PIC: TOMB OF THE GOND KINGS
The Gond kings were a part of the aboriginal Gond tribes that inhabit the central Indian regions of present day Vidharba /Berar(Maharashtra), parts of Madhya Pradesh , Chattisgad and also Telangana (Andhra Pradesh) in southern India. Their regions were earlier ruled by the Vakataka ,Shail, Haihaya,Rashtrakuta,Yadava and Ponwar dynasties. Thus the region came to be known as Gondwana after its Gond inhabitants. There were mainly three Gond kingdoms viz. Gond kingdom of Garha Mandla,Gond kingdom of Chandrapur and the Gond kingdom of Deogarh.
Gond kings of Garha Mandla or the upper Narmada valley
The earliest known king was an Hindu by the name of Jadurai who on the advice of his spiritual guide , a Brahmin by the name of Surubhi Pathak , married the daughter of a Gond King. This kings genealogy was maintained by one of his descendents Hirde Shah, in the form of a sanskrit tablet on the walls of his palace at Ramnagar, near
According to this genealogy prepared by Jaya Govinda a clerk in Hirde Shahs court, the descendents of Jadurai (Yaduraya) were Madhavsinha, Jagannatha, (fourty names then onwards including Narsinha,Ramchandra,Krishna,Rudra,Jagannatha,Vasudeva,MadanSingh, Arjun,Sangram,Dalpat,Vir Narayan,Chandra, Madhukar,Prem Narayan and finally Hirde Shah).
Note : Another testimony of these Gond kings is the famous Madan Mahal (above) at Jabalpur was a palace built by Madan Shah the Gond raja of this same dynasty in 1116 .
Next amongst the prominent kings of this line was the ambitious Sangram Shah, who expanded the boundaries of his kingdom kingdom over Narmada valley viz Bhopal, Jabalpur etc. Sangram shah constructed the fort of Chauragad to guard his possessions.
Gond Princes of Devgad (Deogarh)
The next glorious chapter in this line of kings was written by Rani Durgavati (1524-1564) of this dynasty who ruled as a regent for her son Vir Narayan Shah. She died in battlefield after refusing to submit to Asaf Khan, the viceroy of the
mughal emperor, Akbar. Though wounded in battle, she stabbed herself to death
rather than submit to the enemy. Her tomb called Chabutar (near Jabalpur),
stands in testimony to this valliant queen.
Rani Durgavati was the daughter of a Rajput Chandela Raja, and the widow of Gond king Dalpat Shah , the son of Sangram Shah. Dalpat Shah had earlier fought his
father in law a rival Chandel King to win over Rani Durgavati as his wife.
Vir Narayan Shah the son of Durgavati also fell soon defending the fort of Chauragad.
Eventually the Gonds of Garha Mandla accepted the mughal overlordship .
Later the districts afterwards formed into the state of Bhopal were ceded to the Emperor Akbar, to obtain his recognition of the next Raja, Chandra Shah (uncle of Vir Narayan). Madhukar Shah the son of Chandra Shah murdered his elder brother to acquire the throne and later burnt himself to death in guilt and remorse. Prem Narayan Shah , the son of Madhukar Shah succeeded him. In the time of
Chandra Sah's grandson, Prem Narayan Shah, the Bundelas under Jhujhar Singh,
invaded Narsinghpur District and invested the fort of Chauragarh albeit
unsuccessfully. Eventually the hostility between the Bundelas and the Gonds took
the lives of both Prem Narayan Shah and Jhujhar Singh. Prem Narayan Shah was
succeeded by his son Hirde Shah. Hirde Shah had spent some time of his life in the Delhi court and was an enterprising youth. He planted a hundred mango trees in his kingdom, constructed a beautifull palace at Ramnagar and built a large reservoir for his subjects. In 1670 Mandla was made capital of the kingdom. Part of Sagar District was ceded to the Mughal Emperor, the south of Sagar and Damoh districts to Raja Chhatrasal of Panna, and Seoni District to the Gond Raja of Deogarh. Amidst political intrigues, the Gond power went on decreasing. In 1742 the Peshwa advanced to Mandla and exacted tribute, and from this time until 1781, the Gond dynasty of Garha-Mandla was finally overthrown (the last king Narhar Shah was taken a prisoner in the fort of Khurai in Saugor) and Garha-Mandla remained practically a Maratha dependency. Soon the other independent principalities of Gondwana also
succumbed. These Gond rajas eventually emerged as pensioners of the British.
Gond Kings of Chandrapur
Note: Most of the dates in this article are approximations and not to be taken as final.
Kol Bhil He rallied all Gond tribes and taught the Gonds the use of iron in weaponary.
Bhim Ballal Singh established the Gond kingdom with Sirpur as his capital.
Kharja Ballal Singh(son) peacefull reign
Hir Singh(son)First to levy tax on the occupied land
Andia Ballal Singh(son)Tyranical king. Constructed the Ballarshah fort.
Shifted capital from Sirpur to Ballarshah.
Talwar Singh (son) Said to be a fickle minded and unpopular king
Keshar Singh(youngest son) He subdued the rebellions that broke out in his
kingdom and extended it to the boundaries of the Bhil country. He possessed
horses and oxen, and was wealthier than any of his
Dinkar Singh (son) Encouraged Gond customs/bards/ music, Marathi literature. Region was peacefull and prosperous under his rule.
Ram Singh(son)Expanded his kingdom. Maintained an army called Tadavel and constructed hill forts. Ahmed Shah Bahmani attacked his kingdom and invested fort Mahur and captured Kalamb. Massacare of many hindus took place then.
