History of Gwalior I

Gwalior under the Sindhia

In 1760 it was garrisoned by the Maratha leader Sindhia, from whom it was wrested in 1780 by the forces of the British East India Company, and to whom it was finally restored by the British in 1886.

Under the British Raj, the Sindhia ruled a large princely state with its capital at Gwalior. The state consisted of two well-defined parts, which may roughly be called the northern and the southern. The former was a compact mass of territory, bounded north and northwest by the Chambal River, which separated it from the British districts of Agra and Etawah, and the princely states of Dholpur, Karauli and Jaipur of Rajputana; on the east by the British districts of Jalaun, Jhansi, Lalitpur and Saugor; on the south by the princely states of Bhopal, Tonk, Khilchipur and Rajgarh; and on the west those of Jhalawar, Tonk and Kota of Rajputana. The southern, or Malwa, portion was made up of detached or semi-detached districts, between which are interposed parts of other princely states, which again were mixed up with each other in bewildering intricacy. The two portions together had a total area of 25,041 sq. mi. and a population of 2,933,001 in 1901.

The chief products were wheat, millets, pulses of various kinds, maize, rice, linseed and other oil-seeds; poppy, yielding the Malwa opium; sugar-cane, cotton, tobacco, indigo, garlic, turmeric and ginger. In the first decade of the twentieth century about 60% of the population of Gwalior state were employed in agricultural and only 15% in industrial occupations, the great majority of the latter being home workers. There was a leather factory at Morar; cotton-presses at Morena, Baghana and Ujjain; ginning factories at Agar, Nalkhera, Shajapur and Sonkach; and a cotton-mill at Ujjain. 55,000 persons were engaged in the cotton industry at the time of the 1901 census.

The population was composed of many elements, among which Brahmins and Rajputs were specially numerous. The prevailing religion was Hinduism, 84% of the people being Hindus and only 6% Muslims. The revenue of the state was about one million sterling; and large reserves had been accumulated, from which two millions were lent to the government of India in 1889, and later on another million for the construction of the Gwalior-Agra and Indore-Neemuch railways. Gwalior state built its own railways, including a branch from Bina on the Indian Midland to Guna; an extension of this line to Baran, which opened in 1899; from Bhopal to Ujjain; and two light railways, from Gwalior to Shivpuri and Gwalior to Bhind, which were opened by the viceroy in November 1899. On the same occasion the viceroy opened the Victoria College, founded to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee; and the Memorial Hospital, built in memory of the Maharaja’s father. British currency had been introduced. The state maintained three regiments of Imperial Service cavalry, two battalions of infantry and a transport corps.

– Neelesh Karkare

After Indian independence
Upon India’s independence in 1947, the Sindhia Maharaja of Gwalior acceded to India, and Gwalior, together with the 24 other princely states in the western half of the Central India Agency, formed the new state of Madhya Bharat. Gwalior was the winter capital of the new state, and Indore was the summer capital. In 1956, Madhya Bharat and the neighboring states of Vindhya Pradesh and Bhopal were merged into Madhya Pradesh state, with the new capital at Bhopal. The Scindia family has been active in national politics.

Neelesh Karkare,

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