The Phulkian Dynasty


The ruling house of Nabha enjoys a joint descent together with those of Patiala and Jhind, from Phul, through his son Tiloka. Hamir Singh, great-grandson of Tiloka, founded the city of Nabha in 1755. In 1763 he sided with the Sikh sardars in their fight with the Mughal Viceroy Zain Khan, and was confirmed in the possessions of all the territories he had freed from the Mughal power. He established almost complete independence, and succeeded in creating a state under the name of the city he founded.

Jaswant Singh, son of Hamir, succeeded in 1784 and assumed the title of Raja. He joined his Phulkian kinsmen and entered into treaty relations with the British, in opposition to the court at Lahore. He maintained cordial relations with the Emperor in Delhi and secured recognition of his father's conquests and high titles of honour. His younger son and successor, Raja Sri Devendra Singh, attempted to hedge his bets by remaining aloof during the Anglo-Sikh War. On securing their victory, the British charged him with intriueging with the enemy and abrogating his treaty responsibilities. Large tracts of territory were confiscated and the raja deposed in favour of his eldest surviving son.

Raja Bahrpur Singh, who succeeded as a minor, did not make the same mistake as his father. At the age of 17, he led his troops in support of the British during the Indian Mutiny, holding Ludhiana against the mutineers for a continuous period of six months. His courage and services were honoured with a guarantee of his possessions, high honours and titles, additional territory and a seat on the Viceroy's Council. Sadly, his early death in 1863 robbed the state of a promising reign. Raja Bhagwan Singh, his younger brother succeeded but also died young and without issue, eight years later.

The British appointed a commission of Phulkian rulers to look into choosing a successor to the vacant gadi. Their unanimous choice fell upon Hira Singh, the son Kunwar Sukha Singh, of Badrukhan, in Jind. Their choice proved a fortuitous one. His long and prosperous reign saw his little patchwork state transformed. Buildings and monuments sprang up everywhere, roads and railways constructed, and agriculture expanded. Gaining from the Sirhind irrigation canal, the state became a garden, producing wheat, millet, pulses, cotton and sugar. Land revenue receipts grew rapidly, and were ploughed back into improving agriculture, the infrastructure, schools and hospitals. A small but efficient army was created along modern lines, sent a contingent to the Second Afghan War in 1878 and with the Tirah expedition in 1897. The Raja lived long enough to attend all the Imperial Durbars, but increasingly left affairs of state in the hands of his promising son.

Maharaja Shri Ripudaman Singh succeeded his father in 1911 having already served under him as virtual administrator for some years. His abilities were noticed by the Imperial authorities, who appointed him to the Central Legislature. There he spoke on behalf of the Sikh interest, supported and pioneered reforming legislation to the benefit of his race and India. However, soon after his succession, relations with his larger and more powerful kinsman at Patiala deteriorated. Schemes and feuds abounded on both sides, sometimes resulting in dangerous and reckless actions. Unfortunately for Ripudaman, his state was small and insignificant in comparison to Patiala, who was also a British favourite. Unlike Patiala, he had publicly opposed them over the Amritsar massacre in 1919. When one of his escapades resulted in a suspected case of poisoning and another of kidnap, an enquiry was held and he was forced to relinquish administrative powers. When confronted with the evidence, he agreed to reside outside the state and to refrain from participating in the administration. A large allowance was awarded and he settled in Dehra Dun. An intelligent man left kicking his heals, soon found an outlet in further intrigue, not less. He joined an extreme religious group, engaged in seditious activities against British rule and attempted to interfere in the state administration through intermediaries. Accused of breaching the terms of the agreement, he was deposed, stripped of his titles and exiled to Koddaikanal, in Madras. He died there during the height of the Second World War.

Maharaja Shri Sir Pratap Singh succeeded as a minor in 1928. Removed from the influence of his father, he received a thoroughly modern Western education. His interests were more traditionally Sikh and he took an interest in military affairs, joined the army and served with distinction during the Second World War. He ended his service in the rank of a full Colonel, then embarked on resolving the issue of his state’s accommodation with post-Independence India. Nabha joined with fellow Phulkian rulers in founding the Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU) in 1948. Although this proved to be a successful move and natural union, Congress India was in no mood to tolerate such a centre of power for very long. They dissolved the union in 1956 and merged the states with a greater Punjab. Nevertheless, the Maharaja continued to serve India in a military capacity, acting as ADC to the President and serving as Colonel of the Sikh Regiment for many years. He saw through the momentous changes wrought by Mrs Gandhi’s policy of de-recognising the rulers in 1971, and died at the age of 76 in 1995. At his death, he was one of the last surviving knights of the Order of the Star of India.



