The Sisodia Dynasty
- The ancient
state of Dharampur dates its foundation to 1262, when
Kunwar Ramraja (d. 1295), a younger son of the Rana Rahap
of Sisoda, left his ancestral lands to found a new
principality in the south. He defeated the local Kholi
chieftain and founded a new state, naming it Ramnagar
after himself. He assumed the title of Rana and was
accorded the suffix of Shah by popular acclaim. Although
the name accorded to the principality by foreigners
frequently changed according to the name of the capital,
it has generally been known by locals as Pant Ramnagar.
Rana Ramshah's descendants greatly expanded the domains
over the years and centuries that followed, preserving
their independence while Muslim dynasties and conquerors
fought with and succeeded each other. The state reached
its greatest extent during the reign of Jagatshah II (r.
1531-1566). His domains stretched from Bassein near
Bombay in the south, eastward to Igatpuri, Surgana in the
north-east, to Rumla in the north. A shrewd diplomat, he
quickly came to a peaceful understanding with the
Portuguese and managed to preserve his territories while
his neighbours sapped their strength by fighting them.
Nevertheless, he retained friendly relations with their
enemies, including the Sultans of Gujarat, always
avoiding any entanglements with either party. He capped
his success by adopting the suffix of Dev instead of Shah
and assuming the hereditary title of Maharana.
Jagatshah's immediate successors continued to preserve
their independence from the Sultans of Gujarat and the
Mughals, largely by making astute political alliances.
However, the rise of the Maratha power could not be
accommodated quite as easily. The Marathas were more
interested in collecting gold and revenue, as much of it
as possible and by any means. Battle after battle ensued
between the rulers of Pant Ramnagar and Maratha generals,
sent by the Chhatrapati or the Peshwa to collect revenues
or extort taxes. At each turn of events, territory was
lost and the principality gradually reduced. At one
period, 1670-1680, the entire state was lost altogether,
Maharana Somdevji being forced to flee for protection to
Portuguese territory. Although his son Sahadevji
recovered some of his territory, his successors were
again prey to Maratha greed. This declined continued
right down to the reign of Maharana Dharamdevji, who lost
half his remaining territory, including the capital. He
virtually had to start again following the catastrophe,
building a new capital at Mandvegan, renaming the town
Dharampur and laying the foundations of a new state.
The state came under the protection of the HEIC in 1805
as a consequence of the Treaty of Bassein. Their arrival
brought peace to the region, unknown for centuries. The
small state was able to make slow progress without
outside interference, consolidating its revenue without
having to surrender arbitrary levies to the Marathas, and
establishing the framework of a sound administration.
Maharana Vijayadevji I, reigned from 1807 to 1857, he had
seen the worst of the days before the British and was not
keen to see them return. Alas, his financial acumen did
not mirror his martial and diplomatic skills. An
inveterate spender, he mortgaged his revenue collections
many times over until the British finally stepped in an
appointed an administrator. The finances were eventually
repaired and modest progress was made. Vaccination was
made compulsory throughout the state in 1854, modern
vernacular schools opened in 1857, the system of
administration and the courts reformed, and state records
placed in order. Maharana Narandevji II, his grandson,
continued the good work by overhauling the land revenue
system, modernising the administration, police, judicial
and forest administration systems, constructed a modern
hospital, dispensary, jail and Anglo-Vernacular school.
By the time of his death in 1891, the little state had
progressed more in the thirty years of his rule than in
the previous five centuries.
The second son of Vijayadevji I, Maharana Mohandevji,
succeeded his father in 1891. He continued his father's
good works by investing in agriculture and the
infrastructure of the state. An inveterate traveller, he
toured the globe, visiting nearly every country in Europe
and brining back new ideas and innovations to help his
people. He constructed wells, irrigation tanks, roads,
bridges, and established rural and travelling
dispensaries for the poor. His social reforms were no
less impressive, he founded 22 free schools, including
those for girls and untouchables, established the first
high school, and outlawed animal sacrifice throughout the
state. At the conclusion of his reign, he had more than
matched his father's record.
