Imperial Post Offices in Baroda Territory

By: Prashant H. Pandya ©

Baroda State was an important native state and had direct relations with the Indian Government but geographically was in intimate connection with Bombay Presidency. The state had a peculiar political and geographical identity. It was isolated in four divisions Kadi, Baroda, Navsari in Gujarat and Amreli in Kathiawar peninsula. Each of them was interlaced in the most intricate fashion with the British Territory and/or other native states. Okhamandal was separated out from Amreli Division in May 1920 and became an administrative subdivision directly under the state.

Vadodara or Baroda, the capital city of the state was once called Chandanavati after its ruler Raja Chandan of Dor tribe of Rajputs, who wrested it from the Jains. The capital had also another name "Virakshetra" or "Virawati" (a land of warriors). Later on it was known as Vadpatraka or Wadodará, which according to tradition is a corrupt form of the Sanskrit word Vatodar means 'in the heart of the Banyan tree'. It is now almost impossible to ascertain when the various changes in the name were made; but early English travellers and merchants mention the town as Brodera, and it is from this that the name Baroda is derived. Again in 1974 the name changed to Vadodara.

Though Baroda was the largest and wealthiest native state in India, no regular postal service existed in the Baroda territory for the convenience of the general public. State Government correspondence was sent with sowars or runners employed in Gaekwar Dawke even to neighbouring states. General public privately managed to hand over their letters to the sowars or runners or deputed special kassids (messengers) in urgent cases. It is not known whether any fee was charged to the public for their private dawke handed over to the sowars or runner but most probably it was not charged.

Bombay Baroda Dawke:

After the establishment of Bombay G.P.O. in 1794, the mail route from Bombay to Surat was established in 1796.

The earliest record of postal event in Baroda was an establishment of twice-weekly dawke (Mail) to Brodera (i.e. Baroda) from Bombay by the postal notice dated 29th June 1802. The route was via Surat and the rate for a single letter was 1 quarter 50 reas which was to be pre paid. The rate from Surat to Baroda was 50 reas per single letter. These rates were increased fairly soon after wards on 30th August 1802, to 2 quarter 50 reas from Bombay and 1 quarter 50 reas from Surat. Later on in 1805 a daily dawke to and from Surat to Baroda was established.

1809- Postal Rates to Baroda

From

Single

Double

Treble

Rs-q-r

Rs-q-r

Rs-q-r

Tannah

0-2-30

1-0-60

1-2-90

Damman

0-1-75

0-3-50

1-1-25

Surat

0-1-50

0-3-00

1-0-50

Broach

0-1-00

0-2-00

0-3-00

Cambay

0-33-34

0-0-68

0-1-02

Kaira

0-4-60

0-1-20

0-1-80

On experimental basis for a period of six months a daily post between Bombay and the stations in Gujerat (Gujarat) including Baroda was established vide the postal notice dated 17th March 1810. Probably it was successful and no further information of it is found.

By a brief notice in August 1822 a Dawke between Baroda and Pertaubghar was established and postage rate from Bombay to Baroda was reduced from 0-2-50 to 0-2-20 per single letter. In 1824 again the postage rates were revised and were made available in new currency (i.e. Rs.-As-Ps.). The new rate from Bombay to Baroda was 0-3-00.

 

 

 

 

The post office in Baroda was located in Cantonment area, to the north west of the city area and was known as Camp P.O. British Officers and residents of the Cantonment area mostly used it. There was no other post office in Baroda territory.

Baroda P.O. was under the Inspecting Postmastersí Division of Guzerat (Gujarat) and remained so for a long time after the numbered lists of obliterators were published in 1855, when Baroda was allocated No.28.

Postage Rates effective from May 1826 from Baroda to various places

From

Before Currency
Conversion
Rs-quarter-reas

After Currency
Conversaion
Rs. - Anna- ps.

