|Princely State of British India|
|-||Independence of India||1949|
|-||1901||3,038 km2 (1,173 sq mi)|
|Density||82.3 /km2 (213.1 /sq mi)|
|This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.|
The Dholpur State was a kingdom of eastern Rajputana, India, which was founded in AD 1806 by the Bamraulia clan of Jatpeople. After 1818 the state was placed under the authority of British India's Rajputana Agency. The Ranas ruled the state until the independence of India in 1947, when the kingdom was merged with the Union of India.
Dholpur princely state was located in the present-day state of Rajasthan. In 1901, the population of the state was 270,973 and the population of the town of Dholpur was 19,310. The state had an area of 3,038 km2 (1,173 sq mi), and an estimated revenue of Rs.83,000/-.
The dynasty belongs to the Deswali clan of Jats and traces its descent from Jai Singh Rajawat of Jaipur, who acquired territories near Bairat, south of Alwar. Loyal to Emperor Anang Rao Puar, he received the hereditary title of Rana in ca 1068, together with the usual Royal insignia of a parasol and chamra or yak-tail. A century later, his descendent Rana Palun Singh, transferred his allegiance to Prithvi Raj Chauhan, and was slain beside him in 1175. Rana Birhan Pal, son of Palun, settled at Bamroli, near Agra in 1195. It is from this place that the family derives their name. His descendants ruled there until driven out by the Mughal Governor of Agra in 1367. Rana Ratan Pal, eighth in descent from Birhan Pal, joined the service of the Tuar ruler at Gwalior. His son supported Raja Barsingh Dev of Gwalior, helping him to win his independence from their Muslim overlords in 1375. He married a Jat lady and later settled at Baghthurra, near Gohad. 
Rana Sujan Deo, fifth in descent from Rana Ratan Pal, received Gohad from Raja Man Singh of Gwalior in 1505. His title to that state being later recognised by the Emperor Sikander Lodi. Thereafter, his descendants gradually extended and added to their territories, which eventually amounted to 56 mahals or districts, yielding revenues of Rs 66 lakhs per annum.
Rana Bhim Singh, the thirteenth ruler of Gohad, succeeded in seizing the historic fortress of Gwalior in 1761, but lost it to the Mahrattas within six years. Burning with resentment against the Scindia, his successor Chhatra Singh did everything to oppose them. Any enemy of Scindia became his friend and ally. He assisted the Emperor when he returned to Delhi in 1771, receiving titles and honours unknown to his house before. In 1779, he entered into treaty relations with the British and joined forces with them against Scindia. The treaty terms stipulated that, at the conclusion of peace between the English and Mahrattas, all the territories then in his possession should be guaranteed to him, and he would be protected from any future invasion by Scindia. This protection was subsequently withdrawn, the rana having been found guilty of treachery.
Chhatra Singh recovered Gwalior in 1780, then withstood a siege lasting nearly five months. Scindia finally succeeded in recapturing the fortress in 1783. He then concluded another treaty with the British, in which Gwalior was restored to him, but then lost it again to Scindia in 1784, who then crushed his Jat opponent by seizing the whole of Gohad. Chhatra Singh fled to the neighbouring Karauli, but was returned to Scindia as a state prisoner, confined at Gwalior fort, then quietly poisoned in 1788.
The Bamraolia clan had effectively been destroyed by the Scindia then spent the next twenty-years fighting each other in a bloody tussle for power. Eventually all the clan leaders resolved to settle their differences by choosing a single ruler in the person of Kirat Singh, a cousin of the deceased rana. Installed at Baghthurra Fortress in 1803, he at once revived the alliance with the British. They agreed to restore Gohad to him in return for his help in crushing the Maratha power. However, once hostilities ceased, Scindia opposed the restoration. The Rana then agreed to surrender Gohad in 1805, receiving Dholpur, Bari and Rajakhera as compensation in the following year. The ancient town of Dholpur became the capital of the new state, from which the state also took its name.
