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Maratha Queen Ahilya Bai Holkar : Birth Anniversary

Maratha Queen Ahilya Bai Holkar : Birth Anniversary

On May 31, we celebrated the 300th birth anniversary of the Maratha queen Ahilya Bai Holkar — a great administrator and visionary with a spiritual inclination.

  • “The reign of Ahilyabai, of Indore in central India, lasted for thirty years.
  • This has become almost legendary as a period during which perfect order and good government prevailed and the people prospered.
  • She was a very able ruler and organizer, highly respected during her lifetime, and considered as a saint by a grateful people after her death.” – Jawaharlal Nehru (The Discovery of India/1946)


  • Rajmata Ahilyabai Holkar was the Holkar Queen of the Malwa kingdom. She is regarded as one of the most visionary female rulers of India.
  • Born on 31 May 1725, in the village of Chondi in Jamkhed, Ahmednagar (Maharashtra), Ahilya hailed from a very humble background.
  • Her father Mankoji Rao Shinde was the village head, and he taught her to read and write.
  • As a young girl, the combination of her simplicity and strength of character caught the attention of Malhar Rao Holkar, the
  • Lord of the Malwa territory. He was so impressed with the young Ahilya that in 1733 when she was barely eight years old, he got her married to his son Khanderao Holkar.
  • Twelve years after her marriage, her husband Khanderao died during the siege of the Kumher Fort.After the death of her husband, Ahilyabai was stopped by her father-in-law from committing sati. Instead, he took her under his wing and trained her in military and administrative matters.
  • Her father in law, Malhar Rao passed away in 1766, and in the following year, she lost her son, Male Rao.
  • Keeping in mind the welfare of the kingdom and her people, she petitioned the Peshwa to allow her to take over the reign of Malwa.
  • Although some of the nobles objected to this, she still had the support of the army.
  • In 1767, the Peshwa granted Ahilyabai permission to take over Malwa. She ascended the throne and became the ruler of Indore on 11 December 1767. For the next 28 years, Maharani Ahilyabai ruled over Malwa in a just, wise, and knowledgeable manner.
  • Her most notable contribution was the renovation and repair of the famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple in 1780.
  • The ‘Philosopher Queen’ as she is famously known, passed away on 13th August 1795 at the age of seventy.
  • Her legacy still lives on and the various temples, Dharamshalas, and public works undertaken by her stand as a testimony to the great warrior queen she was.