Bhandari: Wikis


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Bhandari (Devanagari:भंडारी) caste is among the sea-faring warrior castes (Kshatriya) of ancient & medieval India. They migrated southward from Rajputana in early 1100 and subsequently spread over different parts of India. Along with Maharashtra, Goa, parts of Karnataka like Karwar; they can be found in significant numbers in Nepal, Rajasthan, parts of Central India, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, Kumaon and Garhwal of Uttarakhand, India.

Sub communities include Kitte, Hetkari, Kshatriya, Thale, Chaudhary, Devkar, Sheshwanshi (Shinde) and Morey, Gawad (Bhandari) mainly from Thane district and the entire Konkan Region on the Western coast up to Kerala.



The meaning of the word 'Bhandari' has more than one origin. The two theories are given below.


Theory one

One can find information about bhandaris in "Katha Kalpataru" and "Bramhotarpuran" that Bhandaris (Utpati) evolved from Lord Shiva's Gharmabindu. Once, Lord Shiva on his way to war against the demon Tilakasur, felt thirsty. A drop of sweat fell from his eyebrow, and from that drop, the first Bhandari man emerged. Lord Shiva asked him to find some water for him to drink; unable to find any water the man climbed a palm tree and fetched a refreshing drink. Pleased with this the man was made Treasurer of Alkapuri thus "The Protector of Royal Treasure (Bhandari)".

Theory two

The name 'Bhandari' originated from the word bhanda, meaning big ships (vessel), in Sanskrit language. Those who engineered these ships were called Bhandari during Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj, and Peshwa era and its history goes far beyond that up to Maurya Dynasty.

Early history

Bhandaris were basically warriors among which some manufactured naval vessels and lead army for naval warfare for many Kingdoms in different times eg: Shilahara, Kadamba, Maurya etc... in ancient times. They established many kingdoms and established themselves as warriors in many Kshatriya kingdoms of that era. Maurya (More) Bhandaris arrived in present day Thane when Mauryas invaded the region.

Under rule of Raja Bhimdev (13th century)

Sheshwanshi Bhandaris arrived with King Bhimdev, who established his base in Mumbai in 13th Century. During his reign he is also supposed to have brought Pathare Prabhus, Palshis, Pachkalshis, Vadvals, Bhois, Agris and Brahmins to Mumbai. Kitte Bhandaris evolved from Kirtik Bhattars (warriors) in the Konkan region. Bhandaris established smaller kingdoms around present day Mumbai.

Under rule of Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj (17th Century)

During the rule of Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the naval fleet which constituted a fleet of 200 ships, was commanded by two admirals who bore the titles of Mai Nayak (Water Leader), who was a Bhandari from Rajapur and Daria Sarang (Sea Captain)- a Muslim. Bhandari community was actively involved in formation of Maratha Empire under Shivaji Maharaj. In 1670, as per one East India Company report some 60 or 70 vessels of Shivaji were at the mouth of Bombay Port.

Haraji Bhatkar, Maynaik Hatkar, Santaji Bole, Raiji Gadde, Bapuji Naik were some of the famous warriors of the era. Bhandaris were instrumental in building the Maratha Navy along with the Agris. Raut, Bhatkars, Jaokar, Sarang were involved in conflicts with Siddi Jauhar and Portuguese.

It is pointed out that up to the Peshwa period Bhandaris played a great role in the Maratha Navy. Subsequently, when the navy of Peshwas disintegrated after decline of the Maratha power, they turned to other occupations on account of unemployment.

The Maratha Navy are considered as the forerunners of India's present-day Coast Guard.

Mai Nayak

Ram Nayak was a Bhandari from Rajapur. He was employed by Shivaji who conferred the title Mai Nayak, Water Leader- (Mayya in Arabic language means Water). A memorial has been built to Ram Nayak Bhandari, the first great admiral of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj at Bhatye Village close to Ratnagiri town.

In April 1672, Shivaji had an eye upon the rocky Island of Underi and Khanderi are two sister rock-islands a little about 11 miles south of Bombay and 30 miles north of Janjira. They were known as Hennery-Kennery respectively. On 15 September, 150 men under Mai Nayak sailed towards Khanderi. The Deputy governor of Bombay asked Mai Nayak to leave the place as it belonged to Bombay. The Marathas paid no heed to the English demand. The English decided to oppose the Maratha navy under Daulat Khan if it tried to protect the fortifications. Both, the English and the Siddi, appearing there with their fleets, Shivaji stopped the fortification.

But, later on, in August 1679, Shivaji renewed that project and, on 15 September, his admiral, known as the Mai Nayak, took possession of the Khanderi island with 4 small guns and commenced fortifying it in August 1679. So a sea-battle was fought on 18 October 1679 between Shivaji's fleet and the English fleet. Though the huge English fleet were victorious also with the assistance of Siddhi Johar whose fleet joined and helped the English in bombarding Kennery, they withdrew with a view that Shivaji's occupation would hamper the Portuguese presence in Bassein.

Bhandaris from Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India

'Bhandari' is a common last name found amongst Oswals hailing from Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India. Oswals are originally from Marwar, Rajasthan and are referred to as Marwari. The Bhandari Oswals were initially Rajput but later many adopted Jainism.

Some Jain Bhandaris emigrated from Rajasthan to nearby places such as Nepal & Madhya Pradesh. Bhandaris in this region have an illustrious history. Various Bhandari families have risen to prominence in Madhya Pradesh. Both Lal Bhandari was the Mahapanchayat of Rampura, Madhya Pradesh, India. Rampura is home to two temples dedicated to Bhandari ancestry including a temple in the mountains of Rampura.

