Dhar district,Madhya Pradesh

Dhar district is a district of Madhya Pradesh state in central India. The historic town of Dhar is administrative headquarters of the district.

The district has an area 8,153 km². It is bounded by the districts of Ratlam to the north, Ujjain to the northeast, Indore to the east, Khargone (West Nimar) to the southeast, Barwani to the south, and Jhabua to the west. It is part of the Indore Division of Madhya Pradesh. The population of the district is 1,740,577 (2001 census), an increase of 24% from its 1991 population of 1,367,412. Pithampur is a large industrial area comes under Dhar District.

Historic Places and Monuments

The most ancient parts of Dhar visible are the massive earthen ramparts which are best preserved on the western and southern sides of the town. These were probably built beginning in the ninth century and show that the city was circular in plan and surrounded by a series of tanks and moats. The layout is similar to the circular city of Warangal in the Deccan. The circular ramparts of Dhar, unique in north India and an important legacy of the Paramaras, is being destroyed by brick-makers and others using the material for construction purposes. On the north-east side of the town, the rampart and moat have disappeared beneath modern homes and other buildings.

The historic parts of the town are dominated by an impressive sandstone fortress on a small hill. It is thought to have been built by Muhammad bin Tughluq, the Sultan of Delhi, probably on the site of the ancient Dharagiri mentioned in early sources.One of the gateways, added at a later time, dates to 1684-85 in the time of ‘Alamgir.Inside the fort is a deep rock-cut cistern, of great age, and a later palace of the Maharaja of Dhar incorporating an elegant pillared porch of the Mughal period that probably belongs to the mid-seventeenth century. In the palace area is an outdoor museum with a small collection of temple fragments and images dating to medieval times.
Tomb of Shaykh Changal
On the overgrown ramparts of the medieval city, overlooking the old moat, is the tomb of Shaykh ‘Abdullah Shah Changal, a warrior saint. The tomb has been rebuilt, but the inscription, now incorporated into the compound gate, is written in Persian and dated 1455. A record of historical interest, it recounts the Shaykh’s arrival in Dhar and his conversion of Bhoja to Islam after the local people had committed an atrocity against the small community of Muslims who had settled in the city in the earliest days of Islam.[10] The story does not so much refer to the celebrated Bhoja but to a rising interest in Bhoja’s biography in the fifteenth century and the attempts made at that time to appropriate his legacy in Sanskrit and Persian literary sources.[11]
Pillar Mosque
The Lat Masjid or ‘Pillar Mosque’, to the south of the town like the tomb of Shaykh Changal, was built as the Jami’ Mosque by Dilawar Khan in 1405.[12] It derives its name from the iron pillar of Dhar (“la?” in Hindi), which is believed to have been set up in the 11th century.[13] The pillar, which was nearly 13.2 m high according to the most recent assessment, is fallen and broken; the three surviving parts are displayed on a small platform outside the mosque. It carries a later inscription recording a visit of the Mughal emperor Akbar in 1598 while on campaign towards the Deccan. The pillar’s original stone footing is also displayed nearby.
Kamal Maula Campus
The Kamal Maula is a spacious enclosure containing four tombs, the most notable being that of Shaykh Kamal Maulavi or Kamal al-Din (circa 1238-1330). He was a follower of Farid al-Din Ga?j-i Shakar (circa 1173-1266, see Fariduddin Ganjshakar) and the famous Chishti saint Nizamuddin Auliya (1238–1325). Some details about Kamal al-Din are recorded in Mu?ammad Ghauthi’s Azkar-i Abrar, a reliable hagiography of Sufi saints composed in 1613.[14] The cloak presented to Kamal al-Din by Nizam al-Din is still displayed inside the tomb. The custodians of Kamal al-Din’s tomb have served in an unbroken lineage for 700 years and are still resident.
Bhoj Shala
The hypostyle hall immediately next the tomb of Kamal Maula is made of re-cycled temple columns and other architectural parts except for the Mihrab and Minbar which were purpose-built for the monument. It is similar to the La? Masjid though earlier in date as an inscription of A.H. 795/C.E. 1392 found nearby records repairs by Dilawar Khan.A Sanskrit and Prakrit inscription from the time of Arjunavarman (circa 1210-15) was found in the walls of the building in 1903 by K. K. Lele, Superintendent of Education in the Princely State of Dhar. The inscription, which is engraved with exceptional beauty, is displayed inside the entrance. The text includes part of a drama called Vijayasrina?ika composed by Madana, the king’s preceptor who also bore the title ‘Balasarasvati’.The other inscribed tablets noted by Lele included a serpentine inscription giving grammatical rules of the Sanskrit language. The finds, particularly the grammatical inscription, prompted Lele to describe the building as the Bhoj Shala or ‘Hall of Bhoja’, because King Bhoja (circa 1000-55) was the author of a number of works on poetics and grammar, among them the Sarasvatika??habhara?a or ‘Necklace of Sarasvati’.The term ‘Bhoj Shala’ was first published by Luard in 1908.The subsequent controversy surrounding the building and its identity is discussed under Bhoj Shala.
Cenotaphs and Old City Palace
The old city palace of the Puar (Pawar) clan, a branch of the Marathas, is now used as a school. It is a modest building put up in the late 19th century around 1875. A marble statue of the Jain goddess Ambika, found in 1875 on the site of the palace is now in the British Museum. Of the same period as the palace are a collection of domed cenotaphs of the Powar rulers on the edge of the large tank known as Muñj Talab. The name of the tank probably derives from Vakpati Muñja (circa 895-920), the Paramara king who first entered Malwa and made Ujjain his main seat.
A number of sculptures and antiquities from Dhar and its neighborhood are kept in the local museum, a utilitarian stone building in the British style of the late 19th century. The most important pieces from the collection have been moved to Mandu where the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Archives has created a new museum with a wide range of displays.
Agency House
Another colonial building at Dhar, located outside the old town on the road to Indore, is Agency House. It was built by the Public Works Department and was the centre of the administration of Dhar State and the Central India Agency.[23] The building has been abandoned and is now in ruins.
Jheera Bagh
Outside the town, off the road to Ma??u, the Powars, built a palace at Hazira Bagh from the 1860s. Known as the Jheera Bagh Palace and now run as a heritage hotel, the complex was renovated by Maharaja Anand Rao Pawar IV in the 1940s. Graciously designed in an unpretentious art deco style, it is one of the most elegant and forward-looking examples of early modern architecture in north India.
Political history

