Dogra dynasty

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The Hill fort of Maharaja Gulab Singh, 1846 drawing.

Dogra[1] was a Hindu Rajput dynasty which traced its roots to the Ikshvaku dynasty of northern India. The rulers of the dynasty were Dogra Rajputs[1] and the royal house of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir was the ruler of the erstwhile Indian princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. The first ruler was Gulab Singh, who became Raja, Governor-General, of Jammu principality through a grant from the Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and subsequently accepted the throne of Kashmir after the First Anglo-Sikh war. The principality of Jammu was ruled by Raja Gulab Singh as a governor of Sikh Empire till 1846. After the First Anglo-Sikh War in 1846, under the terms of the Treaty of Amritsar, the British government sold Kashmir to Maharaja Gulab Singh and the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, the second largest princely state in British India, was created.[2][3] Further expansions in the 19th century, including the assimilation of the Principality of Gilgit and the emirates of Hunza & Nagar under the reigns of Maharajas Partab Singh and Ranbir Singh would grow the territory of the empire to 222,870 sq km of Himalayan lands. Thus making Jammu and Kashmir the largest royal state in British India at the time of the partition in 1947.[4][5]

After the First World War the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir was granted a hereditary 21-gun salute in recognition for the service of his soldiers for the British cause. This was the highest number given to any salute state with only 5 of the 565 princely states attaining the honour. During the Second World War as well as providing soldiers for the allied cause the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir served as a member of Churchill's British War Cabinet.[6][7][8]

The last ruling Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir was Hari Singh who had ascended to the throne in 1925 after his uncle Pratab Singh died with no direct heir. In October 1947, Hari Singh conceded partial governance of the state to India by the Instrument of Accession after being unable to suppress Pashtun uprisings allegedly backed by Pakistan.[9]

By this treaty signed with India's Governor-General Lord Louis Mountbatten, India's jurisdiction was limited to external affairs, defence and communications. However in 1949, after the First Kashmir War between India and Pakistan he was obliged by India to leave the state and it's governance to Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah.[9] The disputed nature of the Instrument of Accession would leave the region embroiled in the ongoing armed Kashmir conflict and later further plagued by the extremist Islamic insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir.

After Hari Singh passed away, his son Karan Singh never officially adopted the title of Maharaja and was the only royal of a princely state to voluntarily surrender his privy purse.[10] Instead he was appointed Prince Regent by Nehru's intervention, after which he continued to serve as the President of Jammu and Kashmir and then as it's Governor under India.[11]

Later Dr. Karan Singh would serve as a cabinet minister in the Government of India that abolished all official symbols of princely India, including titles, privileges, and remuneration (privy purses) by the promulgation of the 26th constitutional amendment in 1971.[12]

Though in 2015, the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir declared that "it has been authoritatively ruled by the Supreme Court that signing of Instrument of Accession did not affect the sovereignty of Maharaja over his State."[13][14]

The Dogras continue to play a role in politics in the state of Jammu & Kashmir and India.

History of Dogra rulers[edit]

Maharaja Gulab Singh, the founder of princely state of Jammu and Kashmir

According to legend, Raghuvanshi descendant, Agnigarba, who was living as a recluse, came to Nagarkot (Kangra, Himachal Pradesh), in the Shivalik Hills. When the Raja of Kangra came to know about this person's ancestry, he offered him the hand of his daughter and a part of kingdom. The river Ravi was then the boundary of Nagarkote. Agnigarba crossed it and captured some villages in the Kathua area and declared himself as sovereign king.[15]

After his death, his son Bayusharva (B.C. 1530 – 1500) married the princess of Parole (Kathua). The princess was known as Erwan and she died young.[16] The Raja founded a city after her which is still found near Parole, though now a small village and at the 'Samadhi' of the queen, a 'Mela' (fair) is held at every 'Baisakhi' (13 or 14 April) every year. Bayusharva extended the boundaries up to the river Ujh. Bayusharva's great grandson, Bahulochan was enthroned after his death. He migrated from Erwan and built his fort on the banks of river Tawi. Bahulochan died in a bloody battle with Chadaras, Raja of Sialkot (Shayalkot) and his younger brother Jambulochan (B.C 1320–1290) ascended the throne. In those days the area beyond Tawi (the present city of Jammu) was used for hunting. Tradition has it that one day Jambulochan came to this area and while he was sitting behind a bush to ambush some bird or animal, he saw a lion (a tiger in some accounts) and a goat drinking water from the same pond. This peaceful coexistence encouraged him to found the city of Jammu, which some say is named after him.[17][18]

One of his descendants, Raja Shaktikaran (B.C 1200–1177) introduced the Dogri script for the first time.[19][20] Another of his descendants, Jasdev founded the city of Jasrota on the bank of river Ujh, and another Raja, Karan Dev built a fort on the banks of the river Basantar. In the early centuries of the first millennium the area came under the sway of the Indo-Greeks, with their capital at Sagala (Sialkot).