Indore, MP, India is also home to many prominent Bhandaris.

Other kingdoms

Ratan Singh Bhandari, the Hindu king of Ahmedabad was from this community.

Bhandaris in Konkan Region, India

On the west coast of India from Thane, Konkan Gomantak (Goa) up to Kerala. One can find large number of Bhandari population especially in Ratnagiri, Sawantwadi, Goa, Karwar. Most of them trace their ancestry from this region though they have migrated to many places their Kuldevta and Kuldevi temples are in and around Goa and Konkan.

There are many Bhandaris who today are part of the East Indian Catholic Christian community from Mumbai region.

Lineage surnames

Once can come across many Bhandaris with surnames such as Salaskar, Tendulkar, Waingankar, Babrekar, Kolambkar, Haldankar, Salgaokar, Pandrekar,parsekar, Kalgutkar(Karangutkar){migrated from goa to other part of konkan due to portugese invasion their Kuldevi is Shantadurga } , Pednekar, Tamse, Patrekar, Kamtekar, Kambli, Arekar, Aklekar, Bagkar, Barde, Bhatkar, Borkar, Hatiskar, Karbhatkar, Manjrekar, Mayekar, Maynak, Murkar, More, Nagwekar, Naik, Narvekar, Patekar, Patil, Redkar, Ragji, Sarmalkar, Shivalkar, Surve, Vengurlekar, Hodavadekar, Dudwadkar, Todankar(todankar are migrated from chodne in Goa due to portugese invasion their Kuldevta is Rawalnath and Kuldevi is Shantadurga ); chaughule all have taken their surnames named after their particular native places in the region or the villages where their Kuldevta/ Kuldevi (family deity) is located. Karwar Bhandaris Worship "SAMADEVI" as their deity, Prominent personalities of Karwar Bhandari Samaj were Pandu Putti Kolambkar, Salaskar, The Temple of Samadevi was built by Philanthropist Sri Pandu Putti Kolambkar was a inspiration of the Samadevi Temple Situated in MALVAN way back in the beginning of the 19th century. Karwar is densely Populated by the Bhandaris.

Bhandaris in Mumbai

Bhandaris are one of the oldest communities in Mumbai, and have played a significant role in its development. Significant populations of Bhandaris can still be found in Mumbai.


  • Bhandari Militia was the first police establishment in Mumbai (then Bombay) during British India. In Bombay, Governor Aungier formed a militia of local Bhandari youth to deal with organized street-level gangs that robbed sailors in 1669. In those days of the British East India Company, the Bhandaris were referred as "Bandareens".
  • Marine Police Force- After the setting up of the British East India Company in Bombay, the Middle Ground Coastal Battery island (situated a few hundred metres away from the Gateway of India), was fortified in 1682 to curb the sea piracy in the area. Later a marine police force comprising of Bhandaris were stationed there to keep an eye on the pirates who used to board ships. The Bhandaris were chosen for their loyalty, honesty and local knowledge. With their yellow turbans and blue trousers, the police were a formidable sight. After piracy moved to the South China Sea, about two hundred years ago, the police were disbanded and the Royal Navy gained control of the rock.
  • Ganpat Krishnaji (1800-61)- a talented Bhandari, was the first native commercial printer-publisher in Marathi. Ganpat Krishnaji Press (Ganpat Krishnaji Chapkhana) printed magazines like Prabhakar & Digdarshan along with many religious, epic and reformist texts.
  • Kitte Bhandari Ekyawardak Mandal was established in 1890 to unite the community and work for its welfare. It has its headquarters at Dadar, Mumbai.
  • Bhandari Street located in (South Mumbai) was named by the British after the high presence of the Bhandari community who resided there, some who possessed residence over there and were reckoned among the old residents. Others came to Mumbai from Malvan, Vengurla and other places, and settled in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Bhandaris from Uttarakhand, India

'Bhandari' is a common last name in Uttarakhand in India. They are found in Kumaon as well as in Garhwal region. Most of the Bhandaris in Uttarakhand are Rajputs and there Kuldevta is Narsingh- along with Bhairav and Kuldevi is Bhavani. They are also famous as Kala bhandari. In kumoun there is one clan of Brahmin Bhandaris too. The clan can trace its history back to about 12 generations with one Arjun Dev settling down in a village called Mawra near Ranikhet. By now, they have spread to most parts of the country and the world. One branch is supposed to have settled down in a place called Mawri in Rajasthan.

Bhandaris in Surat

There are many Bhandari Mandal at South Gujarat (Surat, Valsad, Umargam) & Dahanu Road, Kelva, Palghar of Maharashtra, They have a great union of 12 Villages.

They have a Union in Surat including the seven villages of Gorat, Adajan, Bhatha-Ichchhapore, Rander, Sangrampura, Dindoli and Magdalla.

Khatris and Sikh/Punjab

"Bhandari" is also last name found in the Khatri caste found in India. It is most common as a surname amongst the SikhKhatris of [[Delhi,Punjab (India)].

Other regions, India

There is a sizeable presence of Bhandaris all over Western and South India - the Ezhavas of Kerala (famous for martial art of Kalaripayattu, from which Kung Fu originated), the Billavas of Karnataka, the Nadars of Tamil Nadu (also Kalari fighters), the Gaud Bhandaris from Andhra Pradesh, and the Gomantak Bhandaris from Goa and Konkan Ratnagiri, Thane, Karwar, etc.

Prominent Bhandaris

See also



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