Gonds rise to power.
The fall of the Yadavas of Devagiri and the Kakatiyas of Warangal at the hands of Ala-ud-din Khilji marks a turning point in the history of the Deccan and the peninsular South. It was an event of extraordinary historical significance. On the one hand the immense wealth which Ala-ud-din carried from his Devagiri expeditions enabled him to accomplish his political designs at Delhi and on the other it paved the way for the domination of Islam to the south of the Deccan. In the aftermath of the fall of these two once mighty kingdoms, Devagiri and Warangal, the Gonds of Candrapur seem to have made their rise as a political power.
The original seat of the Gond kings of Candrapur is considered to be Sirpur, twenty miles to the south-west of Candrapur proper, on the southern bank of the Painganga river, also known as Wardha here. From here they shifted their capital to present Ballarsah and finally to Candrapur of historic fame. A long list of the Gond Kings who ruled from these places is given by Major Lucie Smith in his Settlement Report of Canda District, 1869. When he was preparing the land revenue settlement report of Canda, 1863-1869, he compiled a genealogy of the Gond Kings based on oral and written traditions which he had collected.
Kol Bhill first Gond ruler.
According to the local Gond traditions there arose among them
a hero known as Kol Bhilla of great strength and wisdom. He
rallied round the scattered Gond tribes and formed them into a
sort of nation, teaching them how to extract iron from the ore. It is significant to note that Kol Bhilla while gathering the
scattered Gonds together felt the need of teaching them the extraction or iron from the ore. In order to carve out an independent
kingdom for the Gonds it was necessary to teach them the use of iron for the manufacture of war weapons, which they probably did not know before. The political powers which surrounded the Gonds learn the use of iron.
Gonds had known the use of iron long since. In the history of human civilization it is a well known fact that iron weapons gave superiority to those who possessed them over their rivals having non-ferrous weapons. Kol Bhilla, therefore, ushered in a revolution when he taught his Gond brethren the use of iron. It at once put the Gonds on par with the neighbouring political powers in the struggle for supremacy.
Genealogy of Gond Kings.
Following Kol Bhilla, we have Bhim Ballal Sing, who is said to have established a Gond Kingdom with Sirpur as its capital.
From Bhim Ballal the line of Gond Kings ruling over Candrapur
is as below:
Bhim Ballal Sing
Kharja Ballal Sing
Andia Ballal Sing
Surja Ballal Sing
|alias Ser Sah|
Khandakya Ballal Sah
Bhuma and Lokaba, Joint Rule
Babji Ballal Sah
Dhundya Ram Sah
Another genealogical list of the Gond Kings of Candrapur found with one Dhume family of Vani, District Yavatmal, in the service of the last two Gond Kings, tallies well with that compiled by Major Lucie Smith. The only difference in the list of the Dhume family is that the reign of the first King Bhim Ballal Sing is given between 890 and 915 A.D. and that of the last King Nilkanth Sah 1735 to 1743. The reigns of the other Kings also differ by about twenty years in the list [RCI. pp. 33-35.].
The list shows that out of the total nineteen Kings, six ruled for sixty years each, one for seventy and one for eighty years. The average reign of each king comes to 46.5 years. By any historical standard even a family blessed with good longevity cannot claim such a high average life over as many as nineteen generations. Of these nineteen Kings, the historicity of Nilkanth Sah, Ram Sah and Babji Ballal Sah is beyond doubt. Ram Sah and Nilkanth Sah were contemporaries of Bhosale Raghuji I, and their reigns given in the genealogy can be taken as more or less correct. The Ain-i-Akbari records that when the list of the territories of Akbar was compiled, a Gond prince Babji by name, was ruling at Candrapur. This is obviously Babji Ballal Sah of the list. On the evidence of Ain-i-Akbari Babji Ballal Sah could be taken to have ruled between 1570 and 1595 A.D. Retracing the four generations preceding Babji on the basis of twenty-five years for each generation, we get the reign of Khandakya Ballal Sah the founder of the city of modern Candrapur from 1470 to
1495. Working on this hypothesis back for nine generations
we have the date of the founder of the Gond dynasty at Sirpur
to be 1320 A.D. (1495-9x25=1320). Let us see to what extent
this date corresponds to the known historical facts of the period.
Babji Ballal Sah, contemporary of Akbar.
Gond family at Sirpur founded after 1320.
Babji Ballal Sah became a feudatory of the Moghal emperor Akbar and the Canda kingdom formed part of the Moghal territory. By 1598 Berar had been annexed to the Moghal empire. The fort of Manikgadh was included in the new Subha of Berar. [PAGA. p. 20.] With the defeat of Ramadeva of Devagiri in 1296 by Ala-ud-din Khilji, the former among other things promised to cede the revenue of Ellicpur. [HCIP. DS., Vol. VI, p. 16.] This was the beginning of the Muslim rule over Berar. In 1318 when the last of the Yadava rulers Harapaladeva fell, the whole of Berar passed under the Khiljis though they could not hold it beyond 1320. themselves being defeated by the Tughluqs [HCIP. DS., Vol. VI, p. 46.].
Yadava rule over Chandrapur region.
The Yadava King. Singhana II ruled from 1210 to 1246. His general Kholeswar defeated a Paramar King of Candrapur recorded in the Ambe inscription. Cahanda has been identified with Candrapur [Khare G. H., Sources of Mediaeval History of the Deccan I., p. 64. (The Ambe inscription. Also see E.I. XXVI, p. 182.1. 27. is dated at 1228 A.D.)] the metropolis of the later Gond Kings. A stone inscription in old Marathi at Bhandak, sixteen miles to the north-west of Candrapur mentions the renovation of a temple dedicated to Naga Narayana by a Paramar King [Hiralal, "Inscriptions in C. P. and Berar No. 18," pp. 15-16.]. The evidence establishes Paramar rule in the region of Candrapur or Cahanda before it fell to the prowess of the Yadavas. In addition to the reference to Cahanda in the Ambe inscription of 1228 A.D., the inscription of Ramtek and Lanji bear testimony to the Yadava rule to the east of Berar. According to a tradition, Utnur in Andhra Pradesh, District Adilabad, was in olden times
Vithalnagar named after the patron deity of the Yadavas, Visnu or
Vithala. There are also some ruins of a Visnu temple at Utnur [PAGA.p. 14.].
Utnur at the heart of the tribal country is not far away from Sirpur, the original seat of the Gonds of Canda. The temple of Honakdev or Honakeswar twenty-five miles to the east of Ma hut on the Painganga dates from the Yadava times. The inscription on the temple belonging to the last quarter of the thirteenth century is counted among the earliest known Marathi inscriptions. Further east at Jainat there are quite a few old temples. At Candur at the foothills of Manikgadh there are remains of old temples. To the south of Ballarsah, at Rajura, there is an old temple of Someswar. In the Mahanubhava literature, the territory to the east of Berar or Vidarbha forming part of Gondavana is often referred to as, Zadi Mandal, meaning ' wooded country'. The founder of the Mahanubhava Sect speaks of his visits to the Gonds in his autobiography dated around 1275 A.D. [PAGA. p. 16.] Thus, inscriptional, monumental and literary evidence leaves no doubt about the Yadava rule at and around Candrapur.
Malik Kafur invades warangal via Sirpur and Wairagadh.
In 1307, Malik Naib Kafur invaded Devagiri on the pretext of
collecting tribute from Ramadeva its ruler, who had failed to pay it as agreed to in the previous expedition. Ramadeva
a prisoner to Delhi and subsequently allowed to go back to his capital with the honorific title ' Rai Rayan'. In 1309 Malik Naib Kafur carried an expedition into the Kakatiya Kingdom of Warangal by way of Basiragarh (Wairagadh) and invested the fort of Sirbar (Sirpur). Ramadeva offered all kind of help to Malik. The garrison at Sirpur could not resist the might of the Muslim and Yadava, i.e., Maratha forces, in spite of their valiant defence. Women and children committed themselves to flames and the brother of the commandant surrendered to the invader [HCIP. DS. Vol. VI, pp. 31, 33, 34.]. It is evident that till 1309 Sirpur was under the Kakatiyas, of Warangal. At least it was not under the Gonds as they arc not mentioned in the contemporary works. Sirpur was a frontier town between the kingdoms of the Yadavas and the Kakatiyas. Candrapur and the adjoining country formed the easternmost part of the Yadava Kingdom. The Gonds in this frontier region now partly in the Adilabad district and partly in Candrapur district could not have risen to power prior to 1318-1323. The Yadava Kingdom fell in 1318 and the Kakatiyas of Warangal surrendered in 1323. The Khiljis were succeeded by the Tughluqs in 1320. During the reign of Muhammad Tughluq,
the successful revolt in the Deccan led to the establishment of the Bahamani Kingdom at Gulbarga-Kalburgi in 1347. Firuz Sah (1397-1422) of this dynasty defeated the Gond Raja Narasing Rai of Khedla, about four miles north of Betul in Madhya Pradesh. The Raja had invaded Berar at the instigation of the Muslim rulers of Malwa and Khandes, and on the advice of the Raja of Vijay-nagar. This campaign against the Gond Raja was led some time
after 1417, [CIP. DS. Vol. VI, pp. 254-55.] During the reign of Ahmad Sah Bahamani
(1422-1436), according to Ferishta, the fort of Mahur was
invested and the town of Kalamb was taken possession of. Both
these places had diamond mines and they belonged to the Raja of Gond [Brigg's Ferishta, Vol.11, p.489, C.U. Wills, The Rajgond Maharajas of Satpura Hills, p. 40.]. The identity of the Raja of Gond is not known. But
in all probability he was the Gond ruler of Candrapur as both
Mahur and Kalamb are nearer to Candrapur than to Khedla
where Narasing Rai ruled.
