Satara is a district in what is today southwestern Maharashtra, named after its eponymous capital city. In early modern times, it was part of the heartland of the Maratha Confederacy (or ‘Empire’), a Hindu-led state that during much of the 18th Century was the premier power in India, controlling large parts of the subcontinent. The British East India Company (EIC) vanquished the Marathas, during the Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817-8), whereupon the British took control over their lands, amounting to approximately 150,000 square miles of territory (including the Satara District).
Mountstuart Elphinstone, who served as the Governor the Bombay Presidency from 1819 to 1827, devised a system for maintaining British suzerainty over much of the former Maratha lands (including Satara). He advocated a policy of minimal interference, whereby local rulers would be left in charge of day-to-day governance as much as possible. As long as the local rulers submitted the agreed tax revenues to the British regime and kept the country peaceful, much of the traditional Maratha system would remain in place in most areas.
Focusing on Satara, in 1818, the British made Pratap Singh Bhosale, the last Chhatrapati (Emperor) of the Maratha Empire, the Raja of the district, making it into a ‘princely state’, or client state of the British colonial regime. This was a good way of preserving peace, while giving elements of the former Maratha leadership some measure of honor befitting their history. Below the Raja, were the jaghirdars, feudal leaders who oversaw local affairs in jaghirs, local divisions. In Satara the offices of Raja and the jaghirdars were hereditary; however, the British inserted a hitch, enacting the ‘Doctrine of Lapse’. This policy allowed the noble clans to control their offices as long as they maintained an uninterrupted succession of legitimate male heirs. In the event that this chain was broken, their office was to be abolished and their lands placed under complete British sovereignty.
Satara’s leadership soon came subject the Doctrine of Lapse, when Pratap Singh’s successor, Raja Shahaji, died in 1839 without a male heir. The British duly annexed Satara, ensuring that it was to come directly under the auspices of the EIC Presidency of Bombay.
Yet, many of the jaghirdar dynasties in Satara continued in their offices, while others fell afoul of the Doctrine, such that their lands were transferred to direct British control. While the present map could serve many uses, it was expressly intended to depict which Satara jaghirs were to remain under local rule, and which ones were to be surrendered to the EIC. Satara was of special interest to the British, due to its strategic location, and its potential for high-yield agriculture.
The present map embraces all of the Satara District, which is shown to extend from the heights of the Western Ghats, in the west, and then over the plateau deep into the interior of the Indian Peninsula, in the east. Satara, the capital, is located in the left centre of the map, while the major British political and military base of Poona (today Pune), is located in the upper left, outside of the district. A sophisticated topographical map, areas of elevation are represented by hachures, while all forts, cities, towns, and villages are labelled, while the main roads are traced.
The map was compiled from the best available sources by J.W. Windsor, a draftsman at the Quarter Master General’s Department of the Bombay Army. Windsor was already well known for creating an important transportation map of the greater region, Route Map of the Bombay Presidency (Bombay, 1852). With the assistance of the local draftsman, Gowind Powar, the map was printed, in a charmingly crude ‘provincial’ manner, at the government press at ‘Mahableshwur’ (today Mahabaleshwar), a hill station and Hindu pilgrimage site in the Western Ghats, in the Satara District, that was the ‘Summer Capital of the Bombay Presidency’ (Mahabaleshwar can be found in the upper left of the map).
As noted in the ‘References’, in the upper left, the map employs colour coding to identify seven different classifications of jaghirs. The areas outlined in ‘Crimson’ are jaghirs that were to be annexed by the British, while the six other jaghirs, outlined in their own colours, were to remain under the control of their named jaghirdars.
The present map is the best cartographic work of Satara of its era and in addition to showcasing the current state of local governance, it could also be used for military and infrastructure planning, this explaining why it was made by the Quarter Master General’s Department.
A Note on Rarity
The present map is extremely rare. It seems that it might had been extracted from some obscure, hitherto unidentified book, or pamphlet, but in any event, it is certainly uncommon. The press at Mahabaleshwar was only capable of supporting only very modest print runs, with issues reserved for high level official use.
We can trace only a single institutional example of the map, held by the Newberry Library (Chicago), while we cannot trace any sales records or any bibliographical references.
References: Newberry Library: 152429 / G 1069 .437; OCLC: 61405025.