Monday, August 24, 2009

Indore Collector agrees for INTACH proposal

Dear members
Today we had a meeting with the indore collector Mr Rakesh Shrivastav.
from INTACH the meeting was attended by Mr Bhalu Mondhe, Mr Deepak Chawala, Mr Sumit Rawat, and Himanshu Dudwadkar. the collector has seen the proposal for the cultural museum along with office bearers from Indore Nagar Nigam, I.D.A,and P.W.D. the initial proposal has been agreed by the committee.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

the maratha empire

Rulers Shivaji - Sambhaji - Raja Ram - Tarabai - Shahu - Ramaraja
Peshwas: Balaji Vishwanath - Bajirao - Balaji Bajirao - Madhavrao Ballal - Narayanrao - Raghunathrao - Sawai Madhavrao - Bajirao II - Nana Sahib

Battles Battle of Pratapgarh - Battle of Kolhapur - Battle of Pavan Khind - Battle of Surat - Battle of Sinhagad - Battle of Palkhed - Battle of Mandsaur - First Battle of Delhi - Battle of Vasai - Battle of Trichinopolly - Expeditions in Bengal - Third Battle of Panipat - Battle of Rakshabhuvan - Battle of Panchgaon - Battle of Gajendragad - Battle of Patan - Battle of Kharda - Battle of Poona - Battle of Delhi - Battle of Assaye - Battle of Laswari - Battle of Farrukhabad - Battle of Bharatpur - Battle of Khadki - Battle of Koregaon - Battle of Mahidpur
Anglo-Maratha Wars (First · Second · Third)

Maratha Confederacy Peshwa of Poona - Bhonsle of Nagpur - Gaekwad of Baroda - Sindhia of Gwalior - Holkar of Indore

Adversaries Adilshahi - Mughal Empire - Durrani Empire - British Empire

Forts Lohagad - Panhala fort - Pratapgad - Raigad - Ratangad - Sindhudurg - Sinhagad

Holkar Maharajas of Indore

1.Malharrao Holkar (I) (r. 2 November 1693 - 19 May 1766 CE)
2.Malerao Khanderao Holkar (r. 23 August 1766 - 5 April 1767 CE)
3.Punyaslok Rajmata Ahilyadevi Holkar (as a regent) (r. 5 April 1767 - 13 August 1795 CE)
4.Tukojirao Holkar (I) (r. 13 August 1795 - 29 January 1797 CE)
5.Kashirao Tukojirao Holkar(r. 29 January 1797 - 1798CE)
6.Yashwantrao Holkar (I) (r. 1798 - 27.11.1811 CE)
7.Malharrao Yashwantrao Holkar (III) (r. November 1811 - 27 October 1833 CE)
8.Martandrao Malharrao Holkar (r. 17 January 1834 - 2 February 1834 CE)
9.Harirao Vitthojirao Holkar (r. 17 April 1834 - 24 October 1843 CE)
10.Khanderao Harirao Holkar (III) (r. 13 November 1843 - 17 February 1844 CE)
11.Tukojirao Gandharebhau Holkar (II) (r. 27 June 1844 - 17 June 1886 CE)
12.Shivajirao Tukojirao Holkar (r. 17 June 1886 - 31 January 1903 CE)
13.Tukojirao Shivajirao Holkar (III) (r. 31 January 1903 - 26 February 1926 CE)
14.Yashwantrao Holkar (II) (r. 26 February 1926 - 1961)
15.Usha Devi Maharani Sahiba Holkar XV Bahadur, Maharani of Indore (r. 1961 - present)

Establishment of Holkar rule

Malharrao Holkar (born 1694, died 1766) established the family's rule over Indore. He commanded Maratha armies in Malwa region in the 1720s, and in 1733 was granted the Indore state as a fief by the Peshwa. By the time of his death, he ruled much of Malwa, and was acknowledged as one of the five virtually independent rulers of the Maratha Cconfederacy.

