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|Holkars Of Indore|
the family name of the Maratha rulers of Indore, was adopted as a
dynastic title. The family was of peasant origin and of shepherd caste.
It is said to have migrated from the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh
to the village of Hol about 65 km. from Pune in Maharashtra. The name
of this village coupled with the Maratha terminal kar (meaning:
an inhabitant of) provided a surname used by all members of the family.
founder of the dynasty was Malhar Rao Holkar (1694-1766), who
rose from peasant origins by his own ability. In 1724, the Peshwa
at Pune,delighted by his soldierly prowess, gave him command of 500
horseback soldiers and appointed him as the Peshwa's chief general
in the Malwa with headquarters at Indore. He was given the previlege
of flying a triangular red and white stripped flag which later became
the ensign of the Holkar house. In 1733, Peshwa gifted him the Indore
area, thereby catapulting him to the ownership of a vast domain stretching
from the Deccan to the Malwa table land. He gradually became independent
of the Peshwa central rule and by the time of his death, he was the
de facto ruler of Malwa.
his death, as his son had died before him (killed by a cannon ball),
he was succeeded by his daughter-in-law Ahilya Bai Holkar.
She ruled from 1767 to 1795 with great skill and understanding. She
governed the state from a palace fort at Maheshwar on the northern
bank of the Narmada river. Sir John Malcolm, in his memoirs of Central
India described her as a "female without vanity... excercising
in the more active and able manner, despotic power with sweet humanity...".
Though Ahilyabai never stayed in Indore, it is in her reign that Indore
grew up into a city. Indore was an island of prosperity in a sea of
voilence. Her rule became proverbial for justice and wisdom. She was
the rare Indian royalty to be deified in her life time. She contributed
a lot to the heritage of India by establishing several religious edifices
remarkable in architecture. The Kashi Vishweswar temple at
Varanasi being notable among them. Her unique pan-indian look is reflected
in the fact that she built Dharmashalas at Badrinath in the
north and Rameshwaram in the south, established Anna Chhatras
at Dwarka in the west, Jagannathpuri in the east, and at Omkareshwar
and Ujjain in central India. She also establishes charitable institutions
at Gaya, Varanasi, Ayodhya, Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar and Pandharpur.
She was at heart a queen of whole India rather than that of the Holkar
kingdom. She died at Maheshwar where a large mousoleum stands in her
The commander of her forces was Tukoji Rao Holkar, of the
same clan but no near relation. On his death in 1797 power was seized
by Tukoji's son Jaswant Rao.
Rao Holkar was a brilliant guerilla leader. After the defeat of
Scindias (of Gwalior) in 1803, he took on the British forces and defeated
Col. William Monson and beseiged Delhi. He was however, defeated by
Gen. Gerard (Lord) Lake at Dig and Farrukhabad in november of 1804,
and was compelled to make peace a year later. Soon after, he became
insane and died in 1811.
1818, Holkars became a part of British India empire, when the British
under Sir John Malcolm defeated the Holkars at Mahidpur. Indore now
became the official capital of the Holkar kingdom with a British Resident
stationed at Indore.
Indore was a participant in the Indian War of Independence
of 1857. The then British resident at Indore - Colonel Henry Durand
had brushed away any possibility of uprising insisting that "there
was not a ripple to break the calm which reigned in Central India".
At eight o'clock on 1st July 1857, mutiny began. Thirty-nine English
subjects were killed and the Resident managed to escape. Indore was
retaken by the British after a few months and Saadat Khan,
who led the mutiny, was tried and sentenced to death.
last four Holkar rulers are often called the Makers of Modern Indore.
Till 1947, when India became independent, Indore was a princely state. After independence, Indore state joined Dominion of India along with hundreds of other princely states. The Holkar dynsty as rulers of Indore formally came to an end when former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi abolished the state pension of all the ex-ruler families. Even now, the Holika (firewood burnt of the eve of Holi festival) in front of Rajbada is lit by members of Holkar family.
Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica, "HOLKAR".