The name Mahoba is derived from
'Mahotsav Nagar', the city of great festivals , which were celeberated here by
Chandra-Verman or Nannuka, The traditional founder of the Chandella Dynasty. The
Bardic tradition preserves three other names of the City viz Kekaipur, Patanpur
and Ratanpur. Thest names are said to have been current in the Treta and Dwapar
Yugas. The existance of the sacred 'Ram-Kund' and 'Seeta-Rasoi' cave at the
Gokhar hill here are said to be monumental to the visit of God RAMA who widely
treated this hilly region while in 14-year exile at Chitrakoot.
Before the rise of Chandellas, Mahoba was held by the Gaharwar and Pratihar clans of Rajputs. The Chandella ruler Chandra-Verman, who hailed from Maniagarh, his birth place near Panna, took it over from Pratihar rulers and adopted it as his Capital. Later, Vakpati, Jejja, Vijai Shakti and Rahila-deva succeeded him.
Among the later Chandella rulers whose names are particularly associated with the local monuments are Vijai-pal (1035-1045 AD) who built the Vijai-sagar lake, Keerti-Verman (1060-1100 AD) built Keerat sagar tank and Madan-Verman (1128-1164 AD) who built Madan Sagar. The last prominent Chandella ruler was Parmardi-deva or Parmal whose name is still popular due to the heroic deeds of his two Generals 'Alha' and 'Udala' who own many battles. The court poet Jagnik Rao has made their names immortal through his popular ballad (Veer-Kavya) 'Alha-Khand'. It is recited through-out the hindi speaking masses in the country. In 1860 AD an English Officer of the East India Company, Mr. William Waterfield was so impressed with the ballad that he translated it into English under the title name of 'Lay of Alha' which was published by the Oxford University Press of England. Another prominent scripture which has an account of Mahoba's grandure is the Jain text 'Prabhandh-kosh' which refers to its magnificence which could only be realized and not described.
The reign of Parmardi-deva or Parmala,the Fifteen ruler of the dynasty,witnessed the fall of Mahoba.In 1182 A.D.differences arose between Parmala and Delhi king Prithviraj who gave an ultimatum lying certain conditions to be fulfilled by Parmala or to surrender.He made seize of Mahoba and his General Chaumund Rai even made a surprise attack on the Kajli procession of queen Malhna who hadgone to Keerat Sagar tank to offer Kajli Pooja on the Raksha-Bandhan day.A grim fight ensued in which Mahoba warriors:Udala,Brahma,Ranjeet,and Abhai(son of Mahila) repulsed the attack and Chaumund-Rai had to flee to his base camp at Pachpahara.The Kajli-Pooja was consequently celebrated the next day and that traditioncontinues to be followed even to this date.The third day is observed as a Victory Day and a thanks-giving Pooja is performed to Lord Shiva,Gajantak Shiva idol on Gokhar hill.
Later,the Chauhan King Prithvi Raj captured Mahoba despite the brave fight put-up by the Banafer brothers:Alha and Udal.Other warriors of Mahoba viz.Udal,Brahma,Malkhan,Sulkhan,Dheba & Tala Saiyyad etc.laid down their lives in the battle.Parmala had to retreat to Kalinjar leaving Mahoba in the hands of the conqueror.Prithvi Raj appointed his Thanapati Pajjun Rai as his administrator.A few years later,he was driven out by samarjeet,son of Parmala.This,however,could not stop the begining of the end of Chandella rule.Two decades later,Qutubuddin Aibek vanquised Mahoba and Kalinjar in 1203 A.D..Aibk took away immense booty with thousands of artisans as prisoners.He deported most of them to Ghazni as slaves and got constructed beautiful buildings there.Later,Trailokya Verman,another son of Parmala,recovered Mahoba and Kalinjar but the Chandellas lost their eminence.Mahoba had to lose its independence and become a part of the Delhi Sultanate.
