Baghelkhand the historical region of eastern Madhya Pradesh state of central India known as Dahala before the Muslims, Baghelkhand was held by the warlike Kalacuri dynasty (6th–12th century), whose stronghold was at Kalinjar. With the advent of the Baghela Rajputs (warrior caste) in the 14th century, after whom the tract is named, it was absorbed into Rewa state. Baghelkhand Agency, a subdivision of the British Central India Agency, was created in 1871 and included Rewa and several other states, with headquarters at Satna. It merged with Bundelkhand Agency in 1931 and formed the eastern half of Vindhya Pradesh, created at Indian independence in 1947.
The area is divided into two natural regions by the Kaimur Range. To the west lie elevated plains, and to the east is a rough, hilly tract intersected by a succession of parallel forested ridges of the Vindhya Range. Within the region, the more prominent relief features are the Vindhyan scarplands (consisting of the Bhanrer Range, Rewa Plateau, Sonapur hill ranges, and Son trough). The rest of Baghelkhand is a plateau terrain underlain by granite in the south and the east. Sections of the historical Gondwana region and the ancient Deccan Traps (lava outpouring) lie in the central part, and the Vindhyas are in the northeast. The Tons and Son rivers and their tributaries drain the area. An alluvial cover is found in the narrow Son trough.
Baghelkhand has traditionally been neglected because of its isolated location. The population of the region consists chiefly of tribal Gonds and Kols. Agriculture is underdeveloped; rice is the principal crop, and some wheat, corn (maize), and gram (chickpeas) are also grown. Deposits of coal, limestone, bauxite, clay, and quartzite are in the region, but only the first two have been mined extensively.
Rewa, Rajgarh, Satna, and Shahdol are the major administrative and commercial centres. Other locales include Umaria, Burhar, and Gaurela, in the Sohagpur basin; Ambikapur, Manendragarh, and Baikunthpur, which are rice-growing regions; Singrauli, Renukut, Pipri, and Dudhi, known for coal mining; and Obra, Dala, Sidhi, and Agori, which are transportation centres.
History of Baghel Dynasty
Origin of the name Baghel
This is not very clear but there are few theories that how the name Baghel came and those are: The King of Anhil Bada, Gujrat King Kumarpal VIII had given a village to his same cast thakurs in a village called Vyaghrapalli and it was also called as Baghel. When the Thakur of Baghel had his son he gave him the name as Baghel and in this way the Baghel came in existence.
As the first King of Baghel dynasty in Central India (Bandhavgarh) was Maharaja Vyaghradev so the name of Baghel came after his name.
The first man of the Baghel Dynasty (Maharaja Vyaghradev) was saved because of the blessings of Maa Durga and she was also called the Vyaghradevi and so the name of her Bagh was attached with the name of the first Maharaja and he was called Maharaja Vyaghradev Singh Ju Deo Baghel and in this way this Dynasty was called the Baghel dynasty.
When Did Maharaja Vyaghradev came to Vindhya (The first Baghel Ruler of Vindhya region) It is found that Maharaja Vyaghradev entered in this region in Vikram Samvat 1234. He stayed in Chitrakoot and the scenic beauty of Chitrakoot attracted him and in this way he decided to spread his kingdom in this region. As there was no strong kingdom in this region so his feeling increased more. He found a vacant old fort Marfa 16kms far from Kaliger. This fort was earlier under the possession of Chandel kingdom of Mahova. Today also we get the ruins of the old temples made around it. The Fort was made of the red stones and there was a big pond near it. It was 1240” from the sea level. He appointed the people who came with his for the security and made their residence around the fort. He named this Place as Baghelwari. The people who came with his were:
Dahar- these people are still living in Ragauli and Busauli village and now are called Baghels. Surki- They had been given a region of Baghelkhand to rule but now there is nothing and living in a block called Patehar. Gujrati Bramhin- They came with him as priest and is still here. Muslims- Several muslim families also came with him and are still here.
Gujrati Kayast- Some Gujrati Kayast also came with him and is still living around Rewa Fort. He had his possessions in around 30kms of this place in North and Southwards. He fought and captured the Kingdom of Kalinger and Mandeeha and Gahora. He married the daughter of Tarauha King Mukunddev’s daughter Sindurmati and as the Tarauha king didn’t have any son he gave his kingdom also to him. He made Gahora his capital and divided it into two parts “Gahora Khas and Gahor Pati”. The earning of the kingdom was 68 lakhs rupees. He had two sons Karan Deo who ruled Gahora and Kandhar Deo who ruled Kasauta. He died in Vikram Samvat 1245.
