When the Britishers left India in 1947, they did not leave the country the way it is today. 68 years ago, with more than 500 princely states scattered across the boundary, the idea of a united India was difficult to conceive. To make matters worse, the British did not decide anything about the princely states, and they were free to join either India or Pakistan and could even remain independent!

This freedom led some of the rulers and princes into believing that they could rule their independent states. It was Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel who negotiated the deal with the princes and made them understand the importance of a united India. Still, there were several princely states that were very difficult to persuade. 

Here’s the story of how 5 of those princely states came to be called a part of India:


Travancore was the first princely state that questioned why Congress should succeed the British. After the British had left, the dewan – Sir C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar –  made it clear that Travancore would become an independent country, free from any outside rule, as it used to be before 1795 when it first signed treaty with the East India Company. This desire of the dewan was also welcomed by Muhammad Jinnah. Eventually, after a series of negotiations, Travancore gave in to the demand of joining India. But what preceded it was certainly unfortunate.   

An assassination attempt was made on the Sir C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar by a socialist activist of Kerala, and he had to be admitted in hospital. Meanwhile, the States People’s Organisation rallied to the cause and Travancore gave in to join India. Later, from the hospital bed, the dewan also advised the Maharaja of Travancore to follow the path of conciliation and compromise.



Bhopal was the second state to disagree about joining the Union of India. The Nawab of Bhopal, Hamidullah Khan, was very unhappy at the departure of the British and wrote a very emotional letter to his childhood friend Lord Mountbatten, when the latter advised him to accede to India. Agitations broke out under his rule and there was increasing public pressure on him to merge the state of Bhopal with India.

It was after the Nawab heard that a lot of his fellow princes had signed the instrument of accession during the meeting of the Chamber of Princes that he finally gave in.



Most of the princely states of Rajasthan had agreed to join the Union of India, and so did the Maharaja of Jodhpur. It is however said that someone suggested that since his state was on the border of Pakistan, he might get a better deal from there.  

Supposedly, a meeting also took place between the Maharaja of Jodhpur and Jinnah. Jinnah is said to have handed a blank sheet and a fountain pen to the Maharaja saying, “You can fill in all your conditions.”

But after Vallabh Bhai Patel’s intervention, the Maharaja of Jodhpur came around and agreed to join India.



Junagarh was a princely state in present-day Gujarat that announced its decision to join Pakistan. Vallabh Bhai Patel, also from Gujarat, was particularly enraged to hear this. A plebiscite was conducted and around 99.95% of the people of Junagarh chose India over Pakistan. A provisional government of Junagarh was set up in Bombay, and there were agitations to annul the accession of Junagarh to Pakistan. 

When the situation worsened, the chief minister of Junagarh wrote to Pakistan for help. But seeing no help coming from there, Junagarh had to ask the Indian government to take over the administration.



Though it was legal for princely states to join either India or Pakistan or remain independent, geographically it made little sense for Hyderabad. The state lay right in the centre of the Indian subcontinent, and wanted to remain independent. To safeguard his interest, the Nizam of Hyderabad also possessed an irregular army known as the Razakars. 

The Nizam’s ambition was also encourage by the Conservative party in Britain. At the same time, India was negotiating with the representative of the Nizam, but the talks did not seem to yield any result. Eventually, a contingent of Indian troops was sent to Hyderabad who took control of the entire state in just four days.


And this is how the Union of India came into being.