Tuesday, 13 August 2013

SHEKHAVATI - Merchant Towns

Merchant Towns

Shekhavat’s and Qaimkhani’s followed the custom of equally diving the estates among their sons. By 19th Century they held smaller and smaller shares in smaller and smaller estates. They competed with each other offering concession to merchants, especially their own protection. Over time this competition may well have resulted in a mercantile influx in this area as a whole. The concessions often included exemptions from estate octrois and immunities from prosecution. Special emissaries from estate owners are reported to have convinced the Poddars of Churu to move to Ramgarh and the Goenkas to move to Dundlod, then budding centres of Shekhavati.

An apocryphal story about the formation of Ramgarh arrributes it to the fact that the Thakurani of Churu teased her sister, the Rao Rani of Sikar over the lack of merchants in Sikar realm. On her return the Rao Rani was supposed to have pestered her husband until he agreed to setup a merchant city state in RamgarhAnother apocryphal story about the formation of Ramgarh’s origin is rather interesting. It so happened that in Churu, which was a part of the Bikaner state, a particular Poddar clan rose to great prominence as the main merchant family trading in woollen products. Nothing was wrong with that; trade was the main occupation of the marwaris of Shekhawati. But things became really bad when the state funds dried up and the thakur (chieftain) of Churu imposed a new levy on the wool trade. This obviously angered the Poddars. They thought this was unfair and opposed the hike. But the thakur was adamant too. So the Poddars lifted their bag and baggage and off they went to settle themselves in a new place (see Churu for more). and with the help of the Raja of Sikar, the Poddars founded Ramgarh in 1791. The displaced Poddars then vowed to make Ramgarh so beautiful so as to outdo Churu. 

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