Ruda Ladha Chawra

Seth Ruda Ladha Chawra, Rai Saheb (1884–1948) was a noted railway contractor and Kutchi industrialist, who established himself at Bagra, India.[1]

Early life

He was born in 1884[2] to Ladha Bharmal[3] of Chandiya[3] at Madhapar near Bhuj[2] in erstwhile Princely State of Cutch.[3] He belonged to a small but enterprising Mestri community,[3] which was known for their architectural skills. Ruda Ladha's father Ladha Bharamal and uncle Ramji Bharmal worked as a railway contractor in ItarsiJabalpur section in 1869–71 and also Bhopal State Railway works in 1880–81 connecting Itarsi with Bhopal.[4]

Ruda Ladha had some primary education at vernacular school at Madhapar and Bhuj.[3]

Railway contractor

Ruda Ladha also joined his father in his business of railway contractor at a very early age and soon gained a name as reputed railway contractor for Great Indian Peninsula Railway.[2] He was involved in laying of railway line from Pandhurna to Itarsi section in 1922 with fellow contractors from his community and worked on several other railway bridges and lines.[3][4]

He was also involved in several railway contract works of Seth Walchand Hirachand with whom he shared personal friendship.[3] Walchand, when founded Hindustan Construction Company in 1926, offered him to join him as a partner in his company, which he politely declined.[3] He along with some other Mestri railway contractors were a part of the team that did Bhor ghat tunnelling in Kasara to Khandala section of G.I.P. Railway, which was completed by Tata Construction Company headed by Walchand during years 1926–28.[3]


He later established himself at a small village Bagra in erstwhile Central Provinces and Berar (present day Madhya Pradesh) around 1915. He was one of the early businessman to enter into the roof tile making business and only second after Sitaram Malaviya, who pioneered the industry in 1903 by establishing the first roof tile factory at Bagra under name Sitaram & Sons.[1][5] Ruda Ladha started his industrial career with a factory at Bagra in 1921, which he later developed into a fully mechanised modern factory,[2] importing machinery and dies from England.[3] The 'Trishul' brand of tiles made by him soon earned name throughout India[1][5][6] and he became a leading businessman in tile making business and he expanded into establishing several other tile making factories in later years.[3]


He also held some investments in a colliery at Betul near Chhindwara. Further, he also owned Manganese mines.[3] His son Maoji Ruda, who inherited his tiles factory and Manganese mines[7] and a noted contractor,[3] who was involved in doubling of railway lines between Bagra Tawa and Sohagpur (23.1 km), Itarsi to Gurra (10.6 km), Madan Mahal to Bheraghat (13.1 km) (1961–62) and doubling of the Itarsi— Bhopal section between Itarsi – Powarkheda – Hoshangabad (18.1 km) (1961–62).[4]

Public life

He was nominated as a member to District Council of Hoshangabad and made an honorary magistrate III Class.[6] He was awarded title of Rai Saheb by British in year 1929.[3] He was also awarded Jubilee Medal of 1935 and 1937 Coronation Medal.[3][6]


He owned large mansion at Hoshangabad and valuable landed properties at Hoshangabad, Itarsi, Bhopal and Jabalpur including major portion of agricultural lands at Bagra village.[3] In his native village Madhapar in Kutch, also he owned a large mansion and agricultural lands.[3]

He owned a cinema hall named 'Bharat Talkies' at Itarsi, which he built in year 1945.[3]


He donated money in 1930 to open a ward, which was named after him as Ruda Ladha Ward at Friends Hospital in Itarsi.[8] Also he was responsible for starting a primary school at Bagra Tawa and donated money for expansion of school at Hoshangabad and Itarsi and building a temple at Bagra Tawa. He had also donated money to Indian Red Cross Society.[3]


He died in 1948 at Bagra due heart attack and was survived by several sons.[3]


His legacy of tile and contractor business was carried on by his brother, sons and grandsons like, Manji Ladha, Pragji ruda, Omkarbhai Pragji Chawra, Chimanlal pragji Chawra, Gopal Chawra and others.[1][9] The several tiles factory started by him and his brothers like, Ruda Ladha & Sons, Manji Ladha & Sons, Trisul Tile Works, Bagra Tile & Bricks Co., which continued to dominate tile market of India for at least seven decades,[3][10] till the government environment policies lead to its decline in decade of 1980s and the industry is near its death-bed in current era, as there is complete ban an excavating yellow clay from Satpura forests.[1]Manglore pattern tiles came to be known as Bagra Tiles after village Bagra where factories in which these bricks were produced were located.,[5] thus throwing this obscure village on industrial map of India.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Pre-independence era roof tile units in 'deathbed'". Business Standard. 16 July 2012. Archived from the original on 19 July 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d Commercial & general directory of C. P. & Berar. 1941. p. 163.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Diary 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):pp:39:Rai Sahib Ruda Ladhha Chawda – Life sketch.
  4. ^ a b c Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya Samaj : A brief History & Glory :by Raja Pawan Jethwa. (2007). Section II: Mileage wise available Details of Railway lines laid.Pages:63 to 70
  5. ^ a b c Madhya Pradesh: Hoshangabad. Government Central Press. p. 157.
  6. ^ a b c Commercial & general directory of C. P. & Berar. 1941. p. 163.
  7. ^ Records of the Geological Survey of India, Volume 83. Government of India. 1951. p. 641.
  8. ^ Pilgrims in Hindu Holy Land: Sacred Shrines of the Indian Himalayas. Sessions Book Trust. 1997. p. 69.
  9. ^ List of Industrial Establishments in Madhya Pradesh by Madhya Pradesh (India). Labour Dept. Government Regional Press. 1970. p. 50.
  10. ^ Madhya Pradesh, District Gazetteers , Volume 18. Government Central Press. 1979. p. 157.

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