Surja Ballal Singh or Sher Shah Ballal Shah / Sah(son)1445-1470
Learnt the arts of war and music from Kasi. Had a friction with the court of Delhi and was taken captive. Later assisted the Delhi emperor Firoz Tughluq in attacking the fort of Kaibur belonging the the Rajput king Mohan singh.In return the Gonds were allowed the territory of Bundelkhand. Also given the title of Sher Sah/Shah which was to last throughout the dynasty.
Khandkya Ballal Shah(son)1470-1495. Constructed the city Chandrapur (MS)
Hir Shah(son)1496-1521 . Gave encouragement to agriculture and architecture. Started many land reforms.Was a very good administrator.
Bhuma and Lokba(adopted sons), ruled jointly.Hirs shahs wife Hirabai acted as a regent.
Kondia Shah aka Karna Shah (brother)Many Telugu Brahmins migrated to his kingdom after they were allotted rent free lands and annual pensions.Constructed Shiva temples,encouraged arts and literature.He was a good administrator.
Babaji Ballal Shah(son)reign 16thcentury(d.1597) He was said to be hedonistic and had entrusted the affairs of his kingdom to his ministers.He is however credited to have captured Wairagad fort, and built Kesavnath temple there. He became a feudatory of the mughal emperor Akbar.
Dhundia Ram completed the construcion of the Canda (Chanda) fort which was commenced by Khandkya Ballal Sah. Banned human sacrifices to the Gods as was a clandestine Gond custom.
Krishna Shah (son)1622-1640.He banned cow sacrifice to the Gods. He also extended territory to Nagpur.
Bir Shah (son)Bir shah discontinued tribute to the mughals following the house arrest of Emperor Shah Jahan by his son Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb later sent an army under Diler Khan to attack the Gonds forcing them to sue for peace.Bir Shah was killed by a rajput Hiraman at the time of his second marriage (His first queen Hirai couldn’t produce an heir).
Ram Shah (adopted son)1691—1735 Rani Hiraai widow of Bir Shah earlier ruled as regent. She constructed several temples, tanks and wells in her region and was known as a good administrator.Later she handed over the charge of the kingdom to her adopted son Ram Shah. It is said that Ram Shah was a very pious ruler.During his time, Kanhoji Bhosale plundered Devgad but was repulsed by the Gond army of Chandrapur(later Kanhoji was replaced by Raghuji Bhosale who occupied his position at Nagpur). Raghuji Bhosale of Nagpur maintained friendly relations with the Gonds.Ram Sah also constructed tanks and ghats and was known as a good administrator.
Nilkanth Shah(son)1735—1751 . Last ruling Gond king of Chandrapur. Tried to
overthrow the sway of Raghuji Bhosale over the Gonds, but was defeated.The Gonds
accepted the overlordship of Raghuji Bhosale the Maratha ruler of Nagpur and was
reduced to Ballarshah, while Chandrapur was annexed by Raghuji Bhosale. Nilkanth
Sah tried to rebel but was imprisoned ending the Gond dynasty of Chandrapur.
Chandrapur thus became a part of the Berar dominion of the Maratha Bhosales.
Jatba (Jatva) was the first in this dynasty. He full name was Ajanbahu Jatbasha (named so because of his long hands that extended right upto his knees). He started as a servant of the Gaoli kings Ransur and Ghansur. Jatba is said to have killed them and ascended the throne. He owed allegiance to the Gond kings of Chandrapur, which later shifted to the Mughal emperor Akbar. He built the fort at Devgad (24 miles southwest of Chindwara, MP).
Bakht Buland (reign around 1700 AD) was third or fourth down the line from Jatba. He started in the service of the mughal emperor Aurangzeb at Delhi. He embraced Islam and was officially recognized as the Raja of Devgad by the Mughal court. He added to his kingdom territories of neighbouring kingdoms of Chanda and Mandla, and portions of Nagpur(MS), Balaghat(MP),Seoni, Bhandara(MS). The present districts of Chindwara(MP) and Betul were under his dominion. Bakht Bulund also annexed the adjoining Rajput kingdom of Kherla (Jaitpal was the last of the Rajput rulers of that kingdom until it passed over to the half Rajput half Gond king Narsinghrai . Later it passed hands between the Muslim kingdoms of Malwa and later Elichpur, until it was captured by Bakht Bulund).The modern city of Nagpur(MS) was established by Bakht Bulund and named it Rajapur Barsa. Bakht Bulund is later said to have rebelled against the mughals and said to have nibbled away some of their territories, during the mughal war with the Marathas.Bakht Bulund was a great administrator and contributed immensely to the agriculture and commerce of the region.
Chand Sultan (d.1739)was the successor of Bakht Bulund. He later became an vassal of the Nagpur Bhosales .
Wali Khan an illegitimate son of Bakht Bulund usurped the throne and the widow of Chand Sultan pleaded to Raghuji Bhosale for help.Raghuji put to death the usurper and instated the sons of Chand Sultan viz. Akbar and Burhan on the Devgad throne. Raghuji was also declared their representative to the Satara court of the Marathas.
Akbar Shah and Burhan Shah Soon there was a strife between the brothers. In 1743 Raghuji came to the assistance of Burhan Shah and Akbar Shah was exiled to Hyderabad where he was allegedly poisoned. But then onwards the real power rested with Raghuji Bhosale and Burhan Shah remained only the titular prince.His descendent remained state pensioners.
Thus Devgad passed into the hands of the Marathas of Berar.
REFERENCE: STORY OF GONDWANA BY EYRE CHATTERTON D.D , SIR PITMAN AND SONS PUBLISHERS, LONDON.