Ahilyabai Holkar

Ahilya Bai Sahib Holkar was the Holkar Maharani of the Malwa kingdom in India from 1725 to 1795. Ahilyabai was born in Jamkhed, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, in the village of Chondi. Ahilyabai was a great pioneer and builder of Hindu temples. She relocated the capital to Maheshwar, south of Indore on the Narmada River. Throughout India, she constructed hundreds of temples and Dharmashalas.

Ahilyabai Holkar
• Ahilyabai was born on May 31, 1725, in the village of Chaundi in Maharashtra's Ahmednagar district.
• Her father, Mankoji Sindhia (Shinde), was the Patil (chief) of Chonde Village in the Beed district. He was a descendant of a respectable Dhangar family.
• Because women did not attend school at the time, Ahilyabai's father taught her to read and write at home.
• Her arrival on the historical stage was somewhat by chance: Malhar Rao Holkar, a commander in the service of the Maratha PeshwaBaji Rao I and lord of the Malwa territory, stopped in Chaundi on his way to Pune and saw the eight-year-old Ahilyabai at the village temple service. He brought the girl to the Holkar territory as a bride for his son, Khanderao (1723–1754), after recognising her piety and her character.
• In 1733, she married Khanderao Holkar. She gave birth to their son Malerao in 1745 and a daughter Muktabai in 1748. 
• Her husband, who was only 29 years old at the time, was killed in a cannon attack during the siege of Kumher in 1754.
• She wanted to commit sati by throwing herself onto her husband's funeral pyre, but her father-in-law Malhar Rao persuaded her not to because she was his only hope and solace in this life because his son had been an indolent, irresponsible, and pleasure-seeking individual.
• Ahalyabai grew up to be a brave and intelligent woman. Her father-in-law taught her how to run the state's affairs, as well as how to collect revenue and manage the army.
• Her father-in-law died in 1766, only 12 years after her husband Khanderao's death.
• After the old ruler died, Male Rao Holkar, Ahilyabai's only son, ascended the throne under her regency, but he too died in 1767.
• She did not allow her grief over her loss to interfere with the administration of the kingdom or the lives of her subjects.
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• She took control of the situation. Following her son's death, she petitioned the Peshwa to take over the administration herself. On December 11, 1767, she ascended the throne and became the ruler of Indore.
• While some in the kingdom objected to her accession to the throne, her army of Holkars stood by her side and supported their queen's leadership.
• The Holkar family was known for not using government funds to meet their personal and family expenses.
• Ahilyabai Holkar later spread the message of dharma and promoted industrialization.
• Only a year into her reign, the brave Holkar queen was seen defending her kingdom, fighting off invaders tooth and nail to prevent Malwa from being plunder. She led armies into battle, armed with swords and weapons.
Ahilyabai Holkar• Her military confidante was Subhedar Tukojirao Holkar (also Malhar Rao's adopted son), whom she appointed as the military's chief.
• In a letter to Peshwa in 1772, she warned him about the British, comparing their embrace to that of a bear hug.
• One of Ahilyabai's achievements was the transformation of Indore from a small village to a prosperous and beautiful city; however, her own capital was in nearby Maheshwar, a town on the Narmada river.
• She also built forts and roads in Malwa, sponsored festivals, and donated to many Hindu temples for regular worship.
• Outside of Malwa, she constructed dozens of temples, ghats, wells, tanks, and rest houses that stretched from the Himalayas to South Indian pilgrimage centres.
• According to the Bharatiya Sanskriti kosh, the Holkar queen embellished and beautified various sites including Kashi, Gaya, Somnath, Ayodhya, Mathura, Hardwar, Kanchi, Avanti, Dwarka, Badrinarayan, Rameshwar, and Jaganathpuri.
• Maheshwar, her capital, was a kaleidoscope of literary, musical, artistic, and industrial achievements. She welcomed stalwarts such as Marathi poet Moropant, Shahir Ananta phandi, and Sanskrit scholar Khushali Ram into her capital.
• Her capital was known for its unique craftsmen, sculptors, and artists, who were well compensated for their work and held the Queen in high regard. She went on to establish a textile industry in the city as well.
• Every day, Ahilyabai held public audiences to address the grievances of her people. She was always willing to listen to anyone who needed it.
• During her reign, merchants produced their most opulent garments, and trade flourished at an unprecedented rate. The farmer was no longer a victim of oppression, but a self-sufficient individual.
• In the case of the Bhils and Gonds, who plundered her borders, Ahilyadevi was unable to settle the conflict peacefully, but she did grant them waste hilly lands and the right to a small duty on goods passing through their territories.
• A woman ahead of her time, Ahilyabai's greatest sorrow remained the irony that her daughter jumped into the funeral pyre and became a Sati upon the death of her husband, Yashwantrao Phanse.
• She died at the age of 70, and her commander-in-chief, Tukoji Rao Holkar, succeeded her. Tukoji Rao Holkar abdicated the throne in favour of his son Kashi Rao Holkar in 1797.
• On August 25, 1996, the Republic of India issued a commemorative stamp in her honour.
• In 1996, Indore's leading citizens established an award in Ahilyadevi Holkar's honour, which is given annually to an outstanding public figure. Nanaji Deshmukh received the first award from India's Prime Minister.
• Indore's domestic airport has been renamed Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Airport in honour of the great ruler.
• The name of the university in Indore has been changed to Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya.

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