Integration of Princely States – Role of Sardar Patel in Integration of Indian States

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Integration of princely states post-Indian independence is an important topic that every IAS aspirant must read about and understand. India gained independence on 15th August 1947, and this gave rise to two new dominions of India and Pakistan. At the time of independence, in 1947, undivided India was divided into two segments, one directly under the control of British rule and the second, under the British Crown’s authority, where the hereditary Indian rulers controlled the states’ internal affairs.

The integration of princely states into India was considered necessary for achieving independence from British rule completely. The political integration of princely states into independent India was the main aim of the Indian National Congress & the Indian government at the time.

Integration of Princely States into Indian Union

At the time of Indian independence, all the princely states under British Crown’s authority were also supposed to gain independence with the end of British rule. Therefore, the integration of princely states was another subject of concern for the Indian leaders.

  • As per the Indian Independence Act of 1947, these princely states were given the choice to either integrate into India or Pakistan or retain their status as independent sovereign states.
  • India’s first Deputy Prime Minister, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, was given the responsibility of accomplishing this task of integration of Indian states into the Indian Union.

Sardar Patel tried to convince the Indian princes to merge their states by reminding them of the risk of anarchy in case they refused to merge.

Importance of Integration of Indian States

After India’s independence, one of the major tasks was the integration of Indian states into the Indian Union. This was important because integrating the princely states into India meant transferring authority and power from the British Crown to India.

  • The main idea was to create one united independent nation called India.
  • Although there were many roadblocks while fulfilling this purpose, many states were unwilling to merge with India or Pakistan and were not in favour of losing their freedom and authority.
  • The new Indian government was not in favour of having independent small states within the country as it would lead to a high-security risk for the entire country. These independent princely states could be targeted in case of a foreign attack and could put the nation at risk.
  • On the other hand, Pakistan was also in the race to merge these states with itself and increase its power; therefore, it was all the more important for India to fasten the process of integration of princely states into the Indian Union.

Role of Sardar Patel in Integration of Princely States

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first deputy prime minister of India and the home minister, was handed over the task of integration of Indian states. V.P. Menon (Secretary of the Ministry of the States) assisted him in this task.

  • Sardar Patel adopted various measures to achieve his goal, looking at the seriousness of the situation at the time. He tried to instil patriotism in the Indian princes to convince them to integrate their states into the Indian union.
  • The concept of “privy purses” was also introduced by Sardar Patel while trying to make the integration of princely states possible. “Privy purses” referred to the payment made to the royal families if they agreed to the merger of their state with India.
  • The role of Sardar Patel in the integration of princely states can never be ignored or denied. Let us see how other states were made to agree to this integration of princely states in India.

How did India Achieve the Integration of Princely States?

Bikaner, Gwalior, Baroda, and Patiala were the first to integrate their states into India on 28th April 1947. Trace the path to find out the way India achieved the integration of princely states.

The Princely State of Travancore

Travancore was a princely state in southwestern India, now part of Kerala. The Kingdom of Travancore was quite popular then. Travancore was also known as a maritime state and therefore contributed to the maritime trade for the country as well. It also possessed abundant natural resources, due to which it thought of itself as a self-sufficient state and therefore did not want to merge with the Indian Union.

  • The Dewan of Travancore, Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Aiyar, had officially declared in 1946 that he was unwilling to let go of the independence of his state and refused to merge.
  • He was then invited to Delhi by Jawaharlal Nehru so that he could be convinced, but he did not change his decision and did not agree to sign the ‘Instrument of Accession’.
  • He only changed his decision when he survived an assassination attempt made by a member of the Kerala Socialist Party. He advised the King of Travancore from his hospital bed to sign the Instrument of Accession.
  • Travancore joined the Indian Union on 30th July 1947.


The state of Bhopal was also one of the princely states that declined its integration into the Indian Union. The situation in Bhopal was slightly different from other states in that here, a Muslim Nawab, Hamidullah Khan, was ruling a Hindu-dominated population. The Nawab of Bhopal was a close aide of the Muslim League.

  • Lord Mountbatten offered the Nawab of Bhopal the Instrument of Accession.
  • The Nawab of Bhopal refused to sign the Accession claiming the protection of Muslim rights in a Hindu-dominated state.
  • By July 1947, he finally accepted and signed the Instrument of Accession as the people of Bhopal also realized that the Nawab was only interested in gaining power.


