The Philosopher Queen, Ahilyabai Holkar

Ahilyabai Holkar, one of the finest female rulers in Indian history, was born on this day, in 1725.

After the demise of her husband, Khande Rao, in 1754, Ahilyabai decided to commit Sati, but her father-in-law, Malhar Rao dissuaded her and trained her in military and administrative affairs. Later his father in-law also expired and after a few months her own son, Male Rao. She ascended the throne and became the ruler of Indore in 1767.

She was a learned politician. Her observation of the British and their agenda was something even the Maratha Peshwa had missed noticing. She was given the title of Philosopher Queen by a British historian, John Keyas.

She defended the Malwa state against intruders and personally led her army into battle with her nephew and military commander, Tukojirao Holkar.
She crushed a rebellion with iron hand against her regime by her Dewan.

Indore Rajbada

As a prominent ruler of the Malwa kingdom, Ahilyabai promoted farmers and merchants were satisfied and trade, industries and agriculture flourished in the 18th century. She encouraged all within her realm to do their best

Ahilyabai paid regular visits to her subjects and was always accessible to anyone needing her help.

She transformed Indore from a small village to a prosperous, beautiful and commercial city, though she established Maheshwar, a nearby town on the banks of Narmada river, as the seat of her dynasty.

Maheshwar Fort

Ahilyabai spread the message of Dharma and got built hundreds of temples, tanks, wells, ghats and dharmashalas (rest places) throughout India. She rebuilt and refurbished some of the most sacred temples including Kashi Vishwanath Temple that had been demoloshed by Mughal emperors.

If you see the list of structures built and rebuilt by her in Wikipedia, you will be surprised how she could do all these things apart from her welfare and safety measures. If the ruler is honest and well-meaning, there is no dearth of money, she proved during her regime.

Ahilya Ghat Kashi

She was an efficient ruler, courageous warrior and a tremendous archer,
highly respected during her lifetime, and even after her death, she is considered as a saint by people of Malwa region.

Her rule that lasted for 30 years is remembered as a golden age in the histoy Malwa Kingdom. She died on 17.08.1795 at the age of 70 and was succeeded by her nephew Tukojirao Holkar.

I have spent about 15 years of my crucial professional life in Indore, the cleanest city of India. As such I have a natural affinity for Indore and its people, culture and the most revered queen.

Indore airport

I bow down and extend my floral tribute to this proficient ruler queen, Ma Ahilya on her 297th birth anniversary ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™

–Kaushal Kishore



  1. I am so delighted you posted this one! Perfectly reflects women empowerment while condemning the old practice of sati as well. Who knows what our daughters may become in the future- an able politician, a clever economist or a responsible administrator !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was my pleasure to share her story, as I was a native of Indore. I appreciate you and your beautiful thoughts. Indian history is replete with illustrious women. Even in recent times, our daughters have hit many glass ceilings to reach top positions. Yesterday’s civil services results were also encouraging for girls.


    1. Actually she was dissuaded from committing sati by her father-in-law who made a very sentimental appeal to her. He made her learn various skills to run the kingdom. Thank you, Nancy for finding the article interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, Lamittan, she was a blessing for her kingdom and subjects. She was a pious lady strongly believing in Dharma and Karma. Thank you ๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’๐ŸŒน


  2. Your tribute to this extraordinary woman, ruler Ahilyabai Holkar, Kaushal, is beyond magnificent and provided those who didn’t know about her with an emotional read. We can only commiserate that we don’t have leaders like her today. She will live in my memory forever, and you have my gratitude for giving me the knowledge about Her.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad that you liked the post about Ma Ahilya. It’s unimaginable today how progressive she was three centuries ago. She was a widow, but an out and out religious lady performing her regal duties as religious ones. Thank you, Joanna for your kind words of appreciation.


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