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H. H. Maharajadhiraj Raj Rajeshwar Sawai Shrimant Yashwant Rao Holkar (Marathi: यशवंतराव होळकर) Bahadur, was one of the Maharaja from Maratha Empire.

He was born on 3 December 1776. He was a gifted military leader and educated in accountancy as well as literate in Persian and Marathi. Yashwant Rao has been often referred to as the "Napoleon of India".

In January 1799, Yashwant Rao Holkar was crowned King, as per Hindu Vedic rites and in May, 1799, he captured Ujjain. He started campaigning towards the north to expand his empire in that region. Yashwant Rao rebelled against the policies of the Peshwa Baji Rao II. On May 1802, he marched towards Pune the seat of the Peshwa. This gave rise to the Battle of Poona in which the Peshwa was defeated. After the defeat the Peshwa he fled from Pune. Conquering Pune resulted in Yashwant Rao Holkar in charge of the administration and made some constructive steps to rebuild the Maratha Empire.

To keep the British at bay, Yashwant Rao Holkar played a great role in Indian history. He stood up against the British with his forces. Accompanied by Raghuji Bhonsale and Daulat Scindia, Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar on 4 June 1803 decided to fight against the British force after their meeting at Bodwad. However, after a conspiracy against him, he decided not to be a part of the Maratha Confederacy. To curb the power of British, Maharaja Yashwant Rao Holkar wrote letters to different rulers and welcomed them to get united and fight against the British power. But, all his plans and appeal went in vain as all the kings had already signed treaties with the British. Afterwards, Yashwant Rao decided to fight against the British on his own. He defeated the British army, led by Colonel Fawcett, at Kunch, in Bundelkhand as well as attacked Delhi to free the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II, who was imprisoned by the British and attacked the army of Colonel Ochterlony and Berne. This battle lasted for a week, but Yashwant Rao Holkar could not succeed because Colonel Ochterlony was supported by Lord Lake. Yashwant Rao Holkar won the title of "Maharajadhiraj Raj Rajeshwar Alija Bahadur" as a token of admiration by Mughal Emperor Shah Alam for his bravery.

Afraid of the power and enthusiasm of Yashwant Rao Holkar, the British planned to make peace with Maharaja Yashwant Rao Holkar at any price as their wasting more time fighting Holkar could result in his success and create difficulty for British rule in India. Finally, Yashwant Rao Holkar signed a treaty with the British on 24 December 1805, at Rajghat (then in Punjab, now in Delhi?). Yashwant Rao was known to be the only king in India whom the British approached to sign a peace treaty. Being admired as a sovereign king the British returned all his territory, and accepted his dominion over Jaipur, Udaipur, Kota, Bundi and also affirmed not to interfere in matters relating to the Holkars. The victorious king reached Indore and started ruling his kingdom.

Though Yashwant Rao Holkar again tried to unite the Maratha Confederacy and appealed to Daulatrao Scindia, but Scindia gave the information about this letter to British resident, Marsor. Holkars and Scindias agreed on eleven defensive and offensive strategies on 14 November 1807. To give his plan a success he decided to stay in Bhanpura to form a large army and manufacture cannons. With all his energies and military techniques, he was successful in keeping the British out of his state and started preparations to drive the British out of India. He gathered an army of 100,000 soldiers to attack Calcutta, however, on 27 October 1811 he died (Kartiki Ekadashi) at the age of 35 years.

Malhar Rao Holkar II- source wiki


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