Population: 80,582 (in 1901)
Bussahir (variously spelled Bashahr and Bushahr) was a princely state in the Punjab Hill States Agency (Presently it’s part of the Kinnaur and Shimla district of the Indian republic’s state of Himachal Pradesh.) Raja Shamsher Singh, who ruled from 1850– 1914, issued the first stamps were issued in 1895.
The stamps were locally lithographed on laid paper. They were hand stamped with the initials RS, representing the name of the ruler’s son, who had organized the state’s post office. The stamps were both gummed and without gum; they were also issued imperforated and perforated (perforated with a sewing machine, with holes varying between 7 and 11½). In addition, there are stamps that were issued without the monogram hand stamped.
Bussahir was the largest and most important of what the British called the “Hill States” of India, occupying about three-quarters of the land. Their princes were often called the Hill Rajas. In the summer, British officials and their families would escape the heat of other areas by spending time in these hills.
Located in the promontories of the western Himalayans, the princely state of Bussahir is in northwest India and the state occupied about 5,500 square miles. The mighty and strategic Sutlej river runs through the territory.
Bussahir was one of the richest princely states in its region. It served as an important trade center, linking Tibet, (to its east) and central Asia with India. The Lavi fair, said to date back 350 years, is still held in November in the city of Rampur, the former capital of Bussahir. Bussahir was also on an important pilgrimage route for Hindus and Buddhists.
It is possible that Bussahir dates no further back than the late 1600s. However, according to one source, it was founded by Rana Danbar Singh, an immigrant Rajput from the south of India, in 1412. The state is said to have been originated by a son of Krishna.
Bussahir was occupied by the Nepalese Gurkhas in 1803. However, in 1809, the ruler of the Sikh state in the Punjab, Ranjat Singh, fought successfully to expel them. Wars and peace treaties among the Gurkhas, the British (then the East India Company), and the Sikh state resulted in the independence of Bussahir, and the son of the former ruler, Sudarshan Shah, being installed as prince.
Thereafter Bussahir reached several formal written agreements with the British, including the regulation of forests. Only Bussahir, among the hill states, was required to pay yearly tribute to the British. Though it was ruled by a succession of Râjas, British influence in the area grew steadily, occupying forts and detaching the former tribute states of Bussahir. In 1898, Bussahir officially became a British protectorate.
In 1947, following independence, Bussahir acceded to the Indian union. In 1948, it joined twenty other hill states in forming the state of Himachal Pradesh and is in the Shimla district. The territory is partly tribal, and instances of polyandry (multiple husbands) were reported in 1988.
The current hereditary inheritor, Virdhadra Singh, still called Raja Virbhadra by many, is active in politics and has been influential in political circles. He is known for his green hat, indicating his loyalty to the Congress party.