Origin of the Name
About the origin of the name, ”Sirmour” there are quite a few surmises. One view being that the state derived its name as Sirmour because of the senior position it held amongst the princely hill states. Another version is that at the earliest times the capital of the state was at Sirmour and the state was so called after the name of the capital. But, how the word Sirmour originated is not known. Third version being that the state was founded by Raja Rasaloo of Jaisalmer whose one of the ancestor’s name was Sirmour and who belonged to Rasaloo family. Beyond this, nothing definite is traceable.
Legends of Sirmaur
The legend goes that during the earliest history of Sirmour State when Raja Madan Singh used to rule, a woman knowing necromancy presented before the Raja and talked about her acrobatic skill. Raja being susceptible about it, promised her half of his kingdom if she displayed her skill by crossing over the river Giri by means of acrobatic rope. To his surprise, she succeeded in crossing and when she was returning on the rope one of the courtiers of the Raja feeling apprehensive, cut the rope and consequently the woman was drowned in the river. This treachery on the part of Raja resulted in a flood, which swept the town, and the entire princely family perished leaving the state without a ruler.
One version goes that on this state of affairs, the subjects of the Sirmour State approached the Raja of Jaisalmer to give one of his sons as the ruler of the State, which was conceded and sent one of his sons who as crowned as Raja of Sirmour. According to another version, in about 1097 AD, Raja of Jaisalmer, Ugar Sen who happened to visit Hardwar on pilgrimage and on hearing the throne vacant in the near by state sent his son Soba Rawal who conquered and established his kingdom with the capital at Rajban taking the title of Subans Parkash. He ruled the state uptil 1099 AD and thus after 4 years of rule he expired. Ever since, the name “Parkash” in the princely family of Sirmour continued till to-day and up till the date of lapse of paramountcy the same dynasty continued to rule Sirmour State. Malhi Parkash ruled the state from 1108 AD to 1117 AD. He was a man of deep religious and charitable disposition. He fought battle with the Raja of Sirinagar of Garhwal and wrested from him the fort of Malda. His descendant Udit Parkash ruled from 1121 to 1127 AD who changed his capital from Rajban to Kalsi in Dehra Dun otherwise his period was not much eventful. Down the decent in the line, comes the name of Somar Parkash who ruled the state from 1149 AD to 1158 AD, who conquered the fort of Ratesh in Kenothal state and made it his capital. But, Suraj Parkash who ruled from 1158 AD to 1169 AD, returned his capital to Kalsi whereupon his subjects revolted against him and his daughter was killed in the process of defending the fort. Hearing this news, Suraj Parkash returned from Kalsi and subdued the rebels and also overcome the Thakurs of Jubbal, Balsan, Kumharsain, Ghond, Sahri, Theog, Rewain and Kotgarh and forced them to pay tribute. Next century in the history of Sirmour state perhaps passed on uneventfully. However, the period of Jagat Parkash from 1342 to 1356 was known for its mal-administration with the result the aforesaid Thakurs again revolted against the suzerainty. His son Bir Parkash who took over the reign of state in 1356 Ad and ruled till 1366 AD was an energetic ruler and crushed the revolt of the misery junction of Rawin and Jubbal States.
During the time of subsequent rulers the capital of the state shuttled between Neri, Kot and Gargah in Ratesh Pargana. But, during the time of Budh Parkash it was shifted to Kalsi again. The present capital at Nahan was founded in 1621 AD by Karam Parkash who ruled the state from 1616 to 1630 AD. He became a spiritual disciple of Baba Banwari Dass whose descendant still hold the temple of Jagan-Nath at Nahan. It is believed that Shah Jahan, the Mugal Emperor of India had requested Karam Parkash for 2,000 horses to conquer Srinagar in Garhwal. The request was accepted by raja. But his commander Nijabat Khan after initial successes in capturing the forts of Shergarh, Kalsi, Bairat etc., met a disaster in his adventure. Whereupon he lost his position and he was replaced by Mirza Khan as Fauzdar who with the help of Raja Subhag Parkash of Sirmour and other jagirdars of hills, conquered Srinagar in Garhwal. Raja Subhag Parkash in recognition of his services received a firman on behalf of the Mughal Emperor and area of Kotaha was annexed to Sirmour State.
