Kutch was also inhabited by the man right from the Early Stone Age just like Saurashtra and some other parts of Gujarat, though the Middle and Late Stone Ages and through the first two to two and a half millennia before Christ. In fact, both Kutch and Saurashtra give much fuller and well connected prehistory than Northern, Central or Southern Gujarat.
The surprising thing is that man should have existed in Kutch in the distant past in the geological time scale known as ‘Middle Pleistocene’. As stated in geological history, Kutch was long submerged under the sea and surfaced later. On the other hand, it can be said that this was happened during the Tertiary period. In Kutch, one witness the same remarks of the river configuration and erosion as elsewhere in peninsular India and the most important of all, the earliest traces of man in the form of his stone tools are found in the stony or large smooth rocks with the river deposit.
These tools and accessories consist of large thick flakes made from local dykes, basalts and they were found in the river Surkhi placed at a few miles in the north-east directions of Nakhatrana Taluka. Afterwards, the pointed hand-axes and large grinders or scrapers were also found. The earliest resident of Kutch must be a hunter and food gatherer and living upon fruits, cooked roots and wild animals.
Now, it is proved that this Early Stone Age Man lived all over Kutch or only in the north-west parts and also in Bhuj and Nakhatrana Talukas. It can not be said with any sureness, but the tools of his descendant are found practically all over in Kutch, as a result of more systematic search made for his traces. The most important reason for it is that the tools which this man used were comparatively small so that they could be carried them from one place to another place easily or imported them in regions where no appropriate rocks were available. These small tools point to the change which had come over this man. Though he was still a hunter and roaming from place to place after the animals, he could exercise horrible weapons like spears, the shafts of which were smoothened with small stone scrapers and hafted with small and well pointed stone flakes as well as flat nodules themselves used as spearheads. The age of this second Stone Age man should be about 30,000 years ago because from comparable stored information, similar Stone Age tools along with carbonized costume of Arjuna trees were found in Maharashtra. The C14 date for last mentioned tree is around this time.
A few trees of the third and the succeeding Stone Age man had been reported some thirty years ago. These consist of tiny stone blades of excellent materials like chert, agate, carnelian etc. From these thin blades, the man manufactured sharp pointed arrow, harpoon heads and sickle teeth. These were placed in the narrow waterway of a bone or wooden knife and made firm by applying glue. Hence, compound tools were come into use. These are the precursors of copper, iron and steel arrow-heads and sickles. With these tools and weapons, the man could cut naturally growing grasses as well as exercise a twist over. This was taken as a major step towards an independent food-collecting cum producing life. The exact date for this stage of man in Kutch is not yet known, but in the neighbouring Gujarat area at Langhnaj near Ahmedabad. This culture has been placed by C14 determination at about 2500 B. C.
Proto Historic Period:
Soon Kutch and Saurashtra witnessed a increase forward. At present, the immediately former stages are not known even in Sindh, where a city civilization had been developed slightest by 2600 B. C. The holder of this civilization known as the ‘Harappan’ civilization had come to Kutch either through invaders and traders and spread in the west at Deshalpar, Kotada and Todis in Nakhatrana Taluka, Jhangar Kotada and Pirwada Khetar in Anjar Taluka and in the south-east directions at Kerasi, Lakhapur, Pabumath and Surkotda in Rapar Taluka in the east and at Kharika, Khavda in Taluka Bhachau. This was the first migration ante-dating the earliest historical ones mainly known as the Iranian, Indo-Greek, Saka ad Abhira.
Moreover, these ten to twelve sites, there is possibly more showing the profession of the entire region by the Harappans. We do not yet know whether there were any local or original cultures on the higher step of the ladder than hunting and fishing. If the future research does not expose anything then, the Harappans will have to be credited for introducing civilization in the true sense of the word an organized and well-ordered life, villages and towns with laid out roads, brick-built houses with the indirect knowledge of existence of agriculture. Unlike Mohen-Jo-Daro and Chanhudar, houses in Kutch were built on stone foundation as stone was easily available. Moreover, at Deshalpar, Kotada and Surkotda, we have some important proofs of a stone fortification.
Though brief preliminary reports are still available in Kutch Harappan sites, it would appear that the Harappan settlements were fairly extensive that at Jhangar and Lakhapur being 0.80 sq. km. each so also Kerasi with an area of 30.40 sq. m. though Deshalpar which is incompletely excavated is only 130×100 m. Deshalpar is described as a small fortified town. Its fortification walls are permanent with corner towers and significant. There was a mud-brick platform too, though its exact purpose in this semi dry region with little rainfall and on a small river Bamu Chela, comfortable of the river Dhrud is not easily understood. The gateway possibly lay on the eastern or the southern side, which is now completely deep-fried. Many houses were built against the fort wall.
Though no roads, lanes or drains have been revealed, the residents enjoyed the same homely comforts as those of Mohen-Jo-Daro, Harappa and Lothal. For their range of pottery is in no way poorer or less than the typical Harappan collection. In addition to the typical Harappan pottery, like the dish-on-stand, cylindrical perforated jars, carina Ted lid, handled cup, goblet, beaker, ring stand, there are also existed the rare, thin grey ware, painted in bluish-green pigment with curly and regular lines. These were first found in the lower levels at Mohen-Jo-Daro by Mackay and described as ‘glassy ware’ and compared with the ‘Reserved Slip Ware’ of Mesopotamia.
