The Jadeja Dynasty


The state of Gondal came into being after a quarrel between two half-brothers of the Jadeja family of Rajkot. Thakore Meramanji I of Rajkot had two sons by different wives, Sahibji the elder and Kumbhoji the younger. Meramanji feared that at his death Kumbhoji, a strong and wilful child, would not be satisfied with his position and would pose a danger to Sahibji and the throne. Having warned his elder son to be on his guard, the latter took the opportunity of his brother's absence from the fort to shut the gates against him on his return. Kumbhoji went off to Junagadh in the hope of eliciting the help of the local faujdar, but failing in his appeal, he turned to the Jam Sahib of Nawanagar, the chief of his family clan. Although the Jam did not relish the idea of intervening on his kinsman's behalf, negotiations between the parties ensued and a division effected. Kumbhoji received the lands south of the Sardhar dyke. Rajkot and the lands north of Sardhar went to his brother Sahibji. He set up his capital at Ardoi and attempted to conquer the surrounding territories, but was only partially successful. Having held Gondal for a short time, the faujdar of Junagadh forced its return in 1648.
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Kumbhoji's elder son, Sagramji I, succeeded his father in 1649 but wisely mended his relations with the Junagadh faujdars, the then principal power in the area. He served them faithfully and cultivated their friendship to the extent that he was able to negotiate the return of Gondal in 1652. He removed his capital to that place, from whence the family ruled the state thereafter. Copyright© Christopher Buyers

Sagramji's son and grandson considerably expanded their territories and their wealth by serving the nawabs and subduing the criminal tribes. However, by the late eighteenth century, their descendants took less and less interest in the affairs of government. A series of unhappy choices in ministers and managers reduced the treasury bear, the near collapse of the administration, and an increase in lawlessness. When Bhanabhai ascended the gadi in 1841, the state debt had risen to 20 lakhs and there was little hope of improvement. Little improved during his reign, but things changed when Sagramji II succeeded him in 1851. He began slowly transforming the state by reforming the judicial system, building courts and a gaol, creating a police force, and establishing municipal government. At his death in 1869, the annual revenue receipt had begun to improve and a start on modernising the state had been made.

