Sirpur-Chanda Gond Dynasty

c.1220 AD - 1750 A.D: Sirpur-Chanda Gond Dynasty of Gondwana KingdomFounder : Kol Bhill or Kol Bheel or Kolkhil 

Capitals : Sirpur (modern Komaram Bheem Asifabad district, Telangana), Ballarsha, Chanda (Chandrapur district, Maharashtra)
Languages : Gondi language is known as ‘Koyator’ among Gonds. Southern Gondi, Adilabad Gondi, Northern Gondi, Aheri Gondi are variants of the language.
Religion : Brahmanical Hinduism or Cult of the Persa Pen (clan deities); ancestor spirit worship
Royal Emblem : Lion and Elephant
Family Name: Singh, Shah
Sirpur-Chanda Gond Kingdom flourished along with Kakatiyas, Mususnuru, Recharla Padmanayakas, Bahmani, Golkonda, Moghul and Asaf-Jahi dynasties.

The term ‘Gond’ is derived from Telugu ‘Konda’ which refers to a hill. Tribal communities living in hills of central India are called Gonds. They also call themselves Koitur / Koya, or “the ones who come from the green mountains”. They may be found in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, and Odisha. They are one of the largest tribal communities in India with a population of over three million as per 2011 census records. Their presence is widely divided across central India. They were classified as Raj-gonds, Khatola gonds, Madia gonds, Dhur gonds, Dadve gonds, Mokasi gonds, Gaita Gonds, Koyas, etc. Raj Gonds belong to the ruling class among them.
Adilabad in Telangana speak Gondi influenced by Telugu language. So, one may understand that ‘Gondi’ today refers to those who speak Gondi language. Gondi language is known as ‘Koyator’ among Gonds.

In Telangana the Raj Gonds are mostly confined to Adilabad district, though a few groups can be seen in adjoining Karimnagar district. They have spread up to borders of Maharashtra state.
The Rajgonds finally established their four kingdoms through their distinct dynasties Mundla-Gurrah, Kherla, Sirpur-Chanda and Deogarh the fifth dynasty was established at Warangal.

Adilabad based kingdom spread across Adilabad district of Telangana, Chandrapur and Bhandara districts in Maharashtra state. The rulers were known to have developed systematic irrigation channels & refined revenue system.

Between the 14th and the 18th centuries, three main Gond kingdoms existed; Garha-Mandla occupied the upper Narmada Valley, Deogarh-Nagpur occupied the Kanhan River and upper Wainganga River valleys, and Chanda-Sirpur occupied present-day Chandrapur, Gadchiroli, and eastern Adilabad districts.

 Kol Bhill or Kol Bheel or Kolkhil
According to the local Gond traditions, a hero known as Kol Bhill or Kol Bheel rose among them whose name is a curious combination of the names of two other aboriginal races (Kols and Bhils), that the Southern Gonds or Sirpur-Chanda Gonds owe the beginnings of their rule. A man of great strength and wisdom, he first welded the Gond tribes together, and taught them the elements of civilisation. He gathered the scattered Gond tribes and formed them into a sort of nation, teaching them the extraction of iron from iron ore and other elements of civilization.

He led the Gonds against the Naga tribals of Mana Dynasty of Wairagarh of present-day Maharashtra, who had dominated the region for about 200 years. After years of warfare the Manas fell to the Gonds, who replaced them.

According to Gond legends, a Gond chief, Bhim Ballal Singh, organized the Gonds and established his rule in Sirpur in 870 AD. The legend also names 19 Gond rulers.

Bhim Ballal Singh
His capital was at Sirpur, on the right bank of the Wardha river, and his chief stronghold was the fortress of Manikgarh, in the hills behind Sirpur. For the first eight generations these Gond kings reigned at Sirpur, in the modern State of Telangana. 

But the Manas fort of Manikgarh in the high ranges of the hills remained

Kharja Bhallal Singh 
Son of Bhim Ballal Singh

Hira or Heera Singh 
Conspicuous amongst these rulers was Hir Singh the grandson of Bhim Ballal Singh. Brave in war and wise in administration he was the first to persuade his wild fellow-countrymen to cultivate the land. To him is attributed some- thing like a rudimentary land-revenue system. First to levy tax on occupied lands.