In the tangle for power between the Bahamanis and the Muslim rulers of Khandes and Malwa, by proximity, it is the kingdom of Khedla that often comes into picture than the Gond Kingdom of Candrapur. Candrapur was rather away from Western Berar, the scene of fast changing political happenings.
Adil Khan (1457 - 1503), the ruler of Kha'ndes, is said to have forced the Rajas of Gondawana and Gadha Mandala to acknowledge his supremacy. He freed the country from the depredations of the Kolis and Bhills. He assumed the title Shah-i-Jharkhand (King of the Forest) [HCIP. SD. Vol. VI, p. 172.]. It is not known who the Rajas of Gondwana were. But the term Gondwana may be taken to have included the Gond Kingdom of Candrapur along with others.
In 1482 after the assassination of Mahmud Giivan the Bahamani kingdom disintegrated giving rise to the five Sahis of the Deccan [HCIP. SD. Vol. VI, p. 269.] One of these Sahis, Imad sahi of Berar with its seat at Ellicpur had practically assumed independence by 1490. In 1574 Imad Sahi Kingdom was absorbed by the Nizam Sahi of Ahmadnagar which in its own turn was conquered by Akbar in 1600. With these changes in the history of Berar one might presume that the Gond Kingdom of Candrapur after the Bahamanis first passed under Imad Sahi and later under the Nizam Sahi.
Thus, following the fall of the Yadavas and the Kakatiyas of Warangal-1318, 1323-the Gonds of Sirpur must have got an opportunity to establish themselves as an independent power. This might have required at least a decade, i.e., 1333 or 1340 if we take the round figure. From this time the Gonds of Candrapur seem to have enjoyed independence till about 1422 or a little more, when Ahmad Sah Bahamani subjugated them. The Gond kings of Candrapur thus, were independent since the days of their founder for less than a century. We have no means to ascertain the exact nature of the hold over them either of Imad Sahi or of Nizam Sahi.
In the light of these historical facts the traditional date of the foundation of the Gond Kingdom of Sirpur, 870 A.D., recorded by Major Lucie Smith has got to be rejected. Some time around 1340 the kingdom was founded at Sirpur by Bhim Ballal Sing.
The dates of Babji Ballal Sah who was a contemporary of Akbar,
and those of Ram Sah and Nllkanth Sah who were contemporary personalities of Bhosale Raghuji I, could be determined
without any difficulty.
The first three kings who ruled at Sirpur were Bhim Ballal Sing, Kharja Ballal Sing and Hir Sing. Kharja was of gentle nature. His son Hir was warlike and prudent. He for the first time levied tax on occupied land. He was respected by his people.
He was succeeded by Adiya Ballal Sing, who was a tyrant. The fort of Ballarsah according to the anecdote recorded in the old Gazetteer of Canda
district was constructed by Khandakya Ballal Sah, the tenth descendant of the dynasty. But the credit of constructing the fort is given to Adiya by the account given in the History of Wani [RCI. pp. 40, 41.]. It is more likely that Adiya who shifted the capital from Sirpur to Ballarsah should have construct-ed a fort there for protection and defence as practically every capital in those days had a fort.
The fort stands on the eastern bank of the Wardha occupying six acres of land. The entrance faces the east. Outside the fort stands the temple of Kesavnath meant for the visit-darsana of the members of the royal family. In 1822 a stone image of Kesavnath was installed by Punj Patil, an officer of the Bhosales as the original gold-enamelled image was stolen in 1818. A huge mound of debris in the fort was probably the site of a once moderately splendid palace. Nilkanth Sah, the last ruler of the Candrapur dynasty, was confined here by Bhosale Raghuji I. From the ruins one could guess that the fort had all the necessary equipment-residential buildings, offices, stores magazine, cellars and stables.
From the fort walls, the Wardha, when in floods, presents a wild panoramic view. Because of its crescent shape at this spot the Wardha is called Candrabhaga after the Candrabhaga of Pandharpur.
After Adiya the following five kings in succession ruled at Ballarsah-Talvar Sing, Kesar Sing, Dinkar Sing, Ram Sing and Surja Ballal Sing alias Ser Sah.
Talwar being fickle-minded was not respected by his people. He was succeeded by his youngest son Kesar whom he loved dearly. Kesar was an able ruler. 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 predecessors. His son Dinkar was a man of peaceful pursuits. He invited to his court Gond bards and learned men from outside, and encouraged the study of religion and philosophy. For the first time he invited Marathi
literati to reside at his capital though no details are available
about them. The peace and prosperity which the people enjoyed during his reign led them to believe that Dinkar Sah was in
possession of a philosopher's stone.
Ram Sing who succeeded Dinkar was brave and ambitious. He governed the Kingdom righteously and enlarged its boundaries. For the defence of his territory he constructed hill forts in the south-west part and maintained a chosen band of invincible soldiers called tadavel. A rare orchid growing occasionally on the bamboo when eaten with certain ritual was supposed to make the person steel-bodied and, therefore, invulnerable. It is not known whether the plant eaten was a kind of orchid growing on the bamboo or was bamboo shoot itself.
It seems that during the reign of Ram Sing the western part of his kingdom was threatened by the Bahamanis. As already observed Ahmad Sah Bahamani (1422-1436) invested the fort of Mahur and rook the town of Kalamb, which belonged to the Gond Raja [Brigg's Ferishta, Vol. II.p. 489. C.U. Wills, The Rajgond Maharajas of Satpura Hills, p. 40.]. This Gond Raja was Ram Sing. Ahmad Sah is said to have massacred a large number of Hindus in this campaign. The Thakurs of this region bore the brunt of the attack. In memory of this tragic incident the people of Mahur celebrate a day called ' jaya takari '.
On the death of Ram Sing his son Surja Ballal Sing mounted the throne. Surja was very handsome, brave and adventurous. The legend recorded in the old Gazetteer of Canda about the exploits of Surja needs careful scrutiny. Surja Ballal is said to have been to Kasi to learn the art of war and music. During his stay there, his escort plundered the country around eventually drawing upon itself the wrath of the emperor of Delhi. In a skirmish that followed between the followers of Surja Ballal and the emperor's men the former came out successful. Later, Surja Ballal while wandering alone was captured by the emperor's soldiers and taken a captive to Delhi. At this time the Rajput chief of Kaibur, Mohan Sing, had incurred the displeasure of the emperor by refusing to offer his daughter of infatuating beauty asked for by the emperor. The emperor had sent a force against the Rajput chief which was defeated. In the meanwhile Surja Ballal's men who had returned to the capital, Sirpur, acquainted the. regent Jarba about the happenings at Kasi during Surja's stay there. Upon this Jarba collected a force of 70,000 men, of whom 10,000 were tadavels and proceeded to Delhi. When the force was on its march the emperor's daughter's admiration was excited on frequently hearing the melodious songs of the captive Surja.
At the request of his daughter the emperor sent for Surja and asked him whether he would fight for him. Surja readily agreed
to serve the emperor and took upon himself the task of reducing the fort of Kaibur. While Surja was preparing to return to Gondavana in order to make necessary preparations for the attack on Kaibur, the force under Jarba, the regent, reached the precincts of Delhi. Jarba was presented to the emperor. Under the leadership of Surja the Gond force together with the imperial contingent attacked Kaibur fort and reduced it. In the engagement the Rajput chief Mohan Sing was killed. Among the spoils secured was a sacred sword which is said to have been preserved in the royal Gond family till today. On Mohan Sing's death his widow entreated Surja to save her daughter and herself from the impending dishonour at the hands of the emperor. Surja promised them protection. On reaching the emperor's court Surja presented the daughter of Mohan Sing to the emperor disguised as the young prince of the dead Rajput chief. The emperor seated the prince in his lap and blessed him as his own child. When the emperor asked Surja about the beautiful daughter of Mohan Sing, Surja explained that she was already with emperor as his child in the lap. The emperor though chagrined at this trick conferred a dress of honour on the Gond King and allowed Mohan Sing's daughter to return home with grace. The Gond King was allowed to retain the entire territory from Bengal to Bundelkhand, and as far as Rajmahendri as was once held by his ancestors.
He was granted the title of Ser Sah. Henceforth all the Gond Kings from Surja suffixed the title Sah to their names.
This legend about Surja's adventure is not supported by the known historical facts. The name of the emperor at Delhi is not known, and no emperor is recorded to have asked for the help of a Gond King named Surja for securing the daughter of the Rajput chief [According to J. N. Seal (History of the Central Provinces and Berar, Calcutta, 1917, p.59) the emperor of Delhi in whose custody Surja was for some time,must be Firuz Tughluq-1351-88. On the basis of chronology computed for the Gonds of Chanda in the previous pages, Surja's reign comes to
1445-70. Even if Surja is considered as a contemporary of Firuz Tughluq, there is no evidence to show that Surja had been to the court of Firuz Tughluq.]. This story, therefore, has been concocted in order to enhance the importance of the Gond King Surja. Any ruler in those days who merited the attention of Delhi naturally merit-ed the attention of the public gaining name for himself. The fact in the anecdote is that Surja Ballal Sing alias Surja Ballal Sah accepted the supremacy of the Muslim rulers, most probably, of the Bahamanis.