Among the rulers of Jammu was Raja Ranjit Dev (1728–1780), who introduced social reforms such as a ban on sati (immolation of the wife on the pyre of the husband) and female infanticide.[21]

In 1808, Jammu became part of the Sikh Empire, under Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Ranjit Singh bestowed the place as a jagir on Gulab Singh, who belonged to the Jamwal Rajput clan that ruled Jammu. As a Jagirdar (Governor) for the Sikhs, Gulab Singh extended the boundaries of the Sikh Empire to western Tibet with the help of his fine General Zorawar Singh. The Sikh rule was then extended beyond the Jammu Region and the Kashmir Valley to include the Tibetan Buddhist Kingdom of Ladakh and the Emirates of Hunza, Gilgit and Nagar.

After the First Anglo-Sikh War in 1846, Sir Henry Lawrence was appointed British Resident and Lal Singh was asked to surrender Kashmir.[22] Under the terms of the Treaty of Amritsar, the British government then sold Kashmir for a sum of 7.5 million Nanakshahee rupees to Maharaja Gulab Singh. Thus the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir came into being under Maharaja Gulab Singh, as per the treaties, Treaty of Lahore, signed between the British and the Sikhs.

Maharaja Partab Singh (enthroned in 1885) saw the construction of Banihal Cart Road (B.C. Road) mainly to facilitate telegraph services.

One of the main residences of the Maharajas was the Sher Garhi Palace in their summer capital Srinagar.

List of Maharajas of Jammu and Kashmir (1846–2015)[edit]

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

Family tree[edit]

  • Simple silver crown.svg I. Gulab Singh, Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir (1792–1857; Maharaja: 1846 (abdicated 1856))
    • Simple silver crown.svg II. Ranbir Singh, Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir GCSI, CIE (1830–1885; r. 1856–1885)
    • Manpreet Singh
      • Simple silver crown.svg III. Pratap Singh, Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir GCSI, GCIE, GBE (1848–1925; r. 1885–1925)
      • Raja Amar Singh KCSI (1864–1909)
        • Simple silver crown.svg IV. Hari Singh, Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir GCSI, GCIE, GCVO (1895–1961; r. 1925–1952; titular Maharaja: 1952–1961)
          • Simple silver crown.svgV. Karan Singh, President of Jammu and Kashmir (b. 1931; Regent of Jammu and Kashmir: 1949–1952; Sardar-e-Riyasat (President) of Jammu and Kashmir: 1952–1965; Governor of Jammu and Kashmir: 1965–1967; titular Maharaja: 1961–1971; pretender: 1971-present)
            • Yuvraja Vikramaditya Singh (born 1964)
              • Mian Martanday Singh (b. 198?)
            • Maharajkumar Ajatshatru Singh (born 1966)
              • Mian Ranvijay Singh (born 1993)


Persecution of Muslims by Dogras[edit]

In 1837, Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu was entrusted by Maharaja Ranjit Singh to suppress the revolt of the Yousafzai tribe which formed the biggest proportion of Pashtun tribes. He offered one rupee for the head of every Yousafzai man brought to his feet. He made Kahuta his headquarters and hunted for Muslim Pashtun tribes. He had some of the women spared, but others were kept for Raja Gulab Singh's harem and the rest were sold as slaves in Lahore and Jammu. It was reported that this expedition resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of Pashtun rebels and thousands of women were sold into slavery.[24] In 1863 the Dogra ruler Maharaja Ranbir Singh ordered a major invasion of the frontier areas of Yasin and Hunza to punish Muslim rebels. 3,000 troops were commanded by General Hooshiara Singh who invaded the frontier. The Dogras took all men as prisoners and many Dogra soldiers entered the back portion of the Mandoori Hill which was full of Yasini and Hunza women and their children. Those women who were injured but not dead were burnt alive and approximately 2000 Yasin villagers were killed overall. About 5,000 Yasinis were taken back to Srinagar for forced labor and many of their surviving women were included either in the harems or in the zenanas of Dogra Soldiers.[25]

The last ruling Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir[edit]

Maharaja Hari Singh, the last monarch from the Royal House of Jammu and Kashmir.

