The Raja-Zamindar (Kingly Ruling Chiefs) of Gaya, Bihar: History of the Raman family of Benaras (Varanasi)

Estb. 1540 AD

Zamindari Name (Ruling Name):

Gaya Kothi-Benaras Kothi. Second largest after Dharbanga estate in Bihar, India
Motto: Service of Humanity
Type: Fragmented.
Given by:  Sher Shah Suri
Year of Establishment:  1540 AD
Ruling Gaddi: Gaya in Bihar and Benaras (Varanasi) in UP , India
Family Founder: Raja Deepchand Shah, Treasurer of Sher Shah Suri
Titles: Raja (given by Sher Shah Suri in 1540 AD)
Raja Rai Bhadur (by the British Government in 1858)
Rais of Benaras (given by Maharajah Benaras in 1925)
Villages: More than 1550 as per Zamindari compensation of 1952, 1957
Ruling Strong Holds: Gaya, Sasaram, Chainpur, Babhua, Lohara, Mu, Narsingpur, Sarian,Shergahati, Newada and villages in Patna, Munger, Rohtas and Shahabad, Districts and Orgaon,Tarna, Ganeshpur and Balurghat near Benaras.
Forests: Jhawar Kho adjoining Dumraon estate. Mukri Kho in the Kaimur Hills.
Hills: Major parts of Kaimur Hiils in the Rohtas and Shahbad districts of Bihar
Benaras Migration:  Raja Kameshwar Prasad Narayan Singh of Gaya (great-great-great grandson of Raja Deepchand Shah) in cirica 1855 AD.
Jaipur Migration: Shri Lakshmi Raman Prasad (great-great grandson of Kameshwar Prasad Narayan Singh of Gaya) in 1991

The History

The Raman family of Benaras (Varanasi) are the direct descendents of Raja Deepchand Shah, who was the Treasurer and the Minister of Finance of Sher Shah Suri, the Afghan King from 1530 AD to 1545 AD. According to the Royal Farman (kept in the National Museum of India, Delhi), Sher Shah Suri instructed Raja Deepchand Shah to build the Grand Trunk Road or the Sarak-e-Aazam.

In circa 1540 AD, Raja Deepchand was granted the Zamindari of Chainpur, Sasaram and Shahbabad in Bihar by Sher Shah Suri before he left for Bengal, and later helped build the Mausoleum of Sher Shah after his death in 1545 AD in Sasaram. Raja DeepChand Shah�s son was Raja Yuvraj Shah and his son was Raja Gopaldas Shah, whose son was Raja Durgadas Prasad ji.

In the times to come, the Zamindari headquarters shifted from Chainpur to Gaya, and besides being Zamindars, the family under Raja Durgadas Prasad ji was also appointed as the Government Treasurer of the British East India Company in circa 1800s, and controlled the Zamindari and the Treasury from the Gaya Kothi Palace situated on the banks of Falgu River on Gayatri Ghat, which was donated to the Karanatka Math in the 1980s. In 1859, Raja Durgadas Prasad also was given the Sword of Honour by the British Government of India.

In circa 1850s the estate was further expanded by the son of Raja Durgadas Prasad ji, Raja Kameshwar Prasad Narayan Singh, to cover over 1550 villages in Bihar and United Provinces, and was commonly called the Gaya Kothi Zamindari, which became the second biggest Zamindari after the Dharbanga state (Bihar District Gazetteer, 1957, Pranab Chandra Roy Choudhury, Printed by the Superintendant, Secretariat Press, Bihar).

The major strongholds in Bihar of the Gaya Kothi Zamindari were the towns and villages of Gaya, Sasaram, Chainpur, Babhua, Lohara, Mu, Narsingpur, Sarian, Newada and villages in Patna, Munger and Shahabad Districts.

After the migration of Raja Kameshwar Prasad to Benaras in circa 1855, due to his mother�s wish to do Kashiwaas (to reside and die in Kashi or Benaras), the estate was expanded to cover villages of Orgaon, Tarna, Ganeshpur and Balurghat near Benaras.

