Hari Singh

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Hari Singh
Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir
Hari Singh 1931.jpg
Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir
Reign23 September 1925 — 17 November 1952
PredecessorPratap Singh
SuccessorKaran Singh (as Sadr-i-Riyasat)
RegentKaran Singh (1949-1952)
Born(1895-09-23)23 September 1895
Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir, British India (present-day Jammu and Kashmir, India)
Died26 April 1961(1961-04-26) (aged 65)
Bombay, Maharashtra, India (present-day Mumbai)
SpouseMaharani Tara Devi (4th wife)
IssueKaran Singh

Hari Singh GCSI GCIE GCVO (23 September 1895 – 26 April 1961) was the last ruling Maharaja of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir in India.

Early life[edit]

Hari Singh in 1920

Hari Singh was born on 23 September 1895 at the palace of Amar Mahal, Jammu, the only surviving son of Raja Amar Singh Jamwal,[2] the brother of Maharaja Pratap Singh, then the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir in a Dogra Rajput family. Since the Maharaja had no issue, Hari Singh was heir to the throne of Jammu and Kashmir.

In 1903, Hari Singh served as a page of honour to Lord Curzon at the grand Delhi Durbar. At the age of thirteen, he was sent to Mayo College in Ajmer. A year later, in 1909, his father died, and the British took a keen interest in his education and appointed Major H. K. Brar as his guardian. After Mayo College, Hari Singh went to the British-run Imperial Cadet Corps at Dehra Dun for military training.[citation needed]

Maharaja Pratap Singh appointed him as the commander-in-chief of the State Forces in 1915.[3]

Personal life[edit]

The "youthful escapades" of Hari Singh included paying £300,000 for blackmail by a prostitute in Paris in 1921. That issue had resulted in a court case in London in 1924 during which the India Office tried to keep his name out of proceedings by arranging for him to be referred to as "Mr A."[3]

Singh was known as a lavish spender of money. The funeral of his uncle and former ruler Pratap Singh is believed to have expended much gold and jewellery in the funeral pyre.[4]

Singh married four times as his first three wives failed to give birth to his heirs. Each of them died within a few years of childlessness allowing Hari Singh to immediately take a new bride. With his last wife, Tara Devi Sahiba of Kangra, he had a son, Karan Singh.[4]


Detail of the Seal of Maharaja Hari Singh as printed on the Civil List of his government

Following the death of his uncle Pratap Singh in 1925, Hari Singh ascended the throne of Jammu and Kashmir. He made primary education compulsory in the state, introduced laws prohibiting child marriage, and opened places of worship to the low castes.[5]

The Seal of Maharaja Hari Singh had a Crown at the top. A katar or ceremonial dagger sat below the crown. Two soldiers held flags. An image of the sun was between them, that symbolised his Rajput lineage from Lord Surya, the Hindu Sun God.

1931 Kashmir agitation & Kashmir Martyrs' Day. Hari Singh was believed to have been hostile towards the Indian National Congress, in part because of the close friendship between Kashmiri political activist and socialist Sheikh Abdullah and the Congress leader Jawaharlal Nehru. He also opposed the Muslim League and its members' communalist outlook, as represented by their two-nation theory.[citation needed]

Partition and accession[edit]

The last Maharaja of Kashmir

In 1947, after India gained independence from British rule, Jammu and Kashmir could have joined India, joined Pakistan, or remained independent.[citation needed] Hari Singh originally manoeuvred to maintain his independence by playing off India and Pakistan. There was a widespread belief that rulers of the princely states, in deciding to accede to India or Pakistan, should respect the wishes of the population, but few rulers took any steps to consult on such decisions.[citation needed] Jammu and Kashmir was a Muslim majority state. Pashtun Tribesman from Pakistan then invaded Kashmir and defeated Hari Singh's forces. Hari Singh appealed to India for help.[6] Although the Indian Prime Minister Nehru was ready to send troops, the Governor-General of India, Lord Mountbatten of Burma, advised the Maharaja to accede to India before India could send its troops. Hence, considering the emergency situation, the Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession on 26 October 1947, joining the whole of his princely state (including Jammu, Kashmir, Northern Areas, Ladakh, Trans-Karakoram Tract and Aksai Chin) to the Dominion of India.[7][8][9] These events triggered the first Indo-Pakistan War.