Ermine a saltire purpure between four targets sable bossed or. Crest: A nude dexter arm embowed holding a bow and arrow proper.Supporters: Leopard and bay horse proper. Motto: "Phulashaweba Phulamudah" (Phul’s fruits are glorious). Lambrequins: purpure and argent.

The ruling prince: H.H. Farzand-i-Arjumand, Aqidat-Paiwand-i-Daulat-i-Inglishia, Barar Bans Sarmur, Raja-i-Rajagan, Maharaja Shri (personal name) Singh Malvendra Bahadur, Maharaja of Nabha, with the style of His Highness.
The consort of the ruling prince: Maharani Sri (personal name) Sahiba or (family name or clan) Sri Maharani Sahib, with the style of Her Highness.
The Heir Apparent: Sri Tikka Sahib Bahadur.
The consort of the Heir Apparent: Sri Tikkarani Sahiba.
The younger sons of the ruling prince, by senior wives, at birth: Maharajkumar Sri (personal name) Singh Sahib.
The daughters of the ruling prince, by senior wives: Maharajkumari Bibiji  (personal name) Sahiba.
The daughters-in-law of the ruling prince: Rani (personal name) Sahiba.
The grandsons of a ruling prince, in the male line: Rajkumar Sri (personal name) Singh.
The granddaughters of a ruling prince, in the male line: Rajkumari Bibiji (personal name) Kaur Sahiba.

None known.

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

Barar Bans: offspring of a Barar (a Jat tribe).
Farzand-i-Arjumand, Aqidat-Paiwand-i-Daulat-i-Inglishia: Beloved and faithful son of the English nation.
Maharaja: great prince.
Raja-i-Rajgan: prince amongst princes.
Sarmur: crowned head.

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Continuance of payment of allowance to Sardarni Nihal Kaur of Nabha @ Rs. 150/- by the Patiala & East Punjab States Union Govt. National Archives of India, PR_000001648627, File No. Progs., Nos. 35(35)-PB, 1951.
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“Maintenance Suit Against Nabha”, The Bombay Chronicle, Friday, August 2, 1940, p 4, col 3.
Memoranda of Information regarding certain Native Chiefs. Volume II, Madras, Bengal, North-West Provinces, Punjab. IOR (L/PS/20/F76/2), Oriental & India Office Collection, British Library, St Pancras, London.
Mt. Ishar Kaur, daughter of Aksharanand, aged 20 years, of Nabha, on S. A. (=sworn affidavit), In File No. 628-3-Political. Foreign and Political Department Notes. Serial Nos. 1-25. Nabha Affairs. p 79. National Archives of India. PR_000003033680, File: HOME_POLITICAL_NA_1924_NA_F_401, Repository II.
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Nabha affairs. Matters connected with the abdication of His Highness the Maharaja of Nabha. File 64(9).I-P(S)/1924. IOR/R/1/1/1512. India Office Records, Oriental and India Office Collection, British Library, London.
Nabha Affairs. National Archives of India. PR_000003033680, File: HOME_POLITICAL_NA_1924_NA_F_401, Repository II.
Northern India Who’s Who. Lahore, Punjab, 1942.
Patiala-Nabha Enquiry. 1923. IOR/R/1/1/4868-4902. India Office Records, Oriental and India Office Collection, British Library, London.
Representations from Sardarni Gurcharan Kaur and Ranjit Kaur wife of late Maharaja of Nabha. National Archives of India, PR_000001614092, File No. Progs., Nos. 3(30)-P, 1943.
Sardar Munnalal Syngal. The Patriot Prince, or The Life Story of Maharaja Ripudaman Singh of Nabha, who died as a Martyr. Doaba House, Delhi, 1961.
Thacker’s Indian Directory, Thacker’s Press & Directories, Ltd, Caltutta 1863-1956.
A. Vadivelu, The Ruling Chiefs, Nobles & Zamindars of India. G.C. Loganadham Bros, Madras, 1915.
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Dr. Sumerendra Vir Singh Chauhan.
Maharaj Indra Vikram Singh, of Rajpipla.
Father Lawrence Ober, SJ.
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