It can be unconfirmed that fresh blood was introduced later as symbolized by the appearance of a cream slipped bathroom ware with paintings in blackish purple and reddish brown colours. There was also a new comer in grey painted black and red pottery in dishes and bowls. However, the shiny red ware of Rangpur was absent. Not only in pottery but as regards ornaments, tools and weapons of copper, stone blades and points, pestles and gun, even refined Celts, wheeled transference and above all seals of copper and soapstone prove that the Kutchi Harappan was literally a city settlement. Contract with Gujarat Harappan sites is documented by the stud handled bowls and the white painted black and red ware, though the absence of the shiny red ware which is the characteristics of Rangpur period III should be noted.
Though C14 dates of any of these sites are available so far, it is minor that the sites are early because here pottery with a special method of decoration known as ‘Reserved Slip’. This so far has been a feature of the early Harappan at Mohen-Jo-Daro and Lothal. The sites can be reasonably dated around 2000 B. C. in Saurashtra at Rangpur and Somnath for incidence. It was succeeded by a less developed, in fact, an illiterate agricultural village culture. It did not leave behind any memory much so that the tradition as recorded in Bombay Gazetteer said that Kutch before the arrival of the Indo-Greeks and Sakas was lightly populated by a few wild people. Later followed forest fires which gave place to tender rich pastures give which we have no mentions of the Yadavas having passed through Kutch on their way or from Dwarka.
The earliest literary reference to Kutch is almost certainly in Panini’s book. Then, in ‘Mahabharata’, in Dyuta Parva refers to the people in the north-west of India like Gandhara, Parada, Vangas and Abhiras. The concluding things are said to be the products or residents of a cardamom like island. Dr. Shobhana Gokhale describes the accurate figure of Kutch. Though one can definitely say on the authority of the Saka Rudradamans’ inscriptions at Junagadh that Kutch is a separate Kingdom and the district had become relatively well-known to find a mention in the list of countries under enemy control by him along with Anarta, Saurashtra, Svabhra, Maru and Sindhu-Sauvira. This reference should also set up theories that the Abiris of the Greeks and Abhiras stand for Kutch. In fact, these should be identified with lower Sindh. Megasthenes known as ‘Island of Patala’ also refers to these regions to Kutch.
However, one can not be so certain of the reference to Kutch or its occupations by the Iranians and later by the Indo-Greeeks under Menander that is from the 5th century through the 1st-2nd century, though we know that these regions-both Sindh and Kutch-were open to strong effects from the north-west directions. Although, the references are uncertain, they are sited by the authors of Bombay Gazetteer and all the following writers. If these are Indo-Greek leftovers like temples, communion tables (Altars), fortified camps and large stonework walls; they yet remain to be identified.
The statements in Bombay Gazetteer of Pliny’s Odambaris are about the people of Kutch and this refers to their town Orbadaro which is situated in the east of the river Indus. Orbadaro is no longer accepted. The first probably refers to the Udumbaras who were in Punjab. The only thing we can accept from Ptolemy’s descriptions of the geography of this region is reference to Kanthis’ expression which is: “In Syrastrene on the Gulf of Kutch.” McCrindle explains this statement as referring to the Gulf of Kutch and says that the south coast of Kutch is still called Kantha. But as stated in Bombay Gazetteer, this name is also appropriate to the stripes of land along its north shore. The word in true means only the ‘coastline’ and nothing more. As the editor of McCrindle’s Ptolemy says that it can not refer to the whole Gulf of Kutch.
The ‘outer part’ or the portion near the entrance of the Gulf is afterwards described by the author of the Periplus as Barake. This view is conformed by the recent excavations at the site and the discussion of its ancient times in literature and archeology. Further mention in the Periplus to Eirinon as referring to the Rann of Kutch, which was even then dividable into two parts, greater and less and described as ‘unexplored, dangerous to ships, one-dimensional and with violent eddies’ can not be taken to refer to the Great and Small Ranns (Deserts) of Kutch respectively as the words of Bombay Gazetteer seem to involve. These ranns (Deserts) are situated respectively to the north and east directions of Kutch. However, the translation by Schoff makes the statement more clear and understandable. He says, “Beyond the river Sinthus, there is another gulf, not crossable, running in towards the north; it is called Eirinon; its parts are separately like the small gulf and the great; in the both parts of water is one-dimensional shifting sandbanks happening repeatedly and a great way from shore so that when the shore is not even in sight, ships run position and if they attempt to hold their routes they are broken down.” This is an accurate explanation of the Great and Little Ranns of Kutch. The conditions have changed a little during last 2000 years.