The princely state of Jodhpur was a Rajput state with a Hindu population ruled by a Hindu king. Even then, it was more inclined towards merging with Pakistan. The Hindu king ruling over Jodhpur, Hanvant Singh, was young and had less experience, so he easily got attracted to the deal from Pakistan.

  • The deal he received from Jinnah was a blank signed paper where the Prince was asked to list his demands along with free access to the Karachi port.
  • Sardar Patel instantly offered some perks to the king of Jodhpur and tried to stop him from acceding to Pakistan.
  • The Dewan of Bikaner was also said to have convinced the Jodhpur king to accept the integration into India.
  • The king of Jodhpur finally signed the Instrument of Accession on 11th August 1947.


The princely state of Junagarh was situated in southwestern Gujarat. This state also showed disinterest in merging with the Indian Union. It comprised a large Hindu population and was ruled by a Muslim Nawab, Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III.

  • The king of Junagarh had initially agreed to merge with Pakistan on 15th September 1947, claiming it adjoined Pakistan by sea.
  • Later on, two states, Mangrol and Babariawad, under the control of Junagarh, announced their independence by acceding to the Indian Union. The Nawab, in response, forcefully took control of these states by adopting military measures.
  • The rulers of Mangrol and Babariawad pleaded for assistance from the Indian Government.
  • Looking at the complex situation, Sardar Patel and V.P. Menon tried to convince the Dewan of Junagarh to call for a plebiscite.
  • After many clashes and hardships, the plebiscite was held, resulting in Junagarh acceding to India.


Nizam Mir Usman Ali was a Muslim king ruling over a large Hindu population of Hyderabad. It was the richest among all the princely states of India. The king of Hyderabad denied the possibility of acceding to the Indian Union.

  • The king also led a group of Muslims called Ittehadul Muslimeen & a militia called Razakars to cause disruption and threatened the idea of a unified Indian state.
  • This led to a police action being taken against Hyderabad by the Indian Government in 1948, when on 13th September, it sent troops under ‘Operation Polo’.
  • All these instances eventually led the Nizam to surrender Hyderabad and later sign the Instrument of Accession.

Integration of Kashmir

Kashmir has always been a much-debated topic for years for India and Pakistan. At the time of Indian independence, Kashmir was a princely state.

In October 1947, Pashtun tribesmen from Pakistan’s NWFP invaded Kashmir in order to take it by force. They were headed towards Srinagar where the king was present. The king Hari Singh requested armed intervention from India in order to calm the situation and suppress the invasion.

  • Only after the king signed the Instrument of Accession did the Indian Government send its Army for Kashmir’s rescue.
  • However, Pakistan refused to recognise the Instrument of Accession and soon the first Kashmir War started. Pakistani and rebel forces tried to push all the way into Jammu.
    Instead of pushing back the invaders all the way, the matter was taken to the UN in 1948 on the advice of Lord Mountbatten.
  • A ceasefire was proclaimed on 1 January 1949 and the ceasefire line came to be called the Line of Control (LOC). 2/3rd of the state was under Indian control while the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan were secured by the Pakistani forces.
  • Jammu and Kashmir is now a union territory of India after the Indian government (in August 2019) revoked the special status granted to the state under Article 370.

Challenges of Integration of Indian States

Numerous challenges were faced while integrating princely states in India. The majority of the states assented to unite with the Indian Union, but some of the princely states were highly reluctant.

  • The states had an opportunity to either integrate with Pakistan or India.
  • The states like Hyderabad, in possession of riches, were not willing to give away their authority and integrate with the Central Union.

Integration of Princely States UPSC

This is an integral part of the Modern History syllabus for UPSC. The candidates must prepare exceptionally well and learn the core concepts for the exam. The questions can be asked from this segment in the prelims and mains exams.

Integration of Princely States MCQs

The candidates can practise the questions related to the integration of the Princely States. A detailed knowledge of the core concepts will help the candidates in gaining proficiency in the topic. Check here the list of the integration of princely states.

Question: To integrate which of the following states in India the means of Plebiscite was used? [A] Junagarh [B] Kashmir [C] Hyderabad [D] None of the Above

Answer: (Option A) Junagarh

Question: Who played a pivotal role in the integration of Princely States? [A] Dr. B.R Ambedkar [B] Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel [C] Rajendra Prasad [D] Jawaharlal Nehru

Answer: (Option B) Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel

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