Andia Bhallal Singh
Andea son of Heera Singh came to rule after his father and harassed people by increasing taxes. People revolted against him and died very early. 

Talwar Singh
Andea's son Talwar Singh succeeded his father. He was a good ruler, gave relief and freedom to people who were harassed under his father. His minister and chief of forts misued his confidence in them and harassed people and increased taxes again. They created their own army and got ready to declare indolence. Talwar singh could not control them and made his son Kesar Singh ruler of the kingdom and retired.

Kesar Singh
As Kesar Singh was courageous, he fought battles with the chiefs of forts who turned against his father and suppressed them. He reduced taxes and focussed on agriculture sector and provided irrigation facilities like ponds and dug drinking water wells. He also introduced administrative reforms again and gained the respect of the people.

Dinkar or Dinakar Singh
Dinakar Singh son of Kesar Singh, succeeded him. He was a patron of literature and arts and patronized several musicians and Marathi scholars of Maharashtra. His period was called as the golden era of Gondwana Kingdom. The culture of the Gond court improved. Though a self-indulgent character he was in some respects more enlightened than his predecessors. Gond bards flocked to his capital at Sirpur and pundits acquainted with Marathi, were encouraged to settle there.

Ram Singh
On his death his son Ram Singh succeeded him. Of him it is writte " Just and truthful in his intercourse with his subjects and daring and successful as a soldier. Ram Singh governed the kingdom righteously and enlarged its bounds. 

To increase its security he erected several hill-forts on the south-west, and maintained a chosen band of warriors called ' Tarvels' or Tarvekas or Tadavel. These men had eaten the * taru ' (a rare orchid) with certain ceremonial obser- vances, and were supposed. to be invulnerable. To each of his Tarvels the King made grants of land."

Ahmed Shah of the Bahamani empire attacks his kingdom and invests Fort Mahur, capturing Kalamb. This results in the massacre of many Hindus.

1405 AD - 1437 AD - Surja Ballal Singh alis Ser Shah
Ram Singh was succeeded by his son Surja Ballal Singh, who is one of the most romantic figures of old Gondwana. Handsome in person, and a lover of adventure he began his princely career by some years of wandering. After visiting Benares, the holy city of Hinduism, he journeyed to Lucknow, where he devoted himself to the study of war and song. His troubadour- like existence in Oudh, however, was cut short in a rather unpleasant manner. The looting pro- pensities of his Gond escort having reached the ears of the Emperor at Delhi, orders went out for the Gond prince's arrest. This was no easy matter, as his brave Tarvels were ever watchful of their master, and on several occasions proved more than a match for the imperial troops, who were sent from Delhi to arrest him. One day, however, when wandering near Lucknow, without his escort, BaUal Singh was captured, and carried off to Delhi, where he was kept in close confine- ment. Horrified at^ the capture of their brave prince, his escort of Tarvels hastened back to Gondwana to break the evil tidings at the Gond capital of Sirpur. Then it was that the " tocsin " resounded throughout the forest lands of Chanda, and the Tarvels were siunmoned by Jarba, the regent, to come speedily to the rescue of Ballal Singh. Meanwhile things had taken a turn for the better with Surja Ballal Singh. As he wiled away the weary hours of his captivity in song, it fell out one day that the Emperor's lovely daughter passing by that part of the palace where he was confined, heard him singing. Desirous of seeing the prince who could sing so well, she persuaded the Emperor to send for him. The result of this interview was just what Ballal Singh must have desired. Struck by his princely bearing the Emperor enquired whether Ballal Singh could fight as well as sing. On the Gond prince replying that he only longed for an opportunity of showing his skill in battle the Emperor allotted to him the difficult task of subduing the fortress of Mohan Singh which his own generals had failed to take. This Rajput prince had incurred the Emperor's displeasure by refusing to give his beautiful daughter to the imperial harem. Hardly had Ballal Singh accepted this honour- able tads^ and before he had time to start for Gondwana where he was about to raise an army of Gonds^there appeared before the gates of Delhi the Gond regent Jarba and an army of Tarvels and other Gonds, bent on the rescue of their prince. On learning the changed condition of affairs and that their prince was now a commander in the Muslim armies Jarba gladly agreed to accompany the expedition. Ten thousand picked soldiers from the imperial troops were added to the force, and Ballal Singh was soon on his way to the rebelious State. The campaign was a brief and successful one. The Tarvels, under the leadership of their prince, performed miracles of valour, stormed the fortress, slew the Rajah, and captured his widow and daughter.