From Historical Period to the Coming of the Sakas:
The history of Kutch in the true sense begins with the Sakas, who ruled the whole Western part of India, including Kutch, Saurashtra, Gujarat, Northern Maharashtra and Western Malwa for nearly three centuries and a quarter from 78 A. D. to 400 A. D. Their capital is supposed to be Ujjain, though most of their inscriptions have been found in Kutch and Saurashtra. The earliest records consist of memorial stones and have been found on an artificial mound at Andhau. Now a still earlier stone inscription has been found at Andhau. Thus, we can confidently say that the Sakas, also called Kardamakas, ruled in Kutch and probably dominated Gujarat and Malwa from Kutch. It is indeed unfortunate that of their 325 years rule, we can say nothing about the system of administration, society and religion, unless we calculate approximately whatever little is known from Saurashtra.
From the inscriptions of Andhau and Khavda, one can easily say that Buddhism and Jainism had spread to Kutch and that the custom of enlarging stones in memory of the dead, called paliyas, so much common in Kutch and Saurashtra, goes back to this period. It was suggested that this custom was introduced by the Sakas. The geology of the country might also be responsible for the origin of this custom. It is found that here as in parts of Andhra-Mysore long rectangular pieces of the solid materials of stone could be easily made. The four inscriptions of Andhau show that the full title of the King Rudradaman was not fully known and he was honourably called Rajan. More important, almost the entire family of the King consisting of a wife Yasodatta, daughter Simhamitra and brother Rishbhadeva seemed to have died on one day and every one was honoured by the production of a memorial stone at Andhau near Khavda or Pachcham by one Madana. Their brother and sister belonged to Aupassatika gotra, while the wife Yasodatta belonged to Shrenika gotra. These few names are extremely interesting for the light they throw on the cultural history. First, they show that the bearers of these names were originally Kshatriyas or after their conversion to Jainism, they took names such as Rishabhadeva, which were popular in Jainism, even the gotra name Shrenika reminds one of the family names of Bimbisara, the famous king of Magadha.
The Mewasa inscription is still more important because it mentions the name of Hariloka and Vasura in connection with one Abhira. In both these names, the first part of the names Hari and Vasu are important for act of tracing the antiquity of Krishna worship though with Sakas or Iranian suffixes as in the name of Rudradaman. One should also note the absence of the reckoning by mentioning the days of the week. Only the year and the Tithi (date) of the half of the month are given.
During this long rule, the Saka dominance had been challenged from within and without that there was a division in the family and sub branch came into power after it has been secondary from the study of Saka currency. This has been further confirmed by the discovery of a new inscription of Abhira Isvardeva from Daulatpur in Kutch.
From Sakas to 712 A. D.
Both the Abhiras and Sakas were driven out from Western India by the Guptas, though their independence over Kutch is to be less important only from the circulation of the coins of Kumaragupta and Skandagupta. Direct proof, as in Saurashtra, is not yet available, though it is bound to be there in the form of pottery belonging to the Guptas as well as Sakas’ periods for even in a short-lived visit to Lakhpat. Shobhana Gokhale saw extensive large quantities of stones spotted with Sakas’ painted pottery as well as stone circles, which look like landmarks, a form of prehistoric monument.
Again there are no means to say anything about the other characteristics of this period in Kutch. Saurashtra was under control of Gopta, a governer, appointed by the court in Pataliputra and a temple of Vishnu was built and the same rebuilt at Girinagara. Such activities on behalf of the State must have been extensive to Kutch, if it was within the direct authority of the Patna Court. However, this is a guess which needs noticeable justification.
Modern or slightly early is the account of the Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsiang. He described Kutch as lying 1,600 kms south-west direction from the capital of Sindh. The route of the territory is given at 5,000 lis (341.13 kilometres). The capital’s name was Kie-tai-sai-fa-lo perhaps Koteshwar. He recorded to have seen several Buddhist Viharas and residences of different communities and Deva (Hindu) temples in Kita. This country is disbelieving whether it is description which refers to Kutch.
It is impossible that this fearless traveler could have by passed Kutch when he had long stayed temporarily in Sindh, Gandhara, Malva, Gujarat and Saurashtra. While one may not discuss the details of Hiuen Tsiang’s account, it must be stressed that Kutch could not have escaped from the pressure of Mahayana Buddhism, when it was established in Sindh and Saurashtra as well as in northern, central and southern Gujarat, as the recent discoveries in all these regions show. It is the requirements of trained and purposeful explorations that any records of this ‘dark period’ are not yet discovered. These remarks are taken out by the fact those nine years ago, a beautiful inscribed bronze image of standing Buddha was discovered in the museum of Kutch. Stylistically it belongs to the period of 7th to 8th centuries. If the image is from Kutch, then the inscription on the platform definitely speaks of the Bhikshu and Bhiksuni-Sanghas in Kutch as well as in Saurashtra.
The identification of Hiuen Tsiang’s Otien-po-chi-to with Alor in Sindh makes the author of Bombay Gazetteer understand that Kutch at this time was a part of the district of Sindh. The above supposition is different from the one mentioned by Bombay Gazetteer. According to this, the traveler went to Kutch from Sindh. As we have seen, the late authors, Beal and Watters, after a careful consideration of the traveler’s journey, think that if Hiuen Tsiang did visit Kutch, it was from Malwa. As well as the whole Saurashtra, at this period, were under the Maitrakas of Valabhji and for this reason, Bombay Gazetteer’s suggestion is that Kutch at this time was a part of Sindh is not correct.