He was succeeded by Rajmata Ahilya Devi Holkar (reigned 1767-1795), his daughter-in-law. She was born in the village 'Chaundi' in Maharashtra. She moved the capital to Maheshwar, south of Indore on the Narmada River. Rani Ahilyadevi was a great builder and patron of many Hindu temples, who embellished Maheshwar and Indore. She also built temples at sacred sites outside her kingdom, from Dwarka in Gujarat east to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple at Varanasi on the Ganges.

The adopted son of Malhar Rao Haolkar, Tukojirao Holkar (ruled 1795-1797) briefly succeeded Rani Ahilyadevi upon her death.

Yashwantrao Holkar- Extending the Holkar dominion
His son Yashwantrao Holkar (reigned 1797-1811) (also called as Jaswant Rao) succeeded him upon his death. He decided to free the Delhi Mughal Emperor Shah Alam from the British but was unsuccessful. Admiring his bravery, Shah Alam gave him the title of "Maharajadiraj Rajrajeshwar Alija Bahadur".

Yashwantrao Holkar defeated the combined armies of Scindia and Peshwa Bajirao II at Hadapsar, near Pune in 1802. The Peshwa fled from Poona, scared of being killed by Yashwantrao Holkar - owing to his(Bajirao's) killing Vitthojirao Holkar a few years earlier. Bajirao quit Poona and fled to Bassein where the English offered him allurements to sign the Subsidiary Treaty in return for the throne. Meanwhile, Yashwantrao made Amrutrao as the next Peshwa in Pune. After deliberating for over a month and after threats that his brother would otherwise be recognised as Peshwa, Bajirao II signed the treaty surrendering his residual sovereignty and allowing the English to put him on the throne at Poona.

Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar saw that rest of the Kings were not ready to unite and were interested in personal benefits, he was the last to sign a treaty with the British on 24 December, 1805 at a place called Rajghat (Treaty of Rajghat). He was the only King in India to whom the British approached to sign a peace treaty. He didn’t accept any condition which would affect his self respect. The British recognised him as a sovereign King and returned all his territories. They accepted his dominion over Jaipur, Udaipur, Kota, Bundi, and some Rajput Kings. They also accepted that they would not interfere in the matters of Holkars.

Yaswantrao Holkar was a gifted military leader, and battled the British in the Second Anglo-Maratha War. After some early victories, he made peace with the British.

Battle of Mahidpur
Maharaja Malharrao Holkar (III) succeeded Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar at an age of 4 years. Maharani Tulsibai Holkar looked after the administration. However, Dharama Kunwar and Balaram Seth with the help of Pathans and Pindaris, who had secretly joined hands with the British, plotted to imprison Tulsibai and Malharrao. When Tulsibai learnt about this, she beheaded both of them in 1815 and appointed Tatya Jog. Due to this, Gaffur Khan Pindari secretly signed a treaty with the British on 9 November, 1817 and accordingly killed Tulsibai on 19 December, 1817. The British, led by Sir Thomas Hislop, attacked on 20 December, 1817 and defeated the army led by 11-year-old Maharaja Malharrao Holhar (III), 20-year-old Harirao Holkar and 20-year-old Bhimabai Holkar in the Battle of Mahidpur. Holkars had nearly won the war but at the deciding moment Nawab Abdul Gaffur Khan betrayed and left the battlefield along with his army. The British gave the Jahagir of Jawara to Gaffur Khan for this betrayal. The treaty was signed on 6 January, 1818 at Mandsaur. Bhimabai Holkar didn't accept the treaty, and kept attacking the British by guerilla methods. Maharani Laxmibai of Jhanshi took inspiration from Bhimabai Holkar and fought against the British. At the conclusion of this Third Anglo-Maratha War, the Holkars lost much of their territory to the British and were incorporated into the British Raj as a princely state of the Central India Agency.