The II king Karan Deo (Vikram Samvat 1245-1260) He was the ruler of Gohar. He married the daughter of Kalchury of Raipur. Padam Kunwari and the Kalchury gave him the Bandhavgarh Fort as gift. The king Karan Deo soon capture the Kaimore range from the Kingdom of Bharon which were having main places as Bharhut, Bargadh and Bhainswar. Karan Deo was a Sanskrit learned person and he wrote a Jyotish book called “Sarawali”.
Bandhavgarh Fort was an ancient fort. It was the business centre for the traders traveling between Kaushambi and Bharhut, at that time known as Bardawati (Bhaudhya root). Talemi has called Bandhavgarh and Balentipur, which is the Yunani translation of Balendupur. In the rein of kalchuri’s it was called “Haihay Kshetra”. The Wakatak used to live in this place and various Stone Writings are found written by them. They made the place to live by cutting stones. The Word Bandhavgarh means the Fort of Laxman and on the way of the Fort we get the stone carved Shesh Shai also, which proves this name more. There is a book called “Bandhavanchal Mahatm”, which proves this fact more and give the information about the ancient history of this place. There are some ruins found of the Fort in the Bamania Hill near Bandhavgarh and there are many sculptures and coins found in the nearby villages near Bandhavgarh, Bijhariya, Mala which prove the economical and artistic situation of the kingdom. In the rein on karan Deo Bandhavgarh was the capital of his Southern part of the Gahora kingdom.
The XIX king Ramchandra Deo (Vikram Samvat 1612-1648)
He was born in V.S. 1593. When he sat on the throne he gave custody to the world famous musician Tansen. He was married with the granddaughter of Gaudhraja kirti Singh, Yashoda Devi. On behalf of Jaunpur’s king Gaji Khan was the Governor of Soor, Akbar’s Sardar Asaf Khan attacked on him but he ran to the Maharaja Ramchandra and Maharaja Ramchandra provided him the custody. This annoyed Akbar and he ordered to attack on Gahora also. As Maharaja Ramchandra came to know about this he took Asaf Khan to Bandhavgarh with him. As Akbar came to know about it, he ordered his Sardar Asaf Khan to attack on Bandhavgarh also but Gaji ran from Bandhavgarh before Asaf Khan reached there. But after this Gahora (the capital of Baghels) and Kasauta came under the possession of Mughals forever. And this was the period when Bandhavgarh became the new capital of Baghel Dynasty V.S. 1621.
When Akbar in V.S. 1641 asked for the famous musician Tansen and pearl “Alwal” from his treasury he firstly denied for it and prepared himself to fight with Akbar, but when Beerwal, who had come to take Tansen and Tansen himself convinced him that it would not be good to fight with Akbar because it can damage the kingdom in many ways he agreed and gave Tansen to Akbar. Akbar got very happy and when Maharaja Ramchandra went to Prayag he invited him to Fatehpur Sikri and gave him the Title of “Rajendra Shiromani’ with 101 horses and Canon named Ramprasad. He also gave him the Itawa area as a gift. He had given Tansen 1 horse and a gold coin when he had sung in his Darbar for the first time. Famous historian Badayun also has written him as “Bharat Ka Vilakshan Dani Raja”
The XXI king Vikramaditya Deo (Vikram Samvat 1654-1681)
This was the period when the Baghels really became very weak, as when Maharaja Veer Bhadra died his both the sons were not very mature and that is why Akbar made Patradas the Governor of Bandhavgarh and in this way Bandhavgarh went in the hands of Akbar for few years. Somehow Akbar agreed and made Vikramaditya the king of Bandhavgarh again in V.S. 1674.
With the thought of insecurity Maharaja Vikramaditya went out for hunting and reached Rewa. When he saw the half made fort of Rewa by Salim Shah the son of Sher Shah Soori, he decided to make it his capital and started the work of Rewa fort.
The XXIV king Bhav Singh Ju Deo (Vikram Samvat 1732-1751)
He was born in 1707. He visited Jagganath Puri thrice and brought the idols of God Jagganath and made three temples in Rewa, Mukundpur and Kotar. He constructed the Mahamritunjay Temple in Rewa Fort.
The XXIX king Vishwanath Singh Ju Deo (Vikram Samvat 1890-1911)
He was born in V.S. 1846. He was given the throne by his father in V.S. 1880. He was the person who wrote the first Hindi drama “Anand Raghunandan” and with this he wrote 36 other book.
The XXX king Raghuraj Singh Ju Deo (Vikram Samvat 1911-1936)
He was born in V. S. 1880. He made the Vishwanath Sagar in Govindgarh in V.S. 1912 and also made the small town and named it as Govindgarh on the name of God Ramagovind. There was a drought in his time in V.S. 1925. He made many hunting launches around Rewa He was the king who announced that which forest would be used by normal people and which will not be. He divided the jungles in prohibited and non-prohibited forests. The first English medium school was run by him in Rewa in V.S. 1924 with five teachers. He shot 91 tigers, 7 panthers and 5 elephants.