Maharaj Rana Kirat Singh died in 1835, leaving his throne to his minor and younger son. His elder son having pre-deceased him without leaving any issue, seventeen years earlier. The first few years of the new ruler, Maharaj Rana Bhagwat Singh's reign saw his sister-in-law actively involved in the administration. On his eventual assumption of full ruling powers, he proved to be a model ruler of his time. He showed his mettle during the Indian Mutiny when, despite the loss of territory to the mutineers, he extended his protection to European civilians, saving them from certain death. He also sent a force of 1,500 men for the defence of Agra. His services were recognised with the grant of additional titles, an increased gun-salute and additional territories. He died leaving his throne to his grandson, his own son having pre-deceased him very shortly before.
Succeeding as a minor in 1873, Maharaj Rana Nihal Singh proved himself every inch his grandfather's heir. He assisted the British during the Tirah expedition in 1882, becoming one of the first Indian rulers to secure a commission and to serve in person in a Royal regiment. A near thirty-year reign saw advances in almost every field of government endeavour. He modernised the administration, organised public works, restored monuments, built hospitals, dispensaries and tanks, and created an extensive road and rail network. At his death in 1901, Dholpur possessed one of the most modern infrastructures of any princely state.
Alas, Nihal Singh's successor, Maharaj Rana Ram Singh, proved something of a wastrel. Early in his term of office, he incurred the ire of Lord Curzon, for whom he could do nothing right. His early death in 1911 probably came as a relief to the Imperial authorities. Luckily for the state his younger brother and successor, Maharaj Rana Udai Bhan Singh, was cast in the same mettle as his forefathers. He enjoyed wide interests, military, administrative, political and sporting, which made him the ideal ruler in the eyes of the British. He maintained close connections with his fellow rulers, members of the British Royal Family, Viceroys and administrators alike. He did much to try to bridge the gap between the growing movement for independence with those of the traditional rulers and with the British. Sadly for him, events moved swiftly as a consequence of the Second World War. He soon accommodated himself to the new realities and built bridges with Pandit Nehru. After independence in 1947, he was instrumental in forming the Matsya Union a year later. He served as its Rajpramukh, or Head of State, during the brief period before it merged into the larger Rajasthan Union in 1949.
At the death of Udai Bhan Singh in 1954, the Maharaj Rana left no sons and no designated male heir. His widow then adopted their grandson, the second son of their only daughter who had married the Maharaja of Nabha. The Indian government then instituted a lengthy investigation that lasted two years, but eventually recognised Hemant Singh as Maharaj Rana. Sixteen years later and after completing his majority, he married the descendant of the old enemy, Maharajkumari Vasundhara Scindia of Gwalior. Sadly, they separated within a year of their marriage. The Maharani went on to build a formidable political career. She serves today as Chief Minister of Rajasthan.
Chronology of Dholpur Rana rulers
- Rana Kirat Singh, 1806–1836
- Rana Pohap Singh, 1836–1836
- Rana Bhagwant Singh, 1836–1873
- Rana Nihal Singh, 1873–1901
- Rana Ram Singh, 1901–1911
- Rana Udaybhanu Singh, 1911–1948
Rana Kirat Singh, the first maharaj rana of Dholpur, was succeeded in 1836 by his son Rana Bhagwant Singh, who showed great loyalty during the Revolt of 1857, was created a K.C.S.I., and G.C.S.I. in 1869. He was succeeded in 1873 by his grandson Rana Nihal Singh, who received the C.B. and frontier medal for services in the Tirah campaign. He died in 1901, and was succeeded by his eldest son Rana Ram Singh (b. 1883).
A line on the Indian Midland Railway between Agra and Jhansi was built through the state in the 19th century. The town of Dholpur, 34 miles south of Agra by rail, grew in importance as a center of trade after the opening of the railway. The state suffered severely from drought in the 1890s, and population decreased 3% between 1891 and 1901. In 1896–1897 the expenditure on famine relief amounted to Rs. 8,190/-.
After India's independence in 1947, Maharaja Rana Udaybhanu Singh acceded unto the Union of India on 7 April 1949. Dholpur was merged with three neighbouring states to form the Matsya union within the union of India, and was later merged with several other such unions to form the present-day state of Rajasthan.
- Dholpur - Brief History
- Dholpur Princely State - (15 gun salute)