History Files


Far East Kingdoms

South Asia




FeatureMarathas (Indore)
AD 1693 - 1948

Not being especially interested becoming involved in the politics of government, in 1719 the Maratha emperor Shahu appointed a Peshwa (chief minister) as head of state with certain conditions that he must follow. The Peshwas became the de facto leaders of the Maratha empire, while Shivaji's successors continued as nominal rulers from their base in Satara.

The Peshwa, Baji Rao, had the duty of expanding and defending the Maratha empire. Under his command, the army reached Rajasthan in 1735, Delhi in 1737, and Orissa and Bengal by 1740. On the way back from Delhi, Baji Rao's generals established their own holdings which later became kingdoms in their own right, still owing loyalty to the Maratha throne in Satara. The Gaekwads established themselves in Baroda, the Holkar maharajas at Indore (to the north-east of Pune, in the present day state of Madhya Pradesh), and the Shindes (or Scindias) at Gwalior.

(Information by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha.)

1693 - 1766

Malharrao Holkar (I)

First Maratha maharaja of Indore.


The Maratha losses at the Third Battle of Panipat halts the expansion of the empire and reduces the power of Peshwa.

1775 - 1782

The First Maratha War takes place against the British East India Company. The empire becomes a looser confederacy, with political power resting in a 'pentarchy' of five Maratha dynasties: the Peshwas in Pune, the Sindhias of Malwa and Gwalior, the Holkars themselves in Indore, the Bhonsles of Nagpur, and the Gaekwads of Baroda. Maratha affairs of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries are dominated internal rivalry between the Sindhia and Holkar.

Rajbada palace, Indore
The Rajbada palace was built by Malharrao Holkar and completed in 1766. It was burnt down during the 1984 riots and rebuild by the current maharana in 2007

1766 - 1767

Malharrao Khanderao Holkar (II)



Following the deaths of both her husband and the first maharaja, Malharrao, the widowed Ahilyadevi Holkar petitions the Peshwa to be allowed to rule Indore. Although there is some resistance to allowing a woman to govern, her native Holkar army is highly enthusiastic about the move after she had led them into battle in person, and she is granted permission. Under her rule, Indore grows from a small village into a prosperous city.

1767 - 1795

Punyaslok Rajmata Ahilyadevi Holkar

Wife, maharani (queen) and regent, the 'Elizabeth I' of India.

1795 - 1797

Tukojirao Holkar (I)

Adopted son and head of military during Ahilyadevi's reign.

1797 - 1798

Kashirao Tukojirao Holkar


1798 - 1811

Yashwantrao Holkar (I)


1802 - 1805

By 1802 a situation of near civil war exists when two Peshwa generals, Daulatrao Shinde of Gwalior and Yeshwantrao Holkar of Indore, start fighting between themselves. Bajirao II aligns himself with his mentor, Daulatrao. However, Holkar ultimately triumphs, and Baji Rao flees to Bombay in September 1802, to seek help from the British who, fresh from their successes in other parts of India, are waiting for an excuse to take on the Marathas. But the Peshwa's move infuriates the Shindes of Gwalior and the Bhosales of Nagpur, who consider it an insult to Maratha self respect. They chose to fight, in the Second Maratha War, but both are defeated by the British. The Holkars of Indore join the war late, and eventually force the British to agree peace terms.

1811 - 1833

Malharrao Yashwantrao Holkar (II)


1817 - 1819

The Third Maratha War results in a decisive victory for the British against the Peshwa. The last Peshwa, Baji Rao II, is defeated, and the Maratha empire is largely annexed, bound by treaty to the British Crown. The Maratha kingdoms of Indore, Gwalior, Nagpur, and Jhansi became princely states, acknowledging British control.

1833 - 1834

Martandrao Malharrao Holkar

1834 - 1843

Harirao Vitthojirao Holkar

1843 - 1844

Khanderao Harirao Holkar (III)

1844 - 1886

Tukojirao Gandharebhau Holkar (II)

1886 - 1903

Shivajirao Tukojirao Holkar


1903 - 1926

Tukojirao Shivajirao Holkar (III)

1926 - 1948

Yashwantrao Holkar (II)

Last reigning prince of Indore.

1947 - 1948

Indore is submerged within the republic of India and the monarchy abolished. Subsequent maharajas bear an Hereditary title only.

Hereditary Maharajas of Indore
AD 1948 - Present Day

Upon Indian independence and the seizure of Indore, the territory became part of the new state of Madhya Bharat. In 1956, the state was merged within Madhya Pradesh. While the former Holkar maharajas of Indore still claim the title, the current holder lives mainly in the USA.

1948 - 1961

Yashwantrao Holkar (II)

Former maharaja of Indore.

1961 - Present

Sahiba Holkar (Usha Devi)

Maharani (queen) of Indore. 'Sabrina' Holkar lives in the USA.