The last ruler of Jammu and Kashmir was Maharaja Hari Singh, who ascended the throne in 1925. He made primary education compulsory in the State, introduced laws prohibiting child marriage and threw open places of worship for the low castes.

Singh's reign saw the accession of Jammu & Kashmir to the newly independent Indian Union in 1947. He originally manoeuvered to maintain his independence by playing off India and Pakistan against each other. There was an armed movement against the Maharaja's rule especially in the Poonch district of Jammu, when his troops were unable to control these fighters and his troops retreated to Jammu, in October 1947, Singh appealed to India for its help. He acceded to India, though there is considerable controversy over exactly at what point.[9]

In June 1952, Singh's rule was terminated by the state government of Indian-administered Kashmir.[26][27] His son Yuvraj (Crown Prince) Karan Singh was elected 'Sadr-e-Riyasat' ('President of the Province') and Governor of the State in 1964.

Dogras in Politics post 1952[edit]

Yuvraj (Crown Prince) Karan Singh after serving as the President of Jammu and Kashmir from 1952-64 would go on to become the youngest cabinet minister as a leading member the Indian Congress Party in 1967. He was also the Indian Ambassador to the USA in 1989. His elder son Vikramaditya Singh is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party.[28] Karan Singh's younger son Ajatshatru Singh was a member of the National Conference (NC) headed by Omar Abdullah, grandson of Sheikh Abdullah who had abolished the monarchy in 1952. Ajatshatru Singh had served with the NC as a minister in the Jammu and Kashmir Government from 1996 to 2002. In 2014 he quit the NC to join the BJP, stating that he had done so to satisfy the “people’s desire to have a corruption and dynasty-free government”.[29] Dogra leader Bhim Singh once close to Karan Singh had commented though that the move was “unexpected of the descendants of the secular, democratic Hari Singh”.

Kunwar (Prince)[30] Bhim Singh, descendent of celebrated Dogra General Zorawar Singh, was the President of the Jammu and Kashmir State Youth Congress, 1973-74 and General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee, 1980-82.[31][32] In 1982 he founded the Jammu & Kashmir National Panthers Party, and was it's Chairman for 30 years until 2012.[33][34] "Let the Dogra monarchy return as it was in 1947," Bhim Singh was quoted as saying in 2000, arguing that the Monarchy's abolition in 1952 by the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly, under Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah was itself undemocratic as Abdullah had appointed 65 of the 70 members of the State Assembly.[35]

