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History of Rajasthan

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Title: History of Rajasthan  
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Subject: Rajasthan, History of Uttar Pradesh, History of Assam, History of Bihar, History of Maharashtra
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History of Rajasthan

The history of human settlement in the north Indian state of Rajasthan dates back to about 5000 years ago. This region was long known as Rajputana, early in the Muslim period.[1]


  • Ancient history 1
  • Medieval period 2
  • Maratha Empire 3
  • British India 4
  • Post independence 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7

Ancient history

Parts of Rajasthan may have been occupied by the Indus Valley Civilization (Harappans). Excavations at Kalibanga in northern Rajasthan around 1998 revealed the existence of human settlements of Harappan times on the banks of a river that dried up later, which some people believe to be the Saraswati.[2]

Rajasthan's geographic position in India has caused it to be affected by the expansionist efforts of various empires.[3] It was a part of the Mauryan Empire around 321-184 BCE. It had also been a part of Republics like Arjunyas, Hunas, Kushans, Malavas, Saka Satraps and the Yaudheyas. The Guptas reigned in the 4th century. Some Buddhist caves and Stupas have been found in Jhalawar, in the southern part of Rajasthan.

The decline of the 300-year-old Gupta Empire in the 6th century led to the political unrest in the Northern India and was followed by an epoch of instability as numerous chieftains tried to gain power. The situation was stabilized when the Gurjara-Pratiharas emerged around 700 CE.[4] Gurjar pratihars were well known for their hostility towards Arab invaders.The Arab chronicler Sulaiman describes the army of the Gurjar Pratihars as it stood in 851 CE, The king of Gurjars maintains numerous forces and no other Indian prince has so fine a cavalry. He is unfriendly to the Arabs, still he acknowledges that the king of the Arabs is the greatest of kings. Among the princes of India there is no greater foe of the Islamic faith than he. He has got riches, and his camels and horses are numerous.[5]

Medieval period

Hemu, Hindu Emperor of Northern India
Maharana Pratap, a Rajput ruler and great warrior of his time. Mughal emperor Akbar sent many missions against him. However he survived and ultimately gained control of all areas of Mewar excluding fort of Chittor.

Prithviraj Chauhan defeated the invading Muhammad Ghori in the First Battle of Tarain in 1191 and in fifteen further battles before himself being defeated when he was betrayed by one of his own.

After the defeat of Chauhan around 1200, a part of Rajasthan came under Muslim rulers. The principal centers of their powers were Nagaur and Ajmer. Ranthambhor was also under their suzerainty. At the beginning of the 13th century, the most prominent and powerful state of Rajasthan was Mewar. The Rajputs resisted the Muslim incursions into India, although a number of Rajput kingdoms eventually became subservient to the Delhi Sultanate. Mewar led others in resistance to Muslim rule: Rana Sanga fought the Battle of Khanua against Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire.

Between 1540-1556, Afghans were in control of most of North India. Rajasthan-born Hemu held various official positions in the capital at Delhi with Islam Shah and Adil Shah, who ruled from Punjab to Bengal. Hemu crushed the first rebellion in 1553 at Ajmer where he killed the Afghan Governor Junaid Khan and appointed his own man as governor. Hemu won 22 battles against Afghan rebels and the Mughal king Akbar, losing none. He defeated Akbar's army at Agra and Delhi in 1556, and became a 'Vikramaditya' king after 350 years of foreign rule at Purana Quila in Delhi. Hemu was eventually defeated at the Second battle of Panipat on 7 November 1556, and was killed.

Akbar arranged matrimonial alliances to gain the trust of Rajput rulers. He himself married the Rajput princess Jodha Bai, the daughter of the Maharaja of Amer. He also granted high offices to a large number of Rajput princes and this maintained very cordial relations with them. Before long, these actions caused many previously hostile Rajputs to be his friends, and many of them surrendered their kingdoms to him. Rulers like Raja Maan Singh of Amer were trusted allies. However, some Rajput rulers were not ready to accept Akbar’s dominance and preferred to remain independent. One such ruler was Raja Uday Singh of Mewar, who founded the city of Udaipur. He never accepted Akbar's supremacy and was at constant war with him. Akbar forcefully seized Chittor, his capital. After his death, this struggle was continued by his son – Rana Pratap. He fought a terrible battle with Akbar at the Haldighat pass where he was defeated and wounded. Since then Rana Pratap remained in recluse for 12 years and attacked the Mughal ruler from time to time. He fought valiantly throughout his life never ceded his independence to the Mughal ruler.

