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Kings of Patiala

Patiala is a land of Kings and the place has witnessed various dynamic and flamboyant rulers who have ruled it with passion, commitment and authority. A peek into the history of the Royal Family of Patiala is necessary to learn about the times and lives of these great Kings who have ruled in their own unique ways, conquered territories, built palaces and infrastructure and made Patiala what it is today.

The Patiala dynasty goes a long way back and it is believed that Phul, was the founder of the Sikh Dynasty and his descendants are credited with the formation of states like Patiala, Jind and Nabha. Phul was bestowed with the title of Chaudhuri and later the descendants got the dignity of Mahrajas. The Patiala Kings can be discussed chronologically as below:

Maharaja Baba Ala Singh

Baba Ala Singh

Baba Ala Singh was the first ruler of the great Patiala Dynasty and the first Maharaja of Patiala. Born in 1691 in Phul that is presently in Bhathinda district of Punjab, he became Maharaja in 1763. The Maharaja is well remembered for his battles and his establishment of Patiala. He tied knots with Rani Fateh Kaur (Mai Fatto) in 1707. Baba Ala Singh left for his heavenly abode on 7th August, 1765.

Maharaja Amar Singh

Maharaja Amar Singh

After the death of Baba Ala Singh, his successor to take forward he name was Maharaja Amar Singh. He was a mere 18 years old when he was declared the King by Mai Fatto, sweeping aside the claims of another of Baba Ala Singh’s grandsons, Himmat Singh. Such was Mai Fatto’s influence that Maharaja Amar Singh bequeathed the throne without any major opposition. But it had always been a contentious issue as Himmat Singh always felt that being the elder of the two brothers he was the rightful successor to the throne. This dissatisfaction also became the cause of various tussles between the two in future.

Battles of Maharaja Amar Singh

Maharaja Amar Singh turned out to be a great conqueror and soon he came to be revered and feared for his skill to win battles. He made various inroads into the territories of his adversaries. Some of the battles are:

Capture of Payal and Isru

Payal and Isru, two towns near Ludhiana were captured in 1766 by Maharaja Amar Singh with the help of his allies Sardar Jassa Singh and some trans - sutlej Sikhs.

Attack on Kot Kapura

Kot Kapura lay near the town of Faridkot and Maharaja Amar Singh attacked the place due to personal reasons. Jodh Singh, the chief of Kot Kapura had disregarded Amar Singh’s Grandparents by naming a horse and a mare after their names. The Maharaja besieged the town and in this battle Jodh Singh lost his life.

Maharaja Amar Singh led various other battles against a lot of enemies. He had developed considerable power and kingdom. Amar Singh was just thirty five years old when he died in February, 1781 due to excessive drinking.

Maharaja Sahib Singh

Maharaja Sahib Singh

The third ruler of Patiala born in 1773, Maharaja Sahib Singh assumed the throne in 1781 when he was just six years old. He got the throne at a time when the Kingdom had just got expanded and was rife with various challenges and differences. However, the Raja ruled for a long period of 32 years from 1781-1813. He was not the strongest of Patiala rulers and died in 1813.

Maharaja Karam Singh

Maharaja Karam Singh was born on 16th October, 1798 and succeeded the throne after the death of his father Maharaja Sahib Singh in 1813. Known to be a good ruler and an able administrator, Maharaja Karam Singh ruled for a long period of 32 years. He was known to be a very religious person and was a devout Sikh. Many shrines were made under his rule in honor of the Gurus. The Maharaja is also known to have helped the British check the Gurkha incursions into the Punjab Hills in 1814. He was suitably rewarded with a large tract of land in the Himalayan foothills. Maharaja Karam Singh died on 23rd December, 1845 in Patiala.

Maharaja Narendra Singh

Maharaja Narendra Singh

The 5th Maharaja of Patiala, he was the Maharaja from 1845-1862. He was born on 26th November, 1823 and had married seven times. The Maharaja was a loyal friend of the British and provided valuable support and service to them during the great mutiny of 1867. He got various rewards and recommendations due to this service to the British regime. He was bestowed with territories, land, loan waivers and many more rewards.

Maharaja Mahendra Singh

Born on 16th September, 1852, he was the sixth Maharaja of Patiala. He ruled from 1862-1876. Maharaja Mahendra Singh had three wives. He was a minor when he stepped into the shoes of his father and the affairs of the Kingdom were looked after by a council of regency till 1870. The Maharaja did a lot of work in education and providing relief to famine stricken areas. He was also honored with the Grand Commander of the Star of India in 1871. The Maharaja died in 1876.

Maharaja Rajinder Singh

Maharaja Rajinder Singh was the seventh Maharaja of Patiala and reigned for a period of 24 years. He was the King from 1876-1900. He was a reformist and a thorough gentleman who brought a fresh perspective and feeling to Indian rulers. He was instrumental in providing endowments for orphanages and a woman’s hospital. He was a sportsperson and had interest in games like polo, cricket, billiards and hockey. The Maharaja had a very unfortunate accident while riding in which he lost his life in 1900.

Maharaja Bhupinder Singh

Maharaja Bhupinder Singh

The next Maharaja to rule the state of Patiala was Maharaja Bhupinder Singh. After the death of his father, he was made King in 1900, though he assumed power on October 1909 after nearing the age of 18 years. He was given full powers formally by the Viceroy of India, the 4th earl of Minto, on 3rd November, 1910.

Interests and Achievements

Maharaja Bhupinder Singh was one of the most popular rulers of the Patiala dynasty. He is well known for his interest in architecture and sports. He had got an airstrip constructed in Patiala for his aircraft that he had bought from the United Kingdom.

Contribution in Architecture and Construction

Maharaja Bhupinder Singh is credited with the construction of various great pieces of architectural history. Some of the notable constructions were
  • Kali Temple in Patiala
  • Chail View Palace
  • Cedar Lodge in Simla

Sporting Achievements

The Maharaja was an avid cricket and polo fan. There are numerous noteworthy contributions in these fields by the Maharaja. He was a cricketer himself and was captain of the Indian Team that made a trip to England in 1911. He played in 27 first class cricket matches. The great credit of building the highest cricket ground in the world is also to the Maharajas name because of the construction in Chail in 1893.

Maharaja Yadvindra Singh

Maharaja Yadavindra Singh

Maharaja Yadavindra Singh was the last ruler of Patiala Dynasty before independence of India. He agreed to the incorporation of Princely States into India on 5th May, 1948. He was instrumental in convincing the other princely rulers to join India after independence. He had a life full of glorious achievements as a sportsperson and an administrator.

Sporting Achievements

Maharaja Yadavindra was a great cricket enthusiast. He represented India in one Test match. He held various positions in cricket as well as other sporting disciplines. Some of them are
  • President of British Indian Olympic Committee (1938-1947)
  • President of the Indian Olympic Committee (1947-1960)
  • President of BCCI

Maharaja Yadvindra Singh died on 17th June, 1974 while in office at The Hauge where he was the Indian Ambassador to Netherlands. He died of a heart failure in his office.

The Patiala Dynasty is an illustrious one which has seen the rule and reign of some of the best rulers and conquerors of their times. The legacies bestowed by these rulers on Patiala have helped the development of the place and those legacies still talk of the illustrious past of those times.

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