How Government Integrated Princely States in India



In 1947 the Indian Independence Act gave princely states an option to accede to the newly born dominions India or Pakistan or continue as an independent sovereign state.

More than 500 princely states have covered 48 percent of the area of pre Independent India at that time which constituted around 28% of its population. In reality these Kingdoms were completely subordinate to the British Crown though legally they were not the part of British India.

These states were the necessary allies for the British in order to keep in check the rise of other colonial powers and nationalist tendencies in India.

Though the British acquired for themselves the right to appoint ministers and get military support as and when required but still the princes were given autonomy over their territories.

The formidable task of integrating the princely states was given to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (India’s first deputy prime minister and the home minister), he was assisted by V.P menon (the secretary of the Ministry of the States).

Patel kept trying to convince them to join India by tooth and nails from invoking the patriotism of the princes to remind them of the possibility of anarchy on event of their refusal to join.

The concept of “privy purses” was also introduced which was a payment to be made to royal families for their agreement to merge with India. The first ones to join the union were the likes of Bikaner, Baroda and few other states from Rajasthan.

There were several other states that were adamant to not join India as they thought this was the best moment to acquire independent statehood, while there were others who wanted to become a part of Pakistan.


The southern Indian maritime state was rich in both human and mineral resources as it was strategically placed for maritime trade. It was one of the first princely states to question the Congress’ leadership of the nation and refuse accession to the Indian union.

By 1946, Sir C.P. Ramamswamy Aiyar the Dewan of Travancore, declared his intention of forming an independent state of Travancore that would be open to the idea of signing a treaty with the Indian union.

The UK government had secret ties with Sir C.P. Aiyar; they were also in support of an independent Travancore. UK government hoped to get exclusive access to a mineral called monazite in response of their support which would give an edge to Britain in the nuclear arms race.

Till July 1947 he stuck to his position until you he survived an assassination attempt by a member of the Kerala Socialist Party when changed his mind. Travancore joined India on July 30 1947.


The Rajput princely state strangely had a tilt towards Pakistan despite having a Hindu king and a large Hindu population. Hanwant Singh was the prince of Jodhpur; bring young and inexperienced he reckoned that he may get a better “deal” from Pakistan since his state was contiguous with the country.

The Maharaja was given a signed blank sheet of paper to list all his demands by Jinnah. Free access to the Karachi port to arms manufacturing and importing along with military and agrarian support was given to him by Jinnah.

Patel immediately contacted the prince and offered him sufficient benefits seeing the risks in the border state acceding to Pakistan. Patel assured him that Jodhpur would be connected to Kathiawar by rail and that India would supply grain to it during famines and also importing arms would be allowed.

Maharaja Hanwant Singh, King of Jodhpur signed the Instrument of Accession and the State of Jodhpur was integrated into the Indian Dominion on 11th August 1947.


Hamidullah Khan a muslim Nawab who was ruling over a majority Hindu population. They were another state that wished to declare independence.He staunchly opposed the Congress rule as he was a close friend of the Muslim League. He had made clear his decision to attain independence to Mountbatten.

"No ruler could run away from the dominion closest to him” was a part of a very famous letter that he wrote back to Mountbatten latter.

The Prince became aware of the large number of princes who had acceded to India and decided to join India by July 1947.


It covered a large portion of the Deccan plateau as it was the largest and richest of all princely states.

The princely state consisting of a largely Hindu population was presided by Nizam Mir Usman Ali. He blatantly refused to join the Indian dominion as he was very clear on his demand for an independent state.The tussle over Hyderabad grew stronger over time as he drew support from Jinnah.

Nizam's mind didn't change even after both requests and threats from Patel and other mediators; he kept on expanding his army by importing arms from Europe. Armed fanatics (called Razakars) unleashed violence targeted at Hyderabad’s Hindu residents made the things worse.

In June 1948 after the resignation of Lord Mountbatten the Congress government decided to make a more decisive turn. Indian troops were sent to Hyderabad under ‘Operation Polo’ on September 13, 1948.

