Ahilyabai Holkar

Ahilyabai Holkar

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Category: Administration

Ahilyabai Holkar Profile

  • Name:
  • Ahilyabai Holkar
  • Profession / Known For:
  • Ruler
  • Spouse:
  • Khanderao Holkar

Ahilyabai Holkar Biography

Ahilyabai Holkar was a great ruler and the Queen of the Kingdom of Malwa, regarded as one of the most powerful women in the pre-independent India. Popularly known as Rajmata Ahilyadevi Holkar, she lived during the period 1725-1795 and regarded as a social reformer. She built several temples and Dharmasalas across North India and as a ruler she tried to protect her kingdom from Muslim invaders. She renovated the famous Somanath temple of Lord Siva that is still work shipped by millions. Several educational and charity organizations across Maharashtra have been named after her. One of the great historic figures and efficient rulers from Maharashtra, she was a respected queen amongst her people in a prospering kingdom.


Ahilyabai was born on 31 May 1725 in Chaundi of present-day Ahmednagar district in Maharashtra into a Patil family. She was married to Khanderao Holkar, the heir of Malwa kingdom. But he got killed in the battle of Kumbher in 1754. 12 years later, when her father-in-law, Malhar Rao Holkar died, she was crowned as queen of the Malwa kingdom one year later. She was approved by Peshwa. Tukojirao Holkar who was appointed as the Military head served as the protector of Malwa Kingdom from Muslim rulers. Ahilya was a great warrior too, who fought many battles, with strong support from her army. She protected her kingdom from the plundering Bhils and Gonds.


Later she moved her capital to Maheshwar where she built the splendid Ahalya Fort and the country prospered under her rule. She promoted industry, textile, arts, literature, arts etc and the famous Marathi poet Moropant and Sanskrit scholar, Khushali Ram lived during this period. She used the government money to build forts, rest houses, wells and roads and also in the construction and renovation of temples. She played a significant role in converting Kashi, Gaya, Somnath, Ayodhya, Mathura, Hardwar, Dwarka, Badrinarayan, Rameshwar and Jaganathpuri to pilgrim places. She also helped widows to adopt children and retain husband’s wealth. She passed away in 1795. A commemorative stamp was issued on 25 August 1996 in her honour.

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Updated: March 06, 2016

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