Bundeli Gaurav

Bundeli Warrior Alha Udal

Birbal-Jagirdar of Kalinjar

Maharaja Chatrasaal  Bundela

Rani Durgavati

Jhansi ki Rani Laxmibai

Rashtra Kavi Maithili Sharan Gupt

Major Dhyanchand

Dr. Hari Singh Gaur

Osho Rajneesh

Mahrishi Mahesh yogi

Shri Vrindavan Lal Verma

Indiver Ji

Asgari-Bai-Dhrupad Singer


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on 28.01.2010 at IIC,
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Medieval History

Chandela Period : The Chandela Rajput clan ruled Bundelkhand from the 10th to the 16th century. In the early 10th century they were Samant  of the Pratiharas of Kannauj, and ruled from the fortress-city of Kalinjar. A dynastic struggle among the Pratiharas from 912 to 914 allowed the Chandelas and other feudatories to assert their independence. Chandela kingdom is believed to have derived its popular name, 'Jejabhukti’; `jeja’ is believed to be a corruption of `yagna’ and `bhukti’ was a term for province since Gupta times. The Chandelas captured the strategic fortress of Gwalior c. 950. Dhanga (c. 950-1008) left many inscriptions, and endowed a large number of Jain and Hindu temples. Dhanga's grandson Vidyadhara (1017-29) expanded the Chandela kingdom to its greatest extent, extending the Chandela dominions to the Chambal river in the northwest and south to the Narmada River.The original seat of the clan is believed to have been Maniyagarh, a large ruined fort on the banks of the Ken in Chhatarpur district. Their tutelary deity was called Manya Deo. Later, the Chandelas made Mahoba their capital.

Khajuraho : Chandelas built the famous temple-city of Khajuraho between the mid-10th and mid-11th century. Chandela tanks invariably adjoined the temples. From the absence of canals, one can surmise that were primarily meant to gain spiritual boons than provide surface irrigation. The Chandelas were also great temple builders. Yashovarman is believed to have initiated the construction of one of the large Vishnu temples in Khajurao (Chhatarpur), the Lakshman temple.

Parmal : From 1008 AD onwards Mahmud of Ghazni launched attacks to northwestern India, year after year. The Chandelas strongly resisted Mahmud, who turned back after a long siege of the fort of Kalinjar in Banda district. Over half a century later, the Chandela ruler Paramardideva, also known as Parmal, was engaged in conflict with another formidable opponent, Prithviraj Chauhan, ruler of Delhi. The conflict between the two, won by Prithviraj Chauhan, led to the generation of two conflicting bardic accounts. They were known as the Prithviraj Raso and the Parmal Raso.

Prithviraj Chauhan was himself defeated and killed by Muhamad Ghor in 1192, and ten years later Kalinjar fell to the Turkish Muslims, who destroyed the temples on the fort and converted them to mosques, and proceeded to do the same in Mahoba. In the 14th century, a large part of North India including much of Bundelkhand came under the rule of  Ala-ud-din Khilji.

Khangars : In the 19th century, the British listed The Khangars as one of the tribal groups of Bundelkhand. The Khangars themselves claimed Rajput descent. According to the Khangar folk tradition, a Khangar warrior, Khet Singh, fought along with Prithviraj Chauhan in the war against the Chandela king Parmal, and was awarded part of the defeated king’s territory. Khet Singh is believed to have made his capital in a massive seven-storied fort in Tikamgarh district, Garh Kundar. (By another version, the fort was built by the Chandelas). 

Early Bundelas : We know little about the Khangar 'kingdom' for over the next hundred years, till the emergence of a Bundela chief, Sohanpal. The founder of the clan is said to be one Pancham , son of a king of Varanasi, who was cheated of his share of the kingdom by his siblings. Pancham is said to have performed penance in the shrine of Vindhyavasini Devi, when he received no sign of blessing from the Devi, Pancham proceeded to cut off his own head.  But no sooner than a drop or 'bund' of blood dropped on the floor that the Devi appeared and blessed him with the boon of a son would conquer large territories. Thus, according to this version, arose the ruling clan of Bundelas - the name being derived from 'bund'.

One of Pancham's three sons, Sohanpal, is believed to have wrested Garh Kundar from the Khangars in the middle of the 13th century AD. (His version is entirely denied by revivalist Khangars who state that the Khangars ruled over Garh Kundar till 1347, when they were vanquished by Mohammed Tughlaq, and all their women committed 'jauhar' by jumping into a well, which can be seen in the fort even today).

