Gwalior State

Gwalior State

Gwalior State was an Indian kingdom ruled by the Sindhia dynasty. The state took its name from the old town of Gwalior, which, although never the actual capital, was an important place because of its strategic location and the strength of its fort. The state was founded in the early 18th century by Ranoji Sindhia as part of the Maratha Confederacy. Under Mahadji Sindhia (1761-1794) Gwalior State became a leading power in northern India, and dominated the affairs of the confederacy. The Anglo-Maratha Wars brought Gwalior State under British suzerainty, and it became a princely state of British India. Gwalior was the largest princely state in the Central India Agency, under the political supervision of a Resident at Gwalior. In 1936, the Gwalior residency was separated from the Central India Agency, and made answerable directly to the Governor-General of India. After Indian Independence in 1947, the Sindhia rulers acceded to the Government of India, and Gwalior state was absorbed into the new Indian state of Madhya Bharat.


The state had a total area of 64,856 km² (25,041 square miles), and was composed of several detached portions, but was roughly divided into two, the Gwalior or Northern section, and the Malwa section. The northern section consists of a compact block of territory with an area of 44,082 km² (17,020 square miles), lying between 22º10' and 26º52' N. and 74º38' and 79º8' E. It was bounded on the north, northeast, and northwest by the Chambal River, which separates it from the native states of Dholpur, Karauli, and Jaipur in the Rajputana Agency; on the east by the British districts of Jalaun and Jhansi in the United Provinces, and by Saugor District in the Central Provinces; on the south by the states of Bhopal, Khilchipur, and Rajgarh, and by the Sironj pargana of Tonk State; and on the west by the states of Jhalawar, Tonk, and Kotah in the Rajputana Agency.

The Malwa section, which included the city of Ujjain, had an area of 20,774 km² (8021 square miles). It was made up of several detached districts, between which portions of other states were interposed, and which were themselves intermingled in bewildering intricacy.


in 1761 and put to death, and Mahadji succeeded.

Mahadji Sindhia (1761-1794)

Madhavrao I, popularly known as Mahadji, and his successor Daulatrao took a leading part in shaping the history of India during their rule. Mahadji returned from the Deccan to Malwa in 1764, and by 1769 reestablished his power there. In 1772 Madhavrao Peshwa died, and in the struggles which ensued Mahadji took an important part, and seized every chance of increasing his power and augmenting his possessions. In 1775 Raghoba Dada Peshwa threw himself on the protection of the British. The reverses which Sindhia's forces met with at the hands of Colonel Goddard after his famous march from Bengal to Gujarat (1778) the fall of Gwalior to Major Popham (1780), and the night attack by Major Camac, opened his eyes to the strength of the new power which had entered the arena of Indian politics. In 1782 the Treaty of Salbai was made with Sindhia, the chief stipulations being that he should withdraw to Ujjain, and the British north of the Yamuna, and that he should negotiate treaties with the other belligerents. The importance of the treaty can scarcely be exaggerated. It made the British arbiters of peace in India and virtually acknowledged their supremacy, while at the same time Sindhia was recognized as an independent chief and not as a vassal of the Peshwa. A resident, Mr. Anderson (who had negotiated the treaty) was at the same time appointed to Sindhia's court.

Sindhia took full advantage of the system of neutrality pursued by the British to establish his supremacy over Northern India. In this he was assisted by the genius of Benoît de Boigne, whose influence in consolidating the power of Mahadji Sindhia is seldom estimated at its true value. He was a Savoyard, a native of Chambery, who had served under Lord Clare in the famous Irish Brigade and Fontenoy and elsewhere and who after many vicissitudes, including imprisonment by the Turks, reached India and for a time held a commission in the 6th Madras Infantry. After resigning his commission he had proposed to travel overland to Russia, but was prevented by the loss of his possessions and papers, stolen, it appears, at the instigation of Mahadji, who was suspicious of his intentions. De Boigne finally entered Mahadji's service, and by his genius for organization and command in the field, was instrumental in establishing the Maratha supremacy. Commencing with two battalions of Infantry, he ultimately increased Sindhia's regular forces to three brigades. With these troops Sindhia became a power in northern India.

