The Colorful History Of Chhota Udepur State ::
areas of the world are more evocative than the Indian subcontinent,
with its exotic natural beauty and extraordinary contrasts. The princely
rulers of India with their opulent palaces and extravagant lifestyles
have been a source of fascination for centuries.
Before India's independence in 1947 AD, the 565 Maharajas, Rajas,
Maharaos, Maharanas, Nawabs, Thakore Sahebs and other rulers held
sway as absolute sovereigns over one third of India's land surface
and a quarter of her population. Many of the ruling dynasties had
been in power, uninterrupted for hundreds of years. Even after Independence,
when all the princely states were asked to join the Indian union by
signing the Act of Accession, relinquishing their authority, they
still maintained their pomp and pageantry, their dignity and ingenuity
and their grandeur of their past in form of their palaces and jewelry.
Gujarat has been a state rich with royal heritage, so to speak. Gujarat
is India's westernmost state, bound to the west by a 1600 kilometers
long coastline, to the north by deserts and to the east and south
by mountain ranges including Aravalis, Satpuras and the Western Ghats.
Historically this state comprises three cultural and geographical
areas - Gujarat, which was the eastern belt of the state, Saurashtra
that comprised the Kathiawad peninsula and Kutch, the area between
the Gulf of Kutch and Sindh.
The Hindu Rajputs, who ruled the majority of the princely states in
India were prominent in Gujarat as well. The various Rajput clans
- Jadejas, Gohils, Jhalas, Chauhans, Vaghela-Solanki and Jethwa accounted
for a considerable number of princely states. The Hindu Marathas ruled
the strongest state in Gujarat, Baroda. There were some Muslim nawabs
too namely in Junagadh, Balasinor, Cambay, Radhanpur and Palanpur.
These states were stratified in gun salute states. The sovereigns
of these states received the number of gun salutes based on several
criteria. Baroda was the only 21 gun salute state whereas Kutch was
a 17 gun salute state. Bhavnagar, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Porbandar, Rajpipla
were some of the 13 gun salute states. Balasinor, Chota Udepur, Palitana,
Rajkot, Limbdi etc were some of the 9 gun salute states. There were
some other non gun salute states.
Chota Udepur was a small state with 525 villages, an income
of Rs 2.5 million, cavalry, infantry, bodyguards and cannon, situated
in the hills between Gujarat and Malwa (current day Madhya Pradesh).
The state was ruled by the Khichi Chauhan dynasty, which was
reputed to be one of the bravest Rajput clans in India.
The Chauhans colonized eastern Rajasthan in the 8th century AD, and
were a major national power in the northern India, ruling huge tracts
of land from Nagaur and Ajmer in Rajasthan to Delhi. Many are the
tales of the battles between the Chauhans and the Muslim invaders
especially the Turks. Prithviraj Chauhan, the last Hindu king of Delhi,
lost to Muhammed Ghori at the battle of Tarai in 1192 AD.
The Khichi Chauhans are the direct descendants to Prithviraj Chauhan.
They ruled in petty states around the river Narmada. They conquered
the historic fort of Champaner. Sultan Ahmed Shah who founded Ahmedabad
devastated the Chauhan territories but could not lay siege to the
fort inspire of his several attempts. His successor Sultan Muhammed
Shah also spent a considerable time getting ready to lay siege on
the fort but could not do so.
Finally it was Mahmud Bhegada who entered the fort by deceit, and
the Rajputs were forced to commit jauhar. The ruler at that time Patai
Rawal, chose to die. But his existing sons took refuge at Hamph in
the hills and his grandson, Prithviraj Sinh, started a new chiefdom
at Mohan, form where his descendents ruled before moving to Chota
Rawal Rai Sinhji fortified Chota Udepur in 1831 AD. He made a settlement
with the Marathas who had become a powerful force on the national
front and agreed to pay tribute to the Gaikwads at Baroda. His son,
Prithviraj sinh II, made an agreement with the British for additional
protection from the Marathas.
The golden age for Chota Udepur came with H.H.
His son, H.H. Maharaja Fatehsinghji
succeeded him in 1905 AD. To the little known tribal talukas of Chota
Udepur, the Maharaja brought progress and prosperity. He personally
attended the office, called the Huzur Office, daily whenever he was
in town and even the lowest of his subjects had direct access to him.
The prosperity of Chota Udepur grew leaps and bounds under the guidance
of H.H. Maharaja Fatehsinghji. Many state buildings and other buildings
were built during his reign These include the Durbar Hall, the old
palace, the Princes' Villa, the Gymkhana, the secretariat, Steele
Hospital, Steele Girls' school, electric power house. It was in his
time that the Bodeli - Chota Udepur railway was opened which connected
Chota Udepur to Pratapnagar in Baroda through the Baroda State Railway
of the Gaikwads. Also during this time waterworks were commissioned
and surveys were made.
His successor H.H. Maharaja Natwarsinghji
ascended the throne in 1928. He carried forward his father's golden
legacy. He took keen interests in all the functioning of all departments
of his kingdom. He was renowned for his charitable causes. He took
keen interest in the education of children in Chota Udepur state.
He had done a great deal to promote agriculture and local industries
in Chota Udepur.
He built several ginning mills, libraries, dispensaries, and a hospital
with separate wards for males and females.
H.H. Maharaja Virendrasinghji Chauhan,
succeeded to the throne in 1946 and ruled till 1948, when the state
was absorbed into the Republic of India. H.H. Maharaja Virendrasinhji
is involved in a number of businesses. H.H. Maharaja Virendrasinghji
Chauhan passed away at Jaipur on 27th June, 2005.
After his death, his youngest son, Maharaja
Kumar Aishwaryapratap Singh Chauhan ascended to the gadi
of Chhota Udepur.