Kurwai State

Kurwai State
कुर्वाई रियासत / ریاست کوروائی
Princely State of British India
Flag Coat of arms
Nasr Min Allah wa Fath Qarib[1]
Kurwai (Korwai) State in the Imperial Gazetteer of India
Capital Kurwai
  Established 1713
  Independence of India 1948
  1901 Census of India 368 km2 (142 sq mi)
  1901 Census of India 13,634 
Density 37 /km2  (96 /sq mi)
Today part of Madhya Pradesh, India
Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "article name needed". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

Kurwai State was a princely state of British India under the Bhopal Agency and centered on Kurwai town. The town of Kurwai was founded by Mohammed Diler Khan in 1715. The state was 368 km² in area and had a population of 30,631 in 1892.[2]


Kurwai State was founded in 1713 by Mohammed Diler Khan, an Afghan soldier in the Mughal army. The state came under British sovereignty in the early nineteenth century, becoming a British protectorate in 1817. Its last ruler acceded to the Dominion of India on 15 June 1948.


The ruling house of Kurwai was founded by Muhammad Diler Khan, an Afghan from the Orakzai tribe who acquired the title of Nawab. Diler Khan was a contemporary and cousin of Nawab Dost Muhammad Khan of Bhopal.[3]

Diler Khan's son Izzat Khan formed an alliance with the Marathas, and fought for them at the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761. The Marathas suffered a defeat in the battle, and Diler Khan was badly wounded in action. He was rescued by his maternal uncle. After recovering, Izzat Khan joined enemy camp, and received high commands, titles and territories from Ahmad Shah Abdali. He died of the battle injuries after returning to Kurwai.

Izzat Khan's son Hurmut Khan was imprisoned by the Marathas for three years. He was freed after he ceded several villages to them, and agreed to an indemnity of 3 lakhs rupees. He formed an alliance with the British in hopes of gaining back his territory, but the British annexed the recovered lands. Kurwai became a princely state under British suzerainty.

Hurmut Khan's successors ruled the state until 1887, when Najaf Khan died without any male heir; his elder brother Muzaffar Khan had also died without heir. After a brief struggle with the Nawab of Basoda, Najaf Khan's maternal grandson Munawar Ali Khan became the ruler of the princely state. After Munawar Khan died without issue, his younger brother Yaqub 'Ali Khan became the Nawab of Kurwai. Yaqub married Munawar's wife Umar un-nisa. Their four-year-old son Sarwar Ali Kan became the Nawab after Yaqub's death in an accident at Bhopal.[4]

Sarwar Ali Khan

When Sarwar Ali Khan was young, the state was ruled by a regency council headed by Umar un-nisa, who came to be known as "Sarkar Amma" (Mother Governor). She established several institutions for welfare of the citizens, including a rural bank that provided interest-free loans.

Sarwar Ali Khan and his sisters were the first generation in the family to receive English education. He studied at the Daly College (Indore), Mayo College (Ajmer) and the Sandhurst Military Academy. After graduating from Sandhurst in 1921, he severed with the Worcestershires until 1923. During this stint, he guarded Mahatma Gandhi in the British custody. In 1926, he married Abida Sultan, the eldest daughter and heiress presumptive of the Nawab of Bhopal. Their only son, Shaharyar Khan, was born in 1934. The marriage eventually failed, and Sarwar Ali later married other women. Abida Sultan gave up her right to the throne of Bhopal and opted for the Muslim nation Pakistan in 1950, eventually entering that country's Foreign service. Later, Shaharyar Khan became the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan and then the Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board. Sarwar Ali Khan's second wife was Ayesha, daughter of the Nawab of Wai. They had three children: Kaiser Zaman, Zafar Ali Khan and Munawar Ali Khan.

During Sarwar Ali Khan's reign, Kurwai saw development of modern infrastructure including roads, telephone network, sanitary facilities, bridges, schools, courts, police station, civil hospital government offices, a power station and a Legislative Assembly. The power was transferred to the Government of newly independent India in 1947.

On 15 June 1948, Kurwai State officially acceded to the Indian Government. Kurwai became part of the newly created state of Madhya Bharat, and was added to Vidisha District. Madhya Bharat was merged into Madhya Pradesh on 1 November 1956.

Sarwar Ali Khan continued to be involved in the political process. A friend of the Harijan leader Jagjeevan Ram, he encouraged the emancipation of the lower castes, and also campaigned against the dowry system and forced marriage. After his death in 1986, the title Nawab of Kurwai passed on to his son Zafar Ali Khan. Sawar Ali's daughter Kaiser Zaman studied English at Somerville College, Oxford University. She later founded the All Saints School Bhopal and the All Saints College of Science & Commerce.

List of Nawabs

Rulers of Kurwai State bore the title of 'Nawab'.[5] The rulers of Basoda and Mohammadgarh states were part of the same dynasty:

See also


  1. "Help from God and Victory Very Near"; Quran 61:13
  2. Kurwai (Princely State)
  3. Abida Sultaan (2004). Memoirs of a rebel princess (illustrated ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-579958-3.
  4. Kurwai - The Firoz Khel Dynasty
  5. Princely States of India

Coordinates: 24°7′2″N 78°2′18″E / 24.11722°N 78.03833°E / 24.11722; 78.03833

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