Khandkya Ballal Sah, the founder of Candrapur.
On the death of Surja alias Ser Sah, his son Khandkya Ballal came to the throne. This prince had tumours all over his body.
He was looked after by his wise and beautiful wife. When no remedy could heal Khandkya she induced him to leave Sirpur and reside on the northern bank of the Wardha, where he erected a fort named Ballalpur. One day, as the legend goes, while the king was hunting north-west of Ballalpur he grew thirsty and rode up to the dry bed of the Jharpat river in search of water. He discovered water trickling from a hole, and after drinking,
washed his face, hands and feet. That night he slept soundly for the first time in his life. Next morning the queen was delighted to see that many of the tumours on her husband's body had disappeared. On enquiry the wonderful cure was ascribed to the water of Jharpat where the King drank water and washed his face. The queen requested Khandkya to take her to the spot where he had quenched his thirst. Both proceeded to the Jharpat and in a little while the hole was found. On clearing the grass and sand there were seen five footprints of a cow in the solid rock, each filled with water. The water source at the spot was inexhaustible. The place was holy-the Tirtha of Acalesvar of the Treta Yuga fame. When the King bathed in the water all the tumours on his body vanished. That night the royal party encamped near the place, and in the visions of sleep Acalesvar appeared to the King, and spoke comforting words. On hearing the dream the queen advised the erection of a temple over the healing waters, and the King, approving of the idea, sent his officers to collect skilled architects for the work. He took great interest in its progress. One morning, after his daily visit, while he was riding he saw a hare darting out of a bush and chasing his dog. Astonished at this unusual sight he looked on and saw the dog running in a wide circle while the hare took zig-zag cuts to catch it. At one point it closed in with the dog which how-ever shook it off and continued its flight. On nearing the point where the chase had commenced, the dog turned on and killed the hare. The King found that on the forehead of the hare was a white spot. Pondering what this might mean, he rode home and recounted to his wife all that he had seen. That wise woman counselled
that the occurrence was a good omen, and that a fortified city should he built
within the circuit of the chase, with walls following the hare's track. She
further advised that special bastions should be erected, both where the hare had
closed in upon the dog and where the dog had killed the hare. She ex-pressed her
belief that the latter point would prove to be dangerous
to the city in future. The King lost no time in giving effect to her
suggestions. A trench was dug along the hare's track, which was easily
discernible by the footprints of the King's horse. The gates and bastions were
planned, the whole marked out, and the foundations commenced. The work was under
the management of the Rajput officers of the King, called Tel Thakurs. Thus began the building of the city of Canda or Candrapur. Some scholars derive the name from Indupur (city of the moon), which stood near the Jharpat in the Treta Yuga, but the common people see its origin in the white spot (Candar) which marked the forehead of the wondrous hare.
The Sanivar Palace at Poona is said to have been constructed by Pesva Bajirav I on a site where he saw a hare chasing a dog while he was on his morning ride.
Khandkya Ballal Sah thus founded the city of Canda or Candrapur. He used to reside both at Ballalpur. or Ballarsah and Candrapur. He died at Ballalpur.
The tomb of Khandkya Ballal Sah is on the Sironca-Alapalli road, half a mile to the east of the Ballarsah station in the jungle. It is constructed of black stone, square in shape and adorned with a dome. It looks like a Muslim monument. A small platform in front of this tomb is said to be the monument of the chief queen Hiratani. Nearabout lies a stone marked with a pair of forty-two foot-prints considered to be the monument of the forty-two minor queens of Khandkya who killed themselves after the sati custom on the death of their lord [RCI. pp. 61-62.].
Hir Sah succeeded Khandkya Ballal. One of the notable achievements of this King was the encouragement he gave to cultivation. He issued a declaration (firman) stating that one who brought new land under the plough by clearing the forest would be granted a sanad as the Zamindar of that piece of land and would be raised to the status of a nobleman-Sardar.
Any one constructing a tank was rewarded with as much land as could be Watered
by the tank. These incentives had their results soon. The thick forest was
felled and as many as twenty new land proprietorships-Zamindaris-were established covering an area of nearly 5,000 square miles. The boundaries of the lands owned by individuals were well demarcated. Land grants were freely made to those who constructed wells and canals. At the same time Hir Sah sternly warned the old land proprietors that their lands would be confiscated should they keep them fallow. Hir Sah constructed a tank at Junona, six miles to the east of Candrapur for the use of poor farmers. He personally toured the country, carefully inspecting whether the new incentives he had offered were properly utilised. According to a legend the farmers paid their rent not in cash but in field implements which were taken to the King every year and changed by him into gold. Hir Sah introduced all these measures having understood the importance of agronomy for the prosperity of his kingdom which traditionally depended upon the forest wealth.
Hir Sah is stated to have paid tribute to none. There is much significance historically in this statement. On the basis of the reigns of the different Gond Kings calculated in the previous pages of this chapter, Khandkya Ballal Sah ruled between 1470 and 1495. His successor, Hir Sah, therefore, has to be given the period from 1496 to 1521. The Bahamani kingdom ceased to exercise any power after the assassination of Mahmud Gavan in 1481, though in theory it continued to exist till the death of its last ruler Kalim-ulla-sah in 1527. The collapse of the Bahamanis coincides with the reign of Hir Sah. The statement, therefore, that Hir Sah paid tribute to none is historically corroborative. It is not borne out by facts that the immediate predecessors of Hir Sah paid tribute to the Haihayas of Ratanpur [J. N. Seal-History of The Central Provinces and Berar-Calcutta,!917, p. 60.
Seal's statement that Hir Shah's successors paid tribute to the Haihayas of Ratanpur
is not supported by historical evidence.].
Hir Sah filled in the foundation of the walls which his father had begun, He erected high gates facing the four main quarters. On the gates he carved the typical Gond royal crest. It represents a lion treading on an elephant with its left front foot and pulling the trunk with its right front paw. The hind right leg of the lion is planted on the back of the elephant. The projecting tongue of the lion and its curved tail impart motion and grace to the carving. The elephant looks quite helpless in the grip of the lion. The lion is much larger than the elephant, and though this is unnatural, it is probably intended to convey the prowess of the lion. Crests of this type are repeated on all the fort-gates constructed by the Gonds. In the absence of any literary evidence it is not possible to interpret the exact meaning of this emblem. Nor are the Gonds of to-day able to explain its meaning [In the ' Report of the Land Revenue Settlement of the Chanda District,Central Provinces' (1869) by Major Lucic Smith, p.70,the meaning of the crest has been interpreted as follows:-
" The device of the Gond kings was a Sing or Griffin destroying an elephant and doubtless had reference to their family name of Sing-This crest is carved, upon wall and gateway and tower wherever the Bullal Sing line held sway, and is to be seen far beyond the boundaries of the present Chanda district."
" The Gond kings styled themselves as," Great King of Kings, Lord of the Earth" but their official seal came from Delhi, and bore a far humbler legend. Only two of these seals can now be found, and in the older of the two, granted by the Delhi Emperor to Ram Shah in 1719,A.D.,the inscription runs-Mohumud Gazee Emperor of Supreme dignity, to Raja Ram Sing, Dependent, 1131 Sun."].
Hir Sah constructed a citadel and within its confines prepared a palace for his own stay. One of the gates of the citadel was styled as lal daravaja. It was a common fashion in those days to name a number of gateways and buildings as lal daravaja and lal mahal. Inside the citadel was built the temple of Somesvar and a tank called Kohinur for the use of the members of the royal family. All these constructions bear testimony to the artistic sense of Hir Sah.
Ankum's love legend.
Hir Sah was sonless. He had two daughters Gangubai and Virubai. The former was married to Ankum, the ruler of Junganv and the latter to Ramji, the Gond nobleman of Rajgad, about thirty miles to the east of Chandrapur. Ankum who was attracted by Virubai on seeing her wanted to have adulterous relations with her. When his efforts bore no fruit he hatched a plot with a view to raping Virubai for which he succeeded in securing the consent of his wife, who was unwilling at the beginning. Virubai was childless and sought God's grace for a child by prayers and worship. In order to carry the plot through, Gangubai urged her sister Virubai to come to Junganv and offer prayers to the deity Balesvar there, known to fulfil the wishes of his devotees. When Virubai entered the temple of Balesvar. Ankum who was hiding raped her. Helpless, Virubai came home and narrated the tragedy to her husband Ramji. Ramji vowed vengeance common with the Gonds. Soon it was declared that Ramji was dead and his wife who pretended to be a widow secretly invited Ankum to her place. On the appointed
day lovelorn Ankum came and Ramji who was hiding seized him and blinded him. Ankum according to this legend repented all his life for the crime he had committed [RCl. pp. 67-70. The story is taken fro n Madhuvana 3rd issue,collected by V. V. Joshi. Gondavani Lokakatha No. 2.].
Successors of Hir Sah.