In 1785 Sindhia reinstated the Mughal emperor Shah Alam II on his throne at Delhi, receiving in return the title of deputy "Vakil-ul-Mutlak" or vice-regent of the Empire, that of "Vakil-ul-Mutlak" being at his request conferred on the Peshwa, his master, as he was pleased to designate him. Many of the principal feudal lords of the empire refused to pay tribute to Sindhia. Sindhia launched an expedition against the Raja of Jaipur, but withdrew after the inconclusive Battle of Lalsot in 1787. On June 17 1788 Sindhia's armies defeated Ismail Beg, a Mughal noble who resisted the Marathas. The Afghan chief Ghulam Kadir, Ismail Beg's ally, took over Delhi, and deposed and blinded the Emperor Shah Alam, placing a puppet on the Delhi throne. Sindhia intervened, taking possession of Delhi on October 2, restoring Shah Alam to the throne and acting as his protector. Mahadji sent de Boigne to crush the forces of Jaipur at Patan (June 20 1790) and the armies of Marwar at Merta on September 10 1790. After the peace made with Tipu Sultan in 1792, Sindhia successfully exerted his influence to prevent the completion of a treaty between the British, the Nizam of Hyderabad, and the Peshwa, directed against Tipu. In the same year Sindhia carried out the investiture of the Peshwa with the insignia of "Vakil-ul-Mutlak". During the ceremony he professed the greatest humility, even insisting on bearing the Peshwa's slippers, as his father had served an earlier Peshwa. The old Maratha nobles, however, were disgusted, and refused to attend or offer the usual complimentary gifts to Sindhia. De Boigne defeated the forces of Tukaji Holkar at Lakheri on 1 June 1793. Mahadji was now at the zenith of his power, when all his schemes for further aggrandizement were cut short by his sudden death in 1794 at Wanowri near Pune.

Daulatrao Sindhia (1794-1827)

Mahadji left no heir, and was succeeded by Daulat Rao, a grandson of his brother Tukaji, who was scarcely 15 years of age at the time. Daulat Rao looked upon himself as the chief sovereign in India and not as member of the Maratha Confederacy. At this time the death of the young Peshwa, Madhu Rao II (1795), and the troubles which it occasioned, the demise of Tukaji Holkar and the rise of the turbulent Yashwant Rao Holkar, together with the intrigues of Nana Fadnavis, threw the country into confusion and enabled Sindhia to gain the ascendancy. He also came under the influence of Sarje Rao Ghatke, the most unprincipled scoundrel of his day, whose daughter he had married (1798). Urged possibly by this adviser, Daulat Rao aimed at increasing his dominions at all costs, and seized territory from the Maratha Ponwars of Dhar and Dewas. The rising power of Yashwant Rao Holkar of Indore, however, alarmed him. In July 1801, Yashwant Rao appeared before Sindhia's capital of Ujjain, and after defeating some battalions under John Hessing, extorted a large sum from its inhabitants, but did not ravage the town. In October, however, Sarje Rao Ghatke took revenge by sacking Indore, razing it almost to the ground, and practicing every form of atrocity on its inhabitants. From this time dates the "gardi-ka-wakt", or 'period of unrest', as it is still called, during which the whole of central India was overrun by the armies of Sindhia and Holkar and their attendant predatory Pindari bands, under Amir Khan and others. De Boigne had retired in 1796; and his successor, Pierre Cuillier-Perron, was a man of a very different stamp, whose determined favouritism of French officers, ind defiance of all claims to promotion, produced discontent in the regular corps.

