P=have O=don’t have it
Sirmoor (aka Sirmour, Sirmur) was a small Princely state in northern India under the protection of the British Empire. It is currently located in the southeast corner of the state of Himachal Pradesh in India.
Sirmoor was founded in Nahan, the capital city, in 1616 by Raja Karam Parkash, as part of the Mughal Empire. Raja Parkash aided the Mughal Emperor in conquering Srinagar in Garhwal, where he was awarded additional land for expanding the Kingdom of Sirmoor. For the next 150 years, the Raja’s of Sirmoor continued to aid the Mughal Empire, and Simoor grew in its control of surrounding feudatory lands.
Karam Parkash II, who ascended the throne in 1793, was a very weak and poor ruler, and eventually Sirmoor lost control of all of its feudatories. Things collapsed when Karam’s younger brother led a rebellion in 1803 and attempted to seize the throne. To stave off the rebellion, Karam II appealed to the Gurkhas of Nepal, who promptly sent a large army into Sirmoor. After the rebels were expelled, the Gurkhas refused to restore Karam Parkash II to the throne, instead they annexed all of the lands of Sirmoor into the Kingdom of Nepal and Karam II went into exile at Buria.
As the Kingdom of Nepal continued expanding into other areas including Sikkim, Kamaon and Garhwal, it was inevitable that they would come into conflict with the British who had their own aggressive expansion plans. This resulted in Britain declaring war against Nepal in 1814. Taking advantage of the situation, Karam’s second wife, Guleri Raniji Sahiba contacted the British and requested aid against the Gurkhas. The British sent a force to Simoor and eventually was able to drive out the Nepalese in 1815.
Karam Parkash II was not reappointed as leader, rather his son Fateh Parkash was crowned as Raja at age 6, and his mother Guleri Raniji Sabiah was appointed as regent. He came of age in 1827 assuming full responsibilities.
While Sirmoor was a small state in British India, most of its Rajas were able rulers and fully supported the British Crown in the various conflicts and wars across India and even WW1 and WW2. They were well know for providing some of the best miners and sappers for aiding sieges. During the Indian Rebellion of 1858, The Sirmoor Rifles (a Battalion of highly trained Gurkha soldiers) remained loyal to the British. The Sirmoor Battalion was presented with the Queen’s Truncheon and the Sirmoor Rifles became the 2nd Gúrkha Regiment. In 1876, the Sirmoor Rifles became Edward VII’s (who was Prince of Wales at the time) own Gurkha Regiment. This honor continued when he became king.
Sirmoor remained a Princely state until Maharaja Sir Rajendra Prakash Bahadur signed the Instrument of Merger with the Dominion of India on 13 Mar, 1948, and merged his state into the Punjab and Eastern States Union on 15 Apr, 1948.
For India States, stamp collectors divide the states that issued stamps into two camps. Feudatory States ran their own post and issued stamps which were valid within that particular state. Convention states had an agreement (aka convention) with the British India postal system to handle internal postage, and overprinted stamps of British India with the particular state.
Sirmoor is considered a Feudatory state. Sirmoor issued its first stamp in 1879. The stamp was simply designed with the words “Sirmoor State Postage Stamp” written in English and Hindi surrounded by vines and flowers. There were two issues of the 1p stamp, one printed in green on wove paper and the second printed in blue on laid paper.
In 1885, a set of 5 stamps were issued featuring Raja Shamsher Prakash Bahadur (pictured above). In 1893, Sirmoor reissued the “Sirmoor State Postage Stamp” design, with the key difference being printed perforations around the central design.
In 1895, Sirmoor issued a very attractive set of stamps featuring an elephant. The stamps, issued in 8 denominations, were inscribed “SIRMOOR POSTAGE AND INLAND REVENUE”. Finally, in 1899, stamps featuring the new Raja, Sir Surendar Bikram Prakash were issued, as his father died in 1898.
Official Stamps were also issued in 1890-92. The stamps overprinted the 1885 Raja Shamsher issues with: “On S. S. S.” and was used for official correspondence.
Stamps of Sirmoor were only good for postage within the state, and became obsolete in 1901.
A Feudatory state in the Punjab District of India.
Thanks to Lloyd Gilbert for the scans
Inside #9: India-Sirmoor #1O(B)
Inside #10: India-Sirmoor #2O(B)
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