Thursday, 30 June 2011

Indore, Madhya Pradesh

Indore is a major city and commercial center of the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India. Indore is located 190 km west of state capital Bhopal. According to the 2011 Indian census, Indore city has a population of 1,516,918. It is the 15th largest city in India and the 147th largest city in the world.

The founders of Indore were the ancestors of the present zamindars of the region which spread from the banks of Narmada to the borders of Rajputana. Their headquarters were at a village called Kampel. In Mughal times, the founders of these families received the title of Chaudhari, which established their claim to the land. In the 18th century, the control of Malwa passed to the Peshwa clan, and the Chaudharis came to be known as "Mandloi"s (derived from Mandals meaning districts). The Holkars conferred the title of Rao Raja upon the family. The family retained its possessions of royalty, which included having an elephant, Nishan, Danka and Gadi even after the advent of Holkars and also retained the right of performing the first puja of Dushera (Shami Pujan) before the Holkar rulers.

Under Mughal rule, the family enjoyed great influence and was accorded confirmatory sanads by the Emperors Aurangzeb, Alamgir, and Farukhshayar, confirming their 'Jagir' rights. Rao Nandlal Chaudhary Zamindar, upon visiting the court of Delhi, received a special place in the emperor’s court along with two jewel studded swords (now on display in the Royal British Museum under the family's name) and confirmatory sanads. Raja Savai Jai singh of Jaipur, a personal friend of his, gifted him with a special "Gold Langar" which guaranteed a special place to him in all the Durbars of India. The family’s respectability and influence over Malwa was instrumental in the ascent of the Peshwas and Holkars to rulership of this region.

Rao Nandlal Chaudhary, the founder of Indore, was the Chief Zamindar (landlord), and had an army of 2000 soldiers. In 1713, Nizam was appointed as the controller of the Deccan plateau area, which renewed the struggle between the Marathas and the Mughals.

While visiting the temple of Indreshwar near the banks of river Saraswati, Rao Nandlal found the location to be safe and strategically located, being surrounded by rivers on all sides. He started moving his people in, and constructed the fort of Shree Sansthan Bada Rawala to protect them from harassment by Mughals. The city was named Indrapur (after Lord Indreshwar), and eventually came to be known as Indore.

Baji Rao Peshwa finally took control of Malwa in 1733 A.D. Malhar Rao Holkar was one of the four signatories who guaranteed the proper fulfillment of the conditions. Upon victory the Peshwas appointed Malhar Rao Holkar as a “Subhedar”, which marked the beginning of Holkars' reign in Malwa.

Thus, Indore came to be ruled by the Maratha Maharajas of the Holkar dynasty. The dynasty's founder, Malhar Rao Holkar, (1694–1766), was granted control of Malwa Maratha armies in 1724, and in 1733, was installed as the Maratha governor of the region. By the end of his reign, the Holkar state was de facto independent. He was succeeded by his daughter-in-law Ahilyabai Holkar who ruled from 1767 to 1795. She ruled from a palace-fort at Maheshwar, south of Indore on the Narmada River. Ahilyabai Holkar was an architectural patron who donated money for the construction of Hindu temples across India. In 1818, the Holkars were defeated by the British in the Third Anglo-Maratha War, and the Holkar kingdom became a part of the British Raj. As a result of this defeat in the Battle of Mahidpur, the treaty of Mandsaur was signed, through which the Cantonment town of Mhow was handed over to the British. The treaty also decreed that the capital of the Holkar state would shift from Maheshwar to Indore. After India's independence in 1947, Indore, along with a number of neighbouring princely states, became part of the Indian state of Madhya Bharat. Indore was designated the summer capital of this newly created state. On November 1, 1956, Madhya Bharat was merged into Madhya Pradesh and Bhopal was chosen as the capital. The city palace was the seat of administration of the rulers of the Malwa region – The Holkars (26 May 1728 to 20 April 1948).

Places to See:

Rajwada: Two hundred years ago, this seven storeyed historical building formed the nerve centre of all trading activities. Even today it stands proud in the market place, a silent tribute to the craftsmanship of unknown artisans of centuries ago.

Kanch Mandir: The `Palace of Mirrors' is a quaint Jain Shrine, close to Rajwada. The attraction of this palace, as the name indicates, is in the myriad mirrors studded on the walls and the ceiling giving rise to multiple reflections..

Lal Bagh Palace: Currently this is the residence of Usha Raje, direct descendent of the Holkars, whose ancestral palace it used to be. Exquisitely constructed with great detailing, it reflects the royal taste of the Holkars.

Chhatri Bagh: Across Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh the tradition of erecting chhatris or cenotaphs was quite prevalent. An example of this can be seen here at Chhatri Baugh where the cenotaphs were erected in memory of the Holkar rulers and their family.

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