Finally, on December 31, 1802, the Peshwa signed the Treaty of Bassein, by which the British were recognized as the paramount power in India. The continual evasion shown by Sindhia in all attempts at negotiation brought him into conflict with the British, and his power was completely destroyed in both western and northern India by the British victories at Ahmadnagar, Assaye, Asirgarh, and Laswari. His famous brigades were annihilated and his military power irretrievably broken. On December 30, 1803, he signed the Treaty of Sarji Anjangaon, by which he was obliged to give up his possessions between the Yamuna and the Ganges, the district of Bharuch, and other lands in the south of his dominions; and soon after by the Treaty of Burhanpur he agreed to maintain a subsidiary force to be paid for out of the revenues of territory ceded by the treaty. By the ninth article of the Treaty of Sarji Anjangaon he was deprived of the fortresses of Gwalior and Gohad, The discontent produced by the last condition almost caused a rupture, and did actually result in the plundering of the Resident's camp and detention of the Resident as a prisoner. In 1805, under the new policy of Lord Cornwallis, Gohad and Gwalior were restored, and the Chambal River was made the northern boundary of the state, while certain claims on Rajput states were abolished, the British government at the same time binding itself to enter into no treaties with Udaipur, Jodhpur, Kotah, or any chief tributary to Sindhia in Malwa, Mewar, or Marwar. In 1811, Daulat Rao annexed the neighboring kingdom of Chanderi. In 1816 Sindhia was called on to assist in the suppression of the Pindaris. For some time it was doubtful what line he would take, but he ultimately signed the Treaty of Gwalior in 1817 by which he promised full cooperation. He did not, however, act up to his professions, and connived at the retention of the fort of Asirgarh, which had been ceded by the treaty. A fresh treaty in 1818 effected a readjustment of boundaries, Ajmer and other lands being ceded.sagar suresh shinde.

Jankojirao II Sindhia (1827-1843)

In 1827 Daulat Rao died, leaving no son or adopted heir. His widow, Baiza Bai, adopted Mukut Rao, a boy of eleven belonging to a distant but legitimate branch of the family, who succeeded as Jankojirao Sindhia. Jankojirao was a weak ruler and feuds were constant at his court, while the army was in a chronic state of mutiny. Upon his succession, difficulties arose as to whether the Bai should ruler in her own right or as regent, and her behaviour towards the young king finally caused a rise in feeling in his favour which impelled the Bai to take refuge in British territory. She returned after an interval and lived at Gwalior till her death in 1862. The chief's maternal uncle, known as Mama Sahib, had meanwhile become minister. The most important event during this period was the readjustment of the terms for maintaining the contingent force raised under the treaty of 1817.

Jayajirao Sindhia (1843-1886)

Jankojirao died in 1843; and in the absence of an heir, his widow Tara Bai adopted Bhagirath Rao, a son of Hanwant Rao, commonly called Babaji Sindhia. He succeeded under the name of Jayajirao Sindhia, the Mama Sahib being chosen as regent. Tara Bai, however, came under the influence of Dada Khasgiwala, the comptroller of her household, an unscrupulous adventurer who wished to get all power into his own hands. A complicated series of intrigues followed, which it is impossible to unravel. The Dada, however, succeeded in driving Mama Sahib from the state and became minister. He filled all appointments with his relatives, and matters rapidly passed from bad to worse, ending in the assemblage of large bodies of troops who threatened an attack on Sironj, where Mama Sahib was then residing. War was impending in the Punjab, and, as it was essential to secure peace, the British Government decided to interfere. Colonel Sleeman, the Resident, was withdrawn, and the surrender of Dada Khasgiwala was demanded.

A British force under Sir Hugh Gough moved on Gwalior, and crossed the Chambal in December 1843. On December 29 followed the simultaneous battles of Panniar and Maharajpur, in which the Gwalior army was annihilated. A treaty was then made, under which certain lands to the value of 18 lakhs, including Chanderi District, were ceded for the upkeep of a contingent force, besides other lands for the liquidation of the expenses incurred in the late war, the State army was reduced, and a Council of Regency was appointed during the minority, to act under the residents advice.

In 1852 Dinkar Rao became minister, and under his able management radical reforms were introduced into every department of the administration. Srimant Maharaja Jayavirao (also called as Maharaj Jayajirao saheb Shinde) wasin favor to have a fight with British army, but the ministers of the state provided the fact that no one can beat English power without a solid modernized well trained army and 10 folds storage of grains and water. Unfortunately in the year 1856 and 1857 there was no rain in the chambal region. To save the lives of farmers and other peoples Srimant Maharaja Saheb Shinde played a two faced role in the first war of Independence. Srimant Maharaja Jayajirao Saheb Shinde of Gwalior gave his army , Guns, Ammunations, canons and other things like jweles, money and fort to Laxmibai and fled to Agra with his nobelmen. To show English power that he has come under their protection. But on June 19, Gwalior was captured by Sir Hugh Rose and Maharaja sri Jayajirao was reinstated. For his services lands worth 3 lakhs per year, including the portion of Chanderi District west of the Betwa River, were made over, and he was allowed to increase his infantry from 3000 to 5000 men, and his artillery from 32 to 36 guns.and sagar suresh shinde.

