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Pilajirao Gaekwad (d. 14 May 1732) was a Maratha general. He is considered to be the founder of the Gaekwad dynasty of the Maratha Empire, who became Maharaja of Baroda.[1]

Pilaji Rao Gaekwad
1st Maharaja of Baroda
Reign1721 - 1732
PredecessorOffice Established
SuccessorDamaji Rao Gaekwad
Dakor, Gujarat
IssueDamaji Rao II
FatherPilaji Rao Gaekwad (parental)
Damaji I Gaekwad (adopted)

Early lifeEdit

Pilaji was the eldest son of Jhingojirao Kerojirao Gaekwad. He was adopted by his uncle Damaji I Gaekwad (died 1721), who had been given the hereditary title of Shamsher Bahadur by Chhattrapati Shahu for bravery in a battle.[2]

In Dabhade serviceEdit

The Gaekwads were originally lieutenants of the Dabhade family, the Maratha chiefs of Gujarat and holders of the senapati (commander-in-chief) title. Pilaji was a mutalik (deputy) of Trimbak Rao Dabhade. When Trimbak Rao was killed for rebelling against the Maratha Peshwa in 1731, his minor son Yashwant Rao Dabhade was appointed as the senapati. The Peshwa allowed the Dabhades to retain their territories in Gujarat, on the condition that they would remit half of their revenues to the Maratha Chhatrapati's treasury. Pilaji continued to serve Yashwant Rao, and was granted the title Sena Khas Khel by the Peshwa in addition to Shamsher Bahadur.[3] Since Yashwant Rao was a minor, Pilaji was responsible for collecting the revenues from Gujarat.


Pilaji was assassinated on 14 May 1732 in Dakor by emissaries of Abhay Singh, the Mughal governor of Gujarat.[3] He was cremated in Savli village, which lies on the Baroda-Dakor road. He was succeeded by his son Damaji Rao Gaekwad (also known as Damaji II). Damaji fought against Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao when the Dabhades rebelled against the Peshwa. He was defeated and arrested, but later, the Peshwa appointed him as the Marath chief of Gujarat, replacing the Dabhades.[4] Pilaji's descendants thus ruled Gujarat in form of the Gaekwad dynasty].


  1. ^ "Baroda State: History". Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 7. Oxford, Clarendon Press. 1908. p. 31.
  2. ^ Roper Lethbridge (1893). The Golden Book of India. Macmillan. p. 57.
  3. ^ a b James M. Campbell, ed. (1885). Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, Volume 19 - Satara. Bombay: Government Central Press. p. 274-276.
  4. ^ Charles Augustus Kincaid and Dattatray Balwant Parasnis (1918). A History of the Maratha People Volume 3. Oxford University Press. pp. 2–10.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)

External linksEdit