From Arabs to the Coming of Chaulukyas and Their Successors:
When Khalif Hasham ruled in Arabia, his superintendent in Sindh, Junaid, is said to have launched explorations to Marwar, Ujjain and several countries in Western India. A reverberation of these raids is found in a record of the Chaulukya king of Gujarat and Karnatak. A copper plate grant of King Pulakesi Avani Janasraya dated in Kalachuri period in 738-39 A.D. from Navsari states that the King drove out the Tajikas who had pretended the kingdoms of Sindhu, Kutch, Saurashtra, Chavotkata, Maurya and Gurjaras.
The settlements of some Muslims, even if true, could not have explored over the whole Kutch, but only to the coastal area of the west and north directions. It is possible that the Rashtrakutas of Gujarat and the Deccan held Kutch under them for sometimes. There is a reference to Kanthika which was in the ownership of Govinda’s son Krishna. The coastal tract of Kutch has been known in the past and still today as Kanthi. However, Rathod’s suggestion seems to be fantastic.
In about 714 A. D., according to Bombay Gazetteer, depending on Col. Tod’s Annals of Rajasthan, Kutch was given to the Charans. While the Muslims took up the parts of the coastal areas on the west, the Kathis are said to have entered the country from Sindh, in about 750 A. D. at Pavagadh. With the Muslims on the coast, Kathis in the centre were the Chavdas who took up Vagad, the eastern most important part of outside authority. It is said that the Chavdas were expert sailors and navigators and during their rule Gholaya Sarsagar was known as Patan and there was a big port of Rayapur near Mandvi. Further, one of their descendants Bhuvad has been immortalized in the name of the place and the production of a temple and a memorial stone at Bhuvad on the river Ruparel situated six miles far from Bhuj. He is worshipped as a village god and it is mentioned in the Prabandha Chintamani that the temple of Bhadreshwar was built by Bhuvad. This happened in between 925-34 A.D.
This was the time when Mulraja, the first known ruler of the Chaulukya family is reported to have driven out the Chavdas, who were ruling at Panchasar. Immediately after that, it seemed to have settled in Kutch. According to some legends, Vikram Chavda-I ruled at Patgadh in Kutch. His daughter was married to Lakha Dhurara, a son of Sama Lakhiar. Lakha Phulani was born in this family who came into difference with Mulraja Solanki. After more than a few battles, he was killed at Kapilkot, though according to the official biographers of the Chaulukya family. Lakha was killed in a battle on the river Jambumali where he had gone to help Graharipu, the Abhira king of Saurashtra.
Brahmins were treated disrespectfully by grants of land and this was done on the occurrence of a solar eclipse, on the 15th of the bright half of Kartika on the day of Chaitra Ekadasi. As a result, some days in a month or a year were regarded as gifted. We also learn from inscriptions that Yajurvedi Brahmins of Vatsa Gotra were treated rudely. Here, in Gujarat proper, the rulers were diverse and investment being given to the followers of Shiva, Vishnu, Surya and Jina. Bhima’s grants are made to Bhattaraka Ajapala, the son of Acharya Mangalasiva, who is specially described as a resident of Navanisaka in Kutch.
It is to the Chaulukya period once again that we have to look for the art and architecture. It is doubtful that many temples were built during the Chavdas’ rule, which was limited only to eastern Kutch. Therefore, it is possible that the temple at Anjar, Bhadreshwar, Kerakot, Kotay, Pumragadh and Varanu as well as Kanthkot were built during this long and prosperous rule of the Chaulukyas, though the local tradition credits the temples of Kotay and Kanthkot to the Kathis and that at Kerakot to Lakha Phulani. There are detailed references to the Shiva temples named after Kumarpala and his minister Udala in the temples of Jayasimha at Bhadreshwar which is particularly called a port. Of course, these temples must have been built later in Kumarpal’s time and the reference should also be late.
Besides temples, monuments of public service such as wells and tanks were also constructed by the rulers as well as private citizens. We are told that according to the record from Rav, a well was constructed by Ravisimha at the cost of 1,600 drams, close to the temple of Ravechi Devi, during the supremacy of Arjunadeva in 1272 A.D.
Bhima’s descendant Jayasimha seems to have penetrated advance westward. When Duda was in charge of Shri Karana, it has been made at Bhadreshwar, which was then a port. The place is still called by this name and has the remains of Jain and Shiva temples and a well and it was a successful port of the 13th century. According to Rasmala, Bhima II had to gross a war with Prithviraja, in which he was supported by Bella of Kutch. Whatever be the truth, the Rav inscription of Arjunadeva’s time shows that almost till the end of Vaghela’s rule in Gujarat, Kutch had remained under that kingdom.
According to the local traditions, the Samas, who were local rulers, founded an independent rule in Kutch only in 14th century and small bands had caused to do this in Kutch from Sindh by the Samas. It should be remembered in this association that according to the traditional history, the same princes Mod and mania, the sons of Lakha, had founded an independent Kutch kingdom and this had lasted up to 1009 A. D. during this period of nearly 200 years. Jam Lakha Phulani Puma Ra were some of the most powerful rulers of the period. This Puma Ra is said to have been killed by the Chavda Ahivanraja and governor of Kutch. In this time, another family of the Samas came from Sindh and established theSama superiority. This statement could be true only of the western and northern Kutch as we have seen the central and eastern Kutch bordering in Gujarat proper was successfully governed by the Chaulukyas and their successors are the Vaghelals up to 1297 A. D.