Raja Subhag Parkash was a good administrator and took keen interest in the development of the state, particularly in the field of agriculture. This led to the confinement of area of Kalakhar (area near Dehradun) by the Mugal Princes. Again, during the reign of Budh Parkash during 1664 to 1684 AD, the Mughal Prince passed on the fort of Bairat and Kalsi from Raja of Srinagar who had occupied the fort which originally belonged to Sirmour state. It is believed that Raja of Sirmour had closed correspondence with the Begum Jahan Area whom he sent musk, wild pomegranates and wild fowls etc. Budh Parkash’s son Jog Raj succeeded his father under the title of Mat Parkash, who ruled between 1684 and 1704 AD, and was recognized by the Mughal Emperor. One of the interesting features of his reign was the visit of Guru Gobind Singh to Paonta, who resided there for 3 years when he was expelled from Anandpur by the Raja of Bilaspur for failing to confirm to his directions. Later the Raja of Bilaspur and Srinagar fought a battle with the Guru at Paonta where the former were killed and the guru emerged victorious and the present Gurdwara of Paonta Sahib marks the spot where the Guru had won the battle.
Mat Parkash died in 1704 AD issueless. Therefore, Hari Parkash ascended the throne in 1704 AD and continued to rule uptil 1712 AD. On his death, his son Bije Parkash ruled the state from 1712 AD to 1736 AD. There upon his son Partap Prakash was the ruler from 1736 to 1754 AD. He was a weak ruler and many of his feudatories rebelled against his rule. In 1754 AD his son Kirat Parkash ascended the throne and ruled for 16 years up to 1770 AD. He was an efficient ruler and effected great reforms in his state. He won battles over the Raja of Srinagar of Garhwal and thereafter he annexed Narayangarh, Rampur, Thanadhar, Morni, Pinjore, Ramgarh and Jagatgarh. Having won the aforesaid principalities he consolidated his power over the entire area and entered into alliance with Raja Amar singh of Patiala and secured from him Saifabad. Further in alliance with Raja of Shirinagar of Garhwal, he fought battles with Gorkhas and forced a treaty on them. After his death in 1770 AD, his son Jagat Parkash ruled the state uptil 1789 AD. This period, of course, was not much of historical happenings and quietly passed on to his son Dharam Parkash who ruled the state from 1789 to 1793 AD. During his time, it is said that Raja Ram singh of Nalagarh encroached a portion of his territory which he got recovered and also occupied the fort of Khushalpur near Dehradun from Raja of Srinagar of Garhwal. Further in his time Raja Sansar Chand of Kangra attacked the Bilaspur state whereupon Bilaspur Raja sought help from Raja of Sirmour. The help was readily offered. Raja of Sirmour himself commanded his forces and after a pitched battle he lost his life, whereupon his brother Karam Parkash ascended the throne and ruled from 1793 to 1815 AD. He was an indolent king as a result he lost all the feudatories for ever. In his time, the princely house was known for court conspiracies, where with the help of some courtiers his brother Rattan Prakash tried to seize the throne of Sirmour. But, Karam Parkash appealed to Kaji Ranjor Thapa, Commander in Chief of the Gorkha army at Dehradun for help. Commander Thapa was looking for a opportunity and immediately rendered help and crushed the court conspirators of Rattan Parkash. However, he did not return the principality to Karam Parkash, the real ruler of Sirmour State and he was left in lurch with the result, he had to live at Subathu under the Ramgarh State. But after the death of Kushal singh, the Ramgarh and his sons ordered Karam Parkash to leave their state and he accordingly moved to Buria where he spent his time until death in 1826 AD. At this time Rani Goler, wife of Karam Parkash appealed to the British Co
mmander at Ludhiana, Col. Ochteclony for assistance to recover the state from the illegal occupation of the Gorkhas. This appeal coincided with general declaration of war by British Government against the Gorkhas. The British Commander moved from Ludhiana and on the way drove away the enemy out of Kalinagar fort in Dun. Thereafter, the British Army reached at Nahan and attacked the Gorkhas who were hiding inside the Jatak fort, 7 KMs from Nahan. But, the British army had to suffer heavy loss of men and materials and the Gorkhas continued to remain entrenched in the fort until they evacuated it in pursuance of the treaty entered into the Nepal Government with the British India Government in 1815.
