The Jhala Dynasty
- 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
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.
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
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)
The other female descendants of ruling princes, in the
male line: Kunveri Ba Shri (personal name)
ORDERS & DECORATIONS:
RULES OF SUCCESSION:
Male primogeniture, with the right of adoption by the
recognised head of the family, on the failure of natural
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,
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.
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.
H.H. Maharana Sriraj Meghrajji III, Maharaja Raj Sahib of
H.H. Raja Shri Narendra Singh, Raja of Jhabua.
Father Lawrence Ober, SJ.
Sudhir K. Patel.
Manish S. Rathore.
- I 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 contact
details at: Copyrightę Christopher Buyers
Buyers, April 2007 - August 2008