Sonless Hir Sah's widow, Hirabai, adopted Bhuma and Lokba as successors to the gadi from the Gond family of Movad. Hirabai looked after the administration of the Kingdom till the two adopted sons came of age. The two brothers Bhuma and Lokba ruled peacefully and were well respected by the people. Every summer on an appointed day all the Gond feudatories assembled at Canda or Chandrapur the capital of their sovereign and presented to him specimens of every animal and jungle produce obtained in their territory. There was dancing and singing accompanied by instrumental music. The participants painted their bodies in bright variegated colours
and beautified their head-dress with peacock feathers. The revelry was concluded with a grand bouquet at the palace. All this was quite in keeping with the custom common to many an aboriginal tribe.
Bhuma and Lokba.
During the reign of the two brothers the chief of Amaravati near Guntur in Andhra Pradesh offered them a valuable diamond. Pleased with the gift they ceded a large part of their eastern Kingdom to the chief of Amaravati. This is a rare instance in which a portion of the kingdom is bartered for a valuable gift. It indicates what importance the Gonds attached to the terra firma highly valued by the civilised people.
Kondya alias Karan Sah.
On the death of the two brothers, Kondya Sah alias Karan Sah became the chief of Candrapur. He was a great supporter of the Hindu religion and a devotee of Siva in particular. A large number of Telugu Brahmins along with other communities migrated to Candrapur during the reign of Kondya Sah owing to oppression of the neighbouring Kings. It is, however, not known who the neighbouring kings were.
Kondya Sah liberally gave rent-free lands and villages to the Telugu Brahmins and conferred upon them varsasanas or annual pensions. The presence of a large number of Telangis in the Candrapur area even today probably dates back to this period.
As a devotee of Siva, Kondya constructed a good number of Siva temples, repaired the old ones and cleared the wild growth of vegetation which had covered caves and temples. One of the temples in the Pathanpura ward of modern Candrapur is said to have been constructed by Kondya. in which, a Siva linga is mounted on an elephant. This is a rare instance of a Siva linga.
Kondya listened attentively to the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, and arranged for their recitals.
Up to this time the Gond rulers did not interfere with the disputes of the individual subjects. They allowed the operation of
the crude jungle law of 'eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth', in
the case of the complaints that reached them. Kondya Sah
abandoned this practice. He summoned the two parties, the
Plaintiff and the Defendant. to his Court, carefully heard them
and then delivered the judgment. An accused telling a lie was
banished from the Kingdom, but if he confessed the guilt he was
reprimanded and released. On the second occasion the accused was given the same concession. However, if he repeated the crime for the third time he was expelled from the Kingdom.
During the reign of this King the walls of the city of Candrapur rose to half of their estimated height.
Babji Ballal Sah.
Babji Ballal Sah mounted the throne after the death of
Kondya. This pleasure-loving King entrusted every thing to his
ministers who. for him. were fortunately able administrators, and spent his time in the harem and the wine flask. The Ain-i-Akbari mentions this King as an independent ruler who paid no tribute to Delhi having tinder him a force of 10,000 horse and 40.000 infantry. He conquered the fort of Wairagad once noted for diamonds with the help of Puram Sah of Tipagad. his feudatory.
This fort was one of the strong-holds of the Gonds. The temple of Kesavnath in the fort is said to have been constructed by Babji. The fort occupies an area of about ten acres. It has a moat. At present it is a protected monument [RCI. p. 75.].
Babji Ballal Sah became feudatory to Akbar. After the conquest of Berar by the Moghals, they included Manikgad in the Subha of Berar. Manikgad is to the south of Candrapur. Further south is Utnur in the modern Andhra Prades. Utnur passed to the Moghals as part of Berar and was the seat of a Sarkar then known as Nabinagar. All this proves that Babji Ballal accepted the supremacy of Akbar [PAGA. pp. 20,21.].
Puram of Tipagad.
According to a tradition noted by Major Lucie Smith, Puram of Tipagad in the Muramganv Zamindari, was a mighty Gond King. He had a body-guard of 2,000 men, five elephants and twenty-five horses. He held the Wairagad country under his sway. Envious of his growing power his subordinates in the Chattisgad area advanced against him. The contending armies met at Kotgal. Countless fell to Puram's sword and the Chattisgadi forces were beaten back. In the thick of the battle one of the Chattisgadi soldiers picked up an embroidered sandal of Puram that had slipped off and showed it to his queen at Tipagad. Thinking that Puram had fallen on the battle field, the Rani bedecked with gold ornaments and royal jewellery rode in a bullock-driven cahriot and like a true sati disappeared in the waters of a neighbouring lake. Puram with his victorious army returned to the capital in the midst of thundering drums and
clashing cymbals. But alas, the queen was no more to greet him. Unable to bear the pangs of separation Puram too plunged into the lake where his dear queen had drowned herself, and disappeared. Thereafter Tipagad became a deserted place [Major Lucie Smith, Report on the Land Revenue Settlement of the Chanda District,
Central Provinces, 1869 (1870), pp. 25-26.].
After the death of Puram his general Harcand was appointed as the keeper of the Wairagad fort by Babji Ballal Sah, the ruler of Candrapur. Harcand founded around Wairagad seven holy temples-Sapta dhama-i.e., Bhandareswara, Nandikeswara, Pataleswara, Dubaleswara, Acaleswara, Rameswara and Maha-bajeswara. At present the last alone survives as a protected monument atop a hill to the south of Wairagad. The temple of Siva at Armori standing on the edge of a tank, according to General Cunningham's Archaeological Survey of India Report was constructed by one Raja Haracandra Gond. In all probability this was Harcand, the general of Puram [RCI. pp. 80,81.].
The fort of Wairagad is 80 miles to the north-east of Candrapur on the confluence of Khobragadi and Satnale. It is a place of great antiquity supposed to have been founded in the Dvapara Yuga by a king named Wairocana, and therefore, known as Wairagad after him. The place was ruled by the Mima kings from whose hands it was wrested by the Gonds. It is difficult to decide the date of transfer of this place from the Manas to the Gonds with any certainty. The
manas belonged to the Nagavamsi Ksatriyas. One of the descendants of the Manas
constructed the fort of Manikgad about 27 miles to the south of Candrapur. The gate of this fort has a carving of a cobra and not the usual Gond crest. This may mean that the fort belong-ed originally to the Manas. The Manas in their own turn were conquered by the Haihayas of Ratanpur [RCI. pp. 21-24.].
It is interesting to note that in one of the heroic songs of the Gonds there is an account of a hero called Hirakhan. He was the king of Hiragad and his Kingdom included the forts of Hiragad, Bairagad (Wairagad), Sirpur, Bhanpur, Caipara, etc. The name of his queen was Kamal Hiro. No further details are known about this king of Bairagad or Wairagad [Rambharose Agrawal, ' Gadha-Mandla ke Gond Raja ' Samvat 2018, p. 152.].
Dhundya Ram Sah.
Babji Ballal Sah died in about 1597, and was succeeded by Dhundya Ram Sah. Dhundya Ram Sah completed the construcion of the Canda fort which was commenced by Khandkya Ballal Sah (1470-1495). The walls encircling the city vary in height from 15 to 20 feet, and cover an area of 7.5 miles. The rampart has semicircular bastions with embrasures at suitable points to fire through. At the main four quarters are the imposing gates named Jatpura (north), Vinba or Ghod-maidan (west), Pathanpura (south) and Mahakali or Acaleswar (east). The five small gates are Cor, Vithoba, Hanumant, Masan and Bagad.
There is cultivable land within the walls. The suburbs outside the walls were Jatpura, Govindpur, Hivarpuri, Lalpet and Babupet.
The important historic remains which attract a visitor today
are the city walls of black cut stone, the gates adorned with the typical Gondi crest, the glittering Ramala tank and the tombs of the Gond kings. The monoliths at Lalpeth, the temples of Acalesvar, Mahakali and Muralidhar are equally interesting. Just after the rainy season Canda or Candrapur with the Manikdurg hills to its south shining under a clear blue sky, the green-fields all around and the Jharpat-Irai closing the fort on two sides presents an enchanting view to the eye.
Some of the temples and gates were constructed by the successors of Dhundya Ram Sah late in the Maratha period. One Rayappa of Komati caste was the chief architect of Dhundya [LSRLRSC. pp. 26-27.].
When the work of the Canda fort was finished Dhundya Ram Sah celebrated a function with great pomp. The courtiers assembled at Candrapur and offered presents. Gifts were liberally given to the Brahmins and the poor. A sanad of Despandeship of paragana Ghatkul was granted to a Brahmin of Rajur in the former Nizam State. The paragands of Kelapur, Bhori, Yavat-mal, Kalam and Haveli were conferred on a Lingayat Baniya [LSRLRSC. pp. 66-67.].
The old Gazetteer of Canda District which in many respects is an exact copy of the account given by Major Lucie Smith in his Report of the Land Revenue Settlement of the Canda District, Central Provinces, 1869, describes Dhundya Ram Sah as foolish, drunken, untruthful and treacherous. But from his actual achievements it seems that he was tolerably good. Major Lucie Smith, one is forced to say, just wrote down uncritically what-ever information he got in writing and by oral tradition. In the interest of historical truth it would have been better if Major Smith had exercised his judgment.
Krsna Sah the son of Dhundya came to the throne after the latter's death. He governed his subjects well. The practice of sacrificing a cow in honour of Parsapen or Badadev common among the Gonds was banned by Krsna Sah. He substituted a goat for the cow as the traditional Gond practice touched the feelings of the Hindu population [LSRLRSC P. 67.]. His father is said to have prohibited human sacrifice which was performed per force clandestinely [RCI. p. 89.].