Pressure from Nehru and Sardar Patel eventually compelled Hari Singh to appoint his son and heir, Yuvraj (crown prince) Karan Singh, as Regent of Jammu and Kashmir in 1949, although he remained titular Maharaja of the state until 1952, when the monarchy was abolished. He was also forced to appoint the popular Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah as the prime minister of Kashmir. He had a contentious relationship with both Nehru and Abdullah.[10] Karan Singh was appointed 'Sadr-e-Riyasat' ('Head of State') in 1952 and Governor of the State in 1964.[10] Abdullah would later be dismissed from his position as prime minister of Kashmir and jailed by Karan Singh.[11]

Nehru and Abdullah conspired to banish Singh from Jammu and Kashmir and forced him to live in exile in Bombay. Singh spent his final days in Bombay. He died on 26 April 1961, after fourteen years of his banishment. As per his will, his ashes were brought to Jammu and spread all over Jammu and Kashmir and immersed in the Tawi River at Jammu.[12]


He was married four times. With his fourth wife, Maharani Tara Devi (1910–1967), he had one son, Yuvraj (crown prince) Karan Singh.[13]

  • Spouses:
  1. Dharampur Rani Sri Lal Kunverba Sahiba; married at Rajkot 7 May 1913, died during pregnancy in 1915. No children.
  2. Rani Sahiba; married at Chamba 8 November 1915, died 31 January 1920. No children.
  3. Maharani Dhanvant Kunveri Baiji Sahiba (1910–19?); married at Dharampur 30 April 1923. No children.
  4. Maharani Tara Devi Sahiba of Kangra,(1910–1967); married 1928, separated 1950, one child:


Titles of Maharaja Hari Singh and Yuvraj Karan Singh on the first page of his Civil List of 1945

(ribbon bar, as it would look today; incomplete)

Ord.Stella.India.jpg Order of the Indian Empire Ribbon.svg

Royal Victorian Order ribbon sm.jpg India Service Medal BAR.svg 39-45 Star BAR.svg Africa Star BAR.svg

War Medal 39-45 BAR.svg Med.DelhiDurbar1903.png King George V Coronation Medal ribbon.png GeorgeVSilverJubileum-ribbon.png

GeorgeVICoronationRibbon.png Indian Independence medal 1947.svg Cavaliere di Gran Croce OCI Kingdom BAR.svg Legion Honneur GO ribbon.svg

Hari Singh
Born: 23 September 1895 Died: 26 April 1961
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Pratap Singh
(as Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir)
Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir
Succeeded by


  1. ^ Mridu Rai, Hindu Rulers, Muslim Subjects 2004.
  2. ^ General Sir Raja Amar Singh Jamwal : 14 January 1865 – 26 March 1909
  3. ^ a b Snedden, Christopher (2015). Understanding Kashmir and Kashmiris. Oxford University Press. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-84904-342-7.
  4. ^ a b Kashmir’s Last Maharaja, Kashmir Life, 2 May 2011.
  5. ^ Anand, Ragubhir Lal (1 February 2014). IS God DEAD?????. Partridge Publishing. p. 26. ISBN 978-1-48281-823-9.
  6. ^ "Maharaja Hari Singh's Letter to Mountbatten". www.jammu-kashmir.com. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  7. ^ Ramachandra., Guha (1 January 2008). India after Gandhi : the history of the world's largest democracy. Harper Perennial. ISBN 978-0060958589. OCLC 474262656.
  8. ^ Justice A. S. Anand, The Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir (5th edition, 2006), page 67
  9. ^ Kashmir, Research Paper 04/28 by Paul Bowers, House of Commons Library, United Kingdom. Archived 28 July 2004 at the Wayback Machine, page 46, 30 March 2004
  10. ^ a b Ramachandra., Guha (1 January 2008). India after Gandhi : the history of the world's largest democracy. Harper Perennial. p. 92. ISBN 978-0060958589. OCLC 474262656.
  11. ^ Ramachandra., Guha (1 January 2008). India after Gandhi : the history of the world's largest democracy. Harper Perennial. p. 262. ISBN 978-0060958589. OCLC 474262656.
  12. ^ Dynasty clash in Kashmir: Hari Singh's grandson Ajatshatru challenges Abdullahs, The Economic Times, 14 March 2013.
  13. ^ Mufti, Kashmir in Sickness and in Health 2013, p. 157.


External links[edit]