History Files

Far East Kingdoms

South Asia


FeatureMarathas (Nagpur)
AD 1738 - 1853

Not being especially interested in 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 Maratha emperor, Shahuji, appointed Baji Rao with 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 (modern Gujarat), the Holkars at Indore, the Shindes (or Scindias) at Gwalior, and the Bhonsales at Nagpur (which had formerly been part of the Vakataka kingdom in the third to fifth centuries).

Nagpur itself had never before formed a state in its own right, and isn't even mentioned historically until the eighteenth century. Previously it had formed part of the Gond kingdom of Deogarh. The Bhonsales were directly related to the Maratha emperor, Sambhaji Maharaj Bhosale. Today Berar and Vidharba within former Nagpur are in Maharashtra state.

(Information by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha.)

1738 - 1755

Raghoji / Raghuji Bhosale I

First Maratha maharaja.


Orissa of the Bhoi dynasty is ceded by Nawab Alîwirdi Khan of Bengal to the Marathas (in the form of Raghuji Bhosale).


There is strife between the brothers who rule the Gond kingdom of Deogarh. Raghuji comes to the assistance of one of them and gains effective control of the kingdom, making it the property of Nagpur.

1755 - 1773

Janoji Bhosale

Connected by blood to Raghoji but exact relationship unknown.


Janoji attempts to play power politics in the war between the Peshwa and the nizam of Hyderabad. Betraying both of them in turn, they surprise him by uniting and destroying Nagpur. Upon Janoji's death, his brothers fight each other for the throne until Mudhoji shoots the other dead in battle. Mudhoji then claims the regency of Nagpur on behalf of Janoji's adopted son and heir, Raghoji II.

1773 - 1788

Mudhoji I

Brother, and regent of Nagpur.

1775 - 1782

The First Maratha War takes place against the British East India Company. The Maratha losses at the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761 halts the expansion of the empire and reduces the power of Peshwa. 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 of Indore, the Bhonsles themselves in Nagpur, and the Gaekwads of Baroda.

1788 - 1816

Raghoji II / Raghuji II

Adopted son of Janoji.

1803 - 1805

By 1802 a situation of near civil war existed 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 considered it a insult to Maratha self respect. They chose to fight, in the Second Maratha War, but both are defeated by the British, notably at the Battle of Assaye on 23 September 1803. The Holkars of Indore join the war late, and eventually force the British to agree peace terms.

British regiments at Assaye
Regular British army regiments take part in the decisive battle of Assaye against the French-trained 'Mahrattas', led by Major-General The Honorable Arthur Wellesley


Parsaji / Parsoji Bhosale II

Son. Deposed and murdered.

1816 - 1817

Mudhoji II / Appa Sahib

Usurper. Deposed, briefly reinstated and deposed again.

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 northern portion of the Nagpur Bhonsle dominions, together with the Peshwa's territories in Bundelkhand, are annexed to British India as the Saugor and Nerbudda Territories. Mudhoji II, although restored to the throne, is found to be renewing his conspiracies against the British and is deposed for a second time. The Maratha kingdoms of Indore, Gwalior, Nagpur, and Jhansi became princely states, acknowledging British control.

1817 - 1818

Appasaheb Bhosale

Son of Vyankoji, brother of Raghoji II. Died 1840.

1818 - 1853

Raghoji III

Grandson of Raghoji II.

1818 - 1830

Nagpur is administered by the British resident during Raghoji's minority. In 1830, governance of the state is handed over to him.


Raghoji has no heir, and the state is absorbed into British India under the controversial annexation policy known as the Doctrine of Lapse (abandoned in 1858). Following this it is administered under the Viceroys of India as the Nagpur province until the Central Provinces are formed in 1861.

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