(1) MID-14TH CENTURY….. – RANA SHRI ARJUNSINHJI GOHIL.
Born as Kumar Shri Samarsinhji, son of Mokhdaji Gohil, Chief of Gogha, with capital at Pirambet in the Gulf of Cambay, by his second wife who was the daughter of Prince Chokrana of Rajpipla, of the Parmar dynasty of Ujjain. Ascended to the gadi as the first Gohil ruler of Rajpipla, after the death of his maternal grandfather, Chokrana.
(2) RANA SHRI BHANSINHJI.
(3) 1413-1421 – RANA SHRI GOMELSINHJI.
In 1403, Rajpipla under Rana Gomelsinhji was overrun by Sultan Muhammad I of Gujarat. Was forced to flee his capital. In 1416, there was defeat again at Modasa at the hands of Sultan Ahmad Shah I of Gujarat. Sultan Hoshang Shah of Malwa had invaded Gujarat on the invitation of Rana Gomelsinhji, who had allied himself with the rulers of Idar and Champaner against Ahmad Shah. Died 1421.
(4) 1421….. – RANA SHRI VIJAYPALJI.
(5) …..1463 – RANA SHRI HARISINHJI.
In 1431, Rajpipla was attacked again by Sultan Ahmad Shah I of Gujarat. Rana Harisinhji was also forced to flee his capital, but he was a brave ruler and he reconquered the State in 1443, in alliance with Sultan Hoshang Shah of Malwa, despite being in exile for 12 years. This was at a time when Sultan Ahmad Shah’s successor, Sultan Muhammad Shah II of Gujarat, was occupied in fighting against Mewar and Champaner. Died 1463.
For nearly a century-and-a-half after the reconquer of the territories, Rajpipla State appears to have held a very independent position. At this time the territory seemed to have been confined to the wilder and more hilly parts of Rajpipla and western Khandesh, Nandod (modern Rajpipla town), and probably including districts along both sides of the Narbada, and south to near the Tapti.
(6) …..1526 – MAHARANA SHRI BHIMDEV.
Maharana Bhim Dev helped Prince Latif Khan, half brother of Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat. In the ensuing battle in 1526, Maharana Bhim Dev was killed.
(7) 1526-1543 – MAHARANA SHRI RAISINHJI.
To avenge the killing of his father, Maharana Raisinhji plundered Dohad. A punitive expedition sent to Rajpipla ravaged the area for several months without much success. The submission seems to have been token as Rajpipla mercenaries (Bhil and Koli feudatories) next year Bahadur Shah himself led the field and secured Rajpipla’s submission. The attacked Bahadur Shah’s troops, unaware that this army was taking Sultan Mahmud Shah Khilji of Malwa in captivity to Champaner after the capture of Mandu on 25 May 1531. In this attack, Sultan Mahmud Shah and his sons were also killed. Died 1543.
(8) 1543….. – MAHARANA SHRI KARANBAJI.
(9) MAHARANA SHRI ABHAYRAJ JI.
(10) MAHARANA SHRI SUJANSINHJI.
(11) MAHARANA SHRI BHAIRAVSINHJI.
It is said that after the fall of Chittor in 1567, Maharana Udai Singh of Mewar sought and received shelter in Rajpipla for some time. Reference to this can be found in ‘Veer Vinod’.
(12) 1583-1593 – MAHARANA SHRI PRUTHURAJ JI.
Gave refuge to the last Sultan of Gujarat, Muzaffar Shah, and incurred the wrath of Emperor Akbar. The Imperial troops led by Mirza Khan Khas took Gujarat in 1584. Akbar then levied a tribute of Rs.35,556 on Rajpipla, along with a contingent of 1,000 men to be furnished to the Mughal army. The district of Nandod was granted to Haider Kuli Khan. (This arrangement continued till the last years of Emperor Aurangzeb’s reign when the payments not only became irregular but were altogether evaded when possible). Died 1593.
(13) 1593….. – MAHARANA SHRI DEEPSINHJI.
(14) MAHARANA SHRI DURGSHAHJI.
(15) MAHARANA SHRI MOHRAJ JI.
(16) MAHARANA SHRI RAISHALJI.
(17) MAHARANA SHRI CHANDRASINHJI.
(18) MAHARANA SHRI GAMBHIRSINHJI I.
(19) MAHARANA SHRI SUBHERAJ JI.
(20) MAHARANA SHRI JAISINHJI.
(21) MAHARANA SHRI MALRAJ.
Younger son of Maharana Jaisinhji. For some reason his elder brother Mugatraj ji did not accede to the gadi.
(22) MAHARANA SHRI SURMALJI.