Maharana Vijayadevji II succeeded his father in 1891,
having spent several years as his understudy and helper.
No less interested in travel, he spread his wings yet
more widely, travelling to the Americas, East Asia and
Australasia, again bringing back innovations and ideas
that he could use at home. Modernisation was his
watchword and with it came free modern hospitals and
dispensaries, a museum and library, hostels for rural
students, railways, a telephone system, and an airfield.
The first steps toward industrialisation followed with
the establishment of oil, flour, rice, and timber mills,
and the opening of a sugar factory. He was also a gifted
musician, who took a great interest in both Indian and
western classical music, eventually completing a
six-volume treatise on the subject in 1933. All came to
an abrupt end when independence and partition came
suddenly in 1947, forcing him to relinquish control over
his beloved principality. He greeted the inevitable with
equanimity, signing the Instrument of Accession, then
merging the state with Bombay on 10th June
1948 and handing the care of his 123,336 subjects to
India. He lived another four years, devoting his time to
music and scholarly pursuits. Having lost his only son in
a motor crash early in 1952, he died within three months
of the event and was succeeded by his grandson,
9-guns (11-guns personal).
Argent on a pile gules between two heads
coupé sable a sun in splendour. Helmet: argent.Crest: A demi lion rampant gules. Supporters:
Panther and Bear. Motto: "Surya vamsa
dharmmaraksha" (the solar race, protector of
virtue). Lambrequins: Argent and purpure.
3x4 a white rectangular flag with a gold sun in splendour
of 8 wavy and 8 straight rays, with a face and tilak.
STYLES & TITLES:
The ruling prince: Namdar Shrimant Maha Mandaleshwar
Maharajadhiraj Maharana Shri (personal name)
Dharma Dev Rana Raja, Raja of Dharampur, with the style
of His Highness.
The consort of the ruling prince: Namdar Shreemant
Maharani Bai Shri (personal name) Kunverba Sahiba,
with the style of Her Highness.
The Heir Apparent: Namdar Shrimant Maharaj Kumar Shri (personal
name) (father's name) Sahib.
The younger sons of the ruling prince: Kumar Shri (personal
name) (father's name) Sahib.
The grandsons and other male descendants of the ruling
prince, in the male line: Kumar Shri (personal name)
(father's name) Sahib.
The unmarried daughters of the ruling prince: Chiranjivi
Maharajkumari Baiji Shri (personal name) Kunverba
The married daughters of the ruling prince: Akhand
Soubhagyavati Maharajkumari Baiji Shri (personal name)
The unmarried granddaughters of the ruling prince, in the male line: Chiranjivi Kunveri Baiji Shri (personal
name) Kumari Sahib.
Administration Report for the Dharampur State. 1884-1885,
1891-1897, 1910-1940, & 1943-1945. IOR V/10/ British
Library, St Pancras, London.
Naoroji M Dumasia. Dharampur a brief sketch of its
history and administration. Bombay Times Press, Bombay,
S. Devadas Pillai. Rajahs and Prajas, An Indian Princely
State, Then and Now. Popular Prakashan, Bombay, 1976.
List of Ruling Princes and Chiefs in Political Relations
with the Government of Bombay and their Leading
Officials, Nobles and Personages. Government of India
Central Publication Branch, Calcutta, 1931.
D.V. Saraiya. History and Administration of Dharampur
State (Prant Ramnagar) From 1262 to 1937. Published by
the President State Council Dharampur by special order of
H.H. Maharana Shri Viyadevji, Maharana Saheb of Dhrampur.
Basel Mission Press, Mangalore, S.K. 1937.
Father Lawrence Ober, SJ.
would be grateful to hear from anyone who may have
changes, corrections or additions to contribute. If you
do, please be kind enough to send me an e-mail using the
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- Copyright© Christopher Buyers
Copyright©Christopher Buyers, September 2006 - January 2012