Jam Lakha and other rulers:
It is said that Lakha Jadeja ruled for 15 years in Kutch. As he was the son of Jadeja, his line came to be known as Jadeja. His reign is memorable because it was the time of the practice of infanticide came to be noticed in Kutch. Since none of his seven daughters could find a suitable bridegroom, they burnt themselves in fire.
Lakha was succeeded by his son Rata Raydhanji, who had divided the kingdom before his death in A. D. 1215. Raydhanji declared Lakhiavira as his capital and the surrounding territories was Otha, one of the younger sons and distributed the remaining between the four other sons.
Jam Otha (1215-1255):
Jam Otha ruled for 40 years and was succeeded by his son Jam Ghaoji. This was a period of Chaos and equally destructive fighting between the two Jadeja families. It is also remarkable for two things: (1) the rise of Bhadreshwar as an important and wealthy Asian port and (2) the starvation of A. D. 1259 and the appearance of Jagadusha as liberator of Kutch. This merchant-prince by his kindness, generosity and visualization, not only gave food and clothes to the thousands needed people, but built Dharmashalas, wells and temples in Kutch and Saurashtra and sent shiploads of food grains to other parts of India. Around Bhadreshwar alone, he is credited with the construction of 50 temples.
During Jam Otha’s successor, Jam Vahenji’s rule, the fratricidal war continued. When Raydhan was killed, Abda was founded. Abda continued to rule his land from there. It was this Abda who gave refugee to 140 Sumari princesses ran away from Sindh, when it was attacked by Ala-ud-din Khilji in 1314 A. D. Instead of surrendering the refugees, he fought for five weeks and died in the irregular fight thus acquiring never-ending celebrity in Kutch history.
It was about the same time that according to Muslim historians one more band of the Sama Rajputs moved from Sindh and settled into Kutch. On the other hand, the tradition of kutch maintains that Lakha Phulani who had his capital at Kerakot under enemy control the whole of Kutch but died while fighting with the Kathis in Kathiawar in 1340 A. D. According to the custom, the various Kutch kings mentioned above were the great grandsons of Lakha Phulani, whereas Nayagandhi places of Lakha, some two centuries earlier. Whatever it is, both the sources agree that the ruling tribe of the Samas came to be known as Jadeja and the custom of infanticide also began at this time.
After Lakha’s death followed the division of the kingdom among the five brothers but nothing exciting happened until 1472, though before Muzafar Shah, the founder of Ahmedabad had defeated the Kutchi forces, though the last outnumbered small force of the Sultan. Thus, Kutch once again passed under the feudal overload of the rulers of Gujarat proper and remained so far 73 years up to A. D. 1510.
In the year 1540, the tree branches of the family were represented by Jam Dadarji, Jam Hamirji and Jam Ravalji. This was again the period of equally destructive opposition between the Jadeja branches; particularly it was fought between Jam Hamirji and Jam Ravalji. Jam Ravalji murdered Jam Hamirji upon which Jam Hamirji’s four sons took up refugees in Ahmedabad. Khengarji, the second son of Jam Hamirji, showed his bravery to the king of Ahmedabad by killing a tiger in a flight, whereupon the king, in appreciation of his courage, handed over to Khengarji the country of Morvi within his command and discuss upon him the title of Rao. Khengarji used Morvi as a base for operations to take revenge of his father’s death and recover his father’s property. He entered Kutch, killed Jam Ubra of the line of Jam Dadarji and slowly dominated first to Saurashtra, where he founded the kingdom of Nawanagar or Jamnagar. Khengarji Vagad, after a long drawn out struggle, drove out and sent Jam Raval into separate understood the independence over the whole of Kutch in 1548 and became the first Rao of Kutch.
Khengarji I (1548-1585):
The credit of enlivening an independent or semi-independent Kutch kingdom as well as achievement of the title of Rao goes to Khengar I. After his victory over Jam Raval, he engaged the old capital Lakhiavira, near Nakhatrana Taluka. But he had been very much impressed by Ahmedabad and he had passed the important years of his life. So with a wish to establish similar cities in Kutch, he first founded Anjar in 1546 A. D., three years later Bhuj and in A. D. 1580, laid the foundation of stone of the port Rayadhanpur-Mandvi. Khengar also committed his attention to the development of arts, crafts and agriculture. He acquired as a prize for his assistance Gazikhan, a prince of Sindh, the area of land in Sindh from Rahim-ki-Bazar at Kutch border. At Bhuj, he also built a beautiful Jain communications in the style of old period and appointed Manek Mirji at the first Godji (Guru). Traditional guardians of Rao Khengar’s spear and brought with him when he first arrived. Each Godji has his cap of maintenance whose shape preserves the appearance of the ears and tail of the lion which Rao Khengar swing and in the centre of the cap is still to be shown the jewel which Khengar himself presented to Manek Mirji.
