Princely State 1818-1947
Map of Jaisalmer State with important Rawlot duchies.
|41,600 km2 (16,100 sq mi)|
|Today part of||Rajasthan, India|
|Coat of arms based on The Princely Armory. Publ. by The Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing. Calcutta. 1877|
Jaisalmer State was a kingdom established in the area of present-day Rajasthan, India. In 1156 Rawal Jaisal moved the capital from Ludarva to Jaisalmer because the old capital Ludarva was vulnerable to invasions from the Turko-Afghan and Baloch tribes. The rulers continued to rule Jaisalmer absolutely until 1818, when a treaty of subsidiary alliance with the British Empire made it a Princely State, a British Protectorate still running its own internal affairs, with a ruler entitled to a 15-gun salute.
The royal dynasty of Jaisalmer claims to be descended from the deified hero Krishna. The Bhatti rulers originally ruled parts of Afghanistan, one of their ancestors called Rawal Gaj founded the city of Gajni. According to James Tod this city is the present day Ghazni in Afghanistan while Cunningham identifies it as modern day Rawalpindi. Rawal Gaj was killed in battle while fighting the Persian king of Khorasan and his descendants were forced to migrate to Punjab. Rawal Salivahan founded the city of Sialkot and made it his new capital. Salivahan defeated the Saka Scythians in 78 AD. at Kahror and assumed the title of Sakari (foe of the Sakas). Salivahans grandson Rawal Bhatti conquered several regions and it was from him, his descendants named their clan Bhatti.
The state of Jaisalmer had its foundations in what remains of the Empire ruled by the Bhati dynasty. Early Bhati rulers ruled over large empire stretching from Ghazni in modern-day Afghanistan to Sialkot, Lahore and Rawalpindi in modern-day Pakistan to Bhatinda and Hanumangarh in Modern day India. The empire crumbled over time because of continuous invasions from the central Asia. According to Satish Chandra, the Hindu Shahis of Afghanistan made an alliance with the Bhatti rulers of Multhan, because they wanted to end the slave raids made by the Turkic ruler of Ghazni, however the alliance was defeated by Alp Tigin in 977 AD. Bhati dominions continued to be shifted towards the South as they ruled Multan, then finally got pushed into Cholistan and Jaisalmer where Rawal Devaraja built Dera Rawal / Derawar. Jaisalmer was the new capital founded in 1156 by Maharawal Jaisal Singh and the state took its name from the capital. On 11 December 1818 Jaisalmer became a British protectorate.
Traditionally, in the Middle Ages, the main source of income for the kingdom was levies on caravans, but the economy was heavily affected when Bombay emerged as a major port and sea trade replaced the traditional land routes. Maharawals Ranjit Singh and Bairi Sal Singh attempted to turn around the economic decline but the dramatic reduction in trade impoverished the kingdom. A severe drought and the resulting famine from 1895 to 1900, during the reign of Maharawal Salivahan Singh, only made matters worse by causing widespread loss of the livestock that the increasingly agriculturally based kingdom relied upon.
The attempts of Maharawal Jawahir Singh (1914-49) at modernization also failed to turn the kingdom's economy around, and it remained isolated and backward compared with other areas of Rajasthan.