Ajaigarh State

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Note: National, provincial and district boundaries have changed considerably since 1908. Typically, old states, ‘divisions’ and districts have been broken into smaller units, units, and many tahsils upgraded to districts.Many units have since been renamed. Therefore, this article is being posted mainly for its historical value.

Ajaigarh State

A sanad State in Central India, under the Bundelkhand Political Agency, lying between 24 degree 5' and 25 degree 10' N. and 79 degree 50' and 8o° 21' E., with an area of about 771 square miles, distributed over two separate tracts, one surrounding the town of Ajaigarh, the other near to Maihar. The whole State lies in the heart of the Vindhyas, and is much cut up by hills and valleys. The principal streams are the Ken and its affluent the Bairma. The rainfall recorded at Ajaigarh during a period of eleven years averaged 47 inches.

The Ajaigarh chiefs are Bundela Rajputs, being descendants of Chhatarsal, the founder ol Panna. In 1731 Chhatarsal divided his State into several shares, of which one worth 31 lakhs, including Ajaigarh, was given to his third son, Jagat Raj. On the death of Jagat Raj, his son and successor, Pahar Singh, was continually engaged in disputes with his nephews, Khuman Singh and Guman Singh. Finally, a settlement was effected by which Guman Singh received Banda District, including the fort of Ajaigarh. In 1792 Bakht Singh, a nephew of Guman Singh, who had succeeded to the Banda State, was driven out by Ali Bahadur and reduced to such straits that he was obliged to throw himself on the charity of his conqueror, and accept

a subsistence allowance of 2 rupees a day. When in 1803 the British succeeded the Marathas in the possession of Bundelkhand, they granted to Bakht Singh a cash pension of Rs. 30,000 a year, until territory could be assigned to him.

In 1807 he obtained a sanad for the Kotra and Pawai parganas, the pension being discontinued in 1808. The Ajaigarh fort and the surrounding country were at this time in the hands of one Lachhman Daowa, a noted freebooter, who at once proposed terms to the British authorities; and as it was important to pacify the country, he was allowed to continue in possession on the conditions ofallegiance, the payment of a tribute of Rs. 4,000 a year, and the surrender ol the fort after two years.

His entire disregard of these conditions and his persistent turbulence made it necessary to resort to force, and the fort was taken by Colonel Martindell in 1809 after a seve're fight. A large share of Lachhman Daowa's possessions was then added to Bakht Singh's territory, including the fort of Ajaigarh, which became the capital of his State. In 1812, at the Raja's request, a fresh sanad was granted defining his possessions more accurately. Bakht Singh died in 1837, and his son and successor, Madho Singh, in 1849. Madho Singh's brother, Mahipat Singh, then succeeded, and on his death in 1853 was followed by his son, Bejai Singh, who died two years later.

There being no direct heirs, the State was held to have escheated to the British Government. While the matter was under reference to the Court of Directors, the Mutiny broke out. In recognition of the fact that the late chief's mother remained faithful to the British during the disturbances, the escheat was waived, and the succession of the present Maharaja, Ranjor Singh, an illegitimate brother ofBejai Singh, was recognized in 1859.

In 1862 Ranjor Singh received a sanad of adoption, and in 1877 the hereditary title of Sawai. His Highness is the author of several works, including treatises on the Mutiny and the use of cheetahs in- hunting. Enhanced criminal jurisdiction was conferred in 1887, subyect to certain limitations, which include the submission ofall sentences of death for confirmation to the Agent to the Governor-General. In 1897 Ranjor Singh was created a K.C.I.E.

The chief bears the titles of His Highness and Maharaja Sawai, and receives a salute of 11 guns. The eldest son Raja Bahadur Bhopal Singh, was born in 1866.

Besides the old fort at Ajaigarh, two other places in the State possess archaeological interest. At the village of Bachhon, 15 miles north-east of Ajaigarh, are the remains of a large town, and two tanks — one, the Bhitaria Tal, being a very fine example of Chandel work. Tradition assigns the foundation of the town to Bachha Raja, minister to Parmal Deo or Parmardl Deo (1165-1203), the last important Chandel ruler. Not far from the tank an inscription was found dated A. D. 1376, in which the town is called Vacchiun.

