MAHARAJA CHHATRA SINGH RANA (1757-1784) also known as Maharaja Lokendra Singh and Rana Chhatar Singh , was the ruler of Gohad Kingdom in Madhya Pradesh, India. He became the ruler of Gohad after the fall of Maharaja Bhim Singh Rana. Rana Bhim Singh had no son. Girdhar Pratap Singh became his successor in 1755. Girdhar Pratap Singh was son of Samant Rao Balju Singh, a family friend of Rana Bhim Singh. Girdhar Pratap Singh could not rule Gohad for long as he died in 1757. His successor was his younger brother Rana Chhatar Singh (1757-1784). He was from Bamraulia Jats. He ruled Gohad Kingdom till 1784..

Maharaja Chhatra Singh Rana recovered Gwalior 4th August 1780, but lost the fort to Maharaja Madhoji Rao Scindia, after a prolonged siege lasting nearly five months, 21st July 1783. Expelled from Gohad 23rd February 1784. Concluded a Treaty of Alliance with the HEIC, which restored Gwalior to him. Lost Gwalior and Gohad to Scindia in 1785. Fled to Karauli but was captured and kept as a prisoner at Gwalior fort. m. H.H. Maharani Sahiba (blew herself up with her followers during the taking of Gwalior, 1783). He poisonedat Gwalior, 19th April 1788 (succ. by his cousin).

A Greatruler of Gohad Kingdom :-

He is considered to be the one of the greatest and the most powerful ruler of Gohad. During his rule he occupied many neighbouring forts. His rule is considered to be the golden period of Rana rulers by historians. He was brave, tactful, visionary and strong administrator. Though the Marathas were sworn enemies of Gohad ruling house yet Mahadji Sindhia always desired to have friendship with Maharaja Chhatra Singh.The English Government made him the ally of the British. His biggest success was occupation of the impregnable Gwalior Fort.

Captured Gwalior fort in 1761 :-

With a wise prescience he held aloof from the struggle for empire between the Marathas and warriors from the north and when the fatal day of Panipat 1761 had completely overwhelmed the former, he showed his sense of the importance of defeat by proclaiming himself as Rana of Gohad and also by seizing the fortress of Gwalior. That independence remained unquestioned for six years. But in 1767 Raghunath Rao, afterwards Peshwa, being then in Hindustan thought to teach a lesson to Rana of Gohad. Accordingly he marched with the army to attack Gohad. But the Rana had in the meanwhile strengthened his defence; he had drilled his troops; and being a hardy man himself, with an especial dislike to be ridden over roughshod, he gave the assailants some very hard and unpleasant work. He defended himself so valiantly that Raghunath Rao proposed at last to treat. An accommodation was agreed upon, by which, for a consideration of Rs 3 lakhs, the Marathas agreed to retire, and to recognize the independence, under their suzerainty, of the Rana Chhatra Singh.

At the third Battle of Panipat in 1761, the growing power of the Maratha confederacy received a crushing defeat at the hands of the massive invading Afghan army of Ahmad Shah Abdali (Durrani) and his Indian, mostly Pathan allies. Shortly “after Panipat, Chhatra Singh Rana [threw off allegiance to the Marathas,] proclaimed himself ‘Rana of Gohad’ and seized Gwalior Fort in 1761 AD.” This conquest, though undoubtedly spectacular, proved relatively short-lived, and the fortress was retaken in 1767 AD, (AH. 1181) by Mahadji Sindhia, after his general, Raghunath Rao, a man of ability – both soldier and statesman, who would later become the Maratha Peshwa – had failed in the attempt For six years he remained the undisputed master of the fortification till when in 1767 Marathas, regaining their lost supremacy directed their troops under the command of Raghunath Rao who was on his way to Delhi, towards Gohad with a view to put an end to any further aggrandizement on the part of Lokendra Singh.

