|Today part of||Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha (India)|
|Princely States of India - Nagpur|
The Kingdom of Nagpur was a kingdom in east-central India founded by the Gond rulers of Deogarh in the early 18th century. It came under the rule of the Marathas of the Bhonsale dynasty in the mid-18th century and became part of the Maratha Empire. The city of Nagpur was the capital of the state.
The historical record of the Nagpur kingdom begins in the early 18th century, when it formed part of the Gond Kingdom of Deogarh, in what is now Chhindwara District. Bakht Buland, the ruler of Deogharh, visited Delhi and afterwards was determined to encourage the development of his own kingdom. To this end he invited Hindu and Muslim artisans and cultivators to settle in the plains country, and founded the city of Nagpur. His successor, Chand Sultan, continued the development of the country, and moved his capital to Nagpur.
Raghoji I Bhonsale (1739–1755)
On Chand Sultan's death in 1739, there were disputes as to his succession, and his widow invoked the aid of the Maratha leader Raghoji Bhonsale, who was governing Berar on behalf of the Maratha Chatrapati. The Bhonsale family were originally headmen from Deur, a village in Satara District. Raghoji's grandfather and his two brothers had fought in the armies of Shivaji, and to the most distinguished of them was entrusted a high military command and the role of collecting chauth (tribute) in Berar. Raghoji, on being called in by the contending Gond factions, replaced the two sons of Chand Sultan on the throne from which they had been ousted by a usurper. Raghoji then retired back to Berar with a suitable reward for his assistance. Dissentions, however, broke out between the brothers, and in 1743 Raghoji again intervened at the request of the elder brother and drove out his rival. But he had not the heart to give back, for a second time, the country he held within his grasp. Burhan Shan, the Gond raja, though allowed to retain the outward insignia of royalty, became practically a state pensioner, and all real power passed to Raghoji Bhonsale who became the first Maratha ruler of Nagpur.
Bold and decisive in action, Raghoji was the archetype of a Maratha leader; he saw in the troubles of other states an opening for his own ambition, and did not even require a pretext for plunder and invasion. Twice his armies invaded Bengal, and he obtained the cession of Cuttack. Chanda, Chhattisgarh, and Sambalpur were added to his dominions between 1745 and 1755, the year of his death.
Janoji, Madhoji I, and Raghoji II Bhonsale (1755–1816)
On Janoji's death on 21 May 1772, his brothers fought for the succession, until Mudhoji shot the other on the battlefield of Panchgaon, six miles (10 km) south of Nagpur, and succeeded to the regency on behalf of his infant son Raghoji II Bhonsale who was Janoji's adopted heir. In 1785 Mandla and the upper Narmada valley were added to the Nagpur dominions by treaty with the Peshwa. Mudhoji had courted the favor of the British East India Company, and this policy was continued for some time by Raghoji II, who acquired Hoshangabad and the lower Narmada valley. But in 1803 he united with Daulatrao Sindhia of Gwalior against the British. The two leaders were decisively defeated at the battles of Assaye and Argaon, and by the Treaty of Deogaon of that year Raghoji ceded Cuttack, southern Berar, and Sambalpur to the British, although Sambalpur was not relinquished until 1806.
Until the close of the 18th century the Maratha administration had been on the whole good, and the country had prospered. The first four of the Bhonsales were military chiefs with the habits of rough soldiers, connected by blood and by constant familiar interaction with all their principal officers. Descended from a class of cultivators, they favored and fostered that order. They were rapacious, but seldom cruel to the lower castes. Up to 1792 their territories were seldom the theater of hostilities, and the area of cultivation and revenue continued to increase under a fairly equitable and extremely simple system of government. After the treaty of Deogaon, however, all this changed. Raghoji II was deprived of a third of his territories, and he attempted to make up the loss of revenue from the remainder. The villages were mercilessly rack-rented, and many new taxes imposed. The pay of the troops was in arrears, and they maintained themselves by plundering the cultivators. At the same time the raids of the Pindaris commenced, who became so bold that in 1811 they advanced to Nagpur and burnt the suburbs. It was at this time that most of the numerous village forts were built; on the approach of these marauders the peasantry retired to the forts and fought for bare life, all they possessed outside the walls being already lost to them.
Mudhoji II Bhonsale (1817–1818)
On the death of Raghoji II in 1816, his son Parsoji was supplanted and murdered by Mudhoji II Bhonsale, also known as Appa Sahib, son of Vyankoji, brother of Raghoji II, in 1817. A treaty of alliance providing for the maintenance of a subsidiary force by the British was signed in this year, a British resident having been appointed to the Nagpur court since 1799. In 1817, on the outbreak of war between the British and the Peshwa, Appa Sahib threw off his cloak of friendship, and accepted an embassy and a title from the Peshwa. His troops attacked the British, and were defeated in the action at Sitabuldi, and a second time close to Nagpur city. As a result of these battles the remaining portion of Berar and the territories in the Narmada valley were ceded to the British. Appa Sahib was reinstated to the throne, but shortly afterwards was discovered to be again conspiring, and was deposed and sent to Allahabad in custody. On the way, however, he bribed his guards and escaped, first to the Mahadeo Hills and subsequently to the Punjab.
Raghoji III (1818–1853) Bhonsale and British rule
A grandchild of Raghoji II was then placed on the throne, and the territories were administered by the resident from 1818 to 1830, in which year the young ruler known as Raghoji III was allowed to assume the actual government. He died without a male heir in 1853, and the kingdom was annexed by the British under the doctrine of lapse. The former kingdom was administered as Nagpur Province, under a commissioner appointed by the Governor-General of India, until the formation of the Central Provinces in 1861. During the revolt of 1857 a scheme for an uprising was formed by a regiment of irregular cavalry in conjunction with the disaffected Muslims of the city, but was frustrated by the prompt action of the civil authorities, supported by Madras troops from Kamptee. Some of the native officers and two of the leading Muslims of the city were hanged from the ramparts of the fort, and the disturbances ended. The aged princess Baka Bai, widow of Raghoji II, used all her influence in support of the British, and by her example kept the Maratha districts loyal.
Rulers of Nagpur Kingdom
- Raghoji I Bhonsale (1739 – 14 Feb 1755)
- Janoji Bhonsale (1755 – 21 May 1772)
- Madhoji Bhonsle(1772 – 19 May 1788)
- Raghoji II Bhonsale (1788 – 22 Mar 1816)
- Parsoji Bhonsale (1816 – 2 Feb 1817)(b. 1778 – d. 1817)
- Mudhoji II Bhonsale "Appa Sahib" (1817 – 15 Mar 1818)(b. 1796 – d. 1840)
- Raghoji III Bhonsale (1818 – 11 Dec 1853)(b. 1808 – d. 1853)
- Maratha Empire
- List of Maratha dynasties and states
- List of Indian princely states
- Nagpur district
- Nagpur division
- Hunter, William Wilson, Sir, et al. (1908). Imperial Gazetteer of India, Volume 17. 1908-1931; Clarendon Press, Oxford.