BENARES (Princely State)

(13 gun salute, 15 gun salute local)

LOCATION: Uttar Pradesh AREA: 2,266 kmē VILLAGES: 2,300 plus 49 pattis POPULATION: 391,165 (1931) RELIGION: Hindu
REVENUE: Rs 190,000 DYNASTY/LINEAGE: Gautam Bhumihar Brahmin SEAT: Ramnagar Palace ACCESSION: 15th October 1948
AGENCY: United Provinces till 1936 then Gwalior Residency 1936/1948 PRIVY PURSE: Rs 280,000

PRESENT RULER: HH Maharaja Shri ANANT NARAYAN SINGH Bahadur, 10th Maharaja of Benares (2000/-) (The Ramnagar Palace, Varanasi - 221001, Uttar Pradesh, India)
born 1963, married HH Maharani Anamika Devi, and has issue, two sons.
PREDECESSORS AND SHORT HISTORY: The Kingdom of Kashi or Benares was founded by Khsetravridha, son of Ayus, of the Somavansa dynasty of Pratishthana. It lost independance in 1194 and was eventually ceded by the Nawab of Oudh to the British in 1775 who recognized Benares as a family dominion. Benares acceded to the status of State in 1911. The ruling family claims descent from the god Shiva and benefited greatly from pilgrimage to Benares. The modern name of Benares is Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. Mansa Ram, a Gautam Bhumiyar Zamindar of Utaria 1737-1740, received most of the Benares territory from the Governor of Benares 1737, Balwant Singh 1740-1770, Ruler of Utaria (which name was changed to Gangapur), received the territories of Jaunpur, Benares and Chunar from the Sultan of Delhi. Other places that were under the protection of the Maharajas of Benares included, Chandauli, Gyanpur, (site of a large hospital and a school), Chakia, Latifshah (site of the Maharaja's forests and hunting grounds), Mirzapur, Nandeshwar, Mint House and Vindhyachal. Rulers were....
  1. Raja MANSA RAM, Zamindar of Utaria 1737/1740, one of four brothers, he entered the service of Rustam Ali Khan, the Nazim of Benares, and grew wealthy and rose to become Zamindar of Kaswar in the Nazim's service; in 1739 he arranged a grant from Mohammed Shah for the revenues of the sarkars of Benares, Jaunpur, Ghazipur and Chunar to be held by his eldest son along with the title of Raja Bahadur of Kaswar [cr.1738]; married and had issue. He died 1739/1740

  2. Raja BALWANT SINGH, Raja of Kaswar 1740/1770, born 1711, the best administrator that the people of the region had known although his administration was constantly hampered by the strained relations existing between him and Shuja-ud-daula of Awadh; he built a fort and established a capital at Gangapur, but later moved to Ramnagar; in 1751, he expelled the representative of the Nawab of Awadh in an attempt to carve out a principality at Benares, but was forced to flee when the Nawab invaded his domain in March 1752; he was granted Kera-Mangraur in jagir at Bihar in 1754, by the Emperor of Delhi, Padshah Alamgir II; in 1755 he received as a jagir, half the revenue pf pargana Bhadohi; in 1757 the sarkar of Ghazipur was added to his charge; in 1764, he was compelled to join Shuja-ud-daula, the Mughal Emperor, Shah Alam, and Mir Kasim in the battle of Buxar which was fought against the British, and which ended in defeat for the allies, after which the zamindari reverted once again to the Nawab of Awadh in 1765; married 1stly, Rani Gulab Kunwar (#2) (daughter of Bariar Singh of Pindra, Zamindar of Kol Asla and sister of Ajaib Singh, died 3rd April 1787), married 2ndly, Rani Panna Kunwar, a Rajput lady, and had issue. He died 19th August 1770 (#3 p.34).

  3. Raja CHAIT SINGH, Raja of Benares 1770/1781, (#1) his Raj was declared independent of Awadh in 1775 and made tributary to the East India Company, under the treaty, he was confirmed in his zamindari and the civil and criminqal administration thereof subject to an annual payment of Rs 22,66,180 as well as being required to contribute cavalry and maintenance grants for the H.E.I.C. sepoy battalions, which he refused to do, and began to secretly correspond with enemies of the Company in hopes of forcibly breaking the arrangement, he was discovered and deposed by the Company on 16th August 1781, he was placed under house arrest the following month, but escaped and tried to raise a rebellion, which was crushed and the zamindari was confiscated and transferred to his nephew on 14th September 1781, he fled to Awadh and then Gwalior where he died; married and had issue, three sons. He died 29th March 1810 at Gwalior (#3 p.34).

