ORCHHA (Princely State)(15 gun salute)

LOCATION: Madhya Pradesh AREA: 5,387.20 kmē VILLAGES: 738 +1 town POPULATION: 314,661 (1901) RELIGION: Hindu
REVENUE: Rs 13,09,000 DYNASTY/LINEAGE: Bundela SEAT: Tikamgarh ACCESSION: 1st January 1950
AGENCY: Bundelkhand Agency 1802 - 1948 PRIVY PURSE: Rs 185,300

PRESENT RULER: HH Saramad-i-Rajha-i-Bundelkhand Maharaja Mahendra Sawai Shri MADHUKAR SHAH Ju Deo Bahadur, 27th and present Maharaja of Orchha and Head of the Bundela Clan
born 8th December 1944, educated at Doon School, Dehra Dun, Uttaranchal, and graduated in 1964 from St. Stephen's College, Delhi University, married 1973 in New Delhi, HH Maharani Snehlata Devi, born 1947, daughter of HH Maharaja Pratap Singh Malvinder Bahadur of Nabha, and has issue, three daughters and a son.
PREDECESSORS AND SHORT HISTORY: Predecessor states were Banaras 674/1048, then Mahoni 1048/1531 and finally Orchha from May 1531 (see Bundela Dynasty for further information). Also known as Tikamgarh, it is the oldest and highest ranked of all the Bundela states, and it was the only state in Bundelkhand not held in subjection by the Peshwa, though some territory, later known as Jhansi, was severed from Orchha by the Marathas. In 1577, the state was overrun by Mughal forces, who maintained some degree of control till the next reign. Rulers were ....
  1. Raja RUDRA PRATAP, 1st Raja of Orchha 1501/1531, eldest son, a bold and successful leader, he managed to increase his lands considerably during the confusion caused by Padshah Baber's invasion; he was founder of Orchha town in May 1531, married 1stly, a daughter of Parmar Rao Gangadas of Karera, married 2ndly, a daughter of Dhandera Diwan Man Singh of Sahara, and had issue, nine sons. He died of injuries sustained in a fight with a tiger while trying to rescue a sacred cow in 1531.

  2. Raja BHARTI CHAND, 2nd Raja of Orchha 1531/1554, the Orchha palaces were finally completed in 1539, and the court finally moved there from Garh-Kundar; he unsuccessfully tried to oppose Sher Shah on his march to Kalinjar in 1545. He died sp in 1554

  3. Raja MADHUKAR SHAH, 3rd Raja of Orchha 1554/1592, he succeeded to a considerable state, though with only a precarious hold; he wasd a religious recluse who allowed the fortunes of the state to decline from this time; the Mughal forces invaded Orchha for the first time in 1577 when Sadik Khan managed to take Orchha after a severe fight; in 1591 the Raja seized some parganas near Gwalior and was attacked and defeated by the Imperial troops forcing him to flee to the jungles, where he died soon afterwards of a natural death; married and had issue, eight sons. He died 1592.

  4. Raja RAM SHAH, 4th Raja of Orchha 1592/1605 (deposed), and Raja of Chanderi 1608/1612, sued for pardon and was allowed to succeed, but he was a weak ruler and was unable to keep his brothers in check; Padshah Akbar deposed the Raja and placed his brother on the gadi; he was imprisoned in Delhi for a short time, but was eventually released and granted the fiefs of Chanderi and Banpur in 1608; married and had issue. During his time there were 22 jagirs in the state, 8 were held by sons of Madhukar Shah, and rest by Parmars, Kachhwahas, Gonds, and others. He died 1612.

  5. Raja BIR SINGH DEO, 5th Raja of Orchha 1605/1627, he was granted the jagir of Baroni before his succession; a ruler of strong principles and no scruples, he amassed great wealth and property; he was not only a great warrior but an enthusiastic builder, leaving many monuments, forts and temples; the whole of his possessions are said to have comprised 125,000 villages, with a revenue of 2 crores of rupees; Padshah Jahangir made him a Mansabdar of 7,000, and showered him with many gifts; in October 1626, he granted Datia to his son, Bhagwan Rao; married (amongst others) (a), Rani Parbati, and had issue. He died 1627.