The Panthers Party now represents Dogra interest along with secular values in the state.[36][37] Bhim Singh's elder nephew Harsh Dev Singh served as a cabinet minister in Jammu and Kashmir from 2002-08 and became the Chairman of the Panthers Party in 2012,[38] while Bhim Singh's younger nephew Balwant Singh is the state President of the party and was a member of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly.[39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Dogra dynasty | India |". Retrieved 2015-08-20. 
  2. ^ Yakub (1 September 2009). "TREATY OF AMRITSAR" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-08-20. 
  3. ^ Rai, Mridu (2004). Hindu Rulers, Muslim Subjects: Islam, Rights, and the History of Kashmir. Princeton University Press. pp. 27, 133. ISBN 0-691-11688-1. 
  4. ^ Singh, Rohit (10 October 2012). "Operations in Jammu and Kashmir 1947-48" (PDF). Scholar Warrior. Retrieved 9 November 2015. At the time of Independence, Jammu and Kashmir with a geographical area of 222,870 sq km was the largest state of Princely India. 
  5. ^ Larson, Gerald James (1995-02-16). India's Agony Over Religion: Confronting Diversity in Teacher Education. SUNY Press. ISBN 9780791424124. Before partition, the princely state of Kashmir was the largest in land area. 
  6. ^ Schofield, Victoria (2010). Kashmir in Conflict: India, Pakistan and the Unending War. London: I.B.TAURIS. ISBN 9780857730787. In the State of Jammu and Kashmir, Hari Singh, one of the two Indian representatives of the Imperial War Cabinet, lent assistance in World War II. 
  7. ^ Prasad, Shankar (2005). The Gallant Dogras: An Illustrated History of the Dogra Regiment. Lancer Publishers. ISBN 9788170622680. 
  8. ^ British War Cabinet At No 10 (1944), 10 Downing Street, Westminster: Pathé News, 1944, Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir can be seen at timecode 0:29, retrieved 2015-11-23 
  9. ^ a b c "Kashmir: The origins of the dispute". BBC. 2002-01-16. Retrieved 2015-10-17. 
  10. ^ "Karan Singh: Born with a golden spoon". Retrieved 2015-10-17. 
  11. ^ "Detailed Profile - Dr. Karan Singh - Members of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) - Who's Who - Government: National Portal of India". Retrieved 2015-10-18. 
  12. ^ "THE CONSTITUTION (AMENDMENT)". Retrieved 2015-10-17. 
  13. ^ "Jammu and Kashmir's special status cannot be altered: High Court". timesofindia-economictimes. Retrieved 2015-10-17. 
  14. ^ "J&K's special status cannot be altered: High Court". Retrieved 2015-10-17. 
  15. ^ Shashi, S. S. (1996-01-01). Encyclopaedia Indica: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh. Anmol Publications. ISBN 9788170418597. 
  16. ^ Pathik, Jyoteeshwar; Sharma, Diwan Chand (1980). Cultural Heritage of the Dogras. Light & Life Publishers. p. 14. 
  17. ^ "History of Jammu | Kashmir Tourism". Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  18. ^ Jeratha, Aśoka (2000-01-01). Forts and Palaces of the Western Himalaya. Indus Publishing. ISBN 9788173871047. 
  19. ^ India Superintendent of Census Operations, Jammu and Kashmir; Kamili, M. H. District Census Handbook, Jammu & Kashmir: Jammu. 
  20. ^ Sharma, Shiv Chander (1997-01-01). Antiquities, history, culture, and shrines of Jammu. Vinod Publishers & Distributors. 
  21. ^ Pathik, Jyoteeshwar; Sharma, Diwan Chand (1980-01-01). Cultural Heritage of the Dogras. Light & Life Publishers. 
  22. ^ Raja Lal Singh
  23. ^ "Jammu and Kashmir - family genealogy". Retrieved 2015-08-20. 
  24. ^ Hastings Donnan, Marriage Among Muslims: Preference and Choice in Northern Pakistan, (Brill, 1997), 41.[1]
  25. ^ Chohan, A.S. (1997). Gilgit Agency 1877-1935Second Reprint. Atlantic Publishers & Distributors (P) Limited. p. 16. ISBN 9788171561469. Retrieved 2015-08-20. 
  26. ^ "J&K terminates hereditary monarchy - This Day in India". Retrieved 2015-10-18. 
  27. ^ "The Hindu : dated June 14, 1952: Rulership of Kashmir". Retrieved 2015-10-18. 
  28. ^ "Karan Singh’s elder son to join Mufti’s PDP - The Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2015-10-18. 
  29. ^ "After Ajatshatru’s switch, family has a member each in BJP, Cong, PDP". The Indian Express. 2014-11-13. Retrieved 2015-10-18. 
  30. ^ "History of Nepal". Wikiversity. Retrieved 18 October 2015. His original family name was Rana but in Nepal people mistook his Rajput title of Kunwar for his family name, Kunwar is a title denoting royal lineage used by Rajput princes in northern India. 
  31. ^ "The purpose of Gauhati AICC session was to formulate a national policy: Congress President D.K. Borooah : Cover Story - India Today". Retrieved 2015-10-18. 
  32. ^ "Kunwar Bhim Singh vs State Of Jammu And Kashmir And Anr. on 12 May, 1966". Retrieved 2015-10-18. 
  33. ^ "Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) – Party History, Symbol, Founders, Election Results and News". Retrieved 2015-10-18. 
  34. ^ "UNPO: UNPO Address Gilgit Baltistan Concerns at UN". Retrieved 2015-10-18. 
  35. ^ " Bhim Singh flays autonomy bill". Retrieved 2015-10-18. 
  36. ^ "Several activists join Panthers Party JKNPP commits to fight for cause of Dogras: Harsh - State Times". State Times. State Times. Retrieved 2015-10-18. 
  37. ^ "Panther party MLAs disrupt house in Jammu and Kashmir assembly". Headlines Today. August 28, 2014. Retrieved October 18, 2015 – via 
  38. ^ "Harsh Dev flays BJP’s ‘surrender’ on core agenda". Tribune Inida. Retrieved 2015-10-18. 
  39. ^ "Panthers Party MLA marshalled out from Jammu and Kashmir Assembly". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 2015-10-18. 

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