Raghunath Rao attacks Gohad in 1766 :-

After the capturing Jhansi by Marathas, Holkar became engaged in planning war against Gohad ruler Rana Chhatra Singh, in January 1766, and his army started preparations for the war against Gohad. But in March 1766 he moved to Bharatpur and started war against Bharatpur rulers on 13-14 March 1766. At the same time on 13-14 March 1766, Raghunath rao attacked Gohad. Bharatpur Kingdom ruler Maharaja Jawahar Singh sent an army of Sikh Jats against this war on Gohad. On 13-14 March 1766, there was a severe battle between Raghunath Rao and Rana Chhatra Singh in Jatwara. Initially the Maratha army appeared to be victorious but meanwhile the Jat army became alert and counter attacked Maratha Army. Maratha Army could not resist this attack of the Jat army and was defeated very badly. This war proved to be another Panipat for Marathas.

Thus the dream of Raghunath Rao to occupy Gohad was shattered. The Marathas had to get defeat from Jat armies simultaneously at two places: Bharatpur and Gohad.

Mahadji Sindhia and Raghunath Rao re-attack Gohad 1766:-

After the first defeat at Gohad, Raghunath Rao was bent upon to re-attack Gohad. This time the Marathas attacked Gohad, in October-November 1766, under the leadership of Mahadji Sindhia. They bomb-shelled gates and outer walls of the Gohad Fort. Rana Chhatra Singh lost his sister’s husband in this war. There became a shortage of food grains in the fort, which forced the Rana Chhatra Singh to think for a treaty with Marathas.

He sent his deewan to Raghunath Rao on 26 October 1766 for discussion on the treaty proposals. The proposals included 1. Rana would pay Rs. 25 lakhs to Marathas 2. Rana would not demand for the loss caused to the crops from Marathas during the war 3. Marathas would excuse the Rana and would go back from this area.

Raghunath Rao replied that even after return of Marathas from this area, Marathas would keep a sainik chauki in Gohad. The Rana of Gohad did not agree on this proposal. Hence there was no compromise.

Thus after the failure of the treaty proposals, Raghunath Rao took again position for the war. Raghunath Rao attacked Gohad on 2 November 1766 with full force. The Maratha army reached up to the outer wall of the fort along with the cannons and started climbing the wall through upstairs. Meanwhile the Jats started heavy cannoning which killed hundreds of Maratha soldiers and forced Raghunath Rao to return to his camp. The Jat army fought this war with bravery and killed hundreds of soldiers and wounded 1000 soldiers.

Maharaja Of Gohad and Maratha treaty 2 November 1766 :-

Though Maharaja Chhatar Singh Rana defeated Marathas at Gohad on 2 November 1766, he still wished for treaty with Marathas for peace. Peace talks were started by Mahadji Sindhia and Nari Shankar from the side of Marathas with Chhatra Singh. Rana of Gohad agreed to pay Rs 11 lakh under the treaty out of which Rs. 2 lakh were to be paid in cash and rest in installments.

The 2 November 1766 defeat of Marathas by Jats enraged Raghunath Rao, who was always in search of opportunities to insult Rana of Gohad. The soldiers of Raghunath Rao seized the small fort of Bhilsa under Jats. After a fight for 2-3 days the Jat sardars in the ‘Bhilsa garhi’ surrendered before the Maratha soldiers. On 10 December 1766 the Maratha soldiers killed 300 Jat soldiers present in the garhi. In addition to this the Maratha soldiers also started destroying other garhis (forts) under Jats.

The campaign of Marathas to occupy the Jat garhis compelled Rana Chhatra Singh to suppress Marathas. The Rana of Gohad re-occupied the garhis near Gohad, which were under Marathas. These include the forts at Badera, Bilhati, and Bahadurpura. He then moved to the ‘Padawli ki garhi’. These counter activities worried Raghunath Rao. He then requested Mahadji Sindhia to have a treaty of peace with Rana of Gohad. Mahadji Sindhia mediated for the implementation of treaty proposed after war of 2 November 1766. It got implemented on 2 January 1767. Under this treaty The Rana of Gohad paid Rs. 15 lakh to the Marathas.