Yashwantrao II (reigned 1926-1947) ruled Indore state until shortly after India's independence in 1947, when he acceded to the Indian Government. Indore became a district of Madhya Bharat state, which was merged into Madhya Pradesh state in 1956.

The current Princess of Indore, Sabrina Holkar (daughter of Richard Holkar) finished her education in the U.S. and is married to Jewish-Indian Real Estate developer Ari Ellis. They live in Union Square in Manhattan.

Treasures of The Holkars of Indore

In 1947, it was estimated that there were 150 jewellery collections of international quality with Indian Maharajas. Sadly, through passage of time, most of these have disappeared without trace. This is an attempt to remember one such fabled collection that of the Holkars of Indore and look at some of the famous and not so famous heirlooms that once symbolised pomp and splendour of the great Holkar dynasty.

“God created the Maharajas to provide a spectacle to humanity” wrote Rudyard Kipling. And what a spectacle were they! Even today, India is still known as the land of the maharajas. As well know as the maharajas were their fabled jewels, admired and gasped at throughout the world. Hyderabad, Baroda, Gwalior , Indore, Darbhanga, Kapurthala etc were known to have collections of best and finest jewellery found in India.

One such well known collection was that of the Holkars of Indore. In the late nineteenth century, following the fall of the Mughal empire , Holkars, originally Dhangars or goatherds, emerged as one of the most powerful families in India. In this period of chaos, Holkars carved for themselves a large fertile stretch in the heart of Malwa in Central India and set up their capital at Indore. Following a bitter and destructive war with the Scindias of Gwalior and the British, the Holkars settled to rule over their prosperous kingdom after the Treaty of Mahidpur in 1818. It was in these peacetime years, till 1947 that the fabled Holkar jewellery collection was assembled. Sadly, this collection like many others was lost in mists of time. And this is an attempt to bring it alive again.

It is impossible to estimate the value of the entire collection but it was vaguely estimated to be worth 40 million dollars in 1930’s and 1940’s. Its size can imagined from the fact that Maharaja Tukojirao Holkar purchased 1200 pieces of jewellery during his reign alone. Plus the assemblage of generations of conquests and plunder! His son, Maharaja Yeshwantrao Holkar was a great patron of French jewellers like Chaumet, Moubassin, Van Clef and Arpels etc and commissioned some spectacular pieces from them. The Holkar collection was so well known across the world that it was extensively written about, including in The Asia Magazine article in 1920 titled “Gems of Holkars”. This is one of the only descriptions of Holkar jewel collection available today. Some of the famous pieces in this collection included Indore Pears, Porter Rhodes and Jonker diamonds, the bejewelled peacock turban as well as several spectacular emerald and pearl necklaces like the Spanish Inquisition necklace among others.

The Indore Pears
The Indore Pears diamonds set as earrings
The most extraordinary and famous pieces in the Indore collection were two spectacular pear shaped diamonds of 46.95 carats and 46.70 carats each called the Indore Pears. The early history of these diamonds is unknown. They have believed to have originated from Golconda. There is a popular legend, that these were wedding gifts of Maharaja Tukojirao Holkar to this third wife, the American Millionaires’ Nancy Ann Miller who converted to Hinduism and became Sharmishthabai. The Indore Pears were set in the most spectacular art deco settings. Strangely, despite being associated with Indore and Holkars till this date, these diamonds were with Holkars for very short time. They were sold to Harry Winston in 1946 and at present are in the collection of the Arab jeweller Mouward.

Porter Rhodes and Jonker diamonds

Another diamond, called the Porter Rhodes was considered to be among the finest diamonds ever found till 1880s. It was found in the mines of Kimberley by a gentleman called Porter Rhodes and hence named after him. In 1937, it was sold to Maharaja Yeshwantrao Holkar. Unlike the Indore Pears, no photos or sketches exist of its presence in Indore. It remained there for a very short time too as Along with Indore Pears; this diamond too was sold to Harry Winston in 1946.

