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Ahilyabai Holkar: Know The Story Of The Protagonist Of Punyashlok Ahilyabai

A new show named 'Punyashlok Ahilyabai' is all set to start on Sony TV from the first Monday of 2021 i.e., 4 January 2021. The show will revolve around Ahilyabai Holker who broke all the gender-stereotypes set by the patriarchal society during the 18th century.

The show will be narrating and showing the story of Ahilyabai. While you are excited to watch this new show, we are here to tell you some interesting facts about Ahilyabai Holker. Read on:

1. Ahilyabai Holker was born on 31 March 1725 in Chondi, Jamkhed, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra.

2. Her father Mankoji Sindhia was a scion of the Dhangad, a respectable family in Chonde of Bheed district. Also, he was the Patil of the same village.

3. In those times, women weren't allowed to study but Mankoji Sindhia decided otherwise and taught her daughter to read and write.

4. Ahilyabai's fortune brought her to the history pages when she was spotted by Malhar Rao Holkar who served as the commander in the army of Balaji Baji Rao (the eldest son of Baji Rao Peshwa II) and the lord of Malwa territory.

5. It is said that Malhar Rao Holkar was on his way to Pune when he stopped at a temple and saw eight-year-old Ahilyabai doing temple-service. Impressed by her religious nature and intelligence, Malhar Rao Holkar decided to marry his son Khanderao Holker to her.

6. Thus Ahilyabai was married to Khanderao Holkar in 1733.

7. It was in the year 1745, when Ahilyabai gave birth to their son Malerao. The couple was soon blessed with a baby girl in 1748.

8. In 1754, Ahilyabai's husband Khanderao died while he laid a siege through his father's army on the request of Mughal Emperor Ahmad Shah Bahadur. During the siege, Khanderao was inspecting his troops and this is when he was hit and killed by a cannonball.

9. After the death of her husband, Ahilyabai denied from being Sati, a practice of burning widows along with her the dead body of their husbands. Malhar Rao supported the decision of his daughter-in-law.

10. Malhar Rao encouraged his daughter-in-law to take interest in the political activities and often considered her opinions in various matters. He taught her many kinds of warfare after recognising bravery and valiantness in her.

11. However, Malhar Rao died in 1766, 12 years after the death of his Khanderao Holker.

12. After the death of Malhar Rao, Male Rao was sworn in on the throne of Indore but he ruled for a short time as he died of mental illness in April 1767.

13. After the death of her son as well, Ahilyabai was sworn in as the ruler of Indore. Though she had to face a lot of opposition from key people of her kingdom, she gained the confidence and support of the army.

14. She petitioned the then Peshwa to allow her to take over the administration of Malwa after the death of Malhar Rao.

15. Soon she gained permission and she went on to become the ruler of Malwa as well.

16. During her reign, she made significant developments in Indore. In addition to this, she constructed forts in Malwa, donated in temples to aid in their developments and sponsored the festivals as well. She also built dams, ghats, tanks, wells and many other things outside Malwa.

17. She also emphasised on providing the necessary healthcare facilities in her kingdom.

18. During her reign, art and culture flourished within her kingdom.

19. She died on 13 August 1795 and was succeeded by her commander-in-chief.

Today we salute the spirit of Ahilyabai and the way she handled her kingdom in this patriarchal society. She literally made her own identity during the time when women were merely confined to their respective homes.

Story first published: Monday, January 4, 2021, 15:00 [IST]