On the opposite coast in Saurashtra, Jam Raval, having founded a new kingdom at Jamnagar, often tried to murder Rao khengar but did not succeeded. However, his son Sahibji was killed in a status battle with the Rana of Halvad near Malia. Further, Rao Khengar’s efforts to defend Sindh frontier brought him into quarrel with Shah Hussain, resonance inflicted upon Rao a serious defeat at Jhara, but did not live in Kutch. With the death of this religious, popular and bold king at the matured age of 90, Kutch in 1585 A. D. ceased to be an independent kingdom.
Bharmal I and Other Rulers (1585-1631):
During the reign of Khengar’s son, Bharmal, the independence over Gujarat passed over from the Ahmedabad king to the Moghul Emperors, who were ruling at Delhi. Bharmal twice tried to make himself independent of the Moghuls but, after suffering two defeats, he agreed to the supremacy of two Moghul Emperors Akbar and Jehangir, who established him in his position as the ruler of Kutch but required him to pay tribute.
Bharmal paid his respects to Jehangir, when the latter paid a visit to Ahmedabad in 1617 A. D. Bharmal presented Jehangir with 100 Kutchi horses, 100 Ashrafis (Gold ornaments) and 2,000 rupees. He was spoken of as one of the greatest Zamindars (Landowners) in Gujarat, who had always from 5,000 to 6,000 horses and was able in time of war to double the number. Jehangir was much pleased with the old chief and gave him his own horse, a male and a female elephant, a penknife, a sword with diamond mounted sword and four rings. Jehangir may have also wished to have friendship of the Kutchi ruler, who had an armada and could as such face the Portuguese Menace. On his agreeing to give a free passage to the travelers to Mecca, Jehangir freed him from the compliment. It is additional said to the pilgrims had been permitted to make and use his coins in Kutch.
Another important incidence in Rao Bharmal’s reign was the unsuccessful attempt which the Jam of Nawanagar made to associate Rao in the capture of Muzafar, the last Sultan of Gujarat. Moreover, these two political events relating to Kutch, there is only a passing reference to the country as largely forested and unsophisticated and known for its horses, camels, goats and its two forts: Bada fort and Kanthkot fort, having a standing in unbreakable vehicles force of 10,000 and 50,000 foot-soldiers.
The following period of nearly 100 years (1631-1718) was not eventful, though there were less than six Raos: Bhojraj (1631-45), Khengaji II (1645-54), Tamachi (1654-62), Rayadhan I (1662-97), Pragmalji I (1697-1715) and Godji I (1715-18), succeeded one another; the country on the whole was peaceful. The Moghul prince Dara required protection during Tamachi’s reign in 1659, but the latter showed his helplessness to help him with a large force. Rao Tamachi’s short reign is also noted for the arrival of a saint, Shah Murad from Bukhara. For several years, the saint lived in Mundra, where also he is buried. But he is ever remembered by the Kutchi fishermen and sailors whenever they find themselves in difficulty. He is now worshipped as a Pir, who was active in bringing about a peaceful solution of the awaiting war between Rao Rayadhan and Muazzim Beg. The Pir, however, convinced him to return after granting a fresh Farman.
Pragmalji I (1667-1715):
Noghanji, Rayadhanji’s eldest son, died young during the battle between his father’s lifetimes Pragmalji, Rayadhan’s third son, manufactured to murder his elder brother Ravaji. Both the brothers had left sons who were unconstrained to succeed but as they were young, Pragmalji, on his father’s death, found no difficulty in taking advantage of the sovereign power. He brought the favour of many Bhayats by giving them grant of land and other concessions. His succession to the throne seems to have surprised the unity of faithfulness that had kept the Bhayats and the great landholders dedicated to the Darbar. His efforts to please the various claimants and the secondary creations of various Jagirdars (Landowners) had unhappy penalties on the latter history of Kutch.
Kanyoji, the son of Ravalji, whom Pragmalji had murdered, left no means untried to win back his sovereign power. On assuming power, Pragmalji had placed him in command of Morvi on the southern shore of the Gulf of Kutch, a control held by his descendants. From Morvi, Kanyoji made almost yearly raids into Kutch, but the ruler of Bhuj was too strong for him and he was always defeated. For help given by Pragmalji by sending an army under the Crown Prince Godji, to help his succession, the ruler of Nawanagar gave him the fort of Balambha. Pragmalji took the title of Maharao which continued among his successors. After a successful reign of eighteen years, Pragmalji died in 1715 A. D.
Godji I (1715-1718):
Pragmalji was succeeded by his son Godji, who was a man of outstanding ability, strength and courage. During his short rule of three years, he took steps to loosen some of the damage unhappily done by Pragmalji in winning the favour of the Bhayats. He resumed certain crown grants, e. g., the estate of Mundra given to Haloji, the son of Pragmalji’s eldest brother Noghanji, Kanthi and Anjari Chovisi. Haloji, unable to oppose, retired to Abdasa and there founded the towns of Kothara, Kotri and Nagarchi. His descendants are known as Halani Jadejas. Godji would have continued this policy, had he lived longer. He encouraged and assisted those whose grants had been resumed to found new villages and to bring thus far untilled tracts under development. This policy proved encouraging to the prosperity of the region.