  6. Raja JHUJHAR SINGH, 6th Raja of Orchha 1627/1635, a weak and turbulent ruler, he soon plunged his state into difficulties; after serving the Mughal Emperor in the Deccan, who made him a Mansabdar of 4,000, he returned home and suspected his brother of adultery with his wife, he forced his brother to drink poison and whose name later became exalted into a local deity; he went into open rebellion against the Mughal forces in 1634-1635, but was pursued and driven into the jungles where he was killed; married and had issue. He was killed by Gonds in 1635.

  7. Raja DEVI SINGH, 7th Raja of Orchha 1635/1637 and Raja of Chanderi (see above); he captured the fort at Orchha and the whole of Orchha was made over to him, but it became a scene of continual fights and disturbances which he was unable to control, and after two years he abandoned it, and returned to Chanderi.

  8. INTERREGNUM 1637/1641, Orchha was made khalsa and included in the Mughal Empire.

  9. Raja PAHAR SINGH, 8th Raja of Orchha 1641/1653, of Kaniyadana, due to the depradations of Champat Rai, the Mughal Emperor installed him as the Raja of Orchha in 1641; he was made a Mansabdar of 7,000, he took part in an attack on the Gonds of Gondwana in 1644; he took part in the siege of Ghor in 1645 and the campaign of Kandahar and Kabul in 1648-52; married and had issue. He died in 1653.

  10. Raja SUJAN SINGH I, 9th Raja of Orchha 1653/1672, he was wounded in the assault on Bijapur Fort in 1655; he built the Sujan Sagar Tank at Arjar, south-east of Jhansi. He died sp in 1672 and was succeeded by his brother.

  11. Raja INDRAMANI SINGH, 10th Raja of Orchha 1672/1675, he repulsed an attack of 22,000 led bvy Suja Singh Sengar; married and had issue.

  12. Raja JASHWANT SINGH, 11th Raja of Orchha 1675/1684, married Rani Amar Kunwari, and had issue, as well as adopted issue. He died 1684.

  13. Raja BHAGWAT SINGH, 12th Raja of Orchha 1684/1689, he succeeded as a minor and his mother was Regent on his behalf. He died sp still a minor.

  14. Raja UDWAT SINGH, 13th Raja of Orchha 1689/1735, born as the younger son of Diwan Pratap Singh of Baragaon (see above), he succeeded by adoption; he was a feeble ruler and in no way capable of holding his own, particularly against the Maratha raiders; he took part in the Sikh wars and was present at the Siege of Lahore in 1714; married and had issue. He died at Mahoba in 1735 or 1736.,

  15. Raja PRITHVI SINGH, 14th Raja of Orchha 1735/1752, during his rule, more of his territories were lost to the Marathas, including the districts of Burwa-Sagar, Mau-Ranipur, Jhansi and many others; married and had issue.

  16. Raja Mahendra SANWANT SINGH, 15th Raja of Orchha 1752/1765, he was granted the title of Mahendra by Padshah Shah Alam in 1759; married and had issue, one son. He died 1765.

  17. Raja Mahendra HATI SINGH, 16th Raja of Orchha 1765/1768, born as a grandson of Raja Udwat Singh, he succeeded by adoption, he was unable to cope with the Marathas, and territory continued to diminish, married Rani Parmariji, and had adoptive issue. He died 1768 whereupon his widow tried to place her brother on the gadi.

  18. Raja Mahendra MAN SINGH, 17th Raja of Orchha 1768/1775, born as a great-grandson of Raja Udwat Singh, he succeeded by adoption, he was unable to cope with the Marathas, and territory continued to diminish.

  19. Raja Mahendra BHARTI CHAND, 18th Raja of Orchha 1775/1776, he succeeded by adoption from Bijna State, he was unable to cope with the Marathas, and territory continued to diminish, leaving only the town of Orchha and a little territory around it.

  20. Raja Mahendra VIKRAMAJIT, 19th Raja of Orchha 1776/1817 (abdicated) and in 1834, adopted from Bijna State, he entered into relations with the British authorities on 23rd December 1812, later abdicated in favour of his son, but resumed power on his death, married and had issue. He died 1834.

  21. Raja Mahendra DHARAM PAL, 20th Raja of Orchha 1817/1834, married the Larai Rani, she adopted the son of the Thakur Saheb of Digaura, and had adoptive issue. He died sp in 1834.

