Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar was born on May 31, 1725 in the village of Chondi in Jamkhed, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra. She was the Holkar Queen of the Maratha Malwa kingdom, India who moved her capital to Maheshwar, south of Indore on the Narmada River.
In 1754, Ahilyabai’s husband Khanderao Holkar was killed in the battle of Kumbher and after 12 years, her father-in-law, Malhar Rao Holkar, passed away.
A year after that his sad demise, she was crowned as the queen of the Malwa kingdom.
Rani Ahilyabai tried to protect her kingdom from plundering invaders and personally led armies into battle. She appointed Tukojirao Holkar as the Chief of Army.
Rani Ahilyabai, builder of Hindu temples
Rani Ahilyabai was a great pioneer and builder of Hindu temples. She built hundreds of temples and Dharmashalas throughout India. She passed away on August 13 , 1795.
Ahilyabai’s father, Mankoji Rao Shinde, was the Patil of the village. Women then did not go to school, but Ahilyabai’s father taught her to read and write.
Rani Ahilyabai entrance to stage of history
Her entrance on to the stage of history was quite interesting: Malhar Rao Holkar, serving as a commander in the service of the Maratha Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao and lord of the Malwa territory, stopped at Chaundi while on his way to Pune.
According to legend, he saw the eight-year-old Ahilyabai at the temple service in the village.
Recognising her empathy for poor and strong character, he brought the girl to the Holkar territory as a bride for his son, Khanderao (1723–1754).
She was married to Khanderao Holkar in 1733 and in 1745, she gave birth to their son Malerao. In 1748, a daughter Muktabai was born. Malerao was mentally unwell and died of his illness in 1767. Ahilyabai has been known for breaking stereotypes. She broke another tradition when she married her daughter to Yashwantrao a brave but poor man after he succeeded in defeating the dacoits.