An ancient ruin in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.

When Rajput rulers lost their lands to invaders during the medieval period, their womenfolk would commit suicide by self-immolation on a pyre. This was a gesture to protect their chastity and self-respect, and it was known as Jauhar.

Rajasthan's formerly independent kingdoms created a rich architectural and cultural heritage, seen today in their numerous forts and palaces (Mahals and Havelis) which are enriched by features of Muslim and Jain architecture.

Maratha Empire

Since the early 1700s, the Maratha Empire began expanding northwards, led by Peshwa Baji Rao I of Pune. This expansion finally brought the newly founded Hindu Maratha Empire in contact with the Rajputs. Rajasthan saw many invasions by the Marathas, under military leadership of Holkars and Scindhias. Most of Rajputana passed under the control of the Maratha Empire and continued to pay tribute to Pune till the British East India Company replaced the Marathas as paramount rulers.[6]

British India

The arrival of the East India Company in the region led to the administrative designation of some geographically, culturally, economically and historically diverse areas, which had never shared a common political identity, under the name of the Rajputana Agency. This was a significant identifier, being modified later to Rajputana Province and lasting until the renaming to Rajasthan in 1949.[7][8]

The Company officially recognised various entities, although sources disagree concerning the details, and also included Ajmer-Merwara, which was the only area under direct British control.[7][8]

Area Controlled by[8] Designation
Ajmer-Mewara Direct British control Chief Commissioner's Province
Alwar Kachwaha Rajputs State[7]
Banswara Gahlot Rajputs State[7]
Bharatpur Jat State[7]
Bikaner Rathore Rajputs State[7]
Bundi Chauhan Rajputs State[7]
Dholpur Jat State[7]
Dungarpur Gahlot Rajputs State[7]
Jaipur (Amber) Kachwaha Rajputs State[7]
Jaisalmer Jadon Rajputs State[7]
Jhalawar Jhala Rajputs State[7]
Jodhpur (Marwar) Rathore Rajputs State[7]
Karuali Jadon Rajputs State[7]
Kishangarh Rathore Rajputs State[7]
Kotah Chauhan Rajputs State[7]
Kushalgarh Rathore Rajputs Chiefdom[8] (Not referred to by Gupta & Bakshi)
Lawa Kachwaha Rajputs Chiefdom[7] or Estate[8]
Pratapgarh Gahlot Rajputs State[7]
Shahpura Gahlot Rajputs Chiefdom[7] or State[8]
Sirohi Chauhan Rajputs State[7]
Tonk Pathan State[7]
Udaipur (Mewar) Gahlot Rajputs State[7]

Of these various areas, Marwar and Jaipur were the most significant in the early 19th-century, although it was Mewar that gained particular attention from James Tod, a Company employee who was enamoured of Rajputana and wrote extensively, if often uncritically, of the people, history and geography of the Agency as a whole.[9][1]

Alliances were formed between the Company and these various princely and chiefly entities in the early 19th century, accepting British sovereignty in return for local autonomy and protection from the Marathas. Following the Mughal tradition and more importantly due to its strategic location Ajmer became a province of British India, while the autonomous Rajput states, the Rajputana Agency. In 1817-18, the British Government concluded treaties of alliance with almost all the states of Rajputana. Thus began the British rule over Rajasthan, then called Rajputana.

