Dungarpur: A Glorious Century

Reason for Dungarpur’s success? Samar Singh states:  "The characteristic feature of Dungarpur state was prompt justice (Nyayam chi Rajyam), the administrative scruple which was depicted over the Dungarpur State’s coat-of-arms and the State Flag.” Such facts need to be put in public domain now to let people realize how rulers of Dungarpur proved people-friendly to set new examples in India’s princely order.

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Samar Singh, a retired IAS and a doyen  in wildlife conservation, has elaborated many interesting aspects in his book, “Dungarpur: A Glorious Century”, published by Roli Books and available on Amazon. The 145-page book is an entirely different edition among all books done so far on Indian princedom. As the title qualifies, it is all about a century long saga of three rulers of Dungarpur to unfold how each one had ruled to win over some of the most precarious conditions in the land-locked state during the time when transport and communication were nondescript and resources were meagre.  

Three Maharawals, Udai Singh, Vijay Singh and Lakshman Singh, featured

The cover presents all three Maharawals together: Udai Singh, Vijay Singh and Lakshman Singh.  They ruled from 1846 till 1948. All three are featured in colour portraits over the cover to eulogize their influence. The description is straight forward and emphatic. The target is successfully achieved – lineage for eight centuries, an unbroken blood-line having thrived against bizarre odds.  

The Dedication is made to all the three Rulers including the name of Maharaj Virbhadra Singh who served as Dewan to the state while his elder brother Lakshman Singh ruled (1918 to 1948). It is a record performance by these three rulers as each one happened to be a minor when seated over the throne. 

Guhilot-Ahada dynasty ruled the erstwhile state for nearly eight centuries

What is special about Dungarpur, a land locked state in southern most pocket of Rajasthan? The rulers belonged to Guhilot-Ahada dynasty which ruled the erstwhile state for nearly eight centuries without a break. In terms of antiquity, very few princely states in pre-independent India or elsewhere in the world can match this record.   

Samar Singh, the author, has outlined: “It is noteworthy that the Guhilot-Ahada dynasty of Dungarpur has been the elder branch of the well-known dynasty of Mewar’s Sisodia rulers. The three rulers ruled in succession and achieved eminence, each in his own special way. The century-long fascinating story, hitherto untold, is captured in this book.” 

Each Ruler started his innings as a minor but, by sheer dint of merit coupled with utmost dedication and diligence, went on to acquit himself exceptionally in the larger interest of his state and its people and thereby earned well-deserved appreciation, including from the British authorities in the country. The fact that three minors turned out, in succession, to be highly successful rulers is yet another matchless record.  

It is creditable that such achievement took place despite adverse circumstances and very daunting challenges. The highly turbulent and unstable situations prior to 1846 were itself major challenges. A calamitous famine of 1899-1900, epidemics, natural calamities followed by two world wars, the rulers were made to face severe odds. Yet smilingly each one emerged as the ultimate champion. 

Nyayam chi Rajyam, that is, promp justice

Reason for Dungarpur’s success? Samar Singh states:  “The characteristic feature of Dungarpur state was prompt justice (Nyayam chi Rajyam), the administrative scruple which was depicted over the Dungarpur State’s coat-of-arms and the State Flag.” Such facts need to be put in public domain now to let people realize how rulers of Dungarpur proved people-friendly to set new examples in India’s princely order. Each page of the book unfolds several new facts about rule of justice and letting people lead comfortable life  at a time economic and geographic perplexities were enormous. Details have been sourced through administrative reports, notes recorded by the concerned Maharawals, he states.   

A sojourn from being Maharaj Virbhadra Singh to IAS of MP to author

The writer’s father, Maharaj Virbhadra Singh was deeply interested in documenting the history and archaeology of the Vagad region comprising the present districts of Dungarpur and Banswara and the adjoining Chappan tract of Udaipur district. He served as the Dewan of Dungarpur. After independence, he served the Indian Administrative Service in Madhya Pradesh. After retirement he took up the task of writing the subject. It was published under the title, “Guhilvanshi  Dynasties of Vagad” up to sixteen century. Next came “Dungarpur Rajya ka Itihas” by Dr. Gaurishankar Hirachand Ojha. It did not cover entire period of Maharawal Lakshman Singh. The present book has done what erstwhile writers could not do.  

Book review
Harsh Vardhan

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