Paliyas belonging to war heroes of Mistris of Kutch, standing at Dhaneti dating back to 1178 AD
The community is believed to be from Kota and first entered into Saurashtra and founded 36 villages in the area, while others moved further into Kutch. Around 1177–78 AD (VS 1234), a major group migrated to Kutch from Saurashtra under the leadership of Patel Ganga Maru. They settled in the village of Dhaneti. There are several Parias of the community, located near village pond of Dhaneti, standing as memorials of the war that was fought in 1178 AD. The community members still go once every year to offer pooja and their respects to their fore-fathers.
This group, later, made their distinct identity not only by building historical forts, palaces, temples and architects in Kutch but also all over British India, primarily in the fields of railways and coal mining.
Over the centuries, they have been known or identified by names like Mistri, Mistry, Mistris of Kutch, Kutchi Contractor, Kadia, Kadia Kshatriyas, Gurjar Kshatriya Kadia, Kumar Gnati, Kutch Gurjar Kshatirya, Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya Samaj, KGK Samaj, Kgk community, etc.
They are a Hindu community. Some are followers of Swaminarayan and Pranami sect of Hinduism, They are vegetarian in diet and avoid consumption of alcohol. The staple food is khichdi, vegetables, pulses and butter-milk.
The community are an endogamous community who practice the principle of clan exogamy. Dowry is generally not asked for, neither practice of bride price is there in community. Divorce is generally not encouraged; however, divorce can be claimed in certain cases.
Widow remarriage (ghargenu) is allowed, where the women is usually married outside husband's family.
A Chabutro built by Seth Khora Ramji Chawda in year 1900 standing at village Sinugra, shows the unique architect and skill of Mistris of Kutch. Such huge Chabutra are rare to be found in whole of India
The Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas were master craftsmen, architects and contractors and have played a major role in erection and construction of the majority of forts, palaces and architecture of Kutch. It was because of this they came to be known as Mistri in Kutch.
It was during 1850 to 1930 AD that the KGK migrated outside Kutch and were involved in the construction of major rail-bridges and the laying down of railway tracks in almost all major rail routes of undivided British India doing the "Railway Thekedari" (RailwayContractors also Thikadari) and as Thekedar (or Thikadar) in Irrigation projects and Forest Department and Public Works Department. They have also done major roadway, road bridges, canal works, irrigation dams and barrage work throughout British India from 1850 to 1980. The communities largest contribution is in the building of the early railway lines and bridges throughout British India. Their works in Railway construction span from 1850 to 1980 for more than one and a quarter of century.
Docks, dams and canals in British India
The KGK contributed to the building of docks, dams, barrages and irrigation canals between 1850 and 1980, and they in the eighteenth century had been among the communities who built the first ports of Bombay and Hornby Vellard. Other docks were developed in Bombay during 1870–1895 (Prince's Docks built in 1885 and Victoria Docks built in 1891) in which many Mistris of Kutch and Kadia Kshatriyas of Saurahstra worked.
In 1883 the Mandvi Port Docks and a bridge over the Rukmavati River at Mandvi were built by Vishram Karman Chawda of Chandiya. It is the longest stone bridge of its kind in India.
The East Indian Railway in 1894-95 extended its line from Barakar to Dhanbad via Katras and Jharia. Messrs. Khora Ramji in 1894 was working on railway lines contract of Jharia branch line and with his brother Jetha Lira was also building Jharia Railway Station, when he discovered coal in Jharia belt. The location of his three collieries named Jeenagora, Khas Jherria, Gareria is mentioned also in 1917 Gazetteers of Bengal, Assam, Bihar and Orissa.
The majority of the once-prosperous KGK community living in Kutch and Saurashtra today are devoid of agricultural land and have been included in the list of Socially and Educationally Backward Class community in Gujarat. Those who migrated from the state cannot take advantage of this reservation.
Distribution in India
KGK community members are found throughout India, notably near to the major rail routes and junctions associated with the work of their forebears. Communities exist in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal.
Social organization and activities in present times
KGK associations exist today in various Indian states, and there are meetings and events organised at local, state and national level. These include match-making events, called Sagpan-Sanmmelan, and the traditional dispute resolution by elected community elders continues with the Panch. There is an annual gathering in Kutch, their native state and their national President is elected every three years by way of voting.
