Alwar history dates back to the Vedic age when the heroes, the Pandav Brothers of the great epic Mahabharata, lived here. This is the reason there are so many monuments scattered around Alwar which are named after the Pandavas. In fact, traveling to Alwar will be like walking into another age.

India - Rajasthan - Alwar - Alwar Excursions

History of Alwar

Alwar has no mean history. It goes right back to the ancient times, to about 3500 years, when the Pandavas (of the Mahabharata) lived. and Alwar wasn't a desert region then – it was nothing less than Matsya Desh or the 'Land of Fish'! Matsya Desh was, in fact, the whole region around the present districts of Jaipur, Alwar and Bharatpur, with Viratnagar as its capital. It was in this city of Viratnagar (now called Bairat) in this ancient epic kingdom that the Pandavas spent their 13th year of exile. The Matsyas, as the inhabitants of this area were called, supported the Pandava brothers against their famous battle against their cousins, the Kauravas.

Mystery of Alwar ¤ Seat of Power

In the turbulent medieval times, Alwar grew into a town of great importance. Being a strategically important area, the state was coveted by many – the Mughals, the Kachhawaha Rajputs of Jaipur, the Jats of neighbouring Bharatpur, the Nikumbha Rajputs, the British as well as the Marathas. One by one all of them took their seat in Alwar. The Nikumbhas were probably the first to occupy the region. They built a fort for themselves, the remnants of which are still visible at the foot of the hills. The Mughals made Alwar an important base from where they launched attacks on the fort of Ranthambhore. It was also in Alwar that the Mughal emperors halted for a while during their journeys between Agra and Ajmer. After the Mughals, Alwar passed on to the hands of the Jats for a brief period.

Finally, it was Thakur Pratap Singh of the Naruka clan of the Kachhawaha Rajputs of Jaipur, who gave some political stability to the state of Alwar. Pratap Singh and company did not exactly belong to the 'elite' class of their Jaipur cousins. But they were Rajputs all right and so had their egos in place. In spite of the not-so-rich economy of the state, they built magnificent palaces and conducted their hunting safaris with elan. The masses suffered and this brought their popularity graph crashing to the ground. In the process Alwar got beautified.

Anyway, troubled times concluded to an extent with Pratap Singh, who conquered this Jat city after defeating the Marathas. Alwar settled down to being the youngest Rajput kingdom in 1771, albeit as a British ally. The British even gave him the title of 'Maharaja' for helping them against the powerful Marathas. In fact, Alwar was one of the first Rajput states to shake hands with the British, although this ganging up did not always spell well-being for them. With a British Resident in court, the king could hardly take his own decisions. But in spite of all their self-imposed codes of honour, some Rajputs never hesitated to go into alliances with other mighty powers. The Amber Rajputs, for example, aligned with the Mughals and went into a six-century long steady relationship with them. and this sure proved to be a boon for the Rajputs (see Historyof Amber for details).

¤ A Sinister Prince Charming

Pratap's successor was Bakhtawar Singh, who has a chhatri (cenotaph) to his name in the city. Another big name in the history of Alwar is that of Raja Banai Singh who ruled from 1815 to 1857 AD. He was an aesthete and a great builder and has many monuments to his credit. But the most well known figure in the history of Alwar is Maharaja Jai Singh, who came to the throne in 1902 and sat tight for almost 30 years. and none could beat him where pomp and show were concerned, so much so that his extravagant lifestyle drove the farmers to unrest and rebellion. This gorgeously dressed, learned Prince Charming with a magnetic personality was also 'sinister beyond belief'. Disappointed with a particular pony after a polo match, he doused the animal with petrol and set fire to it! Such sadistic excesses of the Anglophobe Jai Singh led the British to finally depose him in 1932. (Pssst! Sources tell us that he went to Paris with a staff of 25 to take care of him). Four years later, Jai Singh died of alcoholism and other excesses.

¤ Merging of Alwar with Rajasthan

After Independence, Alwar was merged with the other princely states of Bharatpur, Karauli and Dholpur as the United State of Matsya. Two years later, the name Matsya was dropped and renamed Alwar which merged with the state of Rajasthan.

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