Like Porter Rhodes, the Jonker diamond was also named afterMr Joannes Jonker, an adventurer and a miner who found it. It was known to be one of the purest diamonds to be ever found. The large stone was cut into several pieces. The main Jonker diamond ended up with Queen Ratna of Nepal but the Maharajah of Indore bought Jonkers V, VII, XI and XII.
Emerald and Pearl Necklaces

Every Indian Maharaja worth his salt had a sizable pearl collection and Holkars were no exception to the rule. The pears of the maharajas were no ordinary pearls, but Basra pearls of the finest quality. Ann Morrow in her book, “Wicked Women of the Raj” mentions “ 9 strand pearl necklace, 7 strand pearl necklace and the 5 strand pearl necklace” belonging to the Holkars . Similarly, Asia Magazine in its 1920 article too mentions the “pearl scarf” of the Maharaja of Indore valued at a crore of 1920s rupees. Its value today would be impossible to guess.

Holkars also had some finely carved and exquisite emeralds. There are several emerald necklaces which appear in the photographs of Maharaja Yeshwantrao Holkar and Maharani Sanyogitaraje Holkar. Many of these emeralds were later auctioned by international auction houses for a huge sum as Holkar emeralds.
The Spanish inquisition necklace, the peacock turban and the carved ruby stick

The Spanish Inquisition necklace on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC

There were some fine jewels in the Holkar collection of which only fleeting references are found. The Spanish inquisition necklace is one such piece. Nothing is much known about the past of this beautiful necklace except that emeralds once belonged to the Spanish royal family. They were bought by Harry Winston from the Maharaja of Indore in 1940’s and donated to the Smithsonian Institution in New York. It is one of the most popular exhibits in the Smithsonian.

Another was the “Peacock Turban”. Indian Maharajas were not permitted arched crowns, which were considered to be the sole prerogative of the monarchs of England. To get around this, Maharajas asked various European houses to create “bejewelled turbans” as crowns. The “Peacock Turban” seems to be one such crown. It was a turban with an appearance of a peacock, made entirely of diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires. Unfortunately, no photograph exists of this crown. Its only description is in the “Asia Magazine” article which refers to it as a “marvel of pearls, rubies, emeralds and diamonds”

A design for bejewelled walking stick made for Maharaja Yeshwantrao Holkar of Indore

Another priceless artefact was the bejewelled walking stick of the Holkars with its handle made of an elephant carved out of a single ruby! During the Delhi durbar in 1911, the Maharaja of Indore was seen carrying this walking stick which unfortunately broke under his weight. This is the last thing that is heard of it.

The dissipation of the treasure
The dissipation of this great jewel collection acquired by several generations of Holkars took place primarily three stages. First, when Maharaja Tukojirao Holkar was forced to abdicate due to the sensational Malabar Hill Murders. He left for France carrying with him a large chunk of Holkar jewellery with him to France including the Indore Pears. Second, in 1947, when Indore state merged with India. The Congress govt forced the Maharaja Yeshwantrao Holkar to submit a list of his jewellery and maintain them as “dynastic heirlooms”. However, he was given full rights over his personal jewellery.

A photograph of a model wearing emeralds belonging to Maharajas of Indore auctioned by Sotheby’s in Tokyo in 1990s

Maharaja Yeshwantrao Holkar died in 1961. It appears there was very little tax planning done, as the estate duty came to a whopping 1.14 crore in 1961 rupees or almost 100 crores today. This had to be paid in cash and forced Yeshwantrao’s successor, Maharani Ushadevi Holkar to liquidate most of the Holkar treasures to pay the taxman.

Third in 1990’s , when in a sensational jewellery heist, the thieves broke into the strongroom of Shiv Vilas Palace and made off with priceless jewellery belonging to Maharani Sharmisthabai Holkar, the widow of Maharaja Tukojirao Holkar . While many of the stolen jewels were later recovered from Bombay antique shops, they still remain mired in long drawn court battles. Thus, in these ways, collection of generations of Holkars has been scattered around the world and forgotten with time. Thankfully, it appears that the love for jewellery still runs in the Holkar family even today. The current scion, Prince Richard Holkar studied jewellery design and was a private jeweller for several years. Carrying on a great legacy of a great family!