They also have a woman's wing called Mahila Mandal at state and national level. Every three years a woman president is also elected by ladies of the community. The woman's wing works independently and in co-operation with the president of the community. The national level women's body of Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas is called Akhil Bharatiya Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya samaj Mahila Mandal. The woman president of this wing then appoints her working committee members. The Mahila Mandal was founded in 1976 and first Mahila MandalPramukh or President of Women's Wing of Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas was elected. In 1996 the community elected a woman to be Mahasabha Pramukh, or President of the community.
Similarly, they also have a youth wing at state and national organizational levels called All India Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya Samaj Yuva Mahamandal. The young generation helps in organizing major national and state level events and the youths also organize a sports event every three years called Kutchyad, taking cue and inspiration from the Asiad of 1982 Asian Games. The event also coincides with Dance, Music and match-making event.
Every year a mass-marriage event is also held called Samuh-Lagna where the marriages of financially weak families or couples are held with blessings and financial co-operation of the whole community. The first such event by the community was held on 10 May 1966, with six marriages at Dhanbad and later on a larger scale in 1972 at Raipur. It continues to be held every year since then at different locations in India.
Religious customs and beliefs in present days
Community members are still carrying forward the religious customs and beliefs embedded in them since many centuries ago and continue to follow Hindu religious customs. They are still followers of different sects of Hinduism.
The newly wed couple come at least once to bow to their Kuldevi at the temples which are located in the eighteen villages in Kutch founded by their ancestors. The newly weds also go and offer their respects at the Parias of their Satis and Shurapuras located in Kutch.
There is a custom to offer special prayers and pooja called Kar to their Kuldevis whenever a boy is born in the family.
Present day identity
Other than being referred to as the Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya, the terms "KGK Community" or "Kgk Samaj" are more often used acronyms for the community in present-day India at a national level. "Mistri", which was mostly used during the last century and before is nowadays only used in Kutch and Gujarat. However, the Other Backward Class Certificate as per the Bakshi Panch report are given in the name of the Mistri only.
KGK Community in other fields
Seth Khora Ramji Chawda (1860–1923) has been credited by British themselves as the first Indian to break monopoly of Europeans in Jharia coalfields belt in year 1894 going on to establish ten collieries. He was also a Railway Contractor and Banker of repute and his life sketch is mentioned by British authorities in Encyclopaedia of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, Year 1920.
Govamal Jiwan Chauhan (1855–1929) of Kumbharia was also a Railway Contractor of repute and Coal Mines owner and Banker at Jharia. His exploits as Railway Contractor and life sketch is also noted by British authorities in Encyclopaedia of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, Year 1924-25. The coal mines business established by him in 1910 was carried on by his sons Amarsinh Gowamal and Manji Gowamal carried on his coal mines business after his death till nationalization of coal mines in 1972-73.
Rajesh Chauhan (b 1966) of Bhilai is a former Spin Bowler, who played for Indian Cricket team from 1993 to 1998, belongs to the community.
Bharat Purshottam Tank (1966–2009) son of Purshottam Jagmal Tank of Kukma living in Raipur was a drummer, who created a national record in beating drums non-stop for 123 hours and 20 minutes at the age of 22 in year 1988.
Vaidhya Pragji Mohanji Rathor (1918–2006) of Nagalpar, who lived in Bhavnagar and later in Navsari, was a noted person in Ayurvedic medicines and science. He was an authority in Urine therapy and have written many books on Shivambu Chikitsa or self-urine therapy and Ayurvdic medicines in Gujarati language. His weekly articles used to be published in various Gujarati publications and newspapers. He was honored by Gujarat Government. The noted book written by him is Vigyan Ki Kasauti Par: Swamutra Chikitsa . During his lifetime he was President of Gujarat Vaidya Mandal and worked on several posts of Gujarat Ayurved University.
Dharshi Jethalal Tank (1919–2010) of Jamshedpur has his name recorded in Limca Book of Records for Mathematical Calculations of having evolved a method of finding 10,00,000 prime numbers in the shortest possible time. He was also the editor and compliar of the book Nanji Bapa ni Nondh-pothi published in 1999. The book was given Ank-Sidhhi award by Kuth Shakti at a function held in Mumbai in 2000.
