Jatwara Trans Chambal

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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (R)

The Jatwara is the tract of the Trans-Chambal plain in Madhya Pradesh. The Hindi appellation of 'Jatwara'-literally the "Abode of Jats"-is succinctly descriptive of the past political dominance of the Trans-Chambal Jats in the area of Bhind and Gwalior rather than of their numerical strength, which now as in the past remains very meager in proportion to other ethnic groups in that Region. Whereas, the past association of the Jat Ranas of Dholpur with the Gohad and Gwalior Tract is generally known.

Jatwara is a name used in the Marathi despatches, to denote the region roughly from Gohad to Chhata.[1]

What came as a surprise, however, was the contemporaneous existence of two other Jat principalities during medieval times in areas contiguous to Gohad.

The ethnic pattern in the Trans-Chambal Valley is similar to that obtaining in the contiguous tract of the Agra plain except that the population of the Jats tapers off to an insignificant proportion.

The Jatwara Tract

The approximate axis of the "Jatwara Tract" could be taken to comprise the general line represented by Bhind, Gohad and Indargarh, overlapping the modern districts of Bhind, Gwalior and Datia in the present day Madhya Pradesh. Astride this axis and in a fan-like direction from it, there is a scattered population of Jats: to the East, it extends towards the lower reaches of the Chambal and Sind Rivers: to the West towards Gwalior, Shivpuri, Dabra, Magrora, and Bhitarwar.

As a rule exclusive Jat habitations are few. More often the Jat is to be found in solitary homesteads in composite ethnic villages, his remote ancestor probably having been assigned the custody of the local Jat garhi (minor fortification), still precariously perched atop the neighboring hillock.

The Jats of Gohad

See Gohad for details

According to local tradition, the Bambrolia Jats of Gohad had migrated from Taxila in Western Punjab. In the 16th century the Bambrolia Jats sent an armed contingent to the confederate army mustered by Rana Sangram Singh of Mewar for challenging the supremacy of Babur. They must have suffered heavy losses.

By a coincidence some two hundred and more years later, the Bambrolia Jats, under the Rana of Gohad, fought against Slabat Khan as allies of Badan Singh, the then ruler of Bharatpur. Badan Singh in turn gave them patronage, which ensured their political survival Badan Singh. A much-married prince also contracted matrimonial alliance with the Trans Chambal Jat rulers, which subsequently proved to be an enduring bond.

The high tide of the soaring ambition of the Bambrolia Jats coincided with the capture of Gwalior. Twice they dared and succeeded in capturing that naturally formidable fortress, once in 1771 and again in 1780, but in neither case did the acquisition endure for long.

Mahadji Sindhia by some repostes recaptured Gwalior in 1766 and 1783 respectively. The Rana of Gohad was defeated by Mahadji in 1784 and was rendered homeless.

The Rana was politically resurrected when in 1803 when the [[East India Company]] defeated Daulat Rao Sindhia. He was allowed to retain the territory of Nimrol in the Trans-Chambal region, as it contained the ancestral Bambrolia Samadhis, (monuments) which incidentally still adorn that arid landscape. Much to his disappointment Gohad passed out of the hands of the Rana, but in lieu of his hereditary kingdom, he was assigned instead a principality in Dholpur.

The Jats of Pichhore

Like their Bambrolia Kinsmen in Gohad the Doderiyan Jats of Pichhore were also reluctant emigrants from the Punjab. About the year 1340 A.D. Raja Bhagirath founded a settlement around the village of Keo some 35 miles South East of Gwalior, which subsequently became famous as Pichhore. Raja Bhargirath had four sons. namely Chandermani, Sinhmani, Akshamani and Mado Singh.

Chandermani the eldest succeeded his father. On Chandermani's death, his only on Dhruve Angad became the ruler of Pichor. He started the building of Pichhor fort in 1448 which was completed by his son Raja Hamir Deo the First, whose reign partly coincided and probably overlapped the reign of the famous Tomar chief Raja Man Singh. Hamir Deo the First saw hard days in his conflicts with the chiefs of Narwar and Orchha. But by the very able stratagem of his wife Ganga Kumari he was able to over come his problems and continued to rule ichhor for many years and was probably still alive when Babar appeared on the Indian scene. After that there is a hiatus in the Doderiyan tradition.

During the rule of Hamir Deo the second, a contemporary of Shah Jahan I (1628-58 A.D.), the Pichor principality grew into a modest size. His just rule and martial exploits are to this day extolled by the itinerant bards of Northern Bundhel Khand. Hamir's sense of Justice is reputed to have led him to sentence his own beloved son to death for an unintentional misdemeanor in a hunting field.

