SAVANUR

 

BRIEF HISTORY

The ruling family descends from 'Abdu'l Karim Khan, a Miyana Afghan in the service of the Mughal emperors, who had received a grant of a village near Delhi. Ragati Bahlul Khan, seventeenth in descent from  'Abdu'l Karim, being dissatisfied with his position at the Mughal, quit the service of Shah Jahan and entered that of Sultan 'Ali Adil Shah of Bijapur. His grandson, 'Abdu'l Karim Khan, entitled Bahlul Khan, rose to the position of Commander-in-Chief, Chief Minister and Regent of Bijapur. He received a very large jagir from Sultan Sikandar Adil Shah for his services in suppressing the revolt of the paligdars and jamadars. After Bahlul Khan's death, his son 'Abdu'l Rauf, succeeded his father as Commander-in-Chief of the Bijapur Army. At the fall of that kingdom, he delivered up the seals of office and Royal insignia to Emperor Aurangzeb. The Emperor confirmed him in his father's possessions, granted him high titles and honours in reward.

Nawab Dalel Khan, as 'Abdu'l Rauf was entitled, extended his control over a wide area and removed his seat to the town of Savanur, from which the state takes its name. His successors ruled over extensive territories almost independently for half a century. However, the increasing power of the Marathas and their later contests with the Nizam of Hyderabad, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, found the Savanur rulers caught between a contest of giants. Siding with one party often resulted in the loss of territory whenever another party was victorious. By the second half of the eighteenth century, more than half their territories had been ceded to the Marathas. By the end of the century Tipu Sultan had sacked the capital, removed every ounce of treasure and annexed the remainder. Earlier, the ruling Nawab had been forced to sanction the marriage of his son and daughter into Hyder 'Ali's family, but this failed to save them from Tipu's greed.

With the death of Tipu in 1799, some semblance of independence returned to the family along with about a third of their original territories, though they remained vassals of the Peshwa. The latter's promises of a substantial pension, in lieu of some retained lands, were never adequately fulfilled until Wellington negotiated the compensatory cession of several villages in 1802. Thereafter, the Nawabs of Savanur slowly drifted towards British suzerainty. After the destruction of the Maratha confederacy in 1818, they became vassals of the HEIC in fact as well as in name.

The little state continued in a state of peaceful slumber for the rest of century, until stirred as if by a storm, on the accession of 'Abdu'l Majid Khan II. Succeeding as a minor at two years old, he had been carefully raised and educated by his British overseers. The first of his race to receive a modern education, he travelled widely and mixed with people in all walks of life in India and abroad. He returned to assume power determined to modernise his state and advance his people. A furious programme of buildings of all kind ensued with modern schools, dispensaries, government offices, courts, palaces, gaols, irrigation tanks and roads. In the short period of thirty-five years of his active rule, this little state advanced beyond anything achieved in the previous three centuries.

The advent of Indian independence in 1947 and the withdrawal of the British caused the Nawab great sadness. Throughout his life he had been loyal to his Emperor right down to his socks and served with distinction in Iraq and Persia during the Great War. Surrendering his life work and responsibility to the Congress regime and the loss of his British friends broke his heart. Once the transfer formalities were completed, he retired to his private mansion at Dharwad, never setting foot in Savanur again. Once, when faced with attending a judicial hearing, he requested that the court be set up at the railway terminus adjacent to the border of the old state. The local authorities complied without a murmur, out of sincere respect for a distinguished gentleman, held in high regard almost universally. At his death in 1954, they buried him amongst those he loved most, in Savanur.

STYLES & TITLES:
The ruling prince: Meherban Nawab (personal name) Khan Bahadur, Diler Jang, Nawab of Savanur.
The consort of the ruling prince: Meherban Nawab (personal name) Begum Sahiba.
The Heir Apparent: Nawabzada (personal name) Khan, Wali Ahad Sahib.
The younger sons of the ruling prince: Nawabzada (personal name) Khan Sahib.
The daughters of the ruling prince: Nawabzadi (personal name) Begum Sahiba.
The male descendants of the ruling prince, in the male line: Sahibzada (personal name) Khan Sahib.
The female descendants of the ruling prince, in the male line: Sahibzadi (personal name) Begum.
The more remote male descendants of the ruling prince: Sardar (personal name) Khan Sahib.

SOURCES:
Administration Reports of the Savanur State, 1899-1946.
Bengal Board Collections. IOR (F/4/1346). India Office Collection, The British Library, London.
Bengal Political Proceedings, Fort William, 24th December 1832, No. 88. IOR (P/126/59). India Office Collection, The British Library, London.
Lewin B. Bowring, CSI. Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan and the struggle with the Musalman powers of the South. Rulers of India. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1893.
Prof. P. Chinnian. Tipu Sultan, The Great. Siva Publications, Erode, South India, 1983.
K.N. Chitnis, The Nawabs of Savanur. Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi, 2000.
Chitnis, K.N. "Savanur Nawabs: Historical Documents". Quarterly of the Bharat Itihas Samshodhak Mandal, Vol. 63, Nos. 3-4. Pune, 1985.
Collection of Papers in the Office of the Superintendent of Political Pensions. IOR (V/27/71/1). India Office Collection, The British Library, London.
'Diler Jang' Souvenir, of the Government First Grade College, Savanur, 1986.
Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, Vol. XXII-B: Dharwad and Savanur, Bombay, 1928.
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.
Provision for Prince Gholam Mahomed's Family, India Foreign Proceedings Financial, Dec. 1872, Nos. 16-22. IOR (P/751). India Office Collection, The British Library, London.
Return to an Address of the Honourable The House of Commons, dated 12 February 1861: East India (Mysore). J.W. Kaye, Secretary in the Political Department, India Office, London, 1861.
Silver Jubilee Volume of Nawab 'Abdu'l Majid Khan II, Savanur, 1937.

SPECIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:
Nawab Abdul Majid Khan.
Dr. Morris Bierbrier, FSA.
Dr. M.R. Farukhi.
John McLeod.
Father Lawrence Ober, SJ.
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CopyrightęChristopher Buyers, September 2004 - August 2008