History and hierarchy
Established in 1819, the Agency was under the political control of the Bombay Presidency until 10 October 1924, from which date it was under the Western India States Agency, which depended directly from the Governor General of India. Of the three Political Agencies in the Northern Division of the Bombay Presidency, the next in importance to Kathiawar was the Palanpur Agency, established in 1819.
The designation of Palanpur Agency was changed to Banas Kantha Agency in 1925. Palanpur State itself was transferred to the Rajputana Agency in 1933, and the rest of the Banas Kantha Agency then merged with the Mahi Kantha Agency to form the Sabar Kantha Agency, subordinate to the Western India States Agency (WISA). On 11 November 1944 the WISA amalgamated with the Baroda and Gujarat States Agency. After the independence of India in 1947, the whole area became part of Bombay State, which in 1960 was divided into the States of Gujarat (inheriting the former WISA states territory) and Maharashtra.
Palanpur Agency had (in 1908) the political control and supervision of four states (Palanpur, Radhanpur, Tharad and Wao) and five petty estates, besides 343 non-jurisdictional Talukas and villages grouped under five thana circles, each assigned to a Thandar. These were the Deodar, Varahi, Wao, Santalpur and Kankrej thana. Palanpur and Radhanpur ranked as Salute states (i.e. entitled to the high honor of a gun salute to its native princely ruler, further classified by the number of shots), the other seven as Non-salute states. The area of the Agency was about 6,393 square miles (1901 estimate), with a population of 467,271 (1901 Census). Headquarters of the Political Agency were at Palanpur town. Other principal towns were Radhanpur and Deesa, the latter containing a large British cantonment.
The majority of the Agency was ruled by Muslim chiefs, principally those of Palanpur and Radhanpur, the petty chiefs in the Warahi thana, and the Tervada chiefs under Deodar thana. The remaining estates were ruled by Rajputs (mainly Chauhans, Vaghelas and Jadejas clans), Kolis and Brahmins. Distributed according to religion, 85 percent of the population in the Agency were Hindus (in 1901), followed by Muslims (10 percent) and Jains (5 percent).
The states lay outside the scope of British Indian laws and regulations, unless they were specially extended and applied. The Political Agent acted as
Sessions Judge for the whole Agency, except for the states of Palanpur and Radhanpur. In addition he exercised the powers of a District Judge and District Magistrate in all the petty jurisdictional estates, besides being responsible, as District Officer, of general supervision of the administration of the states.
The Assistant Political Agent acted as ex-officio Superintendent of the Palanpur Imperial Police, controlling the force employed in the Headquarters and thana circles.
The Deesa Cantonment was established in 1821 for the purpose of maintaining order in the Palanpur state, which had been subject to many disturbances since 1813, and to overawe the wild Bhil and Rajput outlaws, who from time immemorial had been the terror of the surrounding districts. Situated on the left bank of the Banas river, three miles (5 km) north-east of Deesa town, it had a population (in 1901) of 11,047. It contained barracks for European and native troops, a large bazaar and many officer's bungalows. As the station was reduced to a fourth class station, in 1907 it contained only a Native Infantry regiment.
On 15 November 1879 the portion of the Western Rajputana States Railway between Ahmedabad and Palanpur opened for public traffic. In 1890 the diwan of Palanpur further agreed to cede jurisdiction over certains lands for the construction of a 17-mile (27 km) railway line between Palanpur and the military cantonment of Deesa.