Gond Rani Kamalapati: The last Hindu Rani of Bhopal

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Gond Rani Kamalapati: The last Hindu Rani of Bhopal

Sunday, 14 November 2021 | Shivraj Singh Chouhan

While turning the pages of history, it comes to our knowledge that from 1600 to the year 1715, the Ginnaurgarh fort was under the reign of Gond kings and Bhopal too was ruled by them.

Gond king Nizam Shah had seven wives. A palace was built on the bank of the pond as per her wish, which was completed in 1702 and which is known as Rani Kamalapati Mahal. Today its remains can be seen in the park of the Upper and Lower Lake.

The Gond community dynasty extended from Ginnaurgarh to Badi. Their kingdom Garha Katanga (Mandla) remained under the suzerainty of 52 Garhs. Raja Raisingh ruled over Raisen Fort for 57 years from AD 1362 to 1419. This fort was built by him.

In 14th AD Jagdishpur (Islamnagar) was ruled by the Gond kings. In 1715, the last Gond king was Narsingh Deora. They ruled for about 60 years from Bhopal Shahi AD 476 to 533. The first religious leader of the Gond community, Pari Kupar Lingo Baba, fixed Bairagarh for the five Dev Saga Samaj. Since then the people of Gondwana community living thousands kilometers away from Bairagarh, come to Bairagarh to worship Bada Dev. This is the biggest Devsthal of the Gonds.

In the 16th century, 55 km from Bhopal, the state of Ginnaurgarh was formed by merging 750 villages which was near Dehlawadi. Its king was Suraj Singh Shah (Salaam). His son was Nizamshah who was very brave, fearless and skilled in every field.

Kamalapati was married to him.King Nizam Shah had built a seven-storey palace in Bhopal as a token of love for Rani Kamalapati in 1700 AD, which was built from Lakhouri bricks and mud. This seven-storeyed palace was famous for its grandeur and beauty. Rani Kamalapati was leading a happy married life with King Nizamshah. A son was born to them whom they named Nawal Shah.Chain Singh, the son of the Zamindar of Bari Fort in Salkanpur state, who was nephew of King Nizamshah still wanted to marry Rani Kamlapati despite knowing that she was already married.

He tried many times to kill King Nizamshah in which he failed. One day he cordially invited King Nizamshah for a meal where he poisoned his food and killed him.

The news of the death of King Nizamshah created panic in the entire Ginnaurgarh. Knowing that Rani Kamalapati was alone, he attacked the fort of Ginnaurgarh to get her.

Rani Kamalapati along with some of her loyalists and 12-year-old son Nawalshah decided to hide in this palace built in Bhopal  which was considered a very important palace from the point of view of security at that time.

After spending a few days in Bhopal, Rani Kamalapati came to know that some Afghanis had taken shelter near the border of Bhopal, and they were the same people who had attacked and taken over Jagdishpur (Islam Nagar). The leader of these Afghans was Dost Mohammad Khan who used to fight war on anyone’s behalf in return for money.

It is a popular belief that Rani Kamalapati offered one lakh Muhars to Dost Mohammad and asked him to attack Chain Singh.Dost Mohammad attacked the fort of Ginnaurgarh, killed Chain Singh and captured the fort.

Rani Kamalapati was worried about the upbringing of her younger son, so she did not object to this move of Dost Mohammad.

But Dost Mohammad now wanted to capture the entire princely state of Bhopal. He proposed to Rani Kamalapati to join his harem (religion) and get married. He really wanted to keep the queen in his harem.

When Rani Kamlapati’s 14 year old son Nawal Shah came to know the intention of Dost Mohammad Khan, he went to fight at Lal Ghati with 100 fighters but was killed by Dost Mohammad Khan and there was so much bloodshed at the place that the land turned red and got its name Lal


Two boys who survived the war, reached the Manuabhan hill and from there signaled to Rani Kamalapati by blowing thick black smoke that they had been defeated and that her life was in danger.

Caught in this adverse situation, Rani Kamalapati opened the narrow way of the big pond dam to save her honor, due to which the water of the Upper Lake started leaking out on the other side and is today known as the Lower Lake. Rani Kamalapati put all her wealth and jewelery into the Lake and took Jal Samadhi in it.When Dost Mohammad Khan reached this fort from Lal Ghati with his army, everything was over by that time.

Dost Mohammad Khan could neither have Rani Kamalapati nor her wealth. She did not allow a person of another religion to rule over Bhopal till she was alive. According to sources, Rani Kamalapati had ended her life in 1723 and after her death, the rule of Nawabs started in Bhopal led by Dost Mohammad Khan.

Rani Kamalapati has made an indelible place in history by taking Jal Samadhi to safeguard a woman’s honour and her culture,. This step of hers was a follow-up to the same Jauhar tradition, in which our woman power has saved its identity, religion and culture with indomitable courage.

Following the same tradition, Rani Kamalapati also lost everything but saved her dignity and inspired generations not to back down from making sacrifices to protect one’s dharma.

Gond Rani Kamalapati is relevant even today after 300 years and we ourselves are grateful for being able to honor  her for her sacrifice. Every part of Bhopal narrates her story. The echoes of her sacrifice can be heard in the waters of the lakes here. It is as if she herself flows down in the streams of the Lake city. The Gond Rani now flows in the waters of Bhopal incessantly.

I have had the privilege of installing a grand statue of Rani Kamlapati at her Jauhar site outside her palace.On the occasion of Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas, a replica of her statue will be presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

(The writer is Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh)

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