The Ghorpade Dynasty


The Mudhol family claims descent from Karan Singh, Rawal of Mewar (r. 1158 - 1168). Sajjan Singh [Sujansi], the younger son of Rana Ajai Singh, of Kelwara and Regent of Mewar, left for the Deccan after his father died in a skirmish with bandits in 1326. He found his way to the Deccan and took military service under the Bahamani Kings of Bijapur. His military exploits earned him a large grant of territory at Mirat, in the Berars. His son and grandson distinguished themselves equally well in the service of Bijapur, but I is his great grandson who achieved the greatest fame.

Rana Bhairav Singh, or Bhosaji, undertook several important military missions and gained great fame. He incurred the favour of his Bahamani masers, who rewarded him with large land grants, including Mudhol and 84 other villages. He left a large family of ten or eleven sons, and it is from him that the original clan name of Bhonsle derives. Apart from the Mudhol family, he also stands progenitor of the ruling families of Satara, Kolhapur, Tanjore, Nagpur, Sandur, Savantwadi and a host of lesser chiefdoms. Bhosaji's second son, Devraj, inherited the Mudhol after his elder brother died childless in a skirmish in 1413.

Although Devraj and his sons also distinguished themselves in military service, it is to his gallant great grandson that the family owes its name. The conquest of the great citadel a Vishalgad in 1471 is attributed to his valour and ingenuity in breaching its defences. Karansinh, scaled the walls of the fort by means of a rope, taken over its side by tying it to a wall climbing monitor lizard or gecko (ghorpad in Marathi). Although he died during the later stages of he battle, his young son received recognition for his services. Bhimsinh received promotion to a command of 3,000 and the hereditary title of Raja. This branch of the family has borne the name Ghorpade ever since.

He family transferred their allegiance to the Adil Shahi, once the former Chief Minister of the Bijapur Sultan established that dynasty in 1490. Further military distinction by successive members of the family culminated in the recognition of Maloji Raje as an independent ruler, by ruler Sultan 'Ali Adil Shah II in 1671. The family continued to prosper for a further century, until events beyond their control forced them into decline. The rising power of the Marathas, together with the increasing contest between them and the Nizam of Hyderabad, resulted in the Ghorpades having to choose sides. Whichever choice they made would result in the loss of half their territory. They tried as best not to make any choice, but such a situation could not prevail for long. By the early years of the nineteenth century, the family had lost most of its territory save Mudhol, consisting of 368 sq miles.

Vyankatrao I Raje Ghorpade entered into treaty relations with the HEIC in 1819. This brought a degree of stability and ushered in a long period of peace, which enabled him and his successors to consolidate their positions and serve their people. Until then, most rulers had been obliged to reside outside Mudhol, out on campaign or a court in Poona. Now, however, they could devote time to administration, improving the revenues, justice and good government.

Perhaps the most distinguished ruler during the modern age was Malojirao IV. He succeeded his father as a minor in 1900, after his elder brother having predeceased him. He was carefully raised and his education supervised, so that be would acquire the skills seen as essential for a modern ruler. He did not disappoint his tutors and grew up to be a model ruler, closly involved with and interested in the welfare of his subjects, improving the administration, agriculture and industry within his small state. In this he was helped by the natural dark soil of the region, which helped its farmers excel in the cultivation of groundnuts, wheat, bajra, jawar, and cotton. His promotion of industry resulted in the establishment of ginning and pressing factories, slate works, oil expellers, an a large handloom industry producing high quality saris in great demand throughout India. Free primary education, very cheap secondary education, and a system of scholarships for further education, provided useful conduits to social mobility. The state also provided free medical care through a well-equipped hospital at Mudhol, a maternity ward and two rural dispensaries. The Raja also took a keen interest in military affairs, being one of very few Indian rulers to serve during the Great War, in the difficult Middle East campaign. His numerous achievements and services were recognised by the grant of a permanent gun salute and the territorial title of Raja. He died in 1937, leaving his throne to his minor son.

Raja Bhairavsinhrao did not have a chance to prove himself as a ruler, since he reigned under the regency of his mother, almost to the eve of the British transfer of power. He received ruling powers in July 1947, and his immediate exercise of that power being to decide to join the new dominion of India, which surrounded his territory. Although he had planned to develop industry further by constructing cement and sugar plants, and to introduce a new constitution with responsible government, the central authorities decided that such states should merge with contiguous states of the dominion. Mudhol consequently merged with Bombay in March 1948, and transferred to Mysore in 1956. He died in a car accident in 1984, leaving an only daughter, without an obvious male heir.

9-Guns (1922).

White, black and green.

The ruling prince: Raja Shrimant (personal name) Raje Ghorpade Bahadur, Raja of Mudhol, with the style of His Highness.
The consort of the ruling prince: Shrimant Sakal Soubhagyavati Rani (personal name) Raje Ghorpade, Rani of Mudhol, with the style of Her Highness.
The Heir Apparent: Yuvraj Shrimant (personal name) Raje Sahib Ghorpade.
The younger sons of the ruling prince: Rajkumar Shrimant (personal name) Raje Ghorpade.
The daughters of the ruling prince: Rajkumari Shrimant (personal name) Raje Ghorpade.
The married daughters of the ruling prince: Shrimant Sakal Soubhagyavati (personal name) Raje (husband's family name).
The other male descendant of the ruling prince, in the male line: Shrimant (personal name) Raje Ghorpade.

None known.

Male primogeniture, with the right of adoption by the recognised head of the family on the failure of natural male heirs.

M.Y. Ghorpade, The Grand Resistance: Murarirao Ghorpade and the 18th-Century Deccan. Ravi Dayal Publisher, Delhi, 1992.
Sorabji Jehangir and F.S. Jehangir Taleyarkhan, Princes and Chiefs of India: A Collection of Biographies, with Portraits of the Indian Princes and Chiefs and Brief Historical Surveys of their Territories. Three Volumes. Waterlow and Sons Limited, London, 1903.
Waman P. Kabadi (ed.), Indian Who's Who 1937-38.Yeshanand & Co., Bombay, 1937.
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.
Rao Bahadur D.B. Parasnis. The Sangli State. Lakshmi Printing Works, Byculla, Bombay, 1917.
Thacker's Indian Directory, Thacker's Press & Directories, Ltd., Calcutta 1863-1956.
A. Vadivelu, The Ruling Chiefs, Nobles & Zamindars of India. G.C. Loganadham Bros., Madras, 1915.

Jivraj Singh.
CopyrightęChristopher Buyers
CopyrightęChristopher Buyers

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CopyrightęChristopher Buyers, April 2007 - August 2008