During Krsna Sah's reign the Candrapur Gond house recognised the independence of the Devgad rulers by a treaty. According to the Ain-i-Akbari the ruler of Devgad, Jataba, was a feudatory to Akbar. He extended his territory as far as
Nagpur and constructed there a fort. Jataba during Akbar's
reign was a well-known Gond ruler having 2.000 cavalry, 50,000
infantry and 100 elephants. A powerful ruler like Jataba must have ceased to pay allegiance to the week Candrapur Gond house.
According to C. U. Wills, Kiba, the Zamindar of Candrapur helped Khan Dauran in his attack on Nagpur fort which was held by Koka Sah of Devgad. Kiba. the Candrapur Zamindar arrived at Nagpur with 1,500 horse, 3,000 infantry and presented a sum of Rs. 70,000 [WRMSH. p. 141. ]. It is difficult to say who this Kiba was, but in all probability he was Krsna Sah as suggested by A. I. Rajurkar [RCI. pp. 92, 93.]. Krsna Sah (1622-1640) was a contemporary of Sab Jahan (1627-58). Khan Dauran was sent against Nagpur in 1637.
Bir Sah succeeded to the throne on the death of his father Krsna Sah. Bir Sah is described as a valiant prince who ruled successfully [SHCPB. p. 61 (Seal J. N., History of the Central Provinces and Berar Calcutta, 1917).].
When Aurangzeb was the governor of the Deccan for the appointed as the governor of the Deccan which post he held first from 1636 to 1644, and from 1652 to 1658 for the second time [SME1. Part II., pp. 500-01].
When Aurangzeb was the governor of the Deccan for the second time, Bir Sah appealed to him for the remittance of the annual tribute as he was financially in bad straits. Aurangzeb secured sanction for this from his lather. A similar appeal was made by Kesar Sing of Devgad. Kesar Sing, it was reported, possessed an elephant named Jatasarikar of rare elegance. Sah jahan urged his son in the Deccan to secure the animal and send it to him. Kesar Sing had no such elephant with him. Through the mediation of Bir Sah of Candrapur who had good relations with Aurangzeb, Kesar Sing convinced Aurangzeb that he did not have the animal and the enquiry was closed [WRMSH.
pp. 147, 148, 151, 153.].
In September 1657 Sah Jahan's serious illness, plunged the empire in Civil War. Aurangzeb hastily retreated his steps to the north, took possession of Agra fort and imprisoned Sah Jahan for life [SMRI. Part II, pp. 503, 469.]. This naturally gave respite to the Gond Kings and Bir Sah of Candrapur seems to have stopped the payment of tribute to the Moghals. With a view to punishing Bir Sah for this act of defiance, Aurangzeb sent Diler Khan to Gondavana with a large army. Bir Sah unable to face the Moghals offered rupees five lakhs to Diler agreeing to pay heavy fine to the Emperor. Bir Sah on the whole ruled wisely and successfully.
Bir Sah had only one daughter whom he loved dearly. She was married to prince Durgpal alias Durg Sah of Devgad. On learning that she was insulted by her husband. Bir Sah marched
on Devgad and killed his son-in-law. His severed head was
brought to Candrapur and ceremonially offered to Goddess
Mahakali. This was quite in keeping with the Gond practice of
reacting revengefully for redressing the wrong.
At the court of Bir Sah there was a Rajput called Hiraman who was said to possess a magic sword of wood. Bir Sah often asked him about the sword out of curiosity hut never got any reply. On the occasion of his own second marriage Bir Sah pressed Hiraman to show him the magic sword in the presence of the assembled courtiers. The king imagined that some misfortune might befall him if he did not acquaint himself with the mystery of the sword. Hiraman, however, did not like that the king should press him to show the sword in the presence of the courtiers. He at once grew furious and struck the king down dead while the gathering looked dumb-founded at the tragedy. Bir Sah was celebrating his second marriage as he had no male issue from his first wile Hirai. Thus ended the life of Bir Sah.
As Bir Sah died sonless his widow adopted a boy from the
royal Gond family of Candankheda related to Bir Sah. This boy
was the famous saintly Ram Sah. He proved to be a wise and
Rani Hirai reconstructed the temple of Mahakali as the Goddess had proved to be propitious when Bir Sah vowed to kill his son-in-law Durga Sah. The present temple of Mahakali was built by her. In memory of the victory over Durga Sah atop the temple
his head in stone was placed facing Devgad [RCI. p. 101.]. In honour of the Goddess Mahakali a fair is held on the full-moon day of Caitra when devotees flock to Candrapur from places far and near.
Hirai took great interest in building temples. In place of the old temple of Acalesvar a new one was built. By the side of the statue of Mahakali was installed the image of Ekavira. On the full-moon day of Caitra, Mahakali-Ekavira meeting is celebrated after the usual offerings to Mahakali.
Bir Sah is said to have started the construction of the temple of Ganapati and Hirai carried it to completion. The temple today is known as Ganapati of the Khatis as one Ambabal Khati during the reign of Vyankoji Bhosale (1788-1811) donated her wealth to the temple. Ambabai burnt herself as a sati.
In honour of her husband. Hirai built a beautiful tomb in the mansion opposite to the temple of Acalesvar.
At Wairagad, Hirai constructed the temple of Gorajai. About forty miles to the east of Candrapur on the bank of Wainganga a temple of Siva which was in ruins was rebuilt by Hirai. As at
all famous Siva temples, a fair is held here on the Sivaratri day
in the month of Magha. Bapuji Vaidya, the Divan of Rani Hirai
constructed a temple of Siva and a spacious well.
The seventeenth century was an age of faith. Construction of a temple, a tank or well, a rest house or any building of public utility in the eyes of the public was considered an act of piety, and therefore a matter of achievement. Hirai's place, therefore, as a builder in the history of Candrapur is the same as that of Ahilyabai Holkar in the eighteenth century India.
Hirai, the mother regent, entrusted the charge of the Candrapur Kingdom to her adopted son Ram Sah in 1691. Ram Sah was noted for his piety. He is said to have possessed divine qualities as a result of which there was minimum crime during his reign. But as ill-luck would have it, he had to send an army against his own noblemen of Sirpur.
At Sirpur in the tahsil of Wani on the western bank of the Wardha there lived three Gond brothers Agba, Bagba and Raghba by name. They were mokasdars of paragana Sirpur and were nephews of king Ram Sah. Bagba, the most handsome of them, had once been to Candrapur for official work. As pre-arranged he met Ram Sah's beautiful daughter who was of marriageable age. The next day he left for Sirpur. He had left his shoe in the apartment of his beloved unawares. Ram Sah on learning about this love affair was naturally upset, and sent a small force to punish the unwarranted lover of his daughter. Bagba gathered his men to face the calamity and the two armies met at Ghughus twenty miles to the north-west of Candrapur. Agba and Raghba fell fighting, and Bagba in order to save his honour crossed the Wardha and hid himself in a cellar along with his family. There he beheaded his family members and killed himself.
This love episode is wholly based on the ballad composed some time before 1862, i.e., about 175 years after the actual event [RCI. pp. 122-129. The ballad was composed by one Madhav poet. It is referred to in the History of Wani by Nilkanthrao Dhume, unpublished.].
When Ram Sah was ruling at Candrapur (1691-1735), his territory was invaded by Kanhoji Bhosale the second Sena-Saheb-Subha.
Maratha incursions into Berar go back to Sivaji's reign. In
1670 Sivaji suddenly fell upon the rich and flourishing city of Karanja and looted it. Again in 1672 he entered Berar from Khandes but was beaten back [Jadunath Sarkar, Shivaji, 1961, pp. 178, 190.]. He did not have Candrapur in his programme of spoil. After his wonderful escape from Agra he took his homeward route via Bundelkhand, Gondawana and Golkonda [JSS.p. 152.]. In all probability his route from Gondawana to Golkonda passed through Candrapur. However, the required details supporting this statement are not available.
During the reign of Rajaram the Marathas were engaged in a life and death struggle with Emperor Aurangzeb. Fleeing svarajya, Rajaram reached Jinji on 15th November 1689. Among the trusted men who accompanied him there, was Rupaji Bhosale the uncle of Parasoji Bhosale. Shortly after this Rajaram duly honoured his noblemen with titles and territory. Parasoji Bhosale had distinguished himself by his ravaging activities in Berar and Gondawana and had established his influence there. The title of Sena-Saheb-Subha was conferred on him and the country of Berar and Gondawana which was already subject to his pillages was given to his charge. No details of his raids into Gondawana-Candrapur are available. He is taken to be the founder of the House of the Bhosales of Nagpur with his head-quarters at Bham in Berar, in the present district of Yavatmal.