Desalji I (1718-1741):
Dying in 1718, Godji was, without opposition, succeeded by his son Desalji, a man in the major of life, handsome and of pleasing and polite manners. At this time the revenues of the rulers of Kutch were extremely small. Before the reign of Godji, they were chiefly derived from the insignificant trade of their seaport Anjar and the subdivision Kora from some villages in Miyani and from Rapar in Vagad. The lands of Mundra, Kanthi and Anjar Chovisi were added during Godji’s reign and were brought an important enlarge of revenue. Still the Rao’s income was low and their way of living was very economical and simple. Among his brotherhood, the Bhayat, the Rao claimed no greater supremacy than what was due to his title and larger resources. Sheltered by the friendly feeling of his relations and servants, he lived safe and unguarded, without crippling his resources by the pay of armed force. The ties of relationship with the leading Jadejas had up to this time hardly been broken and habit and duty disposed them to obey their common chief for whom they were ready to fight when called upon. Friendly communication and common support formed a bond of union between the Rao and his insignificant feudatories, in striking contrast to the competition and disagreement of later years. At this time the Halanis had not long settled in Abdasa, the Godanis or sons of Rao Godji were in their new lands in Kanthi, the Sahebs, including the long established Chiefs of Roha and Mothala were continued in their estates and Tera was selected to one of the sons of Rao Rayadhan I. Most of country not held by the Jadejas was in the hands of the Vaghelas and other Rajput chiefs, who through all changes had kept to their small estates and of smaller proprietors, Miyanas and others who had earned grants of free or service land.
Rao Lakha was thirty-four years old when he came to the sovereign power in 1741. But the historians of Kutch do not date the beginning of his reign until 1752 when his deposed father Desalji, whom he had kept in imprisonment, died. He had a handsome appearance, was intelligent and generous hearted though slightly overgenerous. He was a man of ability and visualization. His love of show made him popular and the great wealth found in his father’s funds did much to support his power. He created intentionally the institutions of a formal court at Bhuj in order to express the difference between the ruler and even the most powerful and wealthy of the Jadeja Bhayats. A great court was kept and the ceremonial Darbars were made impressive occasions. Many of the Jadejas were unsatisfied at Lakha’s treatment of his father and one of them, Sumaraji Thakor of Tera, a rich town and fort in Abdasa, spoke with open ridicule of his unnatural conduct. When firmly settled in the Government, Lakhaji determined to wash out this outrage. Collecting the Bhayats, he sent a force well supplied with artillery against Tera and as the guns were served by men drawn from British area, the fort suffered severely. After a few days, the Bhayats thinking that on an equally slight excuse the Rao might destroy all their forts warned the gunners that if they continued to damage the fort they should pay for it with their lives. After this firing caused little injury and the walls could not be raised for discussion. When the Tera chief gave a formal apology for his act, the forces of Bhuj after three months blockade, were inhibited. The period of Lakha’s reign up to 1760 is notable for two things. First, for the Chaos and confusion which were let loose in Kutch by a weak administration-frequent change and of ministers, extortion of money, cruelty and domination to fill up the king’s assets and subsequent revolution and bloodshed and Secondly, by the amazing progress that Kutch has made in arts and crafts including manufacture of guns and cannons just because the king-otherwise a profligate-patronized the right man, Ramsing Malam, the navigator.
Godji II (1760-1778):
It stands to the credit of the Kutchi people that in spite of the wish of the dying Rao to appoint one of his six dishonest sons as his successor, they insisted and succeeded in appointing the rightful successor, Godji. Much was expected of Godji, for, during his father’s rule of 20 years, the administration was going from bad to worse, though the revenue had not yet fallen off sharply. But by hook or by crook he did not succeed in first getting a good minister. He tried one Jivan Sheth and then the old Punja. Appointment of the former and the resultant disappointment of the concluding started a chain reaction in the form of offensive from Sindh, internal quarrels and breakdown of the administration.
Rayadhan II (1778-1786):
Rao Rayadhan, who had passed all his boyhood with the women of the palace, succeeded his father in 1778, at the early age of fifteen. Inheriting unlimited powers at so early an age and surrounded by attendants desecrated and despoiled by constant scenes of bloodshed and cruelty, he was exposed to the worst advice and example. The country was most disturbed. The last war with Sindh, carried on without nobility or honesty, had exhausted the State revenues and so relaxed was the management that some of the chiefs and other proprietors were subject to the Rao only in name. Crime was so little withdrawn that there was security of neither person nor property.