The British, however, did not reinstate Karam Parkash instead the sanad was granted to his son Fateh Parkash and the Goler Rani was appointed as regent during his minority. Fatedh Parkash on attaining majority in 1827 was vested with the full powers of the state. The Jaupsar pargana with the forts of Morni, Jagatgarh, Kiardadun were retained by the British under them. However, in 1833, Kiardadun was restored to Fateh Parkash on the payment of Rs.50,000.00 to the British. Raja fateh Parkash had best of the relations with the British during his 35 years of reign from 1815 to 1850 AD. In 1836, during the first Afgan war, Fateh Parkash assisted the British with men and material, which was acknowledged by the British Government. During the first Sikh war in 1839-46 Raja sinrour again sided with the British and sent a contingency to reinforce the British Army at Hari-ki-Pattan.
On his death, his son Raghubir Parkash ruled the state from 1850 to 1856 AD. He was succeeded by Shamsher Parkash who ruled for 42 years from 1856 to 1898. He has married to the daughter of the Rja Keonthal who was a lady of great beauty and ability and who used to conduct the judicial and administrative business of the state in the absence of the Raja. On her death, he abandoned the palace and made Shamsher Villa his residence which was built by him. In her memory, he laid the garden known as Ranital Bag at Nahan.
He was a very able and far sighted ruler and modernized the administration of the state. He established police, judicial, revenue courts, district board and public works department at Nahan became the first municipality in the principality during his time. Dispensaries, Schools and Post Offices were opened and an attempt was made to develop iron mine at Chheta which proved to be unremunerative.
Raja then established Nahan Foundary. His greatest achievement was said to be the colonization of Kiardadun which wa hitherto a wild and dense forest track. The land reforms of the state for the first time was settled and the proprietary right conferred on the Zamindars. Forests were preserved which became a source of revenue to the state.
Raja Shamsher Parkash was appointed as a member of the Imperial Legislative Council and also conferred with a title of Khillat in recognition of the services rendered by him during the mutiny in 1857. In 1876, he was conferred with K.C.S.I and in 1886 G.C.S.I. and as personal distinction he was entitled to 13 guns salute. In 1896 the Sirmour state was taken out of the political control of the Superintendent of Shimla Hill State and Placed under the Commissioner of Delhi.
On his death in October, 1898, he was succeeded by Raja Surendra Bikram Parkash who was installed by Sir Machworth Young on October, 27th of that year. Raja was carefully educated during his father’s time took keen interest in the development and proper administration of the state. He had marriage alliance with the daughter of Raja Suket. In 1901, he received KCSI and in 1902 he was appointed as a member of the Imperial Legislative Council. He supported with men and material the British Army in South-African war. He died at Mussoorie on the 4th July,1911 after a rule of 12½ years.
On his death, his son Raja Amar Parkash assumed the throne and was formally installed by Sir Louis Dane, Lt. Governor of Punjab on the 24th October, 1911. he was properly trained during his father’s time and proved a very able administrator. He continued the policies of reforms initiated by his grand-father and maintained the administrative standard at a very high level. He was a man of simple living, punctuality, hard work and had an immense love for justice and like his predecessor continued to be very loyal to the British India Government. He married in 1910 to the eldest daughter of Maharaja Dev Shamsher Jang Bahadur of Nepal who was highly educated, intelligent, polished in manners and charitable in disposition. During First World was, Raja Amar Parkash sent a contingent of state force to Mesopotamia to fight for the British Empire who rendered a good service in the war. In recognition of his services, he was given the distinction of KCSI. in 1915 and in 1918 he was made a Lieutenant Colonel and in 1921 he was titled KCIE and in 1931 his salute was raised from 11 guns to 13 guns as a personal distinction.
He effected many reforms of which Surendra Water Works Nahan was completed. He opened free primary Schools throughout the state and built hostels for the students and high school buildings. He inaugurated Mahima Library and got the road metalled from Nahan to Kala Amb which was completed in 1927. In the field of revenue administration, the important land mark of his time was the revision of settlement in 1931 which made the state revenue records reliable and up to date. He died in August, 1933 away from his kingdom to hill in treatment of his Maharani in Europe.
His son, Maharaja Rajendra Parkash succeeded him in 1933. During his father’s time itself, he was trained in the state craft thoroughly. He was a keen sportsman also. He had marriage alliance with the Nagod state in Central India since 15th April, 1936. The most important aspect of his administration was the promulgation of Usurious Loans Act. One of the most interesting activities during the reign of the last ruler was the increased activity of the freedom fighters in the state in which Praja Mandal played the predominate role in mobilizing public opinion against the state and the British India Government which ultimately culminated into state’s succession to the Union of India and final merger in Himachal Pradesh.