When Sahu came to the Maratha country in 1707, Tarabai, his uncle's wife proclaimed that he was an impostor, and therefore, had no claim to Chatrapatiship. In this hour of difficulty Parasoji Bhosale dined with Sahu in the same dish and convinced the Maratha nobility that the latter was a Maratha-Ksatriya of the bluest blood, Sivaji's grandson, and thus by the law of primo-geniture had the right to mount the throne. This helped Sahu tremendously in bringing the Maratha noblemen to his side. For this assistance Sahu graciously conferred on Parasoji Sena-Saheb-Subhaship, offered him the dress of honour and granted a sanad for Prant Ritpur and Sarkar Gawel of Prant Berar, Prant Devgad, Canda-Gondawana and Anagondi [KNBB.p. 31.]. It is not known when and how Parasoji invaded Canda. Major Lucie Smith's, 'Report on the Land Revenue Settlement of the Canda District, Central Provinces, 1869,' which is the main source for the history of Candrapur of the mediaeval period makes no reference to Parasoji's raids on Candrapur.
Kanhoji at Candrapur.
Parasoji died in 1709 and was succeeded by his son Kanhoji who became the Sena-Saheb-Subha [KNI. pp. 49, 50.]. In the life of Sahu by Malhar Ramrav Citrus it is stated that the Canda rajya which was brought by Kanhoji Bhosale under his influence should be included in Svarajya. At another place in the same work it is mentioned that Kanhoji should continue to have Gondawana, Berar and Cuttack [Sane K. N.,' Life of Shahu Maharaj The Elder,' Third Edition, 1924, pp. 51,55.]. Kanhoji it seems, was not very successful in his Candrapur expeditions. He invaded Candrapur in order to collect the dues of cauth and tribute which had not been paid. Ram Sah sent an army to oppose him under the command of one Manoji Badawaik and Kaserav of Adapalli. The army consisted of Gonds, Jats and Pathans. In the skirmish that took place near Rambag outside the fort of Canda Kanhoji was defeated.
He was also not successful in his campaign against the Gond
Kingdom of Devgad. [R.C.I., pp. 133-36.This work describes Kanhoji's invasion of Chanda. It was originally prepared by one Sitaram Shastri Kanchanpalli war in 1865 for the Settlement Commissioner of Chanda. A copy of the same was preserved and was found in the records of one Prabhakar Domalwar of Chanda. In this original copy it is stated that Shahu ordered Kanhoji Bhosale to invade the Gond Kingdoms of Deogad and Chandrapur as the Gonds had become defiant. Kanhoji ravaged Deogad territory but was not successful in subduing the Gonds. According to the original copy Shahu ordered Kanhoji to invade the Gondterritory in the Phasali year 1107 i.e., in 1697 A.D. In 1697 Shahu was in the custody of Aurangzeb. He came to the Maratha country in 1707 and crowned himself asthe Chhatrapati in 1708. The year of Kanhoji's invasion of Chanda 1697 A.D. (1407 Phasali), is obviously wrong. The account of Kanhoji's invasion of Chanda too has to be taken with a grain of salt.
In the KNBB p.38,it is stated that Kanhoji Bhosale established his rule over Berar, attacked Chandrapur and Deogad, looted some parganas thereof and returned to Berar. There is no mention of his defeat at Chandrapur or Chanda.
The source quoted in RCI pp.133-37, states that Kanhoji was defeated and forced to flee by the army of Ram Shah. The source further says that Shahu sent Raghuji against Kanhoji because of Kanhoji's defeat at Chandrapur. The date of Kanhoji's death given in the source is 1112 Phasali, i.e., 1702 A.D., and that of Raghuji's rule over Chandrapur 1125 Phasali, i.e., 1715.These dates are absolutely wrong, therefore, one cannot take the source given in RCI. as authentic. It is written in praise of Ram Shah and belittles Kanhoji.].
The exact date of Kanhoji's invasion of Candrapur cannot be
ascertained. Up to 1727 Kanhoji Bhosale was on good terms with Chatrapati Sahu [SPD. Vol. 20, pp. 6, 7.]. Within a year or two thereafter he fell from Sahu's grace, and Sahu appointed Bhosale Raghuji I in place of Kanhoji. Kanhoji ran for help to the Nizam of Hyderabad. But the latter offered no shelter to Kanhoji when reminded by Sahu that this would be against the agreement entered into by the two powers, Chatrapati and Nizam, viz., neither of them should give asylum to the enemy of the other. Bhosale Raghuji I and Kanhoji were already at cross roads as they had disputes regarding their shares in the ancestral jagir. Raghuji was pres-sing his uncle Kanhoji to give him his share in the jagir. So long as Kanhoji had no son he looked upon Raghuji as his successor and child. For sometime Raghuji lived with Kanhoji, his uncle. However, when by God's grace Kanhoji got a son his attitude towards Raghuji changed. He loved him no more. Kanhoji was recalcitrant and was not regularly paying the dues to the central treasury. It seems that his relations with Peswa Bajirav I, the most influencial personality at the court of Sahu were neither cordial. They were rather strained. The result was that Kanhoji fell from Chatrapati Sahu's grace. Sahu sent Raghuji against Kanhoji. When Raghuji stormed Bham, the headquarters of Kanhoji, the latter escaped towards Warn but was overcome, defeated and taken a prisoner at Mandar. Kanhoji was handed over to the Chatrapati and spent the remaining part of his life in custody. This incident took place in 1730. Kanhoji, who was responsible for founding Maratha power in Gondwana and Orissa, thus ended his career as an unfortunate prisoner.
Raghuji invades Candrapur.
Raghuji was granted the mokasa right of Deur near Warn hefore
he was sent against Kanhoji, in 1728. The title of Sena-SahebSubhaship was conferred on him, and sanads were issued on
28-2 1723, granting him the right to collect mokasa and cauth from Paragana Ritpur of Sarkar Goval, Prant Warhad, Devgad and Candrapur of Prant Gondawana, Prant Multai, Prant above the Ghats, Prant Chattisgad, Prant Bastar, Prant Makasudabad (Mursidabad, i.e., Bengal), Patna and Allahabad. The date of mis sanad 1723, A.D. mentioned in the Nagpurkar Bhosalyanci Bakhar is nor correct. This sanad was issued between 1728 and 1730 [KNBB. p. 42, Also see Grant Duff, A History of the Marathas, Vol. I n 424 (1912).].
About 1730, Raghuji matched on Candrapur but did not wage a war finding its ruler Ram Sah of saintly disposition. Raghuji was so much impressed by Ram Sah that he honoured him with dress, collected the tribute and left the Candrapur territory unmolested [KNPI. p. 37, Exact date of this invasion cannot be ascertained.] Towards the end of Ram Sah's reign (1734 A.D.) the Mokasdar of Gadabori in the Brahmapuri tahsil rebelled against him. It was quickly quelled by Semaji alias Sankar Dhume who was appointed for this task. In the engagement that took place Semaji brought the Mokasdar a captive but lost his nose. Ram Sah honoured his valiant servant by presenting him a palanquin and a gold nose. Semaji secured from Ram Sah a sanad for Deshpande-ship of 209 villages of Paragana Gadbori and also a sanad for mokasgiri of Navarganv [RCI. pp. 138-40.].
From the documents describing the grants, etc., made by the Gond Kings we find that they styled themselves as "Rajesri Maharajadhiraj Sri Bhupatiraj. Sri Ramsaheji Raje or Rajesri Nilakanthasahaji Raje, Gosavi [RCI. pp. 141, 153.].
Ram Sah constructed ranks and ghats. The famous Ramala tank built by him was named after him [RCI. p. 151.]. Ram Sah died in 1735. He was remembered
for a long time for his saintliness.
Ram Sah was succeeded by his son Nilkanth Sah (1735-1751), who was ill famed as a tyrant given to vices.
Nilkanth Sah and end of the Candrapur House.
When Raghuji was busy with the Bengal expeditions, Raghunath Sing, the Diwan of the Gond King of Devgad, with the help of Nilkanth Sah, tried to overthrow Raghuji's sway. Raghuji in 1748, seeking respite from the Bengal affair, invaded Devgad and killed Raghunath Sing. He next proceeded against Nilkanth Sah and defeated him.
Nilkanth Sah's hereditary Diwan Mahadaji Vaidya was not happy with his master and had secretly invited Raghuji Bhosale to invade Candrapur Kingdom. Nilkanth Sah got scent of this treachery and poisoned his Diwan Mahadaji Vaidya to death.
With his defeat by Raghuji Bhosale, Nilkanth Sah had to enter into a treaty with him. The treaty is dated 1159 Phasali year, i.e., 1749 A.D. According to this treaty Nilkanth Sah
surrendered to Raghuji two-third revenue of his kingdom. The
share was as follows: -
This account has been secured from the authentic copy of the original documents in the possession of Srimant Raja Balasaheb Citnavis of Nagpur. In these documents cauth is termed as chaharam. The city of Candrapur together with the fort which was in excellent condition was retained by Raghuji for himself. Kasabe Ballalpur i.e., Ballarsah was left to Nilkanth. The ancient fort of Wairagad fell to Raghuji's share.
Raghuji appointed Sivajipant Tajkute as the keeper of the fort of Candrapur. Timaji Sagadev, Nllkanth Sah's Divan sought service with Raghuji
as his old master could not afford to maintain his services.
In 1751, Nilkanth foolishly took the possession of Candrapur fort by driving the Diwan Talkute out. Raghuji immediately swooped upon Nilkanth, defeated him without any difficulty and imprisoned him permanently in the fort of Ballalpur. Raghuji took all the care of the royal prisoner. Thus ended the Gond house of Candrapur when pitted against the superior power of the Marathas.
Administration under Gonds.
