History Files

Far East Kingdoms

South Asia


FeatureMarathas (Thanjavur / Tanjore)
AD 1674 - 1855

FeatureThanjavur was a minor Maratha kingdom which was founded by Vyankoji, the younger brother of the first Maratha emperor, Shivaji Maharaj (although some sources claim him as the son of the emperor). He began the Thanjavur, or Tanjore, dynasty which ruled the state until 1855.

The city itself is one of India's oldest, with a history which reaches back into the Sangam period. During the rule of the later Cholas, it served as their capital, subsequently being ruled by the Pandyas, the Vijaynagar empire, the Madurai Nayaks, and the Thanjavur Nayaks, before the arrival of the Marathas. The city is now in Tamil Nadu state in south-eastern India.

(Information by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha.)

1674 - 1686

Vyankoji / Venkaji / Ekoji I

Brother of Maratha emperor, Shivaji Maharaj. First maharaja.

1686 - 1711

Shahji I / Shahuji I

Son, aged 12. Abdicated in later life.

1711 - 1727

Sarabhoji I / Serfoji I


1727 - 1735

Tukoji / Tukkoji / Thuljaji


1735 - 1738

A three year period of anarchy follows Tukoji's death. His only legitimate son, Ekoji, succeeds him but barely holds onto his position for a year before dying of (probable) natural causes.

Brihadeswara temple in Tanjore
The Cholas constructed the Sri Brihadeswara temple in Thanjavur, which dominated the later Maratha Tanjore

1735 - 1736

Ekoji II


1735 - 1738


A minister who gained power behind the throne.

1736 - 1737

Sujanbai / Sujana Bai

Widow. Ruled under Sayyid's control for a year. Deposed.

1737 - 1738

Sujanbai defies Sayyid's control and drives out the pretender, Katturaja. He seeks help from the French, re-invades Thanjur and deposes the queen. Backed by his claim to be an illegitimate son of Sarabhoji I, Katturaja gains the throne under the name of Shahuji II. His rule lasts for just a year before disagreements with his French former allies and intriguing behind the throne force him to abdicate voluntarily in favour of Pratap Singh.

1738 - 1739

Sawai Shahji / Shahuji II / Katturaja

Former pretender who seized the throne.

1739 - 1763

Pratap Singh

Son of Tukoji. Ended the period of anarchy.


An attempt by the British East India Company to restore a maharaja of Nayak lineage to the territory is blocked by the Maratha line under Pratap Singh.

1763 - 1787

Tusalji / Thuljaji

Son. Died childless.


Following the outbreak of war between Tipu Sultan of Mysore and the British East India Company in 1780, Tipu's forces attack and plunder Thanjur, leaving it impoverished.

1787 - 1793

Sarabhoji II / Serfoji II

Adopted son of Tusalji. Ascended aged 10.

1787 - 1793

Amar Singh

Brother of Tusalji and regent. Seized throne in 1793.

1793 - 1798

Amar Singh

Usurper. Died 1798.

1798 - 1824

Sarabhoji II / Serfoji II



The district around Thanjur is ceded by Sarabhoji to the British East India Company, with the maharaja retaining direct control over the capital itself and just a small tract of territory outside it.

1824 - 1855

Shivaji (II)

Son. Died without an heir.


Shivaji has no heir, only an adopted son and two daughters, 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. The maharajahs retain an Hereditary title without being able to exercise any power.

Hereditary Maharajahs of Thanjavur
AD 1855 - Present Day

Thanjur was annexed by the British in India in 1855, after the last maharaja died without a son to succeed him, the customary practise of adopting a successor not being recognised at the time by Britain. The late maharaja's surviving daughter claimed the title, and was allowed princely privileges but not political power. Records are unclear but it seems that after her, the grandson of Shivaji (II) by his adopted son became the titular prince, and the title has proceeded through his direct descendants.

1855 - 1886

Vijaya Mohana Mutumbar Bai

Daughter of Shivaji. First to claim the hereditary title aged 10.


Vijaya, otherwise known in later years as the Great Lady, marries Sakharam Saheb, prince of Kolhapur.

c.1859 - ?

Sakharam Saheb

Husband and prince consort.

Shivaji (III)

Son of Shivaji (II)'s adopted son, Serfoji.

Pratap Singh III



Son of Shahaji Raje, son of Shivaji (III).

Shivaji (IV)


1947 - 1948

Thanjavur is submerged within the republic of India.

Shivaji (V)


? - Present

Raja Babaji Rao

Son of Shivaji (IV). Born 1969. Has two daughters.

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