In Benaras, Raja Kameshwar Parasd built his Haveli in Kachori Gali which became known as Kothi Kachori Gali or Benaras Kothi in the old part of Benaras, which has 7 chowks and stretches all the way near to the ghats on the Ganges River (is still with the family) and established a successful banking business along with the existing Zamindari.

The Descendents of Raja Kameshwar Prasad ji in Benaras (Varanasi)


Late Babu KishoriRaman Prasad ji

Sri RadhaRaman Prasad ji serving is Late elder brother Sri KishoriRaman Prasad ji

Raja Kameshwar Prasad Naryan Singh ji (died in 1906) had 3 sons. 1. Babu Gaya Prasad ji who died early had no heir. 2. Babu Gajadhar Prasad ji became a sanyasi (Mohini Saran) after the birth of his son Babu Kishori Raman ji, and moved to Ayodhaya, and made a temple at Gola Ghat and entrusted it to his Guru (belonging to the Ramanuj sect) on the banks of the Saruy River, and 3. Babu Krishna Narayan Prasad ji.

Babu Krishna Narayan Prasad ji looked after KishoriRaman Prasad ji like his own son, but also died young (died in 1921 and was 21 years old) soon after the birth of his own son RadhaRaman Prasad ji. Therefore, due to the early death of adult males, the Gaya Kothi & Benaras Kothi Zamindari became court of ward (from 1921 to 1925) and was managed by the collector of Benaras, the Maharaja of Benaras, Raja Motichand of Azmatgarh and Rai Bhadur Krishnalal Gupta of Kanpur until 1925 when Babu Kishori Raman Prasad ji became a major and started looking after the Estate and the Banking business affairs.

In 1932, Babu Kishori Raman ji built the Raman Niwas Palace (work started in 1925) in 10 acres (situated in Mahmoorganj area) and the entire families along with RadhaRaman ji (who was just 11 years old) were shifted from the Kachori Gali Haveli.

Later, from 1940 to 1952, until the abolition of Zamindari by the Union Government of India under the Zamindari Abolition Act of 1952, the affairs of the Gaya Kothi and Benaras Kothi Zamindari were looked after by both Late KishoriRaman Prasad ji (1906-1984) and RadhaRaman Prasad ji.

Currently, all families (Radha Raman ji, Sri Raman ji, Shanti Raman ji, Lakshmi Raman ji, Rama Raman ji, Puneet Raman ji, Aditya Raman ji & Navneet Raman ji) live in Raman Niwas Palace in Benaras, and one branch (Lakshmi Raman ji) of Sri RadahaRaman Prasad ji migrated to Jaipur, Rajasthan in 1991 along with his son Aditya Raman ji.

Patrons of Religion, Culture and Music

Unlike many Ruling Chiefs, the Gaya Kothi Zamindar's were very kind hearted, and considered their estate populace to be like their own children and were dearly adored and loved by the masses and followed their motto SERVICE OF HUMANITY to the word. The Gaya Kothi Zamindars made many Talabs (community Lakes), Schools, Temples, Dharamshals in their estate of Gaya region and contributed large sums to public and private institutions such as Benaras Hindu University, The Sanskrit University, The Sanatan Dharm College at Kanpur, The Pilgrim Fund of Benaras and the Benaras Anathalya, Tulsighat, Kashi etc.

Late Maharaja Sri Vibhuti Narayan Singh ji (center) 
with Late
Babu KishoriRaman Prasad ji (right) and 
Sri RadhaRaman Prasad ji (left) at a marriage function in Raman Niwas Palace, Varanasi circa 1978

In Benaras, the Raman family were, and are still patrons of music and art, and Late Babu Kishori Raman Prasad ji has been called "A Kingly Zamindar With Fine Arts" by Dr. Ushakant J. Ladiwala. The Raman family has close associations with Padmabhusan Pundit Kishan Maharaj, Pundit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Padmabhushan Srimati Girja Devi, Padmshree Pundit Balvantrai Bhutt "Bhav Rang", Pundit Omkatnath Thakur, Girjashankar Chaturvedi, Ustad Aamir Khan, Pundit D.V. Pulskar, Ustad Fayiaz Khan and many others who have stayed at the Raman Niwas Palace or have given personal performances.

