Holkar (daughter-in-law) who succeeded Malhar Rao. She ruled from 11/Dec/1768 to 13/Aug/1795 till death. Being a religious lady and her deep interest in building temples, free-lodging-houses and other social works, she is known as philosopher queen of Holkar dynasty and compared with Elizabeth-I of England, Catherine-II of Russia.

Ahilyabai was born in village Chaundi at Jamkhed in Ahmednagar of Maharashtra state. Later she was married to Khanderao Holkar in 1733, who was son of Malhar Rao Holkar. Khanderao killed in battle of Kumbher in 1754 which made her to spend life of a widow. Later in 1767, after 12 years, Malhar Rao Holkar passed away. Her son was too small to rule successfully so she took active part in ruling the kingdom. She personally led her army in many battles. She was trained in both administrative & military matters by Malhar Rao. She is famous for her sense for justice and impartial nature. In a case where her only son was accused of putting poisonous scorpions into shoes of her subjects which resulted into deaths, Ahilya Bai Holkar ordered severe punishment to her own son. He was executed under the elephant feet.

Rani Ahilya Bai Holkar has deep interest in building activities. She made Maheshwar as her capital and ruled from Maheshwar fort. During her rule Many temples constructed or rebuild (damaged by Mughal forces). She built forts, roads, free-lodging houses etc in Malwa region and also sponsored many fairs & festivals. Here social work area was spreaded from Himalaya to South India. Many poets and writers of that time have written about her active part in social activites, administration, public satisfaction & prosperity under her rule. She was truly an able ruler, a great queen and a magnificent human being.

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