  22. Raja Mahendra TEJ SINGH, 21st Raja of Orchha 1834/1842, born as the brother of Raja Mahendra Vikramajit, he was adopted from Bijna State, married and had adoptive issue. He died sp in 1842.

  23. Raja Mahendra SUJAN SINGH II, 22nd Raja of Orchha 1842/1848 and 1850/1854, born as the cousin of the late Raja, he was adopted from Bijna State, he succeeded by adoption as a minor; he was poisoned to death by Dev Singh, his own brother sp in 1854.

  24. HH Maharaja Mahendra HAMIR SINGH, 23rd Maharaja of Orchha 1848/1874, Maharaja [cr.1865], he received a sanad of adoption in 1862. He died sp on 15th March 1874 and was succeeded by his brother.

  25. HH Saramad-i-Rajha-i-Bundelkhand Maharaja Mahendra Sawai Shri Sir PRATAP SINGH Bahadur Ju Deo G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E., 24th Maharaja of Orchha 1874/1930, born 1854, as the son of the Thakur Saheb of Digaura; he attended the Delhi Darbar in 1903 and was awarded the fold medal; K.C.S.I. [cr.1900], G.C.S.I. [cr.1906], K.C.B.(mil)[cr.1901], G.C.I.E. [cr.1900], K.C.I.E [cr.1894], Hon. A.D.C. to His Majesty, The King; he was granted the title of Saramad-i-Rajha-i-Bundelkhand in 1886, granted a personal salute of 17 guns and the hereditary title of Sawai; married two Ranis from Berchha in Orchha, and married 3rdly, a Rani of the Ponwar family of Saigaon in Datia, and had issue. He died 3rd March 1930 (#1).

  26. HH Maharaja
                    Mabindra Sawai Shri Sir VIR SINGH Deo Bahadur
                    (1899-1956)HH Saramad-i-Rajha-i-Bundelkhand Maharaja Mahendra Sawai Shri Sir VIR SINGH Ju Deo Bahadur K.C.S.I., 25th Maharaja of Orchha 1930/1956, born 14th April 1899, succeded his grandfather to the gadi on 3rd March 1930 (#2); educated at Daly College, Indore, at Rajkumar College, Rajkot and at Mayo College, Ajmer; he also received administrative training in the Saugor District of the Central Provinces; he was selected to act as Page to HM the King-Emperor and His Excellency the Viceroy respectively on the occassion of the Coronation Darbar in Delhi in 1911; married 1stly, 4th March 1919 at Wadhwan, Shrimati Nandkunverba Sahiba, daughter of HH Thakore Sahib Shri Jaswantsinhji Becharsinhji of Wadhwan in Kathiawar, married 2ndly, HH Maharani Kamlaba Sahiba, daughter of HH Maharajah Shri Bhojrajjisinhji Bhagwatsinhji Sahib of Gondal in Kathiawar, and his wife, HH Maharani Raj Kunverba Saheb, and had issue, one son and one daughter. He died 1956.

  27. HH Saramad-i-Rajha-i-Bundelkhand Maharaja Mahendra Sawai Shri DEVENDRA VIJAY SINGH Ju Deo Bahadur, 26th Maharaja of Orchha 1956/-, born 6th November 1919, educated at Daly College, Indore; he was selected to act as Page to His Excellency the Viceroy at an inestiture held at Delhi on 4th December 1932; married 4th September 1942 at Madras, and had issue.

  28. HH Saramad-i-Rajha-i-Bundelkhand Maharaja Mahendra Sawai Shri MADHUKAR SHAH Ju Deo Bahadur, 27th Maharaja of Orchha (see above)
OTHER MEMBERS: The help of Deepak Aggarwal is gratefully acknowledged, July 2011.
1. "Whitaker's Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Companionage", 1916 London; p.625
2. "Burke's Peerage,Baronetage and Knightage" ; 1939 ; p.2873
3. "The Golden Book of India: A Genealogical and Biographical Dictionary of the Ruling Princes, Chiefs, Nobles, and Other Personages, Titled or Decorated of The Indian Empire" by Sir Roper Lethbridge, K.C.I.E., London Macmillan and Co. and New York. 1893. p.113
4. "Eastern States (Bundelkhand) Gazetteer". Vol.VI-A.-Text. Compiled by Capt. C. E. Luard M.A. 1907