Succeeded to the gadi on the death of his uncle Maharana Malraj.
(23) MAHARANA SHRI UDEKARANJI.
(24) MAHARANA SHRI CHANDRABHA.
Also known as Chandrabaji.
(25) MAHARANA SHRI CHATRASALJI.
(26) 1705-1715 – Maharana Shri Verisalji I.
With the weakening of the Mughal Empire, Maharana Verisalji I asserted his independence and in 1705 laid waste south Gujarat. A force sent by Aurangzeb was defeated in alliance with Maratha Damaji Jadhav at Ratanpur.
(27) 1715-1754 – MAHARANA SHRI JEETSINHJI.
Maharana Jeetsinhji forged a treaty with Maharaja Peelaji Rao Gaekwar and succeeded in wresting Nandod (New Rajpipla in the plains on the banks of the river Karjan, now modern town of Rajpipla) in 1730 and transferred the capital there. Died at the Fort, Rajpipla in 1754.
(28) 1754-1764 – MAHARANA SHRI PRATAPSINHJI.
The Marathas under Damaji Rao Gaekwar overran Rajpipla and exacted tribute. Died 1764.
(29) 1764-1786 – MAHARANA SHRI RAISINHJI.
In 1764, a neice of young Maharana Raisinhji was espoused to Damaji Rao Gaekwar, who renounced part of the tribute. Died at the Fort, Rajpipla in 1786.
(30) 1786-1803 (DETHRONED 1793) – MAHARANA SHRI AJABSINHJI.
Younger brother of Maharana Raisinhji, who died without male issue. Proved to be a weak ruler. Umed Vasava, the Bhil Chief of Sagbara revolted and the Gaekwar raised the tribute. Internal power struggles led to interference and arbitration by the Gaekwars. With the intervention of British Agent Willoughby, Maharana Ajabsinhji’s third (and second surviving) son, Naharsinhji was appointed Regent in 1793. Died at the Fort, Rajpipla on 15th January 1803.
(31) 1803-1810 – MAHARANA SHRI RAMSINHJI.
Second and eldest surviving son of Maharana Ajabsinhji. Following differences with his father, Maharana Ajabsinhji, he moved to Mandwa. Then with the help of the Chief of Mandwa, attacked Rajpipla but was defeated. He fled to Mandwa. On a promise of pardon, Ramsinhji returned to Rajpipla but was imprisoned at the Fort. His younger brother Naharsinhji was appointed Regent. On the death of his father Maharana Ajabsinhji on 15th January 1803, the soldiers refused to accept as ruler the younger brother Naharsinhji, who was the Regent. Ramsinhji ascended the gadi on 30th January 1803 at the Fort. Died on 10th May 1810
(32) 1810-1821 DETHRONED – MAHARANA SHRI NAHARSINHJI.
Born at Nandod in 1780. Appointed Regent by the British in 1793 after his father Maharana Ajabsinhji was found to be a weak ruler. After Maharana Ajabsinhji’s death on 15th January 1803, Naharsinhji’s elder brother, Ramsinhji succeeded to the gadi. When Maharana Ramsinhji died on 10th May 1810, Naharsinhji once again asserted his claim. A period of family intrigue followed. Maharana Ramsinhji’s widow Rani Surat Kunverba, daughter of the Chief of Mandwa, tried to place their putative son Pratapsinhji on the gadi. Meanwhile Naharsinhji had contracted smallpox in the epidemic of 1803, resulting in blindness and making him ineligible to rule, according to ancient Rajput tradition. Seizing the opportunity, Maharaja Gaekwar of Baroda raised the tribute payable by Rajpipla and took over the administration of the State. The Gaekwar was in no hurry to settle the dispute and his officers mismanaged the affairs of the State. Ultimately the British authorities intervened again, and after a detailed enquiry decided that Pratapsinhji was not Maharana Ramsinhji’s son. They ensured that Naharsinhji’s son Verisalji succeeded to the gadi on 9th August 1821.
(33) 1821-1860 ABDICATED – H.H. MAHARANA SHRI VERISALJI II, RAJA OF RAJPIPLA.
