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Ahilya Bai Holkar
News: 31st May marks the birth anniversary of Ahilya Bai Holkar.
Who was she?
Ahilya bai Holkar was a remarkable queen of the Maratha Empire in early-modern India. She was born on 31 May 1725 in a village called Chondi in Maharashtra.
She became the ruler of Indore after the death of her husband Khande Rao Holkar and her father-in-law Malhar Rao Holkar.
She was known for her courage, wisdom and administrative skills. She built many temples, dharmashalas and forts throughout India.
She established Maheshwar as the seat of Holkar dynasty.
Which temples were constructed by her?
Ahilya bai Holkar built hundreds of temples across India, especially in the holy places that had been destroyed by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.
Some of the temples are Kashi Vishwanath Temple (Varanasi), Somnath Temple (Gujarat), Shri Kedarnath and Badrinath Temple (Uttrakhand), Shri Omkareshwar and Shri Mahakaleshwar Temple (MP) etc.
She also built many ghats, dharmashalas and forts throughout India.
What are the things that we can learn from her?
She was supported well by her father-in-law who refused her from committing Sati when her husband died. She became a ruler when women were not given freedom as much as they would have sought.
As a ruler, she led a very modest life. She built numerous tanks for people’s welfare.
She defended her kingdom and personally led armies into battle. She never plundered anyone.
Ahilyabai never issued capital punishment. She took personal oath from prisoners & released them. A prisoner who promised not to commit misdeeds again was released. Many such prisoners adopted an honest life and this generosity showed results.
She never used public cash to meet her family or personal expenditures. She contributed money from her personal funds to charity.
Ahilyabai removed all taxes for traders and there was no trader tax beyond custom. Her subjects weren’t afraid to display wealth.
She even established a textile industry in Maheshwar.
Ahilya Bai Holkar was a woman ahead of her time. As a tribute to the great Indian queen, Government of India issued a commemorative stamp on 25th August 1996.