Yeshwant Rao Holkar had temporarily revived the fortunes of his family, at a time when they were in danger of becoming vassals of the rival Maratha house of Scindia. The tools of this revival; the mercenary light cavalry of the Pathans and Pindharis, joined to his father's French-led battalions gave him success against Daulat Rao Scindia and the Peshwa. But they could not protect him from the modern army of the East India Company (EIC)——fortunately for him global events had forced a change in the Company's war plans. Britain was in the midst of a twelve year war against Napoleon Bonaparte and 1805 was the year of his greatest triumphs; Britain decided to end all its foreign wars and focus on fighting Imperial France. For this reason the war against Yeshwant Rao Holkar, who had been routed and driven north to Punjab, was prematurely ended and that Maratha prince was left free to exercise his family's claims on parts of North India.

The stress of campaigning and his fondness for drink drove the unfortunate Yeshwant Rao to insanity; and then the mercenaries, including his "sworn brother" the notorious Amir Khan, fanned out with their light cavalry to devastate the lands and people of Rajasthan, MP, and Maharasthra for the next 13 years. From the forests and hills of Central India, they even raided southern Bihar (1812) and Northern Bengal (1816). This was curiously reminiscient of the early Maratha expansion over all these regions a century ago. But while those Maratha chiefs had the primary aim of expanding their master's power while making secondary gains for themselves; these Pathan and Pindhari mercenaries had the sole aim of plundering and destroying for material gain.

And while the early Maratha chiefs had been merely semi-independent, and their plundering could be restrained by their overlord the Peshwa (as Malhar Holkar's cavalry was punished by Baji Rao at Delhi), these 19th century mercenaries were fully independent of their now mentally deranged employer. The only similarity between them and the early Marathas was that their principal formation was light cavalry, and that like Holkar and Scindia under the Peshwas, a few among the modern mercenaries became rulers of their own petty states. The Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817-18) was practically a campaign against these Pindharis and Pathans, at the end of which Amir Khan was made Nawab of Tonk, and the Holkar Kingdom was brought under British protection.

The Kingdom of Indore had been an also ran in its race with the rival Kingdom of Gwalior and events in the former state continued to mirror those in the latter even under British rule. There were disputes for the throne and maladministration in Indore, forcing the British to intervene here as they had in Gwalior.

Tukoji Rao Holkar II 1844-86

During the 1857 revolt, the Purbia and Pathan infantry in the Holkar army and in the British subsidiary force at Indore and Mhow, joined their revolutionary brethren in the EIC army, just as they had at Gwalior. And after the revolt was subdued the reigning Holkar (Tukoji), like his contemporary at Gwalior, was rewarded for his loyalty with titles and gun salutes; although in the latter respect Indore remained an also ran with a salute of 19 guns against the 21 guns for Gwalior!

Modernization and Westernization

The modernization of Indore Princely Statet proceeded apace with the contruction of railway lines, hospitals and schools. The Holkar rulers had a new palace, the Lal Bagh (designed by Bernard Triggs), constructed on the outskirts of the city. The iron gates were modeled on those at Buckingham Palace and were built and shipped from London. A summer retreat called Sukh Niwas was also is now a picnic spot in Indore.

With their personal education came the challenge of accomodating western ideas with eastern tradition; the three Holkar rulers after the 1857 revolt maintained a fine balance. But with the accession of Yeshwant Rao Holkar II in 1926, the western element became more strongly pronounced, particularly in the latter half of his reign. Educated at a Surrey public school and then at Oxford, Yeshwant Rao became the Maharaja at 18 and was married early to Sanyogita Raje. He and his wife travelled frequently in the different countries of Europe, absorbing the local culture and becoming particularly fond of jazz music and dancing.