Post independence

The name of Rajasthan was probably popularised by Tod and during his lifetime some people believed that he had coined it.[11] Although he claimed that it was the classical name for the region, the term seems first to be documented in an inscription dating from 1708 and to have become popular by his time.[12]

It took seven stages to form Rajasthan as defined today. In March 1948 the Matsya Union consisted of Alwar, Bharatpur, Dhaulpur and Karauli was formed. Also, in March 1948 Banswara, Bundi, Dungarpur, Jhalawar, Kishangarh, Kota, Pratapgarh, Shahpura and Tonk joined the Indian union and formed a part of Rajasthan. In April 1948 Udaipur joined the state and the Maharana of Udaipur was made Rajpramukh. Therefore in 1948 the merger of south and southeastern states was almost complete. Still retaining their independence from India were Jaipur and the desert kingdoms of Bikaner, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. From a security point of view, it was vital to the new Indian Union to ensure that the desert kingdoms were integrated into the new nation. The princes finally agreed to sign the Instrument of Accession, and the kingdoms of Bikaner, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Jaipur were merged in March 1949. This time the Maharaja of Jaipur, Man Singh II was made the Rajpramukh of the state and Jaipur became its capital. Later in 1949, the United States of Matsya, comprising the former kingdoms of Bharatpur, Alwar, Karauli and Dholpur, was incorporated into Rajasthan. On January 26, 1950, 18 states of united Rajasthan merged with Sirohi to join the state leaving Abu and Dilwara to remain a part of Greater Bombay and now Gujarat.

In November 1956, under the provisions of the privy purses and privileges to assist them in the discharge of their financial obligations. In 1970, Indira Gandhi, who was then the Prime Minister of India, commenced under-takings to discontinue the privy purses, which were abolished in 1971. Many of the former princes still continue to use the title of Maharaja, but the title has little power other than status symbol. Many of the Maharajas still hold their palaces and have converted them into profitable hotels, while some have made good in politics. The democratically elected Government runs the state with a chief minister as its executive head and the governor as the head of the state. Currently, including the new district of Pratapgarh, there are 32 districts, 105 sub-divisions, 37,889 villages, 241 tehsils and 222 towns in Rajasthan.

Gurumukh Nihal Singh was appointed as first governor of Rajasthan. Hiralal Shastri was the first nominated chief minister of the state, taking office on 7 April 1949. He was succeeded by two other nominated holders of the office before Tika Ram Paliwal became the first elected chief minister from 3 March 1951.



  1. ^ James Tod is rarely considered to be a reliable source nowadays, although he is still revered in some areas of Rajasthan.[10]


  1. ^  
  2. ^ "Pune archaeologists hope the Saraswati will unlock mysteries of the past". Rediff. 29 April 1998. Retrieved 2007-09-01. 
  3. ^ Gupta & Bakshi (2008), p. 145
  4. ^ Krishna Chandra Sagar (1992). Foreign influence on ancient India. Northern Book Centre. ISBN 8172110286, ISBN 978-81-7211-028-4. 
  5. ^ Radhey Shyam Chaurasia (2002). History of Ancient India: Earliest Times to 1000 A. D. Atlantic Publishers & Distributors. p. 207. ISBN 81-269-0027-X,ISBN 978-81-269-0027-5. The king of Gurjars maintain numerous faces and no other Indian prince has so fine a cavalry .He has 
  6. ^ Naravane, M. S. The Rajputs of Rajputana: A Glimpse of Medieval Rajasthan. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Gupta & Bakshi (2008), p. 143
  8. ^ a b c d e f Lodha, Sanjay (2012). "Subregions, Identity, and Nature of Political Competition in Rajasthan". In Kumar, Ashutosh. Rethinking State Politics in India: Regions Within Regions. Routledge. p. 400.  
  9. ^ Gupta & Bakshi (2008), pp. 136-137
  10. ^ Gupta & Bakshi (2008), p. 140
  11. ^ Freitag, Jason (2009). Serving empire, serving nation: James Tod and the Rajputs of Rajasthan. Leiden: Brill. p. 36.  
  12. ^ Gupta & Bakshi (2008), p. 142


  • Gupta, R. K.; Bakshi, S. R. (2008), Studies In Indian History: Rajasthan Through The Ages: The Heritage Of Rajputs 1, Sarup & Sons,  

Further reading

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