Development in the Gwalior State

Srimant Maharaja sahab Jayajirao Shinde was the Founder of Development in Gwalior after 1857 and worked for the peoples of gwalior to establish their own business. He was a very good artist of Gwalior Gharana Classical Music and opened a school for learning music. The Gwalior got its music in his regein. It was his sole efforts that made Gwalior the most advanced city of India.GCB - Knight Grand Cross Order of the Bath (medal 1.1.1877), GCSI - (25.6.1861), CIE (1.1.1878). In 1872 the state lent 75 lakhs for the construction of the Agra-Gwalior portion of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway, and a similar amount in 1873 for the Indore-Nimach section of the Rajputana-Malwa railway. A personal salute of 21 guns was conferred in 1877, and Jayajirao became a Counsellor of the Empress and later on a GCB and CIE. In 1882 land was ceded by the state for the Midland section of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway.

In 1885 Gwalior fort and Morar cantonment, with some other villages, which had been held by British troops since 1858, were exchanged for Jhansi city.

Madhavrao II Sindhia (1886-1925)

Jayaji Rao died in 1886 and was succeeded by his son, Madhav Rao Sindhia, then a boy in his tenth year. A council of Regency conducted the administration until 1894, when the Maharaja obtained powers. He took a deep and active interest in the administration of the state, and had a comprehensive grasp of the work done in each department. In 1900 the Maharaja went to China during the war, at the same time presenting a hospital ship for the accommodation of the wounded.

George Jiyajirao Sindhia (1925-1948)

George Jivajirao Sindhia ruled the state of Gwalior as absolute monarch until shortly after India's independence on August 15, 1947. The rulers of Indian princely states were required to accede to either of the two dominions (India and Pakistan) created by the India Independence Act 1947. Jivajirao signed a covenant with the rulers of the adjoining princely states that united their several states form a new state within the union of India known as Madhya Bharat. This new covenanted state was to be governed by a council headed by a ruler to be known as the "Rajpramukh". Madhya Bharat signed a fresh Instrument of Accession with the Indian dominion effective June 15, 1948. Jivajirao became the first rajpramukh, or appointed governor, of the state on 28 May 1948. He served as "Rajpramukh" until October 31, 1956, when the state was merged into Madhya Pradesh.

1940 Population and Area

In 1940 Gwalior State had 4,006,159 inhabitants and an area of 26,008 square miles. [Columbia-Lippincott Gazeteer, p. 740]


For administrative purposes the state was divided into two "prants" or divisions; Northern Gwalior and Malwa. Northern Gwalior comprised seven "zilas" or districts: Gwalior Gird, Bhind, Sheopur, Tonwarghar, Isagarh, Bhilsa, and Narwar. The Malwa Prant comprises four zilas, Ujjain, Mandsaur, Shajapur, and Amjhera. The "zilas" were subdivided into parganas, the villages in a pargana being grouped into circles, each under a patwari.

The administration of the state was controlled by the Maharaja, assisted by the Sadr Board. This Board consisted of seven members, the Maharaja himself being president and the members being in charge of different departments, of which the most important were the Revenue, Land Records and Settlement, Forest, Accounts, Public Works, Customs, and Post Office. The Maharaja had no minister, but a staff of secretaries, supervised by a chief secretary, prepared cases for the final orders of the Maharaja. The zilas were overseen by "subahs", or district magistrates; in Northern Gwalior, the "subahs" answered directly to the Sadr Board, while in Malwa, a "Sar Subah" was in general charge of the Malwa "prant", and controlled and oversaw the work of the four Malwa "subahs".

The numerous feudal estates under Gwalior were administered by the local rulers, and were outside the administration of the "zilas" and "prants". The small estates (thakurs or diwans) of Dharmaoda, Sirsi, Khiaoda, Kathaun, and Agra Barkhera were nominally under the authority of Gwalior state, but the British Resident had certain administrative and judicial powers.


* sagarrao sureshrao shinde.
* Hunter, William Wilson, Sir, et al (1908). "Imperial Gazetteer of India", Volume 12. 1908-1931; Clarendon Press, Oxford.
* Markovits, Claude (ed.) (2004). "A History of Modern India: 1480-1950". Anthem Press, London.

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