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The Central India Agency was a political unit of British India, which covered the northern half of present-day Madhya Pradesh state. The Central India Agency was made up entirely of princely states, which were under native rulers. The agency was bordered by the Central Provinces and Berar to the south; the Chota Nagpur princely states to the east, which were transferred from Bengal to the Central Provinces and Berar in 1905; the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh to the north; Rajputana to the northwest; and Bombay Presidency to the west and southwest. Lalitpur District, part of the United Provinces, split the Central India Agency into eastern and western portions.

Central India Agency in 1909

The Central India Agency was created in 1854, by amalgamating several smaller political units which formerly reported to the Governor-General of India. The agency was overseen by a political agent who oversaw the affairs of the princely states on behalf of the Governor-General. The headquarters of the agent were at Indore.



British hegemony over states of Central India began in 1802, when several states in the Bundelkhand and Bagelkhand regions came under British control at the conclusion of the Treaty of Bassein between the British and the Maratha Peshwa Bajirao II. British control of Bundelkhand expanded at the conclusion of the Second Anglo-Maratha War in 1805. The remaining states, including Gwalior, Indore, Bhopal, and a number of smaller states in the regions of Malwa, Nimar, and Bundelkhand, came under British control with the end of the Third Anglo-Maratha War in 1818. The state of Chanderi was ceded to the British by the Sindhia ruler of Gwalior in 1844, and became part of the United Provinces, as did the state of Jhansi, seized by the British in 1853 under the doctrine of lapse. In 1921 Gwalior Residency was separated from the Central India Agency, and in 1933 the state of Makrai transferred to Central India from the Central Provinces and Berar.


The princely states, 148 in all, varied greatly in size. Eleven states held treaty relations with the British Government, and were known as the treaty states: Gwalior, Indore, Bhopal, Dhar, the two Dewas states, Jaora, Orchha, Datia, Samthar, and Rewa. The 31 sanad states had direct relations with the British Government, but not by treaty. These states, in Bundelkhand and Bagelkhand, were granted deeds (sanads) confirming rulers in possession of their states, in return for the rulers signing a written bond of allegiance (ikrarnama) to the British. The remaining smaller states and estates were known as mediatized or guaranteed states. Mediatized states were under the authority of a larger state, with the relationship between the states arranged through British mediation. Guaranteed states, found only in Malwa, were states under the authority of larger states, in which the British guaranteed whatever rights existed at the time of British occupancy of the region at the conclusion of the Pindari War.

The princely states were answerable to one of several political charges, which were rearranged a number of times in the history of the Agency. Upon Indian Independence in 1947, the political charges consisted of Indore Residency and the Bundelkhand, Bhopal, and Malwa agencies.

Bundelkhand Agency

Bundelkhand Agency, which was bounded by Bagelkand to the east, the United Provinces to the north, Lalitpur District to the west, and the Central Provinces to the south. Bagelkhand Agency was separated from Bundelkhand in 1871. In 1900 it included 9 states, 13 estates, and the pargana of Alampur belonging to Indore state

Shikha Tinker In 1931, all of the Baghelkhand states but Rewa were transferred back to Bundelkhand.

Bagelkhand Agency

Bagelkhand Agency, the easternmost charge, was established in March 1871, when it was separated from Bundelkhand agency. In 1900, it consisted of twelve states.

In 1931, all of the states but Rewa were transferred back to Bundelkhand, and in 1933 Rewa was transferred to Indore Residency.

Gwalior Residency

Gwalior Residency was placed under the Central India Agency in 1854, and separated from Central India Agency in 1921. It included

  • Gwalior, the largest state in the Central India Agency, and the fourth most populous princely state in British India. The small estates (thakurs or diwans) of Dharmaoda, Sirsi, Khiaoda, Kathaun, and Agra Barkhera were nominally under the authority of Gwalior state, but the British Resident had certain administrative and judicial powers.
  • Raghugarh
  • Khaniadhana (transferred in 1888 from Bundelkhand Agency)
  • Paron
  • Garha
  • Umri
  • Bhadaura

Bhopal Agency

Bhopal Agency, 11,653 sq. mi., which included

Indore Residency

Indore Residency included most of Indore state, and, after 1933, Rewa.

Malwa Agency

Malwa Agency, 8919 sq. mi,, which included parts of Gwalior, Tonk and Indore, and the states of

In 1925, Malwa agency was amalgamated with Bhopawar Agency.

Bhopawar Agency

Bhopawar Agency included the states of

In 1925, Malwa Agency was merged into Bhopawar. In 1927 the agency was renamed the Southern States Agency, later the Southern States and Malwa Agency, and after 1934 Malwa Agency.


Central Indian states shown in red.[1]

Upon India's independence in 1947, the rulers of the princely states acceded to India. The eastern portion of Central India Agency, including Bagelkhand and Bundelkand agencies, became the new state Vindhya Pradesh. The western portion, including Bhopal, Malwa, and Bhopawar agencies and the Gwalior and Indore residencies, became the new state of Madhya Bharat. Bhopal became a separate state. Makrai was transferred to Madhya Pradesh, which had been created from the former Central Provinces and Berar in 1950. In 1956, the states of Vindhya Pradesh, Madhya Bharat, and Bhopal were merged into Madhya Pradesh. Later another state, Chattisgarh, was formed from the area that was formerly Madhya Pradesh.


  1. ^ About Central India, "Attracting pilgrims and tourists from the world over, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh constitute the geographic heart of India."
  • Hunter, William Wilson, Sir, et al. (1908). Imperial Gazetteer of India, Volume 12. 1908-1931; Clarendon Press, Oxford.

1911 encyclopedia

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