The history of Candrapur as already observed falls into three distinct periods; the Gond,
the Maratha and the British. Between the Gond and the Maratha periods the Bahamanis, the Adil Sahs of Bijapur and the Moghals for sometime established their sovereignty over Candrapur. Whether the Imad Sahi of Berar with its seat at Ellicpur, during its short existence, extend-ed its sway over Candrapur cannot be ascertained for want of evidence. These Muslim rulers were quite content when the Gond rulers of Candrapur accepted their sovereignty and paid them tribute regularly. Owing to the wild nature of Candrapur country they could neither establish their sway there nor had they enough time to undertake the venture as they were pre-occupied with other important political matters. In effect the internal administration of Candrapur remained practically un-affected during the Muslim interlude. In studying the administrative history of Candrapur, therefore, one has to reckon with the Gond, Maratha and the British periods as of consequence. Islamic elements in Canda administration are to be traced to the Maratha rule as it was of a hundred years duration and effective, and when it commenced it was itself impregnated with Muslim influence.
The original source-material of the Gond period for Candrapur is extremely scanty. All records concerning Canda administration were destroyed by one influential Brahmin Lingopant Diksit between 1819 and 1823, as he found them containing evidence unsuited to his designs. He had amassed a vast fortune and owned a number of villages [LSRLRSC. pp. 120, 127.]. The administrative history of Candrapur of the Gond period has, therefore, to be compiled mainly from the extant papers of the Maratha period and the references found in the history of the British period.
The Gond administration forms an important chapter of Candrapur history revealing as it does the Gondi concept of administration, the importance they attached to agriculture and the efforts they made for the habilitation of the country.
Under the Gonds. land was divided into two categories Zamindari and non-Zamindari or Khalsa. The Khalsa part of the country was portioned out into numerous divisions, each of which was governed by a Kiledar-Fort Keeper-known as Divan. He was named after the fort where he resided. The killa unit was sub-divided into barsas or groups of villages, but a village was described according to its main division. Thus Cop in the Wairagad paragana was styled mauza Cop, kille Wairagad. There are no papers available showing these divisions under the Gond
Kings, but in 1775 A.D., twenty-six years after the Maratha conquest some of the divisions mentioned are as follows: -
Divisions in 1775||
Divisions to which they belonged in 1869
1. Havell Paragana.
2. Rajgad Paragana.
3. Ghatkul Paragana.
4. Ambganv Paragana.
5. Brahmapuri Paragana.
6. Gadbori Paragana.
7. Wairagad Paragana.
8. Waroda Paragana.
9. Bhandak Paragana.
10. Cimur Pa ragana.
After the Treaty of Devganv in 1803, the territory to the right
bank of Wardha and the Pranahita was ceded to the Nizam.
Waroda, Cimur and Brahmapuri were first included in Nagpur
but later retransferred to Candrapur-the former in 1837-38 and
the latter in 1820-21.
The Zamindaris were settled in 1869 after taking into account their history as it came down either through the Gond or the Maratha reigns. A brief account of the Zamindaris would not he out of place as it enables us to know their status and function under the Gonds and the Marathas.
Major Lucie Smith compares the Canda Zamindars with the English Barons and the Scottish chiefs, who were men ruling on the spot as the administrators at the centre were away in the days of clumsy and slow means of communication. They exercised large powers but were not recognized either by the Gond or the Maratha Government. They were regarded as nobles and were required to furnish a small contingent to the overlord when needed. They do not seem to have owned absolute right in the soil. In fact this concept does not seem to have existed in any part of India in the past.
The Gond and Maratha rulers made and unmade Zamindars at pleasure. Around 1790 an instance is noted in which the Maratha Government took one taluka from each of the Ambagad Cauki. Palusgad and Wairagad Zamindaris and formed a new Zamindari called Gevarda and bestowed it upon a Muslim who was the Divan of the Wairagad chiefs. Similar reshuffling was made in the nineteenth century.
The terms of tribute and the number of men to be furnished for police duty were often altered. From these instances one could infer that the Zamindars enjoyed no absolute rights in the soil either under the Gonds or the Marathas.
At the time of the land revenue settlement of Canda in 1869, one of the provisions not approved by the Central Government was, that on the death of a Zamindar, his estate in default of a son, should devolve upon his widow. This mode of succession was obtaining among the chiefs of Candrapur from time immemorial and was found to be in existence among all classes of landlords. In particular it suited well the Gond women who in history have, more often than not, displayed good common sense, courage, managerial ability, economy and moderation, which were usually wanting in their extravagant brothers and husbands [LSRLRSC. pp. 179-80.]. Rani Durgavati of Gadha-Mandla and Rani Hirai of Candrapur arc noted in history for their valour and good government.
Gadha or a Killa was an important administrative unit, as well as a military station. The importance attached by the Gond
rulers to the gadhs or killas is well displayed in the fifty-two gadhs in which the administrative units of Gadha-Mandla were
distributed [Rambharosa Agrawal: Gadha-Mandla Ke Gond Raja-Sonvat 2018. pp. 47-50.].
The British after the land revenue settlement of Candrapur grouped the Zamindari's into two divisions the northern and the southern, the former being attached to Wairagad and the latter to Ambeganv. These two divisions had in all twenty Zamin-daris. A brief survey of these Zamindaris yielding their history is given here.
Ambagad Cauki Zamindari. -The family of these Zamindars hailed from Mandla originally and belonged to the Khatulvar Gonds of the Murani Section. The Zamindar in 1869, Umrav Sing could read and write Nagari and was fairly intelligent.
Aundhi Zamindari.-Situated on the eastern highland, the tract presented a picturesque panorama. Most of the area of this Zamindari was under forest. Aundhi the capital was a hamlet of 16 houses having Raj Gonds. Halbas and Dhers.
Dhanora Zamindari.-It was owned hv one Sitaram Thakur of the Raj Gond race.
The Zamindari is recorded to he of great antiquity but had no reliable accounts or documents.
Dudhmala Zamindari.-The Zamindar Bharik Rav was a young man of pleasing manners. In this area Marathi and Gondi dialects were spoken. Situated in the Wainganga valley the Zamindari was picturesque. The family had a copper sanad (plate) which was plundered.
Gewards Zamindari.-This was founded at the close of the eighteenth century by a Muslim divan of the Wairagad Chiefs.
]harapapra and Khutganv Zamindaris.-Both these Zamindaris are recorded as very ancient but yielded no documents at the time of the settlement. The Zamindar of Jharapapra was a Halba and that of Khutganv, a Raj Gond.
Koreca, Kotgul and Murmganv Zamindaris.-The first and the last of these were ancient without documents in their possession.
In these and other Zamindaris, tank and well water was commonly used for irrigation since Gondi times.
Panabaras Zamindari.-This was a very ancient Zamindari of the Raj Gond race of the Muram section. At Ramgad in this area there was an old fort and near Devulsud there were remains of an ancient temple.
At one time, the Zamindars of this area were subject to the Haihaya rulers of Chattisgad. According to the tradition a former chief of Panaharas. Dham Sah. displayed great valour in an engagement with the Delhi troops in virtue of which the emperor bestowed upon him Princeship over Wairagad chief and other insignia of rank-morchel (fan of peacock feathers) and a cauri (fan of horsehair set in a silver socket). These emblems of dignity were not possessed by any Zamindar.
Nizam Sah, the Zamindar of this place sided with Appasaheb
Bhosale in 1818, in his struggle with the British. He was joined
by other chiefs. In an engagement at Goelganv near Rangi a
British detachment of 70 was cut to the last man. Nizam Sah
was driven back, pardoned, and his Zamindari was restored to
Palasgad, Rangi, Sirsundi and Sonsari Zamindaris.-All these Zamindaris were ancient, possessing no documents. About the first there are anecdotes of the warlike character of its chiefs.
Aheri Zamindari.-This was a grand Zamindari having among other things teak and shisam probably unequalled in quantity in any other part of India.
Dharm Rav, the chief at the time of settlement was receiving education in a High School. He belonged to a line related to the royal family of Candrapur. The family has always been loyal to its sovereigns. In 1749 it fought for the Gond king, in 1773 for Mudhoji Bhosale the Send-Dhurandhar of Candrapur, in 1818 for Appasaheb Bhosale of Nagpur and in 1858 for the Queen of England.
This family has suffered from heirlessness.
Chandala, Gilgaon, Pawee Mulanda and Potegaon Zamindaris.- Of these Zamindaris some are recorded to be very ancient at the time of settlement [LSRLRSC. pp. 185-202.].
From this description of the Zamindars it is obvious that they held large tracts of land on a kind of feudal tenure. With the exception of two, all Candrapur Zamindars were descendents of chiefs who for hundreds of years administered the tract owing allegiance to the paramount power. The Gond kings controlled them sternly, promptly punishing them for plundering and rebellion [LSRLRSC.p. 120.].
In the Khalsa or non-Zamindari area those villages which were granted as mukasas, mukta and tukum
were regarded as the property of the grantee. The grantee paid a fixed annual sum which was not subject to alteration. Forest lands or waste villages taken for cultivation were often bestowed upon such tenures. But where these terms were not applicable the lessee held land either rent free or at a low rate ranging from three to five years. At the expiration of the period the village was subject to assessment like its neighbouring areas. The cultivated lands in all other villages were settled yearly with the royts. The village officer was Mukaddam or Patel [LSRLRSC.p. 184.].
