WANKANER

The Jhala Dynasty

BRIEF HISTORY

The ruling family of Wankaner represents the senior branch of the Jhala clan of Rajputs, who ruled at Halvad. The junior branch retained possession of Dhrangadhra-Halvad, while the senior branch established themselves at Wadhwan and Wankaner. The separation between the two lines occurred when Kumar Shri Prithirajji, the eldest son of Maharana Chandrasinghji of Halvad, died as a hostage at Ahmadabad during his father's lifetime. He left three sons, of whom the eldest should have succeeded to his position as Heir Apparent. However, their paternal uncle, Askaranji seized control of the government during his father's old age. The three nephews fled in fear of their lives and took refuge with their maternal relations at Bhadli. Rajoji and Sartanji, the two younger sons, survived into adulthood and then entered the service of the Jam Sahib of Nawanagar. After distinguishing themselves and earning his support, they set out to recover their patrimony. In this, they were only partially successful, gaining control over Wadhwan, a traditional fief of the Halvad Heir Apparent, but failing to wrest control of Halvad itself. The youngest brother, Sartanji defeat the unruly Babrias and Maiyas and established his control over Wankaner, where he constructed a capital and establish a separate principality.

Sartanji's descendants continued to rule at Wankaner, but retained their ambition to recover Halvad. Consequently, a feud between the two branches of the Jhala clan continued for more than a century. His great grandson, Chandrasinhji I, briefly held Halvad after taking it from the Muslim jagirdar, who had been given that state in jagir in 1678. Unfortunately for him, the Imperial authorities settled their differences with the Halvad ruler and forced Chandrasinhji to give it up in 1680.

Bharoji [Bhavaji], grandson of Chandrasinhji I also briefly held Halvad during the middle of the eighteenth century, but had to let go of his prize. He was also responsible for subduing and controlling the Kathis and Kothis, and for constructing the defensive wall around Wankaner town. His descendants continued the feud for several decades more. The enmity ultimately reached preposterous proportions when the Jhalas went to war over a goat in 1805, during which hundreds were killed. Eventually, these conflicts terminated during the reign of Chandrasinhji II, by the Walker settlement of 1807-1808. Thereafter, the peace afforded by the settlement ensured that the Jhala rulers could concentrate on improving he lot of their subjects.

Wakhatsinhji, son and successor of Chandrasinhji II, did not reign very long but spent almost all three years of his reign on religious devotion and pilgrimages to holy places. It took the long and peaceful reign of his son, Banesinhji, for the reforms needed by a modern state to find implementation with any enthusiasm. He took the first steps towards reforming the administration, revenue collection and associated areas of government. He died in 1881, after a reign lasting nearly forty years and the first reign of his house to be peaceful.

Amarsinhji succeeded his father at the age of two and reigned for seventy-three years. During his early years, the state was placed under a Council of Administration and closely supervised by the British authorities. Wholesale reforms were introduced in almost all areas of government activity, with a good deal of attention being paid to improving agriculture, the introduction of educational and medical facilities. They were also careful to ensure that the young ruler received an entirely modern education. When he did take up the reigns of government in 1899, an entirely new sort of ruler had been born. Energetic, sporting, curious and devoted to his people, he spent his whole life at full gallop. He continued the reforms introduced under the regency, but often went far further than his guardians would have wished. Agriculture, industry, banking and finance, irrigation, public security, justice, state revenues, public works and building, representative government, sports, hunting, motor cars and aircraft, all occupied his inveterate attention. He even found time to go on active service during the Great War. His state being too small to provide a significant army, he joined the Kathiawar Motor Ambulance Corps, flooded it with recruits and then accompanied them overseas.

Despite Amarsinhji's close association and regard for the British, he did not neglect his relationships with the new democratic and nationalist forces. He was one of the first rulers in Western India to introduce responsible and representative government in the rural areas. He often financially supported Mahatma Gandhi and his movement, and often even gave refuge to participants in the freedom struggle. When the transfer of power came in 1947, Wankaner unreservedly opted for India, later merging with the other princely states in the region to form the Saurashtra Union in June 1948. The old Maharana died at the age of seventy-five in 1954, confident that he had done his duty before God and his people.

Maharana Pratapsinhji succeeded his father in the titular dignities enjoyed by his ancient house. Educated at Cheltenham and Cambridge, he succeeded too late to use his considerable talents in the betterment of his people. However, he has remained a potent force in his former realm and is greeted as father and mother wherever he goes. He celebraed his centenary at a large gathering in Wankaner in April 2007, and died barely a month later. His sons have taken up their positions in the modern India, each in their way conservators of all that is good in its heritage. The elder son and successor, Maharana Digvijaysinhji, enjoyed a succesful political career but is now largely concerned with cultural, architectural and related heritage concerns. His younger brother, Ranjitsinhji, in the field of nature conservation and the natural environment, a world expert on the Indian Blackbuck and tiger.

SALUTE:
11-guns.

STYLES & TITLES:
The ruling prince: Maharana Raj Shri (personal name) (father's name) Sahib, Maharana Raj Sahib of Wankaner, with the style of His Highness.
The consort of the ruling prince: Maharani Ba Shri (personal name) Sahib, with the style of Her Highness.
The Heir Apparent: Maharajkumar Shri (personal name) (father's name) Sahib, Yuvaraj Sahib of Wankaner.
The consort of the Heir Apparent: Yuvarani (personal name) Sahiba.
The younger sons of ruling princes: Maharajkumar Shri (personal name) (father's name) Jhala.
The daughters of the ruling prince: Maharajkumari Ba Shri (personal name) Sahiba.
The daughters of the ruling prince, in the male line: Rajkumari Ba Shri (personal name) Sahiba.
The other male descendants of ruling princes, in the male line: Kumar Shri (personal name) (father's name) Jhala.
The other female descendants of ruling princes, in the male line: Kunveri Ba Shri (personal name) Kunverba Sahib.

ORDERS & DECORATIONS:
None known.

RULES OF SUCCESSION:
Male primogeniture, with the right of adoption by the recognised head of the family, on the failure of natural heirs.

SOURCES:
Administration Report of the Wankaner State. 1909/10-1943/44. IOR/V/10, Oriental & India Office Collection, British Library, St Pancras, London.Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage. Burke's Peerage Limited, London, 1900-1959.
Chiefs and Leading Families in Rajputana (The Ruling Princes, Chiefs and Leading Personages in Rajputana and Ajmer). Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing, Calcutta, 1894, 1903, 1912, 1916 and 1935.
Alexander Kinloch Forbes. Ras-Mala, Hindu Annals of Western India, with particular reference to Gujarat. Heritage Publishers. New Delhi, 1973.
Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency. Volume VIII. Kathiawar. Government of Bombay, Bombay, 1884.
Memoranda on The Indian States 1940 (Corrected up to the 1st January 1940). Manager of Publication, Government of India, Delhi, 1940.
The Rajputana Gazetteer. Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing, Calcutta, 1879.
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.
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.

SPECIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:
H.H. Maharana Sriraj Meghrajji III, Maharaja Raj Sahib of Dhrangadhra-Halvad, KCIE.
H.H. Raja Shri Narendra Singh, Raja of Jhabua.
Father Lawrence Ober, SJ.
Sudhir K. Patel.
Manish S. Rathore.
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WANKANER 4 MAIN
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CopyrightęChristopher Buyers, April 2007 - August 2008