Hamir Deo was succeeded by Raja Padam Singh, who ruled Pichor during The greater part of Aurangzeb's reign. Padam Singh had two sons. Hindupati and Prithvipati. Hindupati was a reputed scholar and poet. He wrote a religions tract called Tattva-Bodha which is still extant. Hindupati was succeeded by his son Pahar Singh. During 1767, Pahar Singh had joined forces with Jawahar Singh or expelling the Maratha troops from the Bhind area and in the latter's expedition to Ajmer and Pushkar. However, about the year 1783-84 Pahar Singh had accepted a feudatory status under Mahadji Sindhia. Chhattar Singh the successor of Pahar Singh was treacherously deprived of Pichhor by Daulat Rao Sindhia. His wife's blood stained palm impression in the citadel at Pichhor still commemorates her exile from that ancient fortress.

The Jats of Indragarh

Raja Balwant Singh in about 1650 A.D founded the Jat State of Indargarh. He is reputed to have had an ancestral patrimony around Shivpuri, some 65 miles West of Gwalior. Whether he emigrated under duress from Shivpuri or brighter prospect abroad beckoned him, or was enticed away from his native Shivpuri by promise of a larger patrimony by the Bundela Chiefs of Orchha and Datia, still remains an enigma. What however is unambiguous is that. Raja Balwan Singh's new principality in the Trans-Sind Region initially comprised some 40 villages along the South Bank of the Sind in the intervening tract between Datia and Seondha. As the principality of Datia was relatively weaker than that of Pichor, it is to be inferred that the principality of Indargarh may have been utilized as a convenient buffer by the Bundela chiefs to constrict Pichor's expansion South of the Sind. This stratagem might even have had the tacit acquiescence of the neighboring Kushwaha ruler of Narwar, who was actuated by a similar design towards Pichhor. Whether the tale is true or apocryphal is however difficult to discern. There is on the other hand no tradition of any enduring internecine feud between the neighboring Jat principalities of Pichhor and Indargarh. It is however probable that with the interposition of kindred Jat principality as a buffer, the subsequent expansion of Pichhor was deflected Westwards beyond Bhitarwar in the Narwar territory and southeastwards towards Lahar and Daboh.

Raja Balwant Singh was succeeded by his son Indar Singh who further enlarged his patrimony and built a stone fort, still extant, which even now perpetuates his name and memory. The principality of Indargarh remained unimpaired during Aurangzeb's and some of the later Mughals' reigns, but had rather a precarious existence during the ascendancy of the Marathas in the 18th century A.D. During this period, the ruler of Indargarh was sometimes constrained to side with the Marathas, the allies of the Bundela Chief, but when left uncoerced joined forces with the neighboring Jat Chiefs of Pichhor and Gohad to resist the Southern intruders. After the demise of Pichhor in 1816 A.D. the Jat principality of Indargarh was also obliterated by the connivance of the Marathas in the beginning of 1817 A.D. and its ruler like his kinsmen of Pichhor and Gohad forced into exile. After the fall of Indargarh all the Jat forts have remained untenanted in this region; staggered in a line between Bhind and Jhansi, they are now like a row of avenging ghosts rather than abodes of patricians of yesteryears.


An oral tradition is inevitably compounded by hiatuses, vagueness and interpolations. In consequence, some historical inexactitudes have probably imperceptibly crept into this narrative, but they are unintended. If this narrative gratifies a passing curiosity, or arouses a more enduring Interest by sparking further research In the annals of the Trans- Chambal Jats, then the kindly shepherd's rustic eloquence has been more than worthwhile.

In retrospect the extinction of the Trans-Chambal Jat principalities of Gohad Pichhor and Indargarh in the late 18th and 19th century AD was inevitable in that they strategically straddled the Maratha lines of communication to the North. The Marathas were perforce constrained to secure the Gwalior tract as an essential strategic requisite before they could make a bid for domination in Hindustan.

It was however defiance of a few against many, though aggravated by the Natural racial propensities of the contestants, the Maratha rapacity and greed being matched by the unyielding and uncompromising Jat obstinacy till the bitter end.

The resources of the Trans-Chambal Jats were too meager for their resistance against the Marathas, their resolutions pitched too high for their slender means and their defiance, though heroic and worthy of emulation, left them no escape route for retreat and survival and for recouping their strength. To them struggle was a familiar avocation, defiance a vital military virtue, sieges, a repeated occurrence, Defeat a frequent desert and exile an inexorable fate. Their splendidly sustained defiance could, however, be greeted with approbation, and some times even with applause.

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