Bhagvantsinhji succeeded his father in 1869, aged four. Because of his young age, the government appointed a Council of Regency to manage state affairs under the close supervision of the British Agent. The young ruler was carefully educated in the most modern methods, the first of his line to do so. The experience lit a spark rarely seen amongst his fellow princes. On his majority, he began working with unflagging industry towards improving the welfare and wellbeing of all his subjects. He reformed the administration, developed the resources of the state, and built schools, colleges and hospitals. His exertions were so great that he improved land revenues and state income ten-fold, enabling him to free his subjects from taxes, rates, customs, octroi and export duties. He provided free and compulsory education to male and female alike up to the university level and for the non-academically minded training facilities for engineers, mechanics, carpenters & joiners, surveyors, painters, and levellers. Irrigation networks and dams helped boost agriculture and cultivate wasteland, improved methods of husbandry improved life stock and improved methods of cultivation increased yields. Railways, metalled roads, the telegraph, telephone, underground electricity, and electric light improved communications and life generally. He took a deep interest in medicine at an early age, vowing to do all he can to alleviate disease and suffering. To do so he enrolled at Edinburgh University and studied for his degree, graduated as a medical doctor and went on to earn his place as Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. He returned and ministered to his subjects throughout his life, working late into the night five days a week, and taking a daily tour of inspection around the capital before finally retiring to his bed.
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Having studies hard and excelled in academia, Bhagvantsinhji did not spare his own sons. They were all sent to be educated at the finest institutions in Britain, one qualified as a doctor and two others as engineers, and they were all brought back to practice their skills in Gondal. The doctor served as the state medical officer, one son as head of the public works and engineering department, and the last as state railway engineer. Within a few years, the state boasted the best medical services, public works and railways in India. The whole Royal Family, daughters and wives included, engaged in improving the welfare of his subjects. His wives, daughters and daughters-in-law were amongst the first to abandon purdah and go out into the world, often working amongst the poor in rural villages. When he died in 1944, Bhagvantsinhji had transformed his state to such an extent that he was legendary in India and abroad.
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Maharaja Bhojirajsinhji had along been associated with his father in the administration of the state, and had been his close partner and helper in modernising and transforming it. Alas, his succession took place during the dark days of the Second World War; just two years before the British announced their intention to transfer power. Consequently, his ability to add much to his father's legacy during his own reign was somewhat limited. Nevertheless, he increased expenditure on various acts of public utility, from Rs 6 million p.a. in 1944 to Rs 10 million three years later. In partnership with his wife, female education and improvement became a priority. When the Dominion of India came into being in 1947, he readily acceded to it and then joined with his fellow rulers to form the United State of Kathiawad (Saurashtra) in 1948. At the date of transfer, Gondal handed over one of the largest cash reserves of any state, including those much larger than itself.
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Maharaja Vikramsinhji succeeded his father to the titular honours of his house in 1956. He had also been closely involved in the state administration after completing his education and training in Mysore. He enjoyed a good degree of success as a sportsman, particularly as a cricketer and tennis player. Horse racing and motor cars were also a passion, which he passed on to his son when he died in 1969.
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Today, Maharaja Jyotendrasinhji, whose passion for cars is unrivalled, heads the House of Gondal. He has amassed a prize collection of vintage automobiles dating back to the turn of the century, alongside an array of modern sports cars dating from his own career in motors ports. He is also involved in a variety of business concerns in Gondal, Bombay, Rajkot, and Delhi and in England, particularly in the fields of construction, real estate and investment. Two of the older and larger palaces are now exquisite hotels, catering for the burgeoning market of heritage travellers.
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Copyright© Christopher Buyers
A belt and sword with the word "Gondal" at the top. Motto: "Sajyam cha Satyam" (ready and true).
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The ruling prince: Maharaja Thakore Shri (personal name) Sahib, Maharaja Thakore Sahib of Gondal, with the style of His Highness.
The consort of the ruling prince: Maharani Shri (personal name) Sahiba, Maharani of Gondal, with the style of Her Highness.
The Heir Apparent: Yuvaraj Shri (personal name) (father's personal name) Sahib, Yuvaraj Sahib of Gondal.
The younger sons of the ruling prince: Maharajkumar Shri (personal name) (father's personal name) Sahib.
Th daughters-in-law of the ruling prince: Rani Shri (personal name) Sahiba.
The daughters of the ruling prince: Maharajkumari Ba Shri (personal name) Sahiba.
The grandson of the ruling prince, in the male line: Kumar Shri (personal name) (father's personal name) Sahib.
The other male descendants of the ruling prince, in the male line: Kumar Shri (personal name) (father's personal name) Jadeja.
The other female descendants of the ruling prince, in the male line: Ba Shri (personal name) Sahiba.
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Male primogeniture, with the right of adoption by the recognised head of the family on the failure of natural male heirs.
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Copyright© Christopher Buyers
Lewis Bentham Bowring. Bowring Collection. MSS. Eur. G.38, Oriental India Office Collection, British Library, London.
Harikrishna Lalshankar Dave. A Short History of Gondal. Education Society Press, Byculla, Bombay, 1889.
Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency. Volume VIII. Kathiawar. Government of Bombay, Bombay, 1884.
Gondal's Cherished Treasures. An Account of Shree Bhagvat Sinhjee Golden Jubilee Celebrations. Shree Bhagvat Sinhjee Golden Jubilee Committee, Gondal, 1934.
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.
Memoranda on The Indian States 1940 (Corrected up to the 1st January 1940). Manager of Publication, Government of India, Delhi, 1940.
Ann Morrow. Highness, The Maharajas of India, F.A. Thorpe (Publishing) Ltd, Anstey, Leicestershire, first published by Grafton Books, London 1986.
The Ruling Princes, Chiefs and Leading Personages in the Western India States Agency, 1st edition. Rajkot, 1928.
The Ruling Princes, Chiefs and Leading Personages in the Western India States Agency, 2nd Edition, Delhi, 1935. IOR V/27/70/71. Correction slips to 2nd Edition 1936-1946 IOR V/27/70/72. British Library, St Pancras, London.
Saint Nihal Singh. Shree Bhagvat Sinhjee: The Maker of Modern Gondal. Golden Jubilee Committee, Gondal, 1934.
Thacker's Indian Directory, Thacker's Press & Directories, Ltd., Calcutta 1863-1956.
Capt. H. Wilberforce-Bell. The History of Kathiawad, from the earliest times. William Heinemann, London, 1916.
Copyright© Christopher Buyers
Copyright© Christopher Buyers
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Copyright©Christopher Buyers, April 2007 - October 2014