Military Wiki
The Rajputana Rifles
File:Rajputana Rifles Insignia.gif

The Rajputana Rifles Insignia
Active 10 January 1775 - Present

British Raj Indian Empire 1775-1947

 India 1947-Present
Branch Indian Army
Type Infantry Regiment
Role Regiment
Size 19 battalions
Motto(s) Veer Bhogya Vasundhara
"The Brave Shall Inherit the Earth"
Battle honours Poonch, Charwa, Basantar and Myanamati

The Rajputana Rifles is the most senior rifle regiment of the Indian Army. It was originally raised in 1921 as part of the British Indian Army, when six previously existing regiments were amalgamated to form six battalions of the 6th Rajputana Rifles. In 1945 the numeral designation was dropped from the title and in 1947 the regiment was transferred to the newly independent Indian Army. Since independence, the regiment has been involved in a number of conflicts against Pakistan, as well as contributing to the Custodian Force (India) in Korea under the aegis of the United Nations in 1953-54 and to the UN Mission to the Congo in 1962.

The Name

The name Rajputana Rifles is derived from the Rajput a Hindu clan and the word Rajputana which was the old name of Rajasthan. It is based on the Sanskrit word Rajaputra meaning son of a king. Rajputana (räj'pʊtä'nə), historic region, NW India; roughly coextensive with the modern Indian state of Rajasthan. The name means "land of the Rajputs." Rajput tribal power rose here between the 7th and 13th centuries, and the princes resisted the early Muslim incursions, which began in the 11th century. Rajput power reached its peak in the early 16th century, but the area fell to the Mughals when Akbar captured the fort of Chitor in 1568. From their seat at Ajmer the Mughals ruled Rajputana until the early 18th century. The Marathas held feudatories in the region from c. 1750 to 1818, when it passed to Great Britain. Under the British, Rajputana included more than 20 princely states, notably Bikaner, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, and Ajmer. The internal autonomy of many of the states was guaranteed. Most of these states were incorporated into Rajasthan after India gained independence in 1947.

Region of northwestern India that now comprises Rajasthan state and small sections of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. The Aravalli Range crosses the southern part of the region from northeast to southwest. The northwestern part is largely the Thar desert, but to the southeast the land is extremely fertile. The Rajput princely states came under British protection by treaties in the early 19th century; most of the area was formed into Rajasthan state in 1948.


The regiment's origins lie in the 18th century when the East India Company (HEIC) recruited Rajputs to protect its operations. The impressive performance of French local units which were composed of local recruits mixed with French officers, helped the HEIC to decide that it needed to do something similar. In January 1775, it raised its first local infantry units which included the 5th Battalion, Bombay Sepoys, which is considered to be the oldest rifle regiment of the Indian Army.[1] The 5th Battalion was successively redesignated as 9th Battalion Bombay Sepoys in 1778; 2nd Battalion, 2nd Regiment of Bombay Native Infantry in 1796; 4th Regiment of Bombay Native Infantry in 1824, and then 4th Regiment Native Infantry (Rifle Corps) in 1881.[2] It thus became the first rifle regiment of the British Indian Army.[1] In 1899 the battalion was once more renamed as 4th Regiment (1st Battalion Rifle Corps) Bombay Infantry and again in 1901 as 4th Bombay Rifles.[2]

In Kitchener's 1903 reorganisation of the Indian Army, 4th Bombay Rifles became 104th Wellesley’s Rifles, to commemorate the fact that the regiment had been commanded in 1800 by Arthur Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington).[3] In the further re-organisation in 1921, six regiments were brought together to form six battalions of the 6th Rajputana Rifles Regiment:

A painting depicting members of the Rajputanta Rifles, of all ranks and uniforms. c. 1911

In 1945 the regiments of the British Indian Army dropped the numeral in their titles and so the Rajputanas assumed their current name. In 1947 the regiment was allocated to India and the newly formed Indian Army when the sub-continent became independent from the British Empire. In 1949, the 1st Battalion was elevated to the status of guards, becoming 3rd Battalion, Brigade of the Guards.