The Indian army gained full control of the state after an armed encounter that lasted for about four days and Hyderabad became the integral part of India. Later, the Nizam was made the governor of the state of Hyderabad in an attempt to reward the Nizam for his submission.


Situated on the southwestern end of Gujarat, this princely state, also did not accede to the Indian union by August 15, 1947. It contained a large Hindu population ruled by the Nawab, Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III and was the most important among the group of Kathiawar states.

On September 15, 1947, ignoring Mountbatten’s views, Nawab Mahabat Khanji chose to accede to Pakistan with an argument that Junagadh is adjoined to Pakistan by sea.

The rulers of two states Junagadh — Mangrol and Babariawad were subject to the suzerainty as they reacted by declaring their independence from Junagadh and acceding to India.

The nawab of Junagadh militarily occupied the two states in response. Sending troops to the Junagadh frontier rulers of the other neighbouring states reacted angrily and appealed to the Government of India for assistance.

India believed that communal tension already simmering in Gujarat would worsen if Junagadh was permitted to accede to Pakistan, and refused to accept the Nawab’s choice of accession.

The state was 80% Hindu the government pointed out, and called for a plebiscite to decide the question of accession. The principalities of Mangrol and Babariawad that had acceded to India was occupied by the troops sent to the frontier as India cut off supplies of fuel and coal to Junagadh, severed air and postal links.

Pakistan agreed to discuss a plebiscite a condition that India rejected as it was subjected to the withdrawal of Indian troops. The Nawab and his family fled to Pakistan following clashes with Indian troops on 26 October. The state treasury of its cash and securities was emptied by the Nawab before leaving.

Facing collapse Junagadh’s court invited the Government of India to take over the State’s administration on November 7,1947. 

Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto, the father of the more famous Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was the Dewan of Junagadh who decided to invite the Government of India to intervene. The invitation of the Dewan to intervene was accepted by the government of India.

In February 1948, a plebiscite was conducted which went almost unanimously in favour of accession to India. Until November 1, 1956 Junagadh became a part of the Indian state of Saurashtra, as later Saurashtra became part of Bombay state.

Bombay state was split into the linguistic states of Maharashtra and Gujarat in 1960, in which Junagadh was located and since then Junagadh is part of Gujarat.


It was a princely state with a predominant Muslim population getting ruled by a Hindu king which had remained reluctant to join either of the two dominions. The case of this strategically located kingdom was one of the toughest as it had important international boundaries.

A proposal of standstill agreement to both India and Pakistan was offered by the ruler of Kashmir Maharaja Hari Singh with a pending final decision on the state’s accession. 

Pakistan invaded the Kashmir from north after entering into the standstill agreement with an army of soldiers and tribesmen carrying weapons. Thousands of tribal pathan swept into Kashmir in the early hours of 24th October, 1947.

The Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir sent his representative Sheikh Abdullah to Delhi to ask for India’s help. Maharaja Hari Singh fled from Srinagar and arrived in Jammu where he signed an 'Instrument of Accession' of J&K state on 26th October 1947.

The Indian jurisdiction would extend to external affairs, communications and defence according to the terms of the document. Indian troops were airlifted into the state and fought alongside the Kashmiris after the document was signed.

Maharaja Hari Singh announced the formation of an interim popular government with Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah as the Prime Minister on 5th March, 1948. The state constituent assembly met for the first time in Srinagar on 31st October 1951 after being elected in the same year.

In 1952, Jammu & Kashmir was given special position to the state under Indian Constitutional framework as the Delhi Agreement was signed between Prime Ministers of India and J&K. The J&K constituent assembly ratified the accession of the state to the Union of India on 6th february 1954.

The President subsequently issued the constitution order under Article 370 of the Constitution extending the Union Constitution to the state with some exceptions and modifications.

Jammu & Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India as per Section 3 of the J&K constitution. The President of India promulgated the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 2019, on 5th of August 2019.

The special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir under the provision of Article 370 was effectively abrogated by the order - whereby it was written that provisions of the Constitution which were applicable to other states were not applicable to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

These were the princely states which are now the Integral part of India.

Written by: Gourav Chowdhury

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