Ahmedabad

0-1-0

0-4-0

Ahmednagar

0-2-25

0-9-0

Asseerghur

0-2-25

0-9-0

Aurangabad

0-2-0

0-9-0

Belgaum

0-2-75

0-15-0

Bhewandy & Tannah

0-2-0

0-8-0

Bhooj
0-2-0
0-8-0
Bombay
0-2-0
0-8-0
Broach
0-0-75
0-3-0
Damaun
0-1-50
0-6-0
Dapoolie
0-2-25
0-9-0
Deesa
0-1-50
0-6-0
Dharwar
0-2-75
0-11-0
Dhoolia
0-2-0
0-8-0
Kairah
0-0-75
0-3-0
Mallegam
0-2-0
0-8-0
Mhow
0-2-0
0-8-0
Poonah
0-2-25
0-9-0
Rajkote
0-1-75
0-5-0
Rutnagurry
0-2-50
0-10-0

Question of Opening Post Office in Baroda territory:

In October 1856, the British postal authority first mooted the question of opening post office in the Baroda territory for the convenience of the public. Deputy Post Master General, Bombay recommended for opening of post offices in Sidpore (Sidhpur), Beesnagger (Visnagar) and Puttan (Patan) vide his memo no. 888 dated 20th October 1856. In reply to this memo, H.H. Gaekwar Government wrote to the authorities vide letter no. 1110 dated 30th December 1856, that it would introduce its own postal arrangements in its own territories and further explained that the arrangement of introducing its own post would be advantageous to it in as much as all official correspondence would be carried free of charge.

In February 1857, the Post Master General, Bombay conveyed to Major C. Davidson, Resident of Baroda with regards to own postal arrangements of the state, no authority other than that of the postal department would be recognized. Later on H. H. Gaekwar Government conveyed to British authority that it would be very much desirable if out of friendly consideration, letters pertaining to state mahalís were carried free of charge by the post, which the postal department proposed to introduce, which was principally agreed by the authorities. The Baroda Resident thereupon desired to know the names of the officers under whose frank official correspondence would be posted and a list was accordingly furnished by H. H. Gaekwar Government. This was in 1858. Nothing further appeared to have occurred till 1863.

 

 

 

To,
Major C. Davidson
Resident at Baroda

Sir,

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter no. 1277 dated the 30th December last with accompanishments and to request you will have the goodness to favor me with more explicit and detailed information of what the Durbar alludes to by making their own arrangements as there in stated for the establishment of post offices at Seedpore, Beesanuggar and in as any offices to be opened at those or any place in connection with the British Post must be by the postal department similar to the one at Baroda and the post offices can not be recognized under any other management what ever.

2. My object in making the enquiry had reference to the necessity of increased postal facilities to the inhabitants of the town adverted to and to the necessity or otherwise of connecting them with one post offices and establishing at those places regular post offices.

 

Bombay Post Master
General's Office
24th February 1857

 

I have the honor to be
Sir
Your most obedient Servant
Post Master General

In 1863, the Post Master General, Bombay shown the desirability of a post office at Pattun (Patan) on the ground that it was on the road to Sindh.

On the basis of all subsequent negotiations H. H. Gaekwar Government state in their yaddi no. 337 dated 22nd March 1863 that, (1) if post offices are to be erected they should be in the vicinity of the towns, (2) The postal authorities must pass a document to the local officer agreeing to pay the rent of the land on which building is to be erected. In the land being culturable, the annual assessment must be paid. (3) If this be not acceptable the postal authorities must agree to carry and deliver all official letters free of charge to and from Baroda and other places. (4) All civil and criminal jurisdictions over the persons working in the post offices to be rest with Baroda Government.

The British authorities did not object to jurisdiction remaining with H.H. Gaekwar Government. They agreed to pay rent for the building offered for the post office but the annual assessment for the land was denied stating the reason of expenditure to be incurred for the construction of building. Further it was also accepted to refund to the state the value of postage stamps affixed to official correspondence between Baroda and the mahals and between mahals inter se and with the British Zillah offices. i.e. the whole state correspondence.