Then follows the romance of the story. The beautiful widow implored the chivahous Surja Ballal Singh to save her and her daughter from the imperial harem and he overcome by her charms rashly undertook to do so. His task was by no means an easy one but Surja Ballal Singh eventually devised a plan by which he succeeded in deceiving the Emperor and acquiring the ladies for himself. A rumour was started by his orders among his troops, that his eldest son — a beautiful boy — had just arrived in camp. Disguising the beautiful young Rajputni princess in boy's dress, he placed her on the state elephant on which he himself rode triumphantly into Delhi. Proceeding to the imperial palace he announced his arrival and craved the audience of the Emperor. The Emperor seated on his throne in the Diwan-i-Khass welcomed the victorious prince, and taking the beautiful child on his knee addressed him as his dear child. Then turning to Ballal Singh he asked of him : " Where, O Prince, is the fruit of thy victory ? " " Your Majesty holds her in your lap," replied the Gond prince, " and as you have called her ' Your dear child ' she can be nothing else to you.*' What the Emperor really felt about this trick which Surja Ballal Singh had played on him we are not told. His honour, however, was now involved, and he at once renounced all claim to the Rajput ladies, who later on accompanied the Gond prince to his capital at Sirpur. It speaks well for an autocrat like the Emperor of Delhi that in spite of this act of deception he was ready to confer on Surja Ballal Singh a dress of honour as a reward for his bravery. The title of Sher Shah was also conferred on him, so that after his return from Delhi he was no longer known as Surja Ballal Singh, but as Sher Shah Ballal Shah. Readers of Gond records cannot fail to be struck by the fact that while the earlier rulers of the Northern and Southern Gond dynasties are styled " Singh " (the Rajput title for a ruler), the later rulers are styled " Shah," an abbreviated form of Padishah, the Muslim term for a ruler. Doubtless the change of title merely marked the decline of early Rajput influence, and the ascendency of the Moghul power.

