Ahilya Bai Holkar

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. 

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