BIKANER

The Rathore Dynasty

BRIEF HISTORY

RaoBhikaji Rathore, son of Rao Jodhaji of Marwar (Jodhpur), founded the state of Bikaner, in Northern Rajasthan, in 1465. His great grandson, Rai Singhji assumed the titles of Maharajadhiraja and Maharaja, but these were not officially recognised by the Mughal emperors. A marriage alliance between Rai Singhji's daughter and the Emperor Jahangir, enhanced the power and prestige of the house. More importantly, it safeguarded the family domains from Mughal incursions. Anup Singhji received confirmation of the hereditary title of Maharaja from Aurangzeb in 1687, in recognition of his part in the capture of Golconda and Bijapur. His grandson, Gaj Singhji I, received confirmation of the title of Maharajadhiraja in 1752, from Ahmad Shah Durrani, the Afghan conqueror. The princes of the ruling family served the Mughals with considerable distinction for several generations, as soldiers, Imperial governors and statesmen. Nevertheless, when the Mughal power began to wane, and the Marathas began to threat, they entered into a treaty of Friendship and Alliance with the British. This new alliance, concluded in 1818, ensured that the age-old martial tradition of the Rathores continued stronger than ever. From the Third Mahratta War to the conclusion of British rule, troops from Bikaner fought alongside British troops in every campaign. Maharaja Ganga Singhji ensured that his famous regiments, such as the Bikaner Camel Corps, were amongst the first Indian states' troops to go into battle. He often served in person, eventually rising to the rank of a full General, one of only four Indians to do so during British rule. He represented Imperial India on the world stage, at Imperial conferences, the League of Nations, and most importantly, at the Peace Conference. He had served as the Indian member of the Imperial War Cabinet during the Great War, and signed the Versailles Treaty on India's behalf in 1919. His death in 1943, concluded a record reign of fifty-six years. Maharaja Sadul Singhji, Ganga Singhji's son and successor, had spent a lifetime serving his august father in a number of important posts. He was one of the first princes to sign the instrument of accession to the Dominion of India in 1947. Two years later, he was one of those instrumental in forming the Rajasthan Union. His early death deprived the new India of one of its keenest servants. His young son, better known as Dr. Karni Singh, succeeded in 1950. Historian, scholar, parliamentarian, his pursuits, though more scholarly than those of his predecessors, did not prevent him from becoming his country's foremost marksmen. Maharaja Sri Narendra Singhji, elder son of Maharaja Karni Singhji, succeeded in 1988, upholding the traditions and history of his house with as much vigour as any of his illustrious ancestors. His death without male heirs in 2003 had been expected to leave something of a vacuum, until his closest lineal male relative assended the gadi with the blessing of clan and religious leaders in April 2004.
 

SALUTE:
17-Guns.

ARMS:
Barry of six gules and or three falcons close argent each charged with a trident of the field. Crest: A green tree. Supporters: Leopards sable. Motto: "Jai Jangal Dar Badshah" (Hail to the jungle King). Lambrequins:gules and or.

STYLES & TITLES:
The ruling prince: Sri Raj Rajeshwar Maharajadhiraj Narendra Maharaja Shiromani (personal name) Bahadur, Maharaja of Bikaner, with the style of His Highness.
The consort of the ruling prince: Maharani Baiji Sri (personal name) Sahib, Maharani of Bikaner, with the style of Her Highness.
The widow of a Maharaja who was also the mother of a Maharaja: Raj Mata Sahib, with the style of Her Highness.
The paternal grandmother of a Maharaja: Raj Dadi Sahib, with the style of Her Highness.
The Heir Apparent: Yuvraja Sri (personal name) Singhji Bahadur.
The wife of the Heir Apparent: Yuvrani Sri (personal name) Sahiba.
The younger sons of the ruling prince, during his father's lifetime: Maharajkumar Sri (personal name) Singhji Bahadur.
The younger sons of a ruling prince, after his father's death: Maharaj Sri (personal name) Singhji Bahadur.
The daughters of a ruling prince: Maharajkumari Sri (personal name) Baiji Lall Sahib.
The wife of a younger son of a ruling prince: Rani Sri (personal name) Sahiba.
The grandsons of a ruling prince in the male line and sons of a Maharaj, during his father's lifetime: Rajkumar Sri (personal name) Singh.
The granddaughters of a ruling prince, in the male line: Rajkumari Sri (personal name) Baisa Sahib.
The daughters of a Maharaj: Baiji Sri (personal name) Sahib.
The sons of a secondary wife or concubine of a ruling prince (not in the line of succession): Rao Raja Sri (personal name) Singhji.

ORDERS & DECORATIONS:
See separate page - link below.

SOURCES:

A descriptive list of Farmans, Manshurs and Nishans addressed by the Imperial Mughals to the Princes of Rajasthan. Directorate of Archives, Govt. of Rajasthan, Bikaner, 1962.
Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage. Burke's Peerage Limited, London, 1900-1959.
Chiefs and Leading Families in Rajputana, Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing, Calcutta, 1894, 1903, 1916 and 1935.
Debrett's Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Companionage. Debrett's Peerage, London, 1900-1959.
Rima Hooja. Prince, Patriot, Parliamentarian: Biography of Dr Karni Singh, Maharaja of Bikaner. Harper Collins Publishers India, New Delhi, 1997.
Rai Bahadur Sodhi Hukum Singh. Physical and Political Geography of Bikaner with historical notes.
India Army Lists 1895-1947.
Indian States Forces Lists 1930-1946.
Karni Singh. The Relations of the House of Bikaner with the Central Powers 1465-1949. Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd. 1974.
The Rajputana Gazetteer. Volumes I, II & III. Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing, Calcutta, 1879.
L.S. Rathore. Maharaja Sadul Singhji of Bikaner: A biography of the co-architect of India's unity. Maharaja Ganga Singhji Trust/Books Treasure, Jodhpur, 2005.
Y.P. Singh (ed.). Son of the Soil, Maharaja Ganga Singh (birth centenary). Maharaja Ganga Singh Centenary Celebration Committee, Junagadh, Bikaner, 1981.
Thacker's Indian Directory, Thacker's Press & Directories, Ltd., Calcutta, 1863-1956.
Who Was Who, Volumes I to VIII 1915-1990. A&C Black, London.

SPECIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

Father Lawrence Ober, SJ.
Thakur Hanuwant Singhji, Secretary, Maharaja Ganga Singhji Trust.
Ravi Raj Singh.
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