:: The Colorful History Of Chhota Udepur State ::
 
Few 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 Udepur.

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. Maharaja Jeetsinghji.

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.