Rao Prithiraj (1786-1801):
The imprisonment of Rayadhan was a relief to the whole country. The chief actors, the Jamadars and Meghji Sheth raising Prithiraj or Bhaiji Bava, Rayadhan’s younger brother to the chief ship were appointed during his minority a Council known as Bara Bhai with Meghji Sheth and Dosal Ven as its leading members. The Council had 13 members. There were 3 from Bhayats, 3 from Mahajans (Mercantile Community), 3 from Muslims, 1 from Miyana, 1 from Girasia and 1 from the services. In this struggle between the Rao and the people, the latter succeeded. But the arrangement of a Council also reflected the breakdown of the administration. The Bhayat’s role supported by others in disposing of the ruler, appointing a successor and setting up of the Council of Regency were significant departures from the established customs and usages of the time. The leading members of the Council were not Jadejas. The Council, at first, functioned well. It restored order and brought the chief of Mandvi and others to recognize and pay tribute to the central authority. But such a happy state of affairs did not last long. Before long a disagreement among its members developed. Meghji Sheth, convicted of an attempt to poison some of the members, was forced to run away. Seeking shelter in his old territory of Anjar, he established himself there as an almost independent ruler. To his party belonged the chief of Mandvi and Aima Bai, the mother of Rao Bhaiji Bava and by their act of seceding, the power of Dosal Ven and other members of the Council was greatly reduced. To add to the confusion, two members of the Council freed Rayadhan from self-control. The rest left Bhuj and in the disorder that followed, Fateh Mohammad, a secondary officer rose to favour. But the Rao was in no fit state to be free and one day attacked Fateh Mohammad who had to escape for his life. Strengthening himself in one of the towers of the city wall, he resisted the Rao’s attacks and with the help of Dosal Ven, defeated the Rao and again placed him under control.
Rao Rayadhan II (1801-1813):
Rao Rayadhan was at first was most grateful for his freedom and at last, with much trouble, was placed at a daily grant of 300 koris. After this, the post of the minister became a subject of enthusiastic contest and Mohammad Miyan who was passed over favour of Hansraj, was so disappointed that he retired to Mundra. Scarcely these troubles tided over, when Bhaiji Bava died at an early age of 27.
Bharmalji II (1814-1819):
On the death of Fateh Mohammad, his two sons, Ibrahim Miyan and Hussain Miyan quietly succeeded to his power under the guidance of their father’s chief advisor Jagjivan Mehta. Rayadhan had no reasonable son of Rayadhan. On 13th January, 1814; Mansinhji succeeded to the sovereign power of Kutch with the title of Bharmal. The Management of the State affairs was in the hands of the party leaded by Hussain Miyan and Ibrahim Miyan. The British Government continued to press for some settlement of its claims. The brothers were divided in view about the answer to be given. Hussain was friendly and Ibrahim aggressive, disclaiming that the British had any claim to interfere in Kutch.
Desalji II (1819-1860):
The Resident, in conference with the Jadeja chiefs, approved of Bharmal’s newborn son Desal as his successor. As the Rao was minor, a Regency Council consisting of the British Resident and five other members was formed for the management of affairs. One of the matters, which most immediately called for settlement at the hands of the Regency, was the claims of Vagad. Girasias or landed proprietors, who had escaped to Parkar and Virawah on the borders of the desert, when the Rao refused to restore them to their rights in Vagad and became the leaders of the most frightening bands of robbers, there was as a result confusion in Vagad.
Pragmalji II (1860-1875):
The Crown Prince Ravalji went up the sovereign power performance the name of Pragmalji II. Pragmal belonged to the modern age. His reign saw Kutch’s entry into an era of almost complete silence in common with the rest of India. Kutch had now lost its premeditated importance. Pragmal soon showed himself in every respect different in character from his father. He had more courteous manners, more refined and costly tastes and a much higher idea of his power and sanction. During the 15 years of his rule (1860-1875), he showed himself restless to improve the management of his State. He was an efficient superintendent but nearly half of Kutch being in the hands of feudal chiefs, his actions tended to be cripples.
Khengarji III (1876-1942):
Khengarji, aged ten, succeeded Pragmalji in 1876. During his alternative, a Council of Regency presided over by the Political Agents, including the Dewan and one Jadeja chief and a leading merchant was formally established. A reduction in the number of members from among the Jadeja chiefs and correspondence between their number and those of the public was recognition of the sign of times. The Council tightened administration in every department and undertook several reforms. Kutch was organized into subdivisions of Rapar, Bhachau, Mundra, Bhuj, Mandvi, Abdasa and Lakhpat which exist even today with some modifications.
Vijayrajji succeeded as Maharao at a fairly advanced age. He had been overshadowed by his father for a very long time. He too was sportsman and very widely traveled and capable man. He introduced some useful reforms in the administration and extended the irrigation system. The Darbar schools were thrown open for admission to the Harijan students. With the authorization of the Crown Representative, an inquiry regarding the amount of landed possession of all guaranteed authority holders in the state was held in 1943-44. As a result of this inquiry the administrative powers of the fourteen Jagirs were withdrawn by the orders of the Crown Representative. After that, he fell so ill that he was gratified to go to Europe for treatment during the important period when the future of India and Princely States was on the anvil. During his absence the burden of administration used to fall on his Crown Prince Madansinhji.
Madansinhji undertook the ruler ship after his father’s death in 1948. The leaders of Kutch endangered to restart the interruption, but Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel convinced against them from doing so. In the meantime the Maharao declared grant of responsible government to his people. He remitted the entire heavy amount unpaid and financial obligations which the Bhayats allocated to the Darbar and helped financially in encouraging education in Kutch. Within a few months of his becoming the Maharao, Madansinhji signed the contract of attainment to the Indian Union to which two additional and special contracts were added. The first guaranteed him foreign exchange necessary for travel and study in a foreign country. According to the second contract, the Government of India had promised to protect the maritime rights and is known as a first class sportsman particularly in tennis.