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

He was married four times. With his fourth wife, Maharani Tara Devi (1910–1967), he had one son, Yuvraj (Crown Prince) Karan Singh.

Early life

Hari Singh was born on 23 September 1895 at the palace of Amar Mahal, Jammu, the only surviving son of General Raja Sir Amar Singh Jamwal (14 January 1865 – 26 March 1909), the brother of Maharaja Pratap Singh, the then Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir.

Education and preparation for the throne

In 1903, Hari Singh served as a page of honour to Lord Curzon at the grand Delhi Durbar. At the age of thirteen, Hari Singh was dispatched 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, the ruler-in-waiting went to the British-run Imperial Cadet Corps at Dehra Dun for military training.[citation needed] Pratap Singh appointed him as commander-in-chief of the state forces of Jammu and Kashmir in 1915.[1]


The last Maharaja of Kashmir

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.[2] His ascent was despite misgivings concerning "youthful escapades", including him having paid £300,000 when he was blackmailed 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."[1]

Singh was 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.[citation needed]

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[citation needed]. 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[citation needed]. Jammu and Kashmir was a Muslim majority state, and Pashtun tribesmen from Pakistan invaded Jammu and Kashmir under the impression that Hari Singh would accede to India. Hari Singh appealed to India for help.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5][6] 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.[7] Karan Singh was appointed 'Sadr-e-Riyasat' ('President of the Province') in 1952 and Governor of the State in 1964.[7] Abdullah would later be dismissed from his position as prime minister of Kashmir and jailed by Karan Singh, son of Hari Singh.[8]

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.[9][not in citation given]

Seal of Maharaja Hari Singh

Detail of the Seal of Maharaja Hari Singh as printed on the Civil List of his government

The British Crown was at the top, representing the Emperor of India, whose Resident was posted in Kashmir. 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.


  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:


Titles of Maharaga Hari Singh and Yuvraj Karan Singh on the first page of his Civil List of 1945

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

Ord.Stella.India.jpg Order of the Indian Empire Ribbon.svg

Royal Victorian Order ribbon sm.jpg India Service Medal BAR.svg 39-45 Star BAR.svg Africa Star BAR.svg

War Medal 39-45 BAR.svg Med.DelhiDurbar1903.png King George V Coronation Medal ribbon.png GeorgeVSilverJubileum-ribbon.png

GeorgeVICoronationRibbon.png Indian Independence medal 1947.svg Cavaliere di Gran Croce OCI Kingdom BAR.svg Legion Honneur GO ribbon.svg

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. ^ a b Snedden, Christopher (2015). Understanding Kashmir and Kashmiris. Oxford University Press. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-84904-342-7. 
  2. ^ Anand, Ragubhir Lal (2014-02-01). IS God DEAD?????. Partridge Publishing. p. 26. ISBN 978-1-48281-823-9. 
  3. ^ Maharaja Hari Singh's Letter to Mountbatten
  4. ^ Ramachandra., Guha, (2008-01-01). India after Gandhi : the history of the world's largest democracy. Harper Perennial. ISBN 0060958588. OCLC 474262656. 
  5. ^ Justice A. S. Anand, The Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir (5th edition, 2006), page 67
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ a b Ramachandra., Guha, (2008-01-01). India after Gandhi : the history of the world's largest democracy. Harper Perennial. p. 92. ISBN 0060958588. OCLC 474262656. 
  8. ^ Ramachandra., Guha, (2008-01-01). India after Gandhi : the history of the world's largest democracy. Harper Perennial. p. 262. ISBN 0060958588. OCLC 474262656. 
  9. ^ "J&K power defaulters cocking a snook at CM". Daily Pioneer. 18 January 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2013. 

External links