The royal house of Kotah is a junior
branch of the Hara (today known as Hada) Sept of the Sakhambari-Nadol line of Chauhan Rajputs,
the ruling dynasty of Bundi. Many of them entered the Mughal service and
served with distinction in a number of important battles and Imperial
Kotah became part of the Hada domains in 1264 , after Jaitsa, the third
son of Samarsi of Bundi, killed an Ujala Bhil chieftain named Koteya,
then annexed his territories. Thereafter, the area served as the
principal jagir of the Bundi heir apparent. In 1522 the fort and
surrounding territories fell to the Afghans, but returned to Hada rule
The Mughals confiscated Kotah in 1624 as a punishment because Prince
Hriday Narayan had left the field before Allahabad. Rao Madho Singh, the
second son of Maharao Rattan of Bundi, distinguished himself in their
service and secured the restoration of Kotah as his reward. His
pre-eminence at the Imperial court and his military achievements,
ensured the independence and separation of Kotah from Bundi. His sons
and descendants were equally zealous in the Imperial cause, many of them
losing their lives on the field of battle at Ujjain, in the Deccan
campaigns, in Afghanistan, or in other conflicts.
At the death of Raja Ram Singh at the Battle of Jajan in 1707, the
Emperor refused to recognise his son as successor, preferring to restore
Kotah to the Maharao of Bundi. However, Bhim Singhji maintained family
tradition, joined the Imperial service and rose to high command. The
Bundi Maharao soon incurred the Imperial displease and lost all his
territories in 1713. Bhim Singhji then received both Bundi and Kotah,
promotion to the title of Maharao, the coveted fish insignia of royalty,
and a promotion in military rank. Although ordered to surrender Bundi,
he firmly established the independence of his principality thereafter.
He renamed the state Nandgaon and called himself Krishna Das, after
becoming a follower of the Shri Brijnathji sect in 1719.
The descendants of Bhim Singhji came under the influence of a powerful
nobleman, Zalim Singh Jhala, during the middle of the eighteenth
century. His assent to power was partly based on his marriage
connections with the Royal family. Having achieved high office, he set
about taking control of the state and becoming its dictator. His early
popularity had been achieved through military success against dominant
neighbours and through skilful diplomatic alliances with Maratha and
Afghan warlords. Eventually, he established relations with the British,
placing Kotah under the protection of the HEIC in 1817, but also
ensuring a perpetual place for his family in controlling state affairs.
Thereafter, his popularity began to wane. The Maharaja grew tired of his
tutelage, the nobles resented his dictatorship and the people his
draconian laws and heavy taxation. He is supposed to have taxed
everything in sight, including, windows, widows and broomsticks.
Although his opponents coalesced against him and rebelled, he was saved
through British intervention. After his death in 1824, the forces
against him were eventually too great for his son and grandson to stem.
In 1838, the British decided to end the continued feud by dividing the
state of Kotah between the Hada Maharaja and the family of the Jhala
Chief Minister. They created the new state of Jhalawar for the latter
out of his hereditary jagirs and the territories ceded by the efforts of
Zalim Singh by the Marathas and the British. The remaining districts
constituted the truncated state of Kotah, under Maharao Raja Shri Ram
Singhji II. Miffed at his treatment, he took an all too lackadaisical
view for British liking of the mutineers when they besieged Kotah Fort
in 1857. Once they raised the siege in 1858, the suspected his sympathy
with the mutineers and had his salute reduced to 15-guns.
It was left to his son, Maharao Raja Shri Shatru Sal II, and his
successor Maharao Raja Shri Sir Umed Singhji II, to improve relations
with the British. The latter was particularly well placed, having
received a modern education at Mayo and British tutors. He became
something of an Imperial statesman, though appointed to no office or
formal role, those who governed India on behalf of the Crown sought his
views on a wide number of issues. He was also successful in achieving
the restoration of most of the districts lost to Jhalawar in 1838. After
a long series of negotiations had failed, he took the case to the
Imperial Privy Council in London, where he secured the return of
eighteen of the twenty-one districts in 1899. His long reign of 52 years
ended with his death in 1941, at the height of a world war to which he
had given unstinting support to the British for the second time in his
Maharao Raja Shri Sir Bhim Singhji succeeded his father and immediately
took up military service as a cavalry officer. No sooner was that
service over than he had to cope with the momentous changes of events
that led to the independence of India in 1947. After the war he had
instigated several modernisation schemes for in the fields of education
and irrigation, but did not see them complete fruition before merging
his state into India. He then played an important role in the
unification of the various princely states of Rajasthan, serving as both
Rajpramukh and Uprajpramukh until the offices were dissolved in 1956.
Thereafter, he devoted himself to his military, sporting and
conservation interests. He was particularly active in the Indian Olympic
and Asian Games movements, serving as an official as well as
participant, representing India overseas.
Maharao Raja Shri Brijraj Singhji succeeded his father as Head of the
Royal House of Kotah in 1991. No less active than his late father, his
interests range from politics, to conservation, sports, and tourism. He
has served as a local councillor, as a Member of Parliament, and on a
host of public bodies, charitable and welfare associations.
17-guns (19-guns personal 1921).
COAT OF ARMS:
Gules a Garuda bird or vested of the
same plumed vert holding a mace of second in dexter, a
conch shell in sinister hand. Crest: A demi-man issuant of
flames holding a sword in dexter and bow in sinister hand all
proper. Supporters: Dragons. Motto: "Sri
Krishna Sevak". Lambrequins: Gules and
A tricornate flag of red with a flying Garuda bird in white.
STYLES & TITLES:
The ruling prince: Maharajadhiraj Maharaja Mahimahendra Maharao Raja
Shri (personal name) Singhji Sahib Bahadur, Maharao Raja of
Kotah, with the style of His Highness.
The consort of the ruling prince: Maharani (personal name)
Sahiba, with the style of Her Highness.
The Heir Apparent: Maharajkumar Shri (personal name) Singhji,
Yuvraj Sahib Bahadur.
The consort of the Heir Apparent: Yuvrani (personal name)
The younger sons of the ruling prince, during the liftime of their
father: Maharajkumar Shri (personal name) Singhji Sahib.
The younger sons of a ruling prince, after the death of their father:
Maharaj Shri (personal name) Singhji Sahib.
The consorts of the younger sons of a ruling prince: Rani (personal
The daughters of the ruling prince: Maharajkumari (personal name)
The eldest son of the Heir Apparent: Bhanwarji Shri (personal name)
Singhji Sahib Bahadur.
ORDERS & DECORATIONS:
RULES OF SUCCESION:
A descriptive list of Farmans, Manshurs and Nishans addressed by the
Imperial Mughals to the Princes of Rajasthan. Directorate of Archives,
Govt. of Rajasthan, Bikaner, 1962.
M.K. Brijraj Singh. The Kingdom that was Kotah. Lalit Kala Akademi, New
Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage, Baronetage and
Knightage. Burke's Peerage Limited, London, 1900-1959.
Stuart Cary Welch (ed.). Gods, Kings and Tigers: The Art of Kotah.
Prestel-Verlag, Munich, 1997.
Chiefs and Leading Families in Rajputana, Office of the Superintendent
of Government Printing, Calcutta, 1894, 1903, 1916 and 1935.
William Irvine. "The Later Mughals". Journal of the Asiatic Society
of Bengal. Part I, Extra No., 1904, pp. 60-61.
The Rajputana Gazetteer. Volumes I, II & III. Office of the
Superintendent of Government Printing, Calcutta, 1879.
Thacker's Indian Directory, Thacker's Press & Directories, Ltd.,
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