  4. Raja MAHIP NARAYAN SINGH, Raja of Benares 1781/1794, born 1756, he succeeded to the Raj on 14th September 1781 under the terms of the Company, which included a payment of 40 lakhs and the civil and criminal administration was taken from his hands; he was incapble of governing and the four revenue districts (sarkars) were transferred to the direct rule of the Company administration on 27th October 1794, in return he received 1 lakh per year in compensation and any surplus revenue of the sarkars; married and had issue. He died 12th September 1795.

  5. Raja UDIT NARAYAN SINGH, Raja of Benares 1795/1835, born 1778, he attained majority in 1799, he also proved to be a poor administrator like his father had been; he petitioned the H.E.I.C. for the return of his confiscated lands but instead his remaining lands were placed under control of the Company due to the gross mismanagement of the Raja; married 1791, a daughter of Raja Fateh Shahi, Raja of Tamkuhi, a zamindari in Bettiah, and his wife, a daughter of Babu Pahalwan Singh, Zamindar of Manjhwa; and had adoptive issue. He died in March 1835 or 4th April 1835.

  6. HH Maharaja Shri Sir ISHWARI PRASAD NARAYAN SINGH Bahadur G.C.S.I., Maharaja of Benares 1835/1889, born 1822 (or 1818), he remained loyal to the British Government during 1857/1858 and was rewarded with the enhanced title of Maharaja Bahadur [cr.1859], later he was granted a personal 13-Gun salute and the G.C.S.I. in 1877, he was appointed a member of the Viceroy's Legislative Council; he also had all the confiscated lands restored to him; he was granted the style of His Highness as a personal distinction in 1889 and a salute of fifteen guns; he was a great patron of literature; he adopted his nephew, his eventual successor. He died sp on 13th June 1889 (#3 p.35).

  7. Lt.-Col. HH Maharaja Shri Sir PRABHU NARAYAN SINGH Bahadur G.C.I.E., Maharaja of Benares 1889/1931, born 26th November 1855, succeeded by adoption, he was granted the title of Maharaja Bahadur and the style of His Highness (as a personal distinction) [cr. xx.9.1889]; Maharaja (hereditary) [cr.1911], G.C.I.E. [cr. 1.1.1898], K.C.I.E. [cr.1890], LL.D., he was proclaimed a Ruling Chief on 4th April 1911 at a Durbar in Nadesar Palace as the first Maharaja of the Princely State of Benares, married 1stly, a daughter of Maharaja Sri Tin Sir Jung Bahadur Rana, Maharaja of Kaski and Lambjung, Prime Minister of Nepal, married 2ndly, a daughter of Babu Har Prasad Singh of Bettiah, and had issue. He died 4th August 1931 (#4).

  8. Capt. HH Maharaja Shri Sir ADITYA NARAYAN SINGH Bahadur, Maharaja of Benares 1931/1939, K.C.S.I., born 17th November 1874, he adopted Kumar Chandra Bhal Singh, son of Babu Jharkande Prasad Singh of Surajpur, Azamgarh Distt., U.P. as his intended successor from a family of Bhumihar Brahmins; married a daughter of Babu Ambika Prasad Narayan Singh of Salemgarh, and had adoptive issue. He died 5th April 1939 (#5).

  9. HH Maharaja Shri Dr. VIBHUTI NARAYAN SINGH Bahadur, Maharaja of Benares 1939/2000, born 5th November 1927 into a family of Bhumiyar Brahmins and adopted by the Maharaja of Benares on 24th June 1934, he was granted ruling powers on 11th July 1947; educated at Meston High School, Ramnagar; Kashi Naresh, he was deeply religious as well as a distinguished scholar of Sanskrit, Purana and the Vedas; he presided over a number of scholastic, religious and charitable institutions and and took part in many public religious ceremonies in the City of Benares;Chairman of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple Trust, pro-Chancellor of Varanasi Sanskrit University from 1992, married 1947, and had issue, one son and three daughters. He died 25th December 2000.

  10. HH Maharaja Shri ANANT NARAYAN SINGH Bahadur, Maharaja of Benares (see above)
1. The mother of Raja Chait Singh was either the daughter of a Chandel Zamindar of Bijaygarh or daughter of the Zamindar of Chandauli in Benares.
2. Rani Gulab Kanwar was related to Babu Vindeshwari Prasad Singh B.A., Dewan of Benares, died 25th January 1927.
3. "Dictionary of Indian Biography" ; Buckland,C.E. ; London,1906
4. "Burke's Peerage,Baronetage and Knightage" ; 1931 part 2, p. 2619,
5. "Who Was Who 1929-1940" ; Volume III ; London 1944 ; Adam & Charles Black
6. "Debrett's Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Companionage" 1927, Dean & Son Ltd