The Junagadh family shares joint descent with the princely houses of Radhanpur and Balasinor, and the small states of Bantva, Manavadar and Sardargarh. Descendants of the Usmankhel sept of the Yusufzai Pathans from Afghanistan, they entered India under Usman Khan Babi, a follower of Emperor Humayun. His son, Sher Khan Babi, arrived in Gujarat in the train of Prince Murad Baksh, the Imperial Viceroy.

For many years, the family remained the faithful, though powerful, local fief holders of the Mughal power. The impending collapse of the empire during the early years of the eighteenth century, prompted the family to carve out independent kingdoms for themselves, from the various landholdings and governorships they held. Sher Khan Babi, the chief of the family, founded the state by expelling the then Mogul Governor in 1735. Originally a Rajput domain, it fell to the Muslims commanded by Mohammed Bagra of Ahmedabad in 1472. Sher Khan's descendants ruled over the state for the next two centuries, for a period as tributaries of Baroda, and later under the suzerainty of the British.

Although surrounded on three sides by the Dominion of India, and on the fourth by open sea, the Nawab decided to accede to the Dominion of Pakistan on 15th August 1947. Pakistan accepted on 13th September, fully in accordance with the agreed principles for the accession of princely states. The accession not being agreeable to India, they applied various methods of intimidation. They induced two vassal rulers to accede to India in return for recognition as independent rulers. Simultaneously, 'people's committees'  and congress party agitators were encouraged to ferment unrest and create disturbances, aimed at reducing the administration to chaos. The Nawab fled to Pakistan with his family fearing for his life, followed shortly afterwards by his chief minister. Indian forces entered the state and assumed full control, then organised a referendum under their own auspices. The largely Hindu population expressed an overwhelming wish to join India. A mere 91 votes out of 201,457 souls taking part, voted in favour of Pakistan. A surprising result, given that the state had a 40% Muslim population.

Nawab Mahabat Khan III is much maligned by modern Indian historians and popular writers, largely because of his concern for wildlife and domesticated animals, their welfare and conservation. Much is written about a marriage party that he arranged for a favourite dog, but the fact that modern Saurashtra is blessed with its only tracts of forest land because of him, never mentioned. He took steps to protect the dwindling Gir forests, final abode of the remaining population of Asiatic lion. His interest in animal husbandry improved the breeding stock of Kathiwadi horses and Gir cattle, greatly improving the milk yields of the latter. His reign saw the opening of the massive Willingdon Dam, built the Bahadur Khanji Library and established the Mahabat Khan Free College.

13-guns (15-guns local).

Vert three bezants in fesse between three hills proper. Crest: A Roal crown or with a cap vert and petals argent on the arches, overall a leopard's face or. Supporters: Lions argent. Motto: "Saurashtra" (Good government) or on a label of sky-blue. Lambrequins: Vert and or.

A red frilled banner with the state arms in full colour.

The ruling prince: Shri Diwan Nawab (personal name) Khan Bahadur, Nawab of Junagadh, with the style of His Highness.
The consort of the ruling prince: Nawab (personal name) Begum Sahiba, with the style of Her Highness.
The sons of the ruling prince: Nawabzada (personal name) Khanji (father's name) Sahib.
The daughters of the ruling prince: Nawabzadi Bima Shri (personal name) Bakhte Sahiba.

Male primogeniture, amongst the adherents of the Islamic faith.

None known.

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S.M. Edwardes & L.G. Fraser. Junagadh: Being a Historical, Archaealogical, Political and Statistical Account of the Premier State of Kathiawar. Times of India Press, Bombay, 1907.
Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency. Volume VIII. Kathiawar. Government of Bombay, Bombay, 1884.
Waman P. Kabadi (ed.), Indian Who's Who 1937-38. Yeshanand & Co., Bombay, 1937.
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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, Oriental & India Office Collection, British Library, St Pancras, London.
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Capt. H. Wilberforce-Bell, The History of Kathiawad, from the earliest times. William Heinemann, London, 1916.

Nawabzadi Aliya Dilawar Khanji.
Nawabzada Muhammad Alamgir Khanji.
Sahibzada Muzammil Khanji Babi.
Father Lawrence Ober, SJ.
Copyright© Christopher Buyers
Copyright© Christopher Buyers
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Copyright© Christopher Buyers

Copyright©Christopher Buyers, February 2002 - October 2014