Maratha Principalities

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Maratha Principalities


principalities in India from the 1730’s and 1740’s to the early 19th century.

The Maratha principalities arose when the military leaders of the Maratha state (founded by Sivaji) became feudal rulers. Around 1734, Raghuji Bhonsla established a principality in Berar, with the center in Nagpur. In 1742-43, in clashes with the peshwa (ruler of the Maratha state), Bhonsla gained the right to collect, for his own use, taxes and tribute in the Ganges Valley from Lucknow to Bengal (inclusive) and in all territories east of Berar to the Bay of Bengal.

In 1728 another Maratha military leader, Mulhar Rao Holkar, was named ruler of Malwa, which he turned into his own principality with the center in Indore. Ranoji Sindhia seized lands in central India and the Ganges Valley; the fortress Gwalior became the center of his principality. About 1731 the lands of Gujarat, Kathiawar, and northern Konkan were appropriated by Damaji Gaekwar; the city of Baroda was the center of his domain. As a result of the weakening of the peshwas there emerged even smaller principalities, such as Kolhapur (1731).

The Maratha principalities formed a confederation that was founded on joint aggressive military campaigns. The family names of the princes Bhonsla, Sindhia, Holkar, and Gaekwar became hereditary titles. After the Marathas were defeated by the Afghans near Panipat in 1761, the Maratha Confederation fell apart. Sindhia seized a large portion of the Yamuna-Ganges Valley and from 1784 actually ruled Delhi. Certain lands in the northern part of the Yamuna-Ganges Valley, Punjab, and Rajas-than were appropriated by Holkar. The struggle between the Maratha princes for the redistribution of their territories was exploited by the English conquerors. As a result of the AngloMaratha wars, the Maratha principalities became vassalages of the East India Company.


Reisner, I. M. Narodnye dvizheniia v Indii v XVII-XVHI vv. Moscow, 1961. Pages 241-306.
Grant Duff, J. C. A History of the Mahrattas, vols. 1-2. London, 1921.
Sardesai, G. S. New History of the Marathas, vols. 1-3. Bombay, 1946-48.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.