The town of Dhar, the name of which is usually derived from Dhara Nagara (‘city of sword blades’), is of considerable antiquity,the first reference to it appearing in an inscription from Jaunpur belonging to the Maukhari dynasty.Despite this sixth century reference, Dhar only rose to historical prominence when it was made the seat of the Paramara chiefs of Malwa by Vairisi?ha (circa 920-45 CE). He appears to have transferred his headquarters hither from Ujjain. During the rule of the Paramaras, Dhar became famous throughout India as a centre of culture and learning,especially under king Bhoja (circa 1000-1055). The wealth and splendor of Dhar drew the attention of competing dynasties during the 11th century. The Ca?ukyas of Kalya?a under Somesvara I (circa CE 1042-68) captured and burnt the city, occupying also Ma??u (ancient Ma??ava).Slightly later Dhar was sacked by the Ca?ukyas of Gujarat under Siddharaja.The devastation and political fragmentation caused by these wars meant that no significant opposition was offered when Sultan of Delhi, Ala ud din Khilji dispatched an army to Malwa in the early 14th century. The region was annexed to Delhi and Dhar made the capital of the province under ‘Ayn al-Mulk Multani. He served as governor until 1313.Events during the following seventy years are unclear, but some time in A.H. 793/C.E. 1390-91 Dilawar Khan was appointed muq?i’ of Dhar (and so governor of Malwa) by Sul?an Mu?ammad Shah.Dilawar Khan took the title ‘Amid Shah Da’ud and caused the khutba to be read in his name in A.H. 804/C.E. 1401-02, thereby establishing himself as an independent sul?an.On his death in 1406, his son Hoshang Shah became king with his capital at Ma??u. Subsequently, in the time of Akbar, Dhar fell under the dominion of the Mughals, in whose hands it remained till 1730, when it was conquered by the Marathas.

In late 1723, Bajirao at the head of a large army and accompanied by his trusted lieutenants, Malharrao Holkar, Ranoji Shinde (Scindia) and Udaji Rao Pawar, swept through Malwa. A few years earlier the Mughal Emperor had been forced to give the Marathas the right to collect chauth taxes in Malwa and Gujarat. This levy added much value to the Marathas, as both the king Shahu and his Peshwa, Bajirao, were ear-deep in debt. The revenues they collected from their own lands were not sufficient to run the administration of the state and finance their large military expenditure. The Marathas lived by the sword and trade was alien to them. Agriculture in the Deccan depended heavily on the timeliness and sufficiency of the monsoons. The most important source of money were therefore the chauth (a 25% tax on produce) and sardeshmukhi (a ten percent surcharge) exacted by the Marathas. The Maratha armies defeated the Mughal governor and attacked the capital Ujjain. Bajirao established military outposts in the country as far north as Bundelkhand.

Towards the close of the 18th and in the early part of the 19th century, the state was subject to a series of spoliations by Scindia of Gwalior and Holkar of Indore, (descendants of Ranoji Scindia and Malharao Holkar). It was only preserved from annihilation by the talents and courage of the adoptive mother of the fifth raja.