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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 campaigns.

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 in 1557.

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 life.

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).

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 vert.

A tricornate flag of red with a flying Garuda bird in white.

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) Sahiba.
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 name) Sahiba.
The daughters of the ruling prince: Maharajkumari (personal name) Sahiba.
The eldest son of the Heir Apparent: Bhanwarji Shri (personal name) Singhji Sahib Bahadur.

None known.

Male primoeniture.

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 Delhi, 1985.
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., Calcutta, 1863-1956.

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