1472 AD - 1497 AD : Khandkia or Khandkya Ballal Shah
Changed Capital from Sirpur to first Ballarsha and later to Chanda.
On the death of the Surja his son Khandkia Ballal Shah came to the throne. Suffering constantly from ill-healthy it seemed hardly possible that his reign would add any lustre to the southern house of Gond kings. And yet, strange though it may seem, it was this very ill-health of their ruler which was destined to bring about a change, which did so much to strengthen the position of the Southern Gond kingdom. Khandkia's queen was a woman of more than ordinary discernment and decision of character. In her anxiety for his health she urged him to abandon the home of his ancestors at Sirpur, and to seek a healthier and more secure capital on the opposite side of the Wardha river. Acting on her advice, the Gond king moved his capital to a site on the high banks of the left bank of the Wardha river which still bears his name. There he built the picturesque fortress of Ballarshah — now partly in ruins — which commands a splendid view of the river and a wide sweep of Deccan country. Still suffering from his disease, he spent much of his time in the saddle, exploring the surrounding country, and hunting its game. It was while engaged on one of his hunting expeditions that the event occurred which led to the founding of the city of Chanda. Riding one day some ten miles from Ballarshah he became extremely thirsty, and while walking his horse up the dry bed of a small river, to his great joy discovered a small pool of water in its rocky bed. Dis- mounting he greedily drank the cool water, and bathed his face and hands in the pool. That night on his return, to Ballarshah, he slept as he had not slept for years. In the morning when he awoke his queen noticed that the swellings and tumours which had disfigured his handsome face and body for some years had almost vanished. In her delight she questioned him closely about the pool in which he had bathed, and being convinced that there was more in it than ordinary water, she implored Ballal Shah to take her over to it that very morning. On reaching the spot orders were at once given to have all the grass and jungle removed from around the pool, when, to the wonder and delight of the king and queen, as well as to the assembled court, five deep footprints of the sacred cow were seen in the solid rock, each filled with an unfailing supply of water. Further enquiry made it dear that this spot was none other than the resting- place of the great god Achaleshwar "The Immovable One.'' Further bathing in its sacred waters soon re- stored the king to complete healthy and removed all his bodily disfigurements. Not long afterwards to confirm this great discovery^ the god Achaleshwar appeared in a night vision to the happy king. Possessed of a genius for taking hints from either gods or men, she made it quite dear to the king that the god Achaleshwar expected him to build a temple over the sacred pools in his honour. Plans of the temple were speedily prepared, stone was quarried, the foundations were laid with due ceremony, and before many months the temple of Achaleshwar was rising from the ground, a temple which still stands, after 500 years, in memory of Khandkia Ballal Shah's restoration to health and happiness. While this temple was in process of construe^ tion, another event occurred which was to lead to the founding of the city of Chanda. It was the king's custom to ride over from Ballarshah from time to time to see how the work at the temple progressed. On his rides he was invariably accompanied by a faVourite dog. One day when riding back to Ballarshah, and while dose to the temple, a hare darted out of a bush, and strange to rdate began to chase his dog. The dog fled in wild terror with the hare in close pursuit. Astonished at the sight, the king followed the chase as closely as he could. At times, with a view of shaking of his pursuer, the dog ran in wide circles, while the hare took a shorter and more grag course. And so the race continued until both the animals were nearly exhausted. Then when they were approaching the place Where the race had begun, after a circular chase of nearly seven miles, the dog in wild desperation turned on the hare, and after a sharp struggle killed it. Approaching the dead hare, the Gond Rajah observed for the first time that on its forehead was a strange white mark or " tika." Full of his strange adventure he rode back to Ballarshah to tell the story to his sympathetic queen. Again her genius penetrated into the inner meaning of this mysterious occurrence. It was clearly an omen sent by the gods that Khandkia Ballal Shah was again to change his capital, and build a fortified city around the temple of Achaleshwar. The chase was but the gods own method of town- planning. The walls of the city must be built over the tracks of the sacred hare — strong bastions must be built at the places where the dog had made his circular detour — and special fortifications would be needed where the hare had closed with the dog, and also where the dog had slain the hare; for these would always be danger zones in the new city. Thus was begun the city of Chanda, or Chandrapur, which, according to some, derives its name from the moon, and according to others from the white spot on the hare's forehead,

1497 AD - 1522 AD: Heer Shah
Khandkia Ballal Shah was succeeded by his son Heer Shah, in whose reign the country prospered. Like his remote ancestor, Hir Singh of Sirpur, his mind was bent on the improvement of agriculture in South Gondwana. Calling the trusty Tarvels to a banquet, he urged on them the duty of clearing and cultivating the lands which his grandfather had bestowed on them. To every one who cleared his lands of forest and jungle, was offered the rights of ownership, whereas those who through laziness and apathy refused to do so, were duly warned that their lands would be confiscated. Nor was Hir Shah content with merely issuing orders on these subjects. From time to time it was his custom to tour throughout his wild State, for the purpose of seeing for himself how his orders had been obeyed. Boundaries were then marked out^ and ** sanads,' or rights of tenure, were formally bestowed on worthy land- holders. Special rewards also were given to those who had constructed tanks on their prqperty — and those who had made irrigation channels or canals were often given all the land which their waters reached. In this way much of the wild country was brought under cultivation, and numbers of the migratory Gonds were drawn into the quiet life of the agriculturist. It is to Hir Shah in particular that the Chanda district owes so many of its splendid tanks. Once a year all landowners appeared before the Rajah at Chanda to pay their rents and exhibit their ploughs and other field implements. By this means a rough calculation of the value of their property was made. In Hir Shah's reign the massive gates of Chanda, with their quaint emblem of Gond sovereignty —the elephant helpless in the grasp of a gigantic tiger/' which resembled the mastodon of pre- historic days, were completed. To him also belongs the honour of building the citadel and the palace, parts of which still remain, though degraded to the less noble uses of a jail and police station I of Hir Shah it is specially recorded that he paid tribute to no foreign king, so that any over-lordship on the part of the Bahmani kings of the Deccan.