Bundelas & Mughals : In the 16th century when a Bundela chief called Rudra Pratap  established base on the banks of the Betwa in Orchha (literally 'hidden place'), near Jhansi, at a time when the Mughals were yet to establish their supremacy over North India. Rudra Pratap and his immediate descendants built many magnificent structures including the Jhansi fort; the enormous Orchha fort that encloses most of the village even today; and a soaring Ram Raja temple, the only place in India where Ram is worshipped as a king even today with martial honors.

Rudra Pratap's grandson, Madhukar Sah increased the kingdom's territories, and challenged Akbar's authority. When Akbar's son, Salim  (later known as Jehangir ) rebelled, a son of Madhukar Sah, Bir Singh, sided with Salim and arranged to kill Abul Fazl, a high-ranking advisor of Akbar. When Salim alias Jahangir ascended the Delhi throne, he rewarded Bir Singh by granting him Orchha and a high rank in the Mughal court. In his later years, Bir Singh quarreled with his Mughal patron and there were feuds within the family itself, leading eventually to the creation of another Bundela state, Datia. Another state, Chanderi, had been formed even earlier.

While the Bundela states occupied parts of Chhatarpur, Lalitpur, Jhansi and Datia districts, much of the rest of Bundelkhand was under Mughal rule, under the subahs or provinces of Agra, Malwa and Allahabad. Akbar's favourite minister, Birbal, held Kalinjar as his jagir.  Islamic religious and cultural centres came up at Kalpi (Hamirpur), Banda and Mahoba.

Rani Durgavati : In the 14th and 15th centuries AD, there emerged in Central India three dynasties of Gonds, who  'Rajputised' themselves by adopting Hindu rituals and marrying into Rajput families. At the height of its power, one of the Gond dynasties, founded by Sangram Shah and centered in Garha-Mandla (Mandla in MP), controlled a large territory including parts of Sagar and Damoh districts. A conflict with the Mughals was inevitable.

In 1564, the Garha Mandla queen Durgavati, who was of Chandela origin, acting as a regent for her infant son, bravely met Mughal troops in battle. Overpowered and finding her escape route cut off by rising waters of a river, she is said to have killed herself. Rani Durgavati is one of the heroic figures in this part of MP; a university is named after her in Jabalpur.

Maharaj Chhatrasal & Marathas : In the late 17th century, when Mughal power began to wane, arose one of Bundelkhand's great historical figures: Maharaj Chhatrasal, founder of an independent kingdom and a second line of Bundela rulers. In his early life Chhatrasal did military service for the Mughals in the Deccan and during this time he is believed to have met Chattrapati Shivaji, who inspired him to found an independent kingdom. Chhatrasal first overcame the Gond ruler of Panna and apparently gained access to the region's precious diamonds.

Chattrasal made Panna the capital of his kingdom and bringing less powerful Bundela chiefs under his banner, launched a series of successful assaults into Mughal possessions, leading to the coining of a popular Bundeli saying:

It Jamuna ut Narmada, it Chambal ut Tons
Chhatrasal so laran ki, rahi na kahu hons

(From the Jamuna to the Narmada, the Chambal to the Tons, nobody dares fight Chhattrasal)

However, as he expanded his territory into the district of Jhansi, the Mughal governor of Allahabad, Muhammed Khan Bangash, counter attacked with great force, compelling Chhatrasal to seek help from the other great power of the time, the Marathas, led by Peshwa Baji Rao in Pune. Chhatrasal written a letter to Peshwa with following doha :

"Jo gati bhai Gajendra ki, So gati pahunchi aay

Baaji jaat Bendel ki, Raakho Baajirai”

Maratha armies helped the Bundelas deliver a humbling defeat to Bangash in 1729 and before he died two years later, Chhatrasal conferred a third of his kingdom to the Peshwa. Of what remained, he divided it among his numerous sons, relatives and loyal chiefs. Thus arose Bundela-ruled states of Panna, Jaitpur, Ajaigarh and Charkhari, and several smaller estates.

To stake claim over the territory granted to him by Maharaj Chhatrasal, the Peshwa of Pune appointed a governor in Jhansi. Another officer was in charge of Sagar and surrounding territories. The Peshwa also had control of Jalaun and parts of Banda.The Peshwa divided most of the region between himself and two of his chiefs, Mahadji Shinde (Scindia) and Malhar Rao Holkar.