The Zamindars as already observed held large tracts of land on a sort of feudal tenure.
In the Khalsa area the Mukasdars held rent-free villages
generally in lieu of military or religious services. The Muktadars held estates and permanent annual demands which were not
subject to alterations. The Tukumdars had to pay fixed rent for as
much area of land as could be watered by a tank which they had constructed
The Patel called as Malguzars held villages on short lease at
the pleasure of the Gond Government and were in fact just
middlemen between the Government and the actual cultivators
of the soil [LSRLRSC.V. 14,].
Every village, however small, had a Mukaddam or Patel, a Kotvar and Bhumak. If the village was of bigger size it had in addition to these officers a Havaldar, a Mahajan, a Van
(carpenter) and a Khati. For a large village or a group of villages there was a Pande and a Nanoti Sonar (goldsmith). In the later period of the Gondi rule was added a Josi (village priest) and in some cases a Garpagree.
The terms Mukaddam and Patel seem to have been synonymous in the Marathn period in the Candrapur area. In the older documents the term used is Mukaddam but (this was gradually replaced by the term Patel. The duty of the Mukaddam or Patel was to collect the Government revenue from the ryots and pay it in the paragand treasury, to help the cultivators by offering them advances of grain for food and seed, and to encourage cultivation. He had also to arrest culprits, settle petty disputes, cater for the needs of travellers of position, and in general to carry out all Government orders as he might be asked to. As remuneration for his services he held revenue free lands the annual value of which was roughly estimated at ten per cent of the annual total demand on the village. He had also certain emoluments such as fees on marriages. The office in practice became hereditary, personal to the holder unencumbered by any right to share by other members of the family.
The Kotvar was always a Drier or Pradhan and was the watchman of the village. He was well acquainted with the village history, fields and boundaries. He reported to the Mukaddam or the Patel whatever happened in the village, traced out the culprits and captured them. He supplied provisions to respectable travellers and arranged for their transport. He also provided forage.
In lieu of his services he annually received from each ryot a head-load of crop. On the occasion of marriage ceremonies and festivals he received certain presents. Dead cattle, sheep, etc., were his perquisites. More often than not he held revenue free land of small value.
The Bhumak was always a Raj Gond and performed religious
ceremonies of the village God. He used charms against tigers,
remembered village boundary marks, helped village patrolling.
fetched water for Government officials visiting the village and
supplied the Paid leaves for plates (patravali). From each ryot
he received annually about a Kudav of grain and generally had
a field or some mohwa trees rent-free.
The Havaldar assisted the Paid in carrying out Government orders, and was fed by him. In addition he received a payali or two of grain from every ryot.
The Mahajan though strictly not an official, advanced grain to the cultivators and helped Paid in matters concerning village administration.
The Van (carpenters) and Khati (blacksmith) repaired the agricultural implements of the village, receiving annually a head-load of grain for every plough.
The Pandia was the village accountant who prepared its lagvans. He annually received a Kudav of grain on each plough. He also received a small fee on the occasion of marriage ceremonies.
The Nanoti Sonar (goldsmith) tested the village rupee and in exchange received from two to four payalis of grain annually on each plough.
The Josi was always a Brahmin and functioned as the village priest and astrologer among the Hindus. He found out from the almanac days auspicious and inauspicious, performed marriages, other ceremonies and religious rites. He often held rent-free land and received a rupee or two from the village. He was separately paid by persons who consulted him on special occasions and asked him to perform religious ceremonies for them.
This office seems to have been added to the village when the Gondi territory was inhabited by a large number of Hindus who needed his service as required by their religion.
At a later date perhaps, the Gonds utilised his services.
The Garpagari's duty was to prevent hailstorms, but only a few of these men were found in the Candrapur district at the time of the 1869 settlement-as then they were mainly confined to the extreme west.
Next to the village the bigger administrative unit was the paragana. When in full muster-roll it had the following officials: -
1. Killedar or Divan.
4. Sir Mukaddam.
5. Warad Pande.
8. Naj Pande.
The Killedar later known as Divan was the governor of the
The Desmukh, the Despande and the Sir Mukaddam were entrusted with the duty of extending cultivation in the paragana. They were not to allow the village to fall waste and were to make annual settlements.
The Desmukh was first in rank and had control over the other two. Next to him was the Despande and was in charge of the village papers which were furnished to him through the Warad-pande. The Sir Mukaddam's duty was to explain the orders to the Mukaddam or the Patel and to report to the Diwan how cultivation was progressing. All these officers were styled as Zamindars enjoying certain dues in cash and kind. They also held rent-free lands. These officers were not found in all the paraganas. At the time of settlement (1869) they were absent in the area east of Wainganga or in the Brahmapuri paragana. Probably their duties here were performed by the Waradpande.
The Waradpande collected and examined the annual papers of each village prepared and submitted to him by the Pande. When he was directed to raise any special impost called burgun, he assisted the Desmukh, the Dcspande and the Sir Mukaddam in assessing it ratably over the paragana.
The Karkun was the Divan's clerk and did all sort of writing for him.
The Potdar tested money paid into the treasury and received annually from 8 annas to a rupee per village as salary.
The Naj Pande supervised matters connected with the Government granary.
The work of preparing and testing the village papers commenced after the rainy season. In summer the Patel assembled at the paragana headquarters and the settlement for the year was finally fixed. The basis on which Government assessment was made is not known in the absence of contemporary documents. However, from the public memory it seems that the land revenue appropriated by the Gond
Government was light and not exacting. The system of farming villages to individuals was quite unknown. Special imposts or burguns which were levied occasionally were not distressing to the people. The agriculturists of the settlement period (1869) looked back upon the Gond rule
as the golden age of their country which had vanished once for all. In the latter part of the Gond rule Candrapur attained prosperity the like of which was not witnessed thereafter. [LSRLRS.C.pp. 120-22.]
The structure of Candrapur administration under the Gonds was semi-feudal. The entire territory was apportioned among different petty or smaller chiefs who owed allegiance to their overlords or the Rajas. The Rajas were at first feudal superiors receiving only military service from the lesser chiefs. The Rajas like their feudatories had their own territorial domain in which alone they exercised direct authority. This system is traceable to ancient times and was definitely Gondi in character.
The entire country was divided into paraganas each consisting of a number of villages. Each of them had a Zamindar with the establishment of a Desmukh and a Despande. The Marathas removed them retaining only their Kamavisdar whose original denomination was Hudar. They also retained the accountant Phadnavis who was formerly known as Muharir and the Waradpande or the recorder of the village accounts. The Waradpande had deputies all over the country to keep the lagvan accounts of the actual position of cultivation, occupancy and rents of the lands. This office existed under the Gonds and was continued by the Marathas. The office of the priti under the Gonds corres-ponded to that of the Phadnavis under the Marathas. But what is puzzling in this system obtaining in Devgad and Candrapur is a net-work of permanent and hereditary officials extending over the whole area in which the feudal chiefs have no place [Sir Richard Jenkins-Report on the Territories of the Raja of Nagpur (1827) Ed. 1901., pp. 67, 71.].
A closer study of the facts helps to solve the apparent puzzle. According to Sir Richard Jenkins who had made a careful study of the revenue administration of the territory under the Bhosales, the tract from Wainganga eastwards was parcelled out amongst the Gond Zamindars at the time of Maratha conquest. These Gond Zamindars were warlike and of wild and irregular habits. The word Zamindar here connotes a local chief and not a local officer. The highly centralized administration through Hudars, Despandes etc., was originally not of the Gonds. This system is better known as Khalsa.
It was found only in the area adjoining Berar, where it was introduced at an early date under Hindu rule. When the Raj-Gonds extended their sway over the low country i.e., from the Wainganga river eastward they found the Khalsa system prevailing in some parts of the newly acquired territory, and simply continued it. The Khalsa system though sufficiently old was later in time sequence than the semi-feudal system indigenous to Gondawana.
Another possible explanation of the prevalence of the Khalsa system in Candrapur is that it was introduced there, at least in some parts, by the Muslims when they overran it. They applied
the system to Candrapur taking it from Berar which had fallen into their hands first. During the period between the fall of the Muslim power and the establishment of the Maratha rule over Candrapur, the Gonds of Canda were practically independent and
it is quite possible that they continued the system-khalsa
which had been introduced by the Muslims.
In this regard it may be noted that in Damoh, Narasingpur and Harai which for a long time retained their typical Gondl character, before they were affected either by the Moghal or the Maratha influences, the administrative system native to the Gonds was prevailing. For instance in Damoh the petty chiefs enjoyed land revenue in lieu of the military service they render-ed to the overlord. In addition they offered annually a jar of butter or a couple of bamboo sticks to their overlord as a token of their subordination to him. The Candrapur Raj Gond too was offered jungle products and tiger skins by his subordinates every year when the court met. [Nagpur District Gazetteer, 1966, p. 59.]
At the time of the Land Revenue Settlement of Canda (1869) majority of the Zamindars. are recorded to have held positions as subordinates of the feudal type since the time of the Gonds.
Nilkanth Sah, the Gond king (1735-1751) before he was subjugated by the Marathas styled himself as Maharajadhiraj Sri Rhupati Rajesri Nilakanthasahaji Raje. This clearly shows Maratha influence even before the conquest of Candrapur by them. [RCI.p. 153.]