1522 AD - 1542 AD : Bhuma and Lokba
As Hir Sah had no sons his widow Hirabai adopted Bhuma and Lokba as his successors from the Gond family at Movad .
On his death his two sons Bhuma and Lokba jointly ruled the kingdom, according to a scheme laid down by their father. Fortunately no jealousy or rival ambitions were felt by either of them. Those were merry days in Chanda, like the days of Good Queen Bess in England. In the summer season the various Gond chieftains and headmen waited on their princes, with bodies painted in divers colours, and adorned with various ornaments, such as peacocks' feathers, beetles' wings, tiger and panther sldns, and the horns of the young bison. Each headman brougt with him specimens of the various products found on his estate, both animal and vegetable and the festivities concluded with a great banquet at the royal palace. There was a pleasing diversity among these old Gond rulers of Chanda. Some were stem warriors full of ambition to extend their territories ; while others were more peacefully inclined, who won their triumphs in the devdopment of the resources of their forests and jungles.

1542 AD - 1572 AD : Kam Shah
Kam Shah, the grandson of Hir Shah, belonged, however, to another and less conunon type of ruler. Thoughtful and religious, he was from the first strongly attracted to the Hindu religion. A lover of its sacred books, Brahmans and Pandits soon flocked to his kingdom, and were rewarded with fields and villages free of rent. Lingas of Mahadeo were set up in many places, new temples built and old temples restored. Justice, too, was administered as never before. Before his days no king in South Gondwana ever dreamt of interfering in the disputes of his subjects, and every ntian was his own judge and high-executioner. If anyone had appealed to the king for justice when their relations had been murdered, the king had but one reply, ''Slay your enemy." In Kam Shah's days those state of things was no longer tolerated. Justice was evenly administered, and habitual offenders were banished from the State. Falsehood and perjury woe punished with the utmost severity, and men dwelt securely under the shadow of their vines and fig-trees.

1572 AD - 1597 AD : Babaji Ballal Shah
Seldom is any mention made of these jungle kingdoms in the annals of the Imperial Court at Delhi but so prosperous and important had Southern Gondwana become at this period that in the Ain-i-Akbari or Chronicles of Akbar it is recorded of Babaji Ballal Shah Kam Shah's son that he paid no tribute to Delhi and possessed an army of 10,000 cavaliy and 40,000 infantry." In his reign the city of Wairagarh— the capital of their hereditary foes was added to the kingdom of Chanda.

1597 AD - 1622 AD : Dhundia Ram Shah
On his death , he was succeeded by his son , Dhundia Ram Shah ; it was during his reign that the city - walls surrounding Chanda were completed and , as such , inaugurated by him with due ceremonies , which included , among other things .

1622 AD - 1640 AD : Krishna Shah
Son. Extended territory to Nagpur.
The custom of sacrificing cows to the gond god pharsa pen was abolished by him and it was substituted with goat.
1637 A.D - In January of 1637, Deogarh was invaded by Khan-i-Dauran joined by Krishna Shah of Chanda, who had an enmity with the Deogarh kings since the reign of Jatba. Kok Shah was defeated in the siege of the Nagpur fort and submitted to Khan-i-Dauran on 16 January 1637.

1640 AD - 1691 AD : Bir ShahBir Shah discontinues tribute to the Moghuls following the house arrest of Shah Jahan, but Aurangzeb sends an army under the command of Diler Khan to attack the Gonds, forcing them to sue for peace.