H. H. Gaekwar Government further stated in their yaadi no. 395 dated 30th March 1863 that the site for the post office should be in the town or close there to, the postal authorities should also see that the state correspondence should be promptly dispatched and delivered and the charge on account of stamps should be communicated every month top the Residency who should refund the same to H. H. Gaekwar Government. It was also consented to issue necessary instructions to their local officers at Kadi, Patan, Sidhpur and Visnagar to make required land available to the postal authorities. After entering in to the agreement, post offices were opened at Patan and Petlad in the first instance.

Post Offices opened in 1863
Puttan (Patan)
Pitlaud (Petlad)
Dabhoee (Dabhoi)
Itola
Kuree (Kadi)
Mysana (Mehsana)
Sidpore (Sidhpur)
Beesnagger (Visnagar)

The Baroda Government provided the land for the erection of the post offices, runners' huts and stables in the state. Necessary guards and escorts for the protections of mails were also provided. In 1882 the postal authorities, with a view to extend postal facilities to places in the interior of the state, where it was not possible to establish independent post offices requested the Baroda Government to permit village school masters to undertake the postal work. Gradually postal facilities were extended to the smallest and most isolated hamlets of Baroda territory.

 

 

 

 

Statistics of opening of P.O. in Baroda Territory

Year ended at

Post Offices

Letter Boxes

31.7.1883

54

31.7.1887

71

165

31.7.1892
69 (Closure of few P.O.)
224
31.7.1896
81
292
31.7.1900
89
347
31.7.1917
250
741
31.7.1924
261
780
31.7.1939
419
2205

The statistics in adjoining table speaks for the progress of establishment of post offices in the Baroda territory.

As there was no other post office in Baroda City area till that time residents of the city area had to visit the Camp P.O. for their requirement of stamps and for booking the registered letters. In mid of 1863 British postal authorities communicated with H. H. Gaekwar Government and asked for the permission to open a branch post office in city area.







Mail lines

Mail lines of the Imperial Posts crossed the State from an early date. Mail lines between Broach-Deesa, Bhavnagar-Hursole, Baroda-Bhopawar, Cambay-Kaira and Gogo-Bhuj were passing through Baroda territory. On establishment of post offices in Baroda territory, Borsad-Petlad and Baroda-Dabhoi mail lines were opened in 1863. Foot runners, horse dawke, camel dawke and boats were being used for the conveyance of mails. By 1880 there were 32 mail lines in the state, which increased to 43 by 1884. After the introduction of railway in the state, Baroda Government offered the use of GBS Railway for the conveyance of mail to postal authorities. From 1882 a Railway Mail Service began between Miyagam and Dabhoi. Such arrangements were made available for other railway lines opened later on in the state.

In 1923, BISN Company's steamers conveyed inland mails for and from Dwarka on experimental basis. On introduction of air service between Baroda and Amreli, airmail service was commenced between Baroda and Amreli on 3rd May 1940. Private covers with First Airmail cachets are recorded from Baroda-Amreli, Baroda-Bhavnagar, Bhavnagar-Amreli and return.

References:

  1. The Imperial Gazetteer of India, Vol. III
  2. Gazetteer of the Baroda State, Vol. I, (1923)
  3. The Baroda State Directory (Gujarati), 1939.
  4. A. Koeppel & RD Manners, The Court Fee and Revenue Stamps of Princely States of India,Vol.1, New York, 1983.
  5. India Post - The Journal of the India Study Circle for Philately, U.K., # 114 (Oct, 92), 115( Jan, 93), 121 (July,94), 122 (Oct., 94), 133 (July, 97) and 134 (Oct., 97)
  6. M.M. Inamdar, Bombay GPO.
  7. The imperial Post Office of British India, Mohinilal Mazumdar
  8. State Records and Postal Communication of Baroda State and Baroda Residency, Gujarat State Archives, Baroda.

Note: This article was first published in GUJPEX-2003 Souvenir in October 2003.