The XXXII king Gulab Singh Ju Deo (Vikram Samvat 1975-2003)
He was born in V.S. 1960. He became the king when he was of 16 years. He decreases the number of soldiers in Bandhavgarh and cut or closed many departments so that the expenses of the administration can be reduced. He shared the rights of the dams with the farmers with ratio of 55:45.
He started to maintain the records of each and everything done by him. In V.S. 1980 he started the orphan house for the orphan children in Rewa. In V.S. 1993, he ploughed the field on the occasion of Dusherra ad started the “Bank of Baghelkhand” in V.S. 1991 on the occasion of Holi. The electricity in Rewa came in his period in V.S. 1088. He fell down from Bikaner House Mubai and died. Nobody knows yet that how did he fall down? He shot 616 tiger, in which 327 male and 289 female tigresses were there. He shot his first tiger in 1919 and last one in 1941. He shot 526 other animals also.
The XXXIII king Martand Singh Ju Deo (Vikram Samvat 2002-2006)
He was born in V.S. 1979. He was the Rajya Pramukh of Vindhya Pradesh and when it mixed with Madhya Pradesh he became the M.P. for continuous three times. He was the king who caught the first White Tiger of the world on 27th May 1951 from the Bagdara forest, Sidhi (at present in Sanjay National Park) and kept it in Govindgarh Fort, where he was mated with 8 normal tigresses and gave 46 white cubs who were sent in all over the world. He shot 131 tigers, in which 86 male and 45 females were there. The largest tiger he shot was of 10.9” long, 3.10” high, 4.7” wide and having tale of 3.4” and was shot from the Panghata forest Bandhavgarh. He shot the last tiger from the Patharkhora forest, Huzur block, Rewa. He shot 17 tigers as a Maharaj Kumar and 114 as a Maharaja. He shot the first tiger when he was of 13 years from Gaunar forest Gopad Banas.
The XXXIV king Pushpraj Singh Ju Deo (Vikram Samvat 2002-Continue)
Born on 3rd July 1960, in the Royal Family of Rewa Maharaja Pushpraj Singh is the son of late Maharaja Martand Singh, who caught the 1st White Tiger in 1951 and later influenced the then Prime Minister of India, Smt. Indra Gandhi to make Bandhavgarh a National Park in 1967-68 and went on a campaign to influence the resourceful people of the region to give up shooting!
Maharaja Pushpraj Singh further carried the noble path of his late father. He came into public life at an early age after completing his education in 1982. It is during this time he held a National Seminar on Environment in Rewa and strongly advocated the return of White Tigers back to Rewa along with other important factors of conservation & improvement of the Kaimore ranges, saving the link corridors between Sanjay & Bandhavgarh National Parks etc!
In 1990, as a Member of M.P. Legislature, he took up issues of environment and was put on the State Wild Life Board in 1994-95. He became a Minister in 1997 for “Urban Development” & “Local Self Govt.” but because of his sheer expertise and zeal on the wild life board! He was made a Convener of the Tiger State Committee, which was to recommend laws for improving the Habitat & suggested affective measures for the Protection of the Tiger in M.P., which was declared as a “Tiger State” in India!
Maharaja Pushpraj Singh formed the Bandhavgarh Foundation in 1997 mainly to work along with the other NGOs of the world. He got an opportunity to work with illustrious people like Late Mr. S.P. Godrej, who got influenced & visited Bandhavgarh to launch the prestigious WWF Tiger Conservation Programme. He was instrumental in influencing people to donate for Pachmari, Bori & Satpura National Parks! Today his views are even aired by channels like National Geography, D.D., Aaj Tak & many others. His main focus is on wildlife conservation and improving the man & nature relations, with the Tribal on the center stage! Mr. Pushpraj Singh has produced & written scripts for documentary films on wildlife like “Baghin” & “changing habitats of Bandhavgarh”. Govt. of India recognized the works of Bandhavgarh Foundation and put it on the “Wild Life Board” of India as an institutional member, reflecting hard work done.
“Rewa re-discovered” a Seminar in 2004 can be deemed as a milestone in the history of Rewa, as after 3 decades the Tourism Industry began to rethink to send or promote foreign tourist, which was the out-come of Maharaja Pushpraj Singh. His interests on Heritage Conservation has lead to major repairs of the Rewa Fort, which was on neglect of many years. Influenced as Minister for School Education, he opened a school in the Fort named “Bandhav Public School”, which is targeting the future generation to face the new challenges of the modern world!
Presently he is the M.P. State Co-convener for INTACH org. and Chairman Bandhavgarh Foundation (Member Indian Wild Life Board. GOI), which is headed by the P.M.
Born in an era where Tiger Shoot was a status symbol amongst Royalties, Pushpraj Singh may be the ONLY exception, for which he takes pride!