Amritlal Vegad (1928-2018) of Jabalpur, was a noted writer, painter and environment activist from the community.
^ abcdefIndia's communities by Kumar Suresh Singh. Oxford University Press. 1998. p. 2287. MESTRI: They are also known as Mistri. Kota in Rajasthan is believed to be their native place from where they came to Kutch in vs 1234 in search of livelihood. In Gujarat, the community is distributed in about eighteen villages of the Bhuj and Anjar
^ abcdefgDiary of Golden Days at Jharia – A Memoir and History of Gurjar Kashtriya Samaj of Kutch in Coalfields of Jharia – written by Natwarlal Devram Jethwa of Calcutta (1998).
^Census of India, 1981: Bihar. Series 4. Controller of Publications - Bihar. 1981. p. 22. It was the existence of coal that first attracted the railway authority to extend the railways and with them came the Gujarati people as an expert railway contractor with an experience of railway construction work at Thana. They then met Raja of Jharia and purchased some having underneath wast wealth in shape of coal.
^ abEncyclopedia of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa by British Authority (1920)
^Commercial & general directory of C. P. & Berar. 1941. p. 161. Rathor, Kalyanji Ramji. The Managing Director, the Raipur Flour Mills Limited. Age 29 years. Belongs to family which came from Cutch first to Bihar in 1914 and did coal business and later established at Raipur in 1934. Has landed properties worth..
^Sansmriti: A memoir written by Nanalal Amarsinh Chauhan of Bagalkot in Gujarati language published in 2004. (The book gives details of re-organization and history of KGK Samaj after 1950 till 1985 and also brief life-sketch of some noted people)
Nanji Bapa ni Nondh-pothi published from Baroda, in the Gujarati, 1999. It is a diary of railway contracts done by the KGK community, noted by Nanji Govindji Tank at Jamshedpur throughout his lifetime with his last entry in 1954. The diary was discovered his son Govardhan Nanji Tank and released as a book compiled by Dharshibhai Jethalal Tank. It was given the Aank Sidhhi award by Kutch Shakti at Mumbai in 2000. Book also has a section with photos on historical monuments and architects built by the Mistris of Kutch and has life-sketches of noted people of community. It has excerpts from the Encyclopedia of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa 1920 & 1925.
Diary of Golden Days at Jharia - A Memoir & History of Gurjar Kashtriya Samaj of Kutch in Coalfields of Jharia - written by Natwarlal Devram Jethwa of Calcutta (1998). Gives history of community pioneers in coal mining in Jharia from 1894 till 1972 with life sketches of Seth Khora Ramji, Jetha Lira, Khimjee & Gangjee Dossa, Ramji Rupa, Jagmal Raja, Manji Jairam. Also the life-sketches of people of Jharia from other communities like Lala Karamchand Thapar, Diwan Bahadur D. D. Thacker, Kripashankar & Harishankar Worah, Jatashankar Dossa Chanchani, Mavji Kalyanji, Ramjush Agarwalla, Waliram Taneja, Amritlal Ojha & many others from Jharia coalfields.
Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya Samaj : A brief History & Glory: by Raja Pawan Jethwa. (2007) Calcutta. The Book has separate sections: INTRODUCTION : Gives an overview of Kutch Gurjar Kshtriya community and its ancient history (I) KGK and Architect built by them mainly in Princely State of Cutch. (II) KGK and Railway : Gives details of some major Railway work with mileage wise details (III) KGK Surnames & History : Section gives details of various Kshatriya clan's history and origin of their surnames. (IV) Section deals with Kuldevi names various clans of KGK worship.
Bhuj: art, architecture, history by Azhar Tyabji, Environmental Planning Collaborative (Ahmadābād, India) 2006
A glorious heritage : Maharao Lakhpatji and the Aina Mahal by Pramod J. Jethi and W. Christopher (2000)
"KUTCH : People & their handicrafts" by Pramod J. Jethi & Nayana P. Jethi, 2008.
"Kutchi Leva Patel - Our Journey to prosperity" by S. P. Gorasia. (June 2004). Published by Cutch Social & Cultural Society (London) and Printed by Umiya Printers (Bhuj, Kutch) The book mentions about Mistris of Kutch & their railway works & architects.
Indian Coal Statistics . India (Republic). Dept. of Mines. 1915
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