In 1817 the 4th Battalion met the Marathas at the Battle of Khadki. The defence earned the regiment the battle honor of "Khadki". In 1856–57 the 1st, 2nd and 4th Battalions were together in the Persian theatre of operations. In 1856 Captain J. A. Wood of the 2nd Battalion (then the 20th Bombay Native Infantry) was awarded the Victoria Cross for storming Reshire Fort.[5] This was the first Victoria Cross to be won in an Indian unit.[6] In the same battle Subedar Major Mohammed Sharief and Subedar Peer Bhatt were recommended for the Victoria Cross but were turned down as at that time the medal category was not open to Indians.[7][8]

In 1878–1880, during the Second Afghan War, the 1st Battalion marched 145 miles in 5 days from Quetta to Kandahar and laid siege to the city. In 1900–1902, the 3rd Battalion was part of a force used to contain the Boxer rebellion in China.

The First World War saw the regiment fight in battlefields from France to Palestine. The 5th Battalion was in all theatres of the war and participated in General Allenby’s march to recapture Jerusalem. In this march the units got the better of their German and Turkish opponents.

During World War II the regiment was expanded to thirteen battalions and served in the Middle East, Burma and Malaya.[9] The 4th Battalion had the distinction of earning two Victoria Crosses during this conflict.[10]

Over the course of its existence, members of the regiment have received 6 Victoria Crosses,1 Param vir chakra, 1 Ashok Chakra, 1 Padma Bushan, 11 Param Vishisht Seva Medals, 10 Maha Vir Chakras, 8 Kirti Chakras, 11 Ati Vishisht Seva Medals, 1 Uttam Yudh Seva Medal, 41 Vir Chakras, 25 Shaurya Chakras, 112 Sena Medals (including Bar), 36 Vishisht Seva Medals, 2 Yudh Seva Medals, 85 Mention-in-Despatches and 55 Arjun Awards.[1]


  • 1st Battalion was elevated to the status of Guards, becoming 3rd Battalion, Brigade of the Guards (1st Raj Rif).
  • 2nd Battalion (formerly 120th Rajputana Infantry)
  • 3rd Battalion (formerly 122nd Rajputana Infantry (God's Own))
  • 4th Battalion (formerly 123rd Outram's Rifles)
  • 5th Battalion (formerly 125th Napier's Rifles)
  • 6th Battalion
  • 7th Battalion
  • 8th Battalion
  • 9th Battalion
  • 11th Battalion
  • 12th Battalion (formerly 31st Rajputana Rifles)
  • 13th Battalion
  • 14th Battalion
  • 15th Battalion
  • 16th Battalion
  • 17th Battalion (former State Forces unit or Imperial Service Troops)
  • 19th Battalion
  • 20th Battalion
  • 21st Battalion
  • 22nd Battalion
  • 23rd Battalion (now 12 Para)


The Rajputana Rifles Regimental Museum

The Rajputana Museum is located in the heart of the city in Delhi in the Rajputana Rifles Center. The museum covers the rich history of the oldest regiment in the most modern fashion. The museum is around 7000 Sq ft in size and covers the history of the regiment from its inception. The museum is designed to narrate the story of the regiment from its beginning till now. The museum by far is the best army museum in India. The museum exhibits weapons uniforms and narrates the history through large format images and audio visual film. The museum is designed and conceived by Delhi based design studio which specializes in designing museums and exhibitions. But sadly, the regimental museum is accessible only to the regimental personnel, and the glory of the regiment unfortunately remains shrouded in secrecy. Col M S Niranjan of 19 Raj Rif was the Director of this unique Museum Project. He was responsible for on-boarding Holistic design Studio, Mr Nikhil Bhardwaj, Miss Moushumi Chatterji and Miss Shailin Smith as his core team. The project was executed against a tough time-line and cash crunch. It is rated as the finest military museum in India and even compared to the Imperial Museum in London.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Sharma 1990, p. 97. and
  2. 2.0 2.1 - 104th Wellesley's Rifles
  3. Mackenzie 1951, p. 25.
  4. Sharma 1990, pp. 104–105.
  5. Sharma 1990, pp. 97–98.
  6. Mackenzie 1951, p. 131.
  7. Sharma 1990, p. 98.
  8. Until 1911, the Indian Order of Merit was the highest gallantry award that Indian soldiers were eligible for. After 1911, the Victoria Cross was extended to all soldiers of the British Empire.
  9. Sharma 1990, pp. 106–109.
  10. Sharma 1990, p. 106.

External links

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).