Born at Nandod, 1808. Educated privately. Succeeded to the gadi as a minor at the age of 13. Was installed as ruler on 15th November 1821 at the Fort, Rajpipla. In October 1821 he entered into an engagement with the British, binding himself and his successors to act in conformity with the advice of the British government. The Gaekwar gave up his claim. By 1825 a final settlement was made of the amount due to the Gaekwar. It was decided that the sum payable to the Gaekwar would be Rs.7,30,000 (₤ 73,000), and would be disbursed by 1833-34. Verisalji II inherited a troubled legacy. His rule began in the backdrop of the great flood in the Narbada in September 1821. Further, during the last few years of the 18th century and the early decades of the 19th century, the power of the rulers of Rajpipla had declined considerably. At this time some of the Bhils had been a source of great trouble. In 1793, they had revolted under Umed Vasava, Chief of Sagbara. Again in 1821, a general uprising of the Bhils took place under the Chieftain of Sagbara, Rai Sinh of Rahooba, and Baiji Damia of Tilakwada. This was contained in 1823. Soon there was an uprising in Khandesh, which was quelled. The Bhils of Sagbara rebelled yet again in 1859, and were finally suppressed in 1860. The authority of the State restored, Verisalji II abdicated in favour of his son Gambhirsinhji on 17th November 1860. He died at Nandod in 1868.
(34) 1860-1897 – H.H. MAHARANA SHRI GAMBHIRSINHJI, RAJA OF RAJPIPLA.
Born at Nandod December 1846. Educated privately. Succeeded to the gadi when his father Verisalji II abdicated in his favour on 17th November 1860. Reigned under a Council of Superintendence until he came of age and was invested with full ruling powers in 1863. Granted a permanent salute of 11 guns in 1860 and a sanad (patent) of adoption on 11th March 1862. The only Rewa Kantha chief with first class jurisdiction, that is, power to try for capital offences all persons except British subjects. Unhappy with the financial management, the British placed the State under the joint management of its own officer along with State officials in 1884. A sole British administrator assumed charge of affairs in 1887. Maharana Gambhirsinhji was one of the Indian princes present at the Imperial Assemblage at Delhi on 1.1.1887, which was held to celebrate the assumption of Queen Victoria as Empress of India. On 1.1.1887, the revenue of the State was Rs.6,00,000 (₤ 60,000) annually, the population being around 1,20,000. During his reign there was an improvement in the police. Gambhirsinhji built schools, a dispensary and a jail, and spent Rs.2,00,000 (₤ 20,000) on a road 34½ miles long from Nandod (New Rajpipla) to Ankleshwar railway station.
(35) 1897-1915 – H.H. MAHARANA SIR SHRI CHHATRASINHJI, RAJA OF RAJPIPLA, KCIE (12.12.1911).
Born at Nandod 18th December 1862. Educated at Rajkumar College, Rajkot. Served as a magistrate and revenue officer before his accession. Succeeded on the death of his father, 10th January 1897, Installed on the gadi at the Fort, Rajpipla, 20th May 1897, with full ruling powers. Was entitled to a salute of 11-guns, and held a sanad authorising adoption. Vowed never to allow his State to be taken over again. Immediately set about instituting a programme of reform and development. Instrumental in saving thousands of lives during the epic famines of 1899-1902, granting famine relief during this period amounting to Rupees 9,00,000. Built the 40-mile Ankleshwar-Rajpipla railway line, which he initiated in the very first year of his reign in 1897. Travelled widely in India and Europe. Was one of the ruling Indian princes who attended the coronation of King George V in London in 1910. Also attended the Durbar at Delhi in 1911. In that year the revenue of the State was Rupees 10,50,000 (₤ 105,000). Died on 26th September 1915 at Poona.
(36) 1915-1951 (merger 1948) – H.H. MAHARANA SIR SHRI VIJAYSINHJI, MAHARAJA OF RAJPIPLA, GBE (1.1.1945), KCSI (1.1.1925).
Born at Chhatra Vilas Palace, Nandod, 30th January 1890. Educated at Rajkumar College, Rajkot (Head Boy 1908), and Imperial Cadet Corps., Dehra Dun. Hon. Capt. IA 14.10.1919, and Hon. Officer 27th Light Cavalry, promoted to Hon. Maj. 8.9.1932, and Hon. Lieut-Col. 10.9.1943. Succeeded on the death of his father, 26th September 1915, Invested with full ruling powers at the Fort, Rajpipla, 10th December 1915. Granted the hereditary title of Maharaja and a permanent salute of 13-guns, in recognition of war services, 1st January 1921.
v Introduced free primary, affordable secondary education and scholarships of Rs.6,000 per annum for technical and collegiate education. Constructed the gigantic and stately high school on a small hillock opposite the main bazaar in the early 1930s;
v Set up a widow fund.
v Built a modern hospital, five regional dispensaries, and a veterinary hospital; He began construction of the civil hospital in the very first year of his reign, and it was inaugurated in 1919 by the great ruler of Baroda, Sayajirao Gaekwad.