Bir Shah, one of the most distinguished princes of Chanda, had given his daughter to Durgpal, a prince of the royal house of Deogarh. Durgpal, who most probably had never seen the princess till the day of his marriage, seems to have taken a violent dislike to his bride, and to have insulted her in some inexcusable way. Bir Shah in wild anger vowed that he would never rest till he had placed the head of the ntiiscreant Durgpal on the top of the shrine of the great goddess Kali at Chanda. A bloody battle ensued, and in its earlier stages everything went well with the Moslem Gond king of Deogarh. Bir Shah was on the point of being captured, when drawing the sacred sword jof his house, and with a loud voice invoking the aid of Maha Kali, he rushed on Durgpal, and with one blow deprived his son-in-law of his head. After the death of their prince the army of Deogarh lost heart and fled, and Bir Shah returned with his triumphant army to Chanda. And to-day, high up on the roof of the lofty temple of Maha Kali, which lies outside the city walls of Chanda on its southern side, one may see a head carved in stone gazing away northwards to Deogarh, which recalls the story of the unfortunate Durgpal.

Bir Shah's own end was even more tragic than that of his son-in-law. It came to him on the day of his second marriage. There is an old Indian custom that part of the bridegroom's duty on the marriage day is to fetch the bride from her father's house to his own. For some years there had been at Bir Shah's court a Rajput named Hiraman, renowned for his skill at arms and believed to be the possessor of a magic sword. More than once Bir Shah had asked this rather mysterious person to reveal to him the secret of his sword but to no purpose. And for the last time on this happy day, before the royal procession set out to the bride's house, he again asked him, half in banter, to explain to him the secret. Hitherto silent and sullen, Hiraman suddenly burst forth into a fierce passion, and before the courtiers could intervene, killed the king, and then killed himself. So perished Bir Shah, one of the bravest and best of the Gond kings of Chanda. And to mark the deep sense of loss at his tragic death, the noblest of all the tombs in Chanda was raised over his grave, close to the temple of Achaleshwar.

1691 AD - 1735 A.D - Ram Shah
Famous for wisdom and uprightness was Ram Shah, one of the last kings of Chanda, that it is reported of him that when Raghuji Bhonsla, the Maratha leader, visited Chanda, with a view to seeking a pretext for a quarrel, he ended his visit by almost worshipping him as a god. " Well would it have been, so Canon Wood writes in his article on Chanda, 'if the fast failing thread of the Gond rule had been severed at Ram Shah's death."

1735 AD - 1751 A.D - Neelkanth Shah
For Ram Shah's son and successor, Nilkanth Shah, was an evil and cruel ruler, who dismissed his father's most trustworthy councillors, ground down his subjects, and interfered foolishly and needlessly in the political disputes of Deogarh. And all the time the Maratha foe was but waiting for his opportunity, and when he again approached the gates of the royal city of Chanda, it was not by force of arms, but by the treachery of a discontented people, that he triumphed.

1751: Nilkanth Shah tries to throw off the power held by Raghuji Bhosale over the Gonds, but is defeated. The Gonds are forced to accepted the overlordship of Raghuji Bhosale, Maratha ruler of Nagpur, and are reduced to holding just Ballarshah, while Chandrapur is annexed by Raghuji Bhosale. Nilkanth Shah makes an attempt at rebellion but is imprisoned, ending the Gond dynasty of Chandrapur. Chandrapur becomes fully part of the Berar dominion of the Maratha Bhosales.

Certainly the achievements of the southern house of Gondwana were quite remarkable. "Originally but petty chiefs of a savage tribe, they spread their kingdom over a wide stretch of country, reclaiming much of the forest land, peopling them with a prosperous people and keeping their country free from the foreign invader. And when at length they passed away, they left a well-governed kingdom, prosperous to a point which has not since been reached.

Gonds built 21 forts at Chennur, Asifabad, Laksettipet, Bodh, Adilabad, Utnoor, Sirpur, Tandur, Manikghar, Ballaharsha, Chandrapur, Yatmaz, Nirmal, Jakut and Khanapur. The ruins of these forts can be seen today at many places.

At least 20 garhis or minor forts dot the expansive tribal heartland of Adilabad,Komaram Bheem Asifabad,Mancherial and Nirmal (all constituting old Adilabad).

Among the must-visit garhis are the one at Sirpur (T) where only the main gate of the fort stands today and some of its innards.


  1. It hurts, how the different King dynasties have been ignored by historian.
    Now suffering from separation, atrocities , insecurity, financial crunches and extreme backwardness in the society.
    Who is responsible for their plight today,
    Govt, society or themselves.


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