Hari Singh

Hari Singh
Hari Singh in 1944
Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir
Reign 23 September 1925 — 26 April 1961
Predecessor Pratap Singh
Successor Karan Singh
Born 23 September 1895
Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir, British India (present-day Jammu and Kashmir, India)
Died 26 April 1961 (aged 65)
Bombay, Maharashtra, India (present-day Mumbai)
Spouse Maharani Tara Devi (4th Wife)
Issue Karan Singh
House Dogra
Father Raja Amar Singh
Mother Rani Bhotiali Chib
Religion Hinduism[1]

Maharaja Hari Singh (September 1895 – 26 April 1961) was the last ruling Maharaja of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir in India.

Early life

Hari Singh was born on 23 September 1895 at the palace of Amar Mahal, Jammu, the only surviving son of Raja Amar Singh Jamwal,[2] the brother of Maharaja Pratap Singh, the then Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir. Since the Maharaja had no issue, Hari Singh was heir to the throne of Jammu and Kashmir.

In 1903, Hari Singh served as a page of honour to Lord Curzon at the grand Delhi Durbar. At the age of thirteen, he was sent to the Mayo College in Ajmer. A year later, in 1909, his father died, and the British took a keen interest in his education and appointed Major H. K. Brar as his guardian. After Mayo College, Hari Singh went to the British-run Imperial Cadet Corps at Dehra Dun for military training.

Maharaja Pratap Singh appointed him as the commander-in-chief of the State Forces in 1915.[3]

The "youthful escapades" of Hari Singh included paying £300,000 for blackmail by a prostitute in Paris in 1921. That issue had resulted in a court case in London in 1924 during which the India Office tried to keep his name out of proceedings by arranging for him to be referred to as "Mr A."[3]


Following the death of his uncle Pratap Singh in 1925, Hari Singh ascended the throne of Jammu and Kashmir. He made primary education compulsory in the state, introduced laws prohibiting child marriage, and opened places of worship to the low castes.[4]

The Seal of Maharaja Hari Singh had the British Crown was at the top. A katar or ceremonial dagger sat below the crown. Two soldiers held flags. An image of the sun was between them, that symbolised his Rajput lineage from Lord Surya, the Hindu Sun God.

Hari Singh was believed to have been hostile towards the Indian National Congress, in part because of the close friendship between Kashmiri political activist and socialist Sheikh Abdullah and the Congress leader Jawaharlal Nehru. He also opposed the Muslim League and its members' communalist outlook, as represented by their two-nation theory. During the Second World War, from 1944–1946 Sir Hari Singh was a member of the Imperial War Cabinet.

Partition and accession

In 1947, after India gained independence from British rule, Jammu and Kashmir had the option to join either India or Pakistan or to remain independent . Hari Singh originally manoeuvred to maintain his independence by playing off India and Pakistan. There was a widespread belief that rulers of the princely states, in deciding to accede to India or Pakistan, should respect the wishes of the population, but few rulers took any steps to consult on such decisions. Jammu and Kashmir was a Muslim majority state, however Hari Singh, being a Hindu wanted Kashmir to be a part of India. On this, Pashtun Tribesman from Pakistan invaded Kashmir and defeated Hari Singh's forces. Hari Singh appealed to India for help.[5] Although the Indian Prime Minister Nehru was ready to send troops, the Governor-General of India, Lord Mountbatten of Burma, advised the Maharaja to accede to India before India could send its troops. Hence, considering the emergency situation, the Maharaja signed an Instrument of Accession to the Dominion of India.[6]

Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession on 26 October 1947, joining the whole of his princely state (including Jammu, Kashmir, Northern Areas, Ladakh, Trans-Karakoram Tract and Aksai Chin) to the Dominion of India.[7][8] These events triggered the first Indo-Pakistan War.

Pressure from Nehru and Sardar Patel eventually compelled Hari Singh to appoint his son and heir, Yuvraj (crown prince) Karan Singh, as Regent of Jammu and Kashmir in 1949, although he remained titular Maharaja of the state until 1952, when the monarchy was abolished. He was also forced to appoint Sheikh Abdullah as prime minister of Kashmir. He had a contentious relationship with both the Congress Leaders and, at the time, their most favored and popular politician in the area, Sheikh Abdullah.[9] Karan Singh was appointed 'Sadr-e-Riyasat' ('President of the Province') in 1952 and Governor of the State in 1964.[9] Abdullah would later be dismissed from his position as prime minister of Kashmir and jailed by Karan Singh, son of Hari Singh.[10]

Hari Singh spent his final days at the Hari Niwas Palace in Jammu. He died on 26 April 1961 at Bombay. As per his will, his ashes were brought to Jammu and spread all over Jammu and Kashmir and immersed in the Tawi River at Jammu.[11]


He was married four times. With his fourth wife, Maharani Tara Devi (1910–1967), he had one son, Yuvraj (crown prince) Karan Singh.[12]

  • Spouses
  1. Dharampur Rani Sri Lal Kunverba Sahiba; married at Rajkot 7 May 1913, died during pregnancy in 1915. No child.
  2. Chamba Rani Sahiba; married at Chamba 8 November 1915, died 31 January 1920. No child.
  3. Maharani Dhanvant Kunveri Baiji Sahiba (1910–19?); married at Dharampur 30 April 1923. No child.
  4. Maharani Tara Devi Sahiba of Kangra,(1910–1967); married 1928, separated 1950, one son:


(ribbon bar, as it would look today; incomplete)

Hari Singh
Born: 23 September 1895 Died: 26 April 1961
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Pratap Singh
(as Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir)
Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir
Succeeded by


  1. Mridu Rai, Hindu Rulers, Muslim Subjects 2004.
  2. General Sir Raja Amar Singh Jamwal: 14 January 1865 – 26 March 1909
  3. 1 2 Snedden, Christopher (2015). Understanding Kashmir and Kashmiris. Oxford University Press. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-84904-342-7.
  4. Anand, Ragubhir Lal (2014-02-01). IS God DEAD?????. Partridge Publishing. p. 26. ISBN 978-1-48281-823-9.
  5. Maharaja Hari Singh's Letter to Mountbatten
  6. Ramachandra., Guha, (2008-01-01). India after Gandhi : the history of the world's largest democracy. Harper Perennial. ISBN 0060958588. OCLC 474262656.
  7. Justice A. S. Anand, The Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir (5th edition, 2006), page 67
  8. Kashmir, Research Paper 04/28 by Paul Bowers, House of Commons Library, United Kingdom. Archived 28 July 2004 at the Wayback Machine., page 46, 30 March 2004
  9. 1 2 Ramachandra., Guha, (2008-01-01). India after Gandhi : the history of the world's largest democracy. Harper Perennial. p. 92. ISBN 0060958588. OCLC 474262656.
  10. Ramachandra., Guha, (2008-01-01). India after Gandhi : the history of the world's largest democracy. Harper Perennial. p. 262. ISBN 0060958588. OCLC 474262656.
  11. "J&K power defaulters cocking a snook at CM". Daily Pioneer. 18 January 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
  12. Mufti, Kashmir in Sickness and in Health 2013, p. 157.


  • Rai, Mridu (2004), Hindu Rulers, Muslim Subjects: Islam, Rights, and the History of Kashmir, C. Hurst & Co, ISBN 1850656614 
  • Mufti, Gulzar (2013), Kashmir in Sickness and in Health, Partridge Publishing India, ISBN 978-1-4828-0998-5 

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