After this treaty Raghunath Rao moved towards Karauli.

Occupation of Bhind by Rana 1768 :-

The Maharaja Jawahar Singh of Bharatpur and Rana of Gohad had an agreement in May 1768, under which Rana of Gohad asked for help in the matters of Bhind. After that Rana of Gohad attacked Bhind and occupied it.

Due to the bravery of Rana Chhatra Singh, all people inside the fort came out. The joint Bharatpur-Gohad army were led by sardar Danshah Singh and Thakur Mohkam Singh. The Jats also occupied Kaitha and Amayan forts. The Jats divided their army into three parts to retake their forts from Maratha occupation. One battalion was kept each at Umri, Indurakhi and Nandurakhi. The Sikh senapati of Jawahar Singh, Danshah after taking occupation of Bhind went to Ater across the Kunwari River. On the other side Jawahar Singh’s brother Ratan Singh came to meat Rana Chhatra Singh. In this war there were 1000 foot soldiers and 300 sawars in the army of Gohad led by senapati Madho Ram Singh .

MaharajaChhatar Singh’s policies after 1768:-

Some unknown person killed Maharaja Jawahar Singh, the ruler of Bharatpur Kingdom, in 1768 while he was out on hunting. The Rana of Gohad was at great loss after death of Jawahar Singh. He was in search of a strong ally to oppose Marathas. He contacted the Mugal ruler, who was a titular head only. The Mughal ruler awarded various titles to him in 1771. But Mughals were not of much use to Rana of Gohad. He later contacted with Mir Kasim, the Nawab of Bengal, and invited him to Gohad. Mir Kasim along with his followers came to Gohad on 22 April 1770 and met Rana Chhatra Singh.

The changing circumstances in north India led to think Rana Chhatra Singh to change his policies also. The Marathas, who lost Panipat in 1761, had regained power within 10 years. Marathas had started demanding chauth tax from Rajputs and Jats and areas west of Yamuna were in occupation of Mahadji Sindhia. Marathas were enemies of both Jats and English. Looking to this situation Rana Chhatra Singh wrote to Warren Hastings on 5 April 1774 for help through his advocate Lala Kishan Chandra

Third attack by Marathas on Gohad in 1780 :-

After the unsuccessful attack by Faujdar of Melsa Rao Appa on Gohad in 1778, Marathas again planned to attack Gohad in early 1780, and started occupying the garhis under Ranas of Gohad. The attack was led by Ambaji Inglai and Khande Rao Hari. Marathas had not directly attacked Gohad but had occupied some of their garhis. Rana Chhatra Singh, in order to stop the movement of Marathas, reached Gwalior and camped at a place about 10 km away from Gwalior. The war started between Marathas and Jats here. Initially Marathas seemed more powerful but later they had to suffer a great loss. On 24 February 1780 Rana wrote a letter to Governor-General stating that he would be waiting for British army though he had sufficient force to fight with Marathas, but even then his orders are awaited.

Under the instructions of Governor-general, A detachment of the company’s army had been prepared in that quarter, under the command of Captain Popham, for the purpose of augmenting the forces of Gohad; but from the consideration, partly that they could not arrive in time on the Bombay coast, partly that they might contribute to the success of his operations by an attack upon the part which was nearest of the Mahratta frontier, they had not been commanded to proceed; and in the beginning of February, 1780, they were sent to the assistance of the Rana of Gohad. Captain Popham found means in this service of distinguishing his enterprise and talents.

To assist Captain Popham four battalions were sent to Itawa. When this information reached Rana of Gohad, he sent Bakshi Madho Ram with cavalry of 3000 in advance to help cross Yamuna and Bring Captain Popham to Gohad. After the arrival of Captain Popham Rana Chhatra Singh became more strong. On 4 March 1780 Rana Chhatra Singh moved from Gohad along with English Army to a place 18 kos away from Gohad. When the army of Marathas saw Rana Chhatra Singh with the English army they were scared and left for Datia. Rana of Gohad wanted to eliminate Marathas. On 24 May 1780 The Governor-General informed Rana of Gohad through a letter that they were sending a very competent senapati Major Camac who would reach Gohad within a few days.