v Agriculture and animal husbandry improved substantially through the implementation of drought and flood relief programmes. In the scarcity year 1918-19, granted liberal remissions and suspensions amounting to Rs.3,00,00. Another Rs.4,00,000 were spent on relief works and gratuitous doles. Farm yields grew with modern farming methods, introduction of new varieties of seeds and improved quality control. Improved the quality of cotton, grains and fruits. Short-stapled Ghoghari cotton was eliminated, and long-stapled 1027 A.L.F. (Farm Cotton) introduced. As a consequence, the reputation of Rajpipla Cotton was built in Bombay and other cotton markets;
v Regularised the land revenue system;
v Constructed a power house supplying electricity and water to the town. Was planning to build a dam across the Narmada to generate electricity, supply drinking water and for irrigation, and was in the process of raising finances for the project. The State was merged before this dream could be realized. But it was a precursor to the modern Sardar Sarovar Dam, which has become a lifeline for the people of Gujarat and south Rajasthan;
v Extended the railway line from the old station to the new station by building a magnificent bridge over the river Karjan. Set up a 19-kilometre railway line between the Narmada bank near Jhagadia – on the Rajpipla-Ankleshwar line – and Netrang which was completed by the year 1932, increasing the network to 94 kilometres. Constructed a 19-mile steam railroad, and a tramway connecting the towns along the river Narmada with villages in the interior;
v Oversaw the construction of an extensive network of good motorable roads;
v Put up an airstrip on which small planes landed as early as the 1930s. Had plans to convert this into a 150-acre aerodrome on the banks of the Karjan, south of the town of Rajpipla.
v Reformed the civil and criminal justice systems.
v Introduced a salaried civil service, together with a system of retirement pensions, which did much to eradicate corruption;
v Increased the salaries of the army and police;
v During the First World War, supplied many recruits. He gave Rupees two lakhs for mechanical ambulances, subscribed to many war charities, and took war loans amounting to Rupees eight lakhs. In the Second World War too, he placed the resources of the State at the disposal of the Empire, and presented three Spitfire fighter aircrafts named “Rajpipla”, “Windsor Lad” and “Embargo”, and a Hawker Hurricane night fighter “Rajpipla II”, all of which did good work for the Allied forces;
v Introduced town planning methods. Built a modern bazaar with a wide central avenue, town hall, public garden and guest house;
v Promoted sports, which were made compulsory for students in Rajpipla State. The dhaba ground hosted several sports like cricket, football and hockey. Built a gymkhana, named Rajpipla Club which was inaugurated on 26th February 1917 by the Viceroy Lord Willingdon, with tennis and indoor badminton courts, facilities for table tennis, and a polo ground. Had his own family polo team comprising himself and three of his sons Yuvraj Rajendra Singhji, Maharaj Kumar Pramod Singhji and Maharaj Kumar Indrajeet Singhji. Was one of the most famous race horse owners in the world, being the only Indian owner ever to win the coveted English Epsom Derby, and earlier clinching the Indian Derby and Irish Derby.
v Despite reduction in the level of taxation, State revenues had reached Rupees 36,00,000 when the State was merged with Bombay in 1948, as against Rupees 13,00,000 at the time of his accession in 1915;
v Surprisingly, even though he was loyal to the British crown, he started a nationalist movement in the State in the 1940s, and was one of the first rulers to hand over his State to the forces of Indian democracy along with a sum of Rupees 28 lakhs that was lying in deposit in the State treasury. Signed the instrument of accession, 19th March 1948, and merged his State to the Dominion of India, 10th June 1948. The privy purse was Rs.3,97, 946 annually.
Died at his estate The Manor, Old Windsor, Berkshire, England, 29th April 1951. Cremated at Rampura, Rajpipla, on the banks of the Narmada. A bronze statue of Maharaja Vijaysinhji on horseback adorns the main square of Rajpipla town.
Some major racing triumphs of H.H. Maharana Sir Shri Vijaysinhji, Maharaja of Rajpipla:
1919: Indian Derby - Horse Tipster, Kunigal-bred, Jockey ‘Bunty’ Brown (first-ever Indian Derby)
1926: Curragh 2000 Guineas - Horse Embargo, Jockey Steve Donoghue
1926: Irish Derby – Horse Embargo, Jockey Steve Donoghue
1927: Belgian Grand Prix - Horse Embargo
1934: Chester Vase - Horse Windsor Lad, Jockey Freddie Fox, Trainer Marcus Marsh
1934: Ascot Stakes - Horse Windsor Lad, Trainer Marcus Marsh
1934: Epsom Derby - Horse Windsor Lad, Jockey Charles Smirke, Trainer Marcus Marsh
Owned the famous horses Tipperary and Melesigenes. Completed a unique hat-trick of Derbys, the Indian Derby, Irish Derby and English Epsom Derby.
Arguably India’s greatest racehorse owner.