The other place is Nachna, 2 miles from Ganj (24 degree 25' N. and 8o° 28' E.), wrongly entered as Narhua in our maps. It was formerly known as Kuthara, and is said to have been raised into a place of importance by Sohan Pal Bundela in the thirteenth century.

The number ofold pan gardens on the site show that a large town once flourished here. Two partially ruined temples arestill standing, one of which, dedicated to Parvati, is of unusual interest. From its style and ornamentation it must belong to the Gupta period of the fourth or fifth century. An elaborate attempt has been made to preserve the old fashion of the rock-cut temples, the walls being carved so as to imitate rock.

The figures sculptured upon it are all in Gupta style, and are far superior in execution to those met with in most mediaeval temples ; the males, moreover, have their hair dressed in curls, resembling the style used on coins of the Gupta Kings The second temple, which possesses a fine spire, is dedicated to Chaturmukhya Mahadeo, and is built in eighth-century style 1 .

The population of the State has been: (1881) 81,454, (1891) 93,048, and (1901) 78,236, giving a density of 101 persons per square mile. During the last decade there was a decrease of 15 per cent., owing to famine. Hindus number 70,360, or 89 per cent.; Animists (chiefly Gonds), 5,062, or 6 per cent.; and Musalmans, 2,314, or 3 per cent. The State contains 488 villages and one town, Ajaigarh (population, 4,216), the capital.

The Gahora dialect of Bundelkhandi is most generally spoken. The most numerous castes are Brahmans, 11,100; Chamars, 9,200; Kachhis, Bundela. Thakurs, Lodhas, Ahirs, and Gonds, each numbering from 4,000 to 3,000. Agriculture supports 40 per cent, and general labour 27 per cent, of the population.

Of the total area, 407 square miles, or 53 per cent., are reported to be cultivated, of which 10 square miles are irrigable ; 144 square miles, or 19 per cent., are under forest; 141 square miles, or 18 per cent., are cultivable but not cultivated ; and 79 square miles, or 10 per cent., are waste. Gram is reported to occupy 32 square miles, or 8 per cent, of the cultivated area ; kodon, 31 square miles, or 8 per cent. ; wheat, 22 square miles, or 5 per cent.; jowar, 16 square miles, or 4 per cent.; rice, 13 square miles, or 3 per cent.; barley, 8 square miles, or 2 per cent.; and cotton, 3 square miles.

A canal, to be supplied by the Ken, is now under construction, and will benefit the State agriculturally. The forests are being placed under systematic management, and should yield a considerable income.

Iron was once extensively worked, but the industry has died out. Diamonds are obtained in a few places. Guns, swords, and pistols of country make are still produced in some quantity.

The State has practically no trade, its isolated position and want of good communications making any development in this direction 1 A. Cunningham, Archaeological Survey Reports, vol. xxi, difficult. The total length of roads is 72 miles, of which 24 are metalled and 48 unmetalled. The metalled roads are portions of the Satna-Nowgong, Banda-Nagod, and Ajaigarh-Panna roads, of which only the last is maintained by the State. A British post olfice has been opened at Ajaigarh town.

The total revenue amounts to 2.3 lakhs, of which 2 lakhs is derived from land, and Rs. 19,000 from tribute. The expenditure is about 2 lakhs, of which one lakh is spent on general administration, including the chiefs establishment.

The revenue is assessed on the crop-bearing capabelity of the soil, a higher rate being levied from irrigated lands. The incidence of the land revenue demand is Rs. 1-5—0 per acre ol cultivated area, and R. 0-7-8 per acre ol the total area. About 203 square miles, or 26 per cent, of the total area, have been alienated in land grants.

The army consists of 75 cavalry, 350 infantry, all irregulars, and 44 artillerymen with 9 serviceable guns. The number of regular police is 68, and of village police 211.

Four schools are maintained, including one primary school, attended by 67 pupils. There is a dispensary at Ajaigarh town.

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