The name Verisalji spells valour and pride for the Gohil Rajput dynasty of Rajpipla

The ancient Gohil Rajput dynasty, its origin dating back to the 6th century AD, came to rule the principality of Rajpipla around the year 1340. The 4,000 square kilometres territories lay largely between the Narmada in the north, and for some distance the Tapti in the south. The mediaeval capitals of Devchhatra and Junaraj nestled high up in the scenic western Satpuras.

The Sisodia dynasty of Mewar too draw their origin from the Gohil dynasty, which was founded by Muhideosur Gohadit or Guhil, whose descendant Bappa Rawal or Kalbhoj captured Chittor in the 8th century.  After the fall of Chittor in 1567 to Mughal Emperor Akbar, Maharana Udai Singh of Mewar and his son and heir apparent Pratap sought and received shelter in Rajpipla.

The Gohil rulers of Rajpipla gave then refuge to the last Sultan of Gujarat, Muzaffar Shah III, and incurred the wrath of Akbar. The Imperial troops led by Mirza Khan Khas took Gujarat in 1584. Akbar then levied tribute on Rajpipla, took away Nandod Taluka in the plains and granted it to Haider Kuli Khan.   

With the weakening of the Mughal Empire, the 26th Gohil ruler of Rajpipla Maharana Verisalji I asserted his independence, and in 1705 laid waste south Gujarat. A force sent by Aurangzeb under Nazar Ali, the Nawab of Baroda, was defeated in alliance with Maratha army of the Chhatrapati led by their chief Dhanaji Jadhav at Ratanpur, close to the western border of Rajpipla State.

Maharana Verisalji I’s son Maharana Jeetsinhji succeeded in wresting Nandod Taluka from the Mughals, having forged a treaty with Maharaja Peelaji Rao Gaekwar of Baroda. The Gaekwars had started ruling Baroda since 1721. In 1730 Maharana Jeetsinhji transferred the capital to Nandod town (New Rajpipla) on the banks of the river Karjan, now modern town of Rajpipla.

Juni Haveli, built after the capital of Rajpipla was shifted to Nandod on the banks of the River Karjan in 1730.

In the next century, the 34th Gohil ruler of Rajpipla Maharana Verisalji II, succeeded to the gadi as a minor at the age of 13. In October 1821 he entered into an engagement with the British under the Subsidiary Alliance. Verisalji II inherited a troubled legacy. His rule began in the backdrop of the great flood in the Narmada 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 under the dominance of the Gaekwars of Baroda.

Sensing a weakened Durbar of Rajpipla, the Bhils had been a source of great trouble during this period. But Verisalji II put down the uprisings in two years. During the Mutiny of 1857, Maharana Verisalji II led the rebellion of Rajpipla State, which went out of the control of the British for several months. After the British quelled the mutiny, they executed the Dewan of Rajpipla. 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.

Maharana Verisalji II’s successor Maharana Gambhirsinhji with three of his sons and coutiers in 1875.

It was two Gohil Rajput rulers of Rajpipla by the name of Verisalji who asserted their authority against the Mughals and the British more than a century and a half apart. It was this courage and tenacity that helped the Gohil dynasty to preserve its rule over the principality for over 600 years until merger with the Union of India in 1948.

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