On the business side, the Raman family had a thriving private banking business pre-independence, which they merged in to the Beneras State Bank along with Maharaj Beneras after 1952. The Ghanti Mill (Asia Cycles) at Sigra in front of Baharat Mata Mandir was established by them. Benaras Lodge Hotel at Gowdolia, many cotton mills in the 1960s and cold storages were also part of their concern. In 1978, Shri Lakshmi Raman ji along with his wife Renu Raman ji opened up the US market for Indian handwoven dhurry, rugs and textiles by promoting the local craft in Europe & USA.

In the younger generation, Aditya Raman ji is also involved in reviving and supporting the hand weaving traditions of rugs, carpet and other hand-woven textiles in the villages of North & West India, which his father and mother initiated in 1978. Navneet Raman ji has opened The Kriti Art Gallery in Raman Niwas, Varanasi and supports various local and international artists and Nandita Raman ji is a world renowned artistic photographer in the United States of America. She works with a range of mediums including photography, video and language. Her work has most notably been exhibited at Franz Josefs Kai3, Vienna, Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University and Columbia University. Her cinema hall photographs will be shown at George Eastman Museum in fall 2017. She curated the group exhibition “I need my memories. They are my documents” at SepiaEYE, NY. She has taught in City University of New York and International Center of Photography and is a graduate of the Bard College-International Center of Photography MFA program. She is a recipient of Alkazi Foundation’s Documentary Photography Grant for her ongoing project Letters to Alice, Bill and Allen.

The family-trust supports Kala Prakash, The Benaras Foundation and Intach in Varanasi.

Family Relations

1. Raja Motichand Family of Azmatgarh Estate, Motijheel, Palace Varanasi
2. Raja of Nashipur family in Murshidabad dist., West Bengal
3. Sir Raibhadur Krishanlal Gupta family of Kanpur
4. Zamindars of Muzzafurnagar-The Swarup family, Uttar Pradesh.
5. Zamindars of Karanchi (Pre-partition India)
6. Zamindars of Chandosi

Close Counsels Of the Family

1. Late Dr. Rajender Prasad, the first President of India, 1950 to 1962
2. Late Mr. N. Bakshi, retired ICS, Cabinet Secretary of Bihar 1955 to 1960
3. Late Babu Jagjeevan Ram ji, the eminent politician from Sasaram.
4. Late Sri P.R. Dass, eminent advocate from Bengal.
5. Late Sri Mahabir Prasad, Advocate General of Bihar 1950 to 1960
6. Shri P.K. Shai, Advocate General of Bihar

Famous Divan's of the Estate

1. Late Jukhon Sau of Gaya, circa 1860s
2. Late Babu Mahabir Misra of Gaya, 1920 to 1930
3. Late Sri Kaulehwari Prasad Sinha ji of Gaya (Grandfather of actor Shtrugan Sinha), circa 1930-1950s
4. Late Vishwanath Shukla (Bhat ji) 1945 to 1954, became
Magistrate in Bihar after Zamindari Abolition and then Bihar Government Councilor after 1965.
5. Late Shreenarayan Misra of Beneras circa 1954 to 1960
6. Late Sarju Prasad

The Raman Family of Benaras with Radha Raman Prasad ji (sitting in center). Raman Niwas Palace, Varanasi. March-2008


1. Unpublished diary writings of Shri Radha Raman ji, Varanasi, 2007
2. Punya Samarparn, A tribute to Late Babu Kishori Raman Prasad ji, Dr. Asutosh Chaturvedi, 2007
3. The Ruling Chiefs, Nobles, And Zamindars Of India, Vadivelu, A., Madras: 1915.
4. Bihar District Gazetteer, 1952, Pranab Chandra Roy Choudhury, Printed by the Superintendant, Secretariat Press, Bihar, 1957
5. Kashi ya Benaras, by Bal Mukund Verma, 1925
6. Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Correspondence and Select Documents By Rajendra Prasad, Allied Publishers Ltd, New Delhi, ISBN 81-7023-002-0, 1991
7. The Landlords of Agra & Oudh, Narul Hasan Siddiqui, page 152 & 153
8. The Encyclopedia of North and Central India, N. Madhra Ram, The Eastern Encyclopaedia Compiling and Publishing Company, Madras 1933-34, page VII-11, 12 & 13