After about 2 centuries of obsecurity a notable Chandella ruler Keerat Pal Singh rose to power and re-estabilished his domain over Kalinjar and Mahoba.His illustrious daughter Durga Wati was married to Gond ruler Dalpat-shah of Garh Mandla(near Jabalpur) in 1543 A.D..Later,Keerat Pal Singh battled bravely with Sher Shah Suri,while defending Kalinjar fort in 1545 A.D..Sher Shah,however,captured the fort after a prolonged fight but was killed in an explosion while directing final assault on the fort.
The account of Rani Durga Wati's deeds is most glorious. She administrated her territory admirably well after the death of Raja Dalpat Shah and in 1564 A.D. gallantly resisted the unprovked aggression of Mughal king Akbar,whose general Asif Khan attacted Garh Mandla to annex Rani's territory. The Rani gave a brave fight but lost her life in the battle-field. The aggression of Akbar on women rulers like Durga Wati and Chand-bibi tarnish his image as a liberal ruler.
In the post Chandella period the history of Mahoba gets obscure. It was under the reign of Delhi Sultans. Local traditions ascribe and associate Bhars, Gonds and Khangar clans who held its administration from time to time. However, during the reign of akbar, it was constituted into a 'Mahal' in the Sarkar of Kalinjar within the Suba of Allahabad. According to 'Aine-Akbari, it had an area of 82000 Bighas yielding a revenue of over 40,42000 Dams in addition to 12000 Pans (Betel-leaves) to the Moghal Darbar. Mahoba has been famous for its betal-leaves cultivation ever since the first Chandella ruler Chandra-Verman who adopted it as his capital. During the Moghal period the revenue assessment of Mahoba suggests a high degree of prosperity in comparision to the neighbouring 'Mahals'. Later, with the rise of Chhatrasal Bundela, Mahoba passed under his sway but failed to acquire and kind of pre-eminience. In the 17th centuary Chhatrasal declared independence and put a stiff resistance against Aurangzeb. He established a Bundella Principality and Bahadur Shah Moghal had to confirm all his acquisitions in the area called 'Bundelkhand'. There was revival of hostelities during the region of reign of Farrukhsiyar when his general Mohammed Khan Bangash invaded Bundelkhand in the year 1729 AD. and the aged ruler Chatrasal had to seek aid from Peshwa Baji rao. His 'Maratha'army comprising of 70,000 men dashed from Indore (Malwa) and encamped at Mahoba. They surrounded forces of nawab Banghash who had captured Jaitpur, Belatal, Mudhari and Kulpahar etc. The Peshwa inflicted a crushing defeat over the Nawab by annihilating his forces in the dense forests of Jaitpur, Mudhari and Salat etc. In return for this help, Chhatrasal bequeathed one third of his dominion to the Maratha Cheiftain. That part included Mahoba, Shri Nagar, Jaitpur, Kulpahar etc. Later, under the treaty Bessien in 1803 AD the marathas ceded Bundelkhand area to British rulers. Its administration was , however, carried over by the subedar of Jalaun untill 1858 AD when it was finally annexed by the East India Company. Mahoba was made the head-quarter of a sub-division in the district of Hamirpur. Its later history is un-eventful except for the local revolt in the first freedom struggle of 1857 AD when the british Sub-divisional Magistrate, Mr Carne, had to flee and seek refuge in the nearby Charkhri estate which was being ruled by Raja Ratan Singh. The Rani of Jhansi, got annoyed over this betrayel of Raja and deputed her general Tantia Tope to attack Charkhari and capture Mr.Carne.Raja Ratan Singh surrendered and entered into a treaty with Tantya Tope.Mahoba was then under the rule of rebels whom the BritishGeneral Whitloack defeated and restored British rule.He arrested a large number of local rebels and hanged some of the prominent men on the trees in the vicinity called Haveli Darwaza. A"Shaheed Mela" is now annually held there to commemorate the memory of those rebels.