In fact they travelled abroad so often that the British Resident at Indore, KS Fitze ventured to remark that if Indore should adopt a national anthem, it would perhaps be 'Some day my prince will come'! At Oxford Yeshwant Rao developed a friendship with Eckart Muthesius, and later commissioned him to design a modern new palace called Manik Bagh.

A modern building (for the 1920s), Manik Bagh was filled with modern art and sculptures by Le Corbusier, de Monvel, and Constantin Brancusi. The furniture was modern and designed by Jacques-Emile Ruhlman and the Luckhardt brothers; even the bathroom design and fittings were modern. Muthesius also designed railway coaches for the Maharaja, and the interiors of his two airplanes, for which an airport was constructed at Indore with the help of Tata & Sons.

Sadly though the Maharani Sanyogita passed away in 1936....Yeshwant Rao lost interest in Manik Bagh and renewed his foreign travels. Manik Bagh palace ( is today used as the headquarters of Central Excise & Customs Service Tax Indore Commissionerate. The furniture within the palace was auctioned off after Yeshwant Rao's death.

Yeshwant Rao twice married western women, the second of whom bore a son named Shivaji Rao (but better known today as Richard Holkar). The Christian fanatics in the western media of those days were disgusted as:

Miss Nancy Miller, the American Bride of a notorious Indian maharajah, throws away her Christian ideals and Liberty to become a slave of a pagan Idolater. The world was shocked, but the palace was the most magnificent gift for his new wife.

From his earlier marriage Yeshwant Rao had a daughter Usha Raje for whom he made a trust in 1953 containing what remained of the royal properties after accession of the state to independent India. After his death in 1961 the Government of India decided that Usha Raje would inherit the title of her father, which she did till the abolition of all princely titles in 1971.

During World War II Yeshwant Rao, dismayed by the communal antics of the British and their puppet, the Muslim League, wrote a letter to President Roosevelt asking for American aid in making India independent and keeping it united. At that time the British were overwhelmingly in favor of dividing India and perpetuating their hold on the continent for the next fifty years! But his efforts were in vain. After independence Indore State, along with Gwalior, Bhopal, and other smaller states were merged with Madhya Bharat. The ruler of Gwalior was made Rajpramukh of this entity, with the ruler of Indore as up-Rajpramukh, a deputy and therefore second to Gwalior till the very end!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

Revival of the "Tanga" in indore

meeting for gopal mandir on 17th august

dear members
the meeting with the div commissioner for the INTACH presentation is on the 17th of august 2009 at 3pm at commissioner office.
all members are welcome to review the proposal along with their suggestion's etc between the 14th and 16th august 2009.
INTACH Indore Chapter also requires a part time / full time DTP operator having typing skills in Hindi and English as well as some basic knowledge of photoshop. For the presentation we have requested Mr Sanjay Patel to Present the concept as well as our views. we will be glad to have volunteers for the presentation

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

new update

dear members
I would like to inform you about the recent progress in the INTACH indore Chapter
1. we have a blog
2. INTACH indore chapter has got a office in chetak centre. we are setting up the place and would like to inform you that all your contributions, suggestions are most welcome. we will be very pleased if you would also like to donate any furniture, books, lamps etc on a temporary or permanent basis.
3. we have still got no volunteers for MHOW. I would like to inform you again that INTACH has got special permissions to document, restore and work in cantonments from the ministry of defence. to start with we would like to first document all heritage structures of MHOW.
4. as i had informed you previously INTACH is working on
a. the restoration plan for King Edward Medical Hall at M.Y.H.
b. the restoration and revival , as well as a plan for maintaince of the Krishnapura Chatries.
c the same for the Chatries at Chatribaugh.
d. we are making a proposal to prevent the authorities from demolishing the Ganesh Mandir.
we need volunteers for the same