Brief History of Dhar
Historically and culturally, Dhar District has occupied an important place throught its epoch-ancient, mediaeval and morden. Dhar, known as Dhar Nagari in ancient period and Piran Dhar in mediaeval period, has had the privilege of being of the capital city, both in the ancient and in the early mediaeval periods.
The Paramaras ruled over a vast territory around Malwa for 400 years from the 9th to the 13th centuries. Vakpati Munja and Bhojadeva were the most famous rurlers of this dynasty. Munja was a great general, a poet of repute and a great patron of art and literature. His court was adorned by poets like Dhananjaya, Halayudha, Dhanika, Padmagupta, the author of Navasahasankacharita, Amitagati, etc. He excavated the Munja Sagar at Dhar and Mandu and built beautiful temples at a number of places.
Bhojadeva, the most illustrious of the Parmaras, was one of the greatest kings of ancient India. His name became a household word in India not only as a soldier but also as a builder, a scholar and a writer. Authorship of a large number of books on a variety of subjects like gramer, astronomy, poetics, architecture and asceticism is ascribed to him. He shifted his capital from Ujjain to Dhar, where the established a university for Sanskrit studies. It is known as the Bhoja Shala in which was enshrined the image of Goddes Saraswati. He rebuilt temples, including the magnificient temple at Bhojapur. Bhoja also created a large lake near Bhojapur.
In the year 1305, A.D. the whole of Malwa passed into the hands of Al-ud-din Khalji when Dhar and Mandu were also captured. Dhar continued to be under Delhi Sultans until the reign of Muhammed II. At that time, Dilawar Khan Ghuri was the Governor of Malwa. In 1401 A.D. he assumed royality and established an independent Kingdom of Malwa, with his capital at Dhar. His son and successor, Hoshang Shah moved the capital to Mandu. Hoshang Shah died in 1435 A.D. and was entomed in the splendid mausoleum which is still existing at Mandu. On Hoshang's death his son, Ghazni Khan, succeeded him. He ordered his capital Mandu to be called "Shadiabad (the City of Joy). He, however, had a very short reign, as he was poisoned to death by Mahmud Khalji in 1436 A.D. Mahmud Khan ascended the throne and inaugurated the reign of the Khalji Sultans in Malwa. Khalji Sultans continued to rule Malwa till 1531 A.D. Later Malwa was captured by Sher Shah and was placed under the charge of Shujat Khan. Shujat Khan was succeeded by his son Baz Bahadur. Mandu and its environs reverberated with the stories of romance of Rupmati and Baz Bahadur. When Baz Bahadur was defeated and put to fight by the Mugal army, his beloved Rupmati took poison and put an end to her life to escape dishonour.
In the administrative organisation of Akbar, Dhar was the Chief town of a Mahal in Mandu Sarkar of the Subah of Malwa. Akbar stayed at Dhar for seven days, while directing the invasion of the Deccan. He also visited Mandu a number of times. Mandu was also a favourite resort of Emperor Jahangir, who stayed here for over six months in 1616 A.D. In his memoirs, Jahangir has payed glowing tributes to the pleasant climate and prety scenery at Mandu Noorjahan shot four tigers with six bullets, from the back of an elephant, near Mandu.
When Baji Rao Peshwa divided Malwa among Sindhia, Holkar and the three Pawar Chief, in 1832 A.D. Dhar was bestwed on Anand Rao Pawar. The rulers of Dhar held away over this area till 1948, except for a brief period of three years, following the grat Revolt of 1857.
Dhar was an important centre of Revolt, during the First War of Independence in 1857. Freedom fighters captured the Fort of Dhar which remained in their possession from July to October, 1857. The Bhils also took active part in the Revolt. The rebels paralysed the authority of the State and opposed the British. Consequently, a large force marched against Dhar under Colonel Durand, and captured the town. Just because three or four rounds were fired on the British troops by rebels, the British soldiers took a tribal revenge on the local people. They dragged civilians from their houses, killed them and looted their property ladies were dishonoured. The rebels defended the fort, till 31st October, 1857 when breach was caused. They, therefore, escaped through an underground passage.
As an aftermath of the Revolt, Dhar State was annexed to the British terriory. The British Government however, changed the decision of Government of India, and restored Dhar to Anand Rao III, on the 1st may 1860.
Mandu, clothed in green, with turbulent brooks and torrents rushing down into the encircling ravines, presents a magnificent spectacle. Thousands of tourists are drawn to Mandu, to have a glimpse of the splendid movements there.
Another place of great national importance is Bagh, where the caves have been excavated on the rockface of a lofty hill, on he bank of the Bagh river. The paintings at Bagh date back to a period between the 5th and the 7th centuries A.D., the Golden Age of Indian Art. Together with the Ajanta paintings, the Bagh paintings represent the finest traditions of Indian Art, which had a far-reaching influence on the Buddhist Art, not only in India, but on the entire Buddhist Art in Asia.
The majority of the population in Dhar District belongs to the Scheduled Tribes. The main tribes in the District are Bhils and Bhilalas. Their highest concentration is in Kukshi Tahsil.