Lahar expedition 1780 :-

Captain Popham came to Gohad to assist Rana of Gohad in Lahar expedition in the middle of 1780. The joint Anglo-Rana army attacked Kachhwahas of Lahar and defeated them. After the fall of Lahar Fort there developed a controversy. The army of Rana had left the fort of Lahar after its fall as per the instructions of English officer. Rana was surprised to know that the English army had later on looted the fort and burnt a part of it. Rana of Gohad complained to the Governor General about this incidence and requested him that in future the place won by the joint forces should not be looted.

The Governor General intervened and removed the confusions between captain Popham and Rana of Gohad especially concerning the future expedition of Gwalior fort and its occupation.

Recapture the Gwalior fort 1780 :-

Chhatar Singh planned to recapture the Gwalior fort. He sent his trusted strap Brajraj Singh to attack Gwalior fort. There was a war between Brajraj Singh and Maratha army under the leadership of Raghunath Rao on the banks of Swarn Rekha River. Brajraj Singh was killed in the war but Chhatra Singh succeded in recapturing the Gwalior fort on 4 August 1780 after defeating Marathas. After winning over the Gwalior fort he performed Yajna and gifted 4000 cows. He took number of steps of welfare of people. He constructed Chhatri of Bhim Singh in his memory near Bhim-tal on the Gwalior fort.

He handed over the administration of Gwalior fort to his younger queen and came back to Gohad. Mahadji Sindhia was planning to attack Gwalior fort. He did number of attempts to capture fortresses under Gohad rule. He seized the Gwalior fort and war continued for about 8 months. He saw no hope to win back the Gwalior fort. Later he planned a conspiracy. He bribed one of the most trusted guards of the Maharani and prepared him to depart from Jat ruler along with 2000 soldiers. The Maharani continued war along with 600 soldiers in the fort. When there was no scope left the Mahrani took Jauhar on 27 February 1783 and Marathas occupied the fort. This place is still known as Jauhar-kund on Gwalior fort.

Death :-

Mahadji Sindhia attacked the Gohad fort in the end of 1784. After a war of 2 months Mahadji occupied the Gohad fort on 27 February 1785. Rana Chhatra Singh escaped to Karauli where his friend Nihal Singh Rana was a ruler. The elder brother of Nihal Singh Manikpal’s conspiracy lead to the arrest of Chhatra Singh. He was brought to Gwalior and killed here through poisoning 19th April 1788 (succ. by his cousin)

His successor :-

Successor of Maharaja Chhatra Singh Rana was Kirat Singh Rana. After the death of Chhatra Singh in 1784 entire Gohad area became a symbol of anarchy, plundering and killing for 18 years. The revolutionary Jats unanimously declared Kirat Singh Rana son of samant Tarachand of village Neerpura in 1803. Samant Tarachand was cousin brother of Rana Chhatra Singh. The coronation ceremony of Kirat Singh took place at ‘Bagathara fortress’, situated at a distance of 12 miles from Gohad, as Gohad and Gwalior were in possession of Sindhias.

References :-

  • V.S. Krishnan : Madhya Pradesh District Gazetteer, Gwalior.
  • Dr Raguvir Singh: Malwa mein Yugantar, p.358
  • K.C. Luard : Gwalior State gazetteer, part-1, p.218
  • Imperial Records Department:Persian Correspondence, part-3, Pub-Govt. Press Calcutta, 1919, p.6
  • Luard C.E. Gwalior Gazetteer, p.238, V.S. Krishnan, Gwalior Gazetteer, p.108
  • Anand Rao Bhau Falke, Shindeshahi Itihas-sanchi sadhanen Part-12, p.293
  • Calendar of Persian Correspondence Part-7, p.115
  • An Historical Sketch of the Native States of India’, by Col. G B Malleson. Facsimile reprint published by The Acadamic Press, Gurgaon, 1984.
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