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The Indian Post Office was established in 1837. The Indian postal system developed into an extensive, dependable and robust network providing connectivity to almost all parts of India.

British India had hundreds of Princely States, some 652 in all, but most of them did not issue postage stamps. The stamp-issuing States were of two kinds, the Convention States and the Feudatory States. The postage stamps and postal histories of these States provide great challenges and many rewards to the patient philatelist.

Faridkot and Jind, as feudatory states, issued their own stamps before they joined the Postal Convention. Faridkot joined on 1 January 1887. Jind joined in July 1885, its stamps from the feudatory period became invalid for postage, but they continued to be used for revenue purposes.

Below is a list of the Convention states and Feudatory Indian states:-

 

Convention states

Feudatory states −›

Chamba

Faridkot
(formerly feudatory;
convention from 1887)

 

Gwalior

 

Jind (formerly feudatory;
convention from 1885)

Nabha

Patiala

Alwar (1877–1899)

Bamra (1888–1893)

Barwani (1921–1938)

Bhopal (1876–1932)

Bhor (1879–1901)

Bijawar (1935–1937)

Bundi (1894–1941)

Bussahir (1895–1900)

Bahawalpur (1947–1949)

Charkhari (1894–1943)

Cochin (1892–1933)

Dhar (1897–1898)

Duttia (1893–1916)

Faridkot (1879–1900)

Hyderabad (1869–1949)

Idar (1939–1944)

Indore (1886–1941)

Jaipur (1900–1947)

Jammu & Kashmir (1878–86)
Jammu (1866–1877)

Jind (1874–1885)

Kashmir (1866–1867)

Jasdan (1942–1942)

Jhalawar (1887–1887)

Kishangarh (1899–1928)

Las Bela (1897–1904)

Morvi (1931–1935)

Nandgaon (1892–1893)

Nowanuggur (1877–1893)

Orchha (1913–1939)

Poonch (1876–1884)

Rajasthan (1949–1949)

Rajpipla (1880)

Sirmur (1879–1899)

Soruth (1864–1937)

Travancore (1888–1946)

Travancore-Cochin (1949–50)

Wadhwan (1888–1989)

 

 

The printing of stamps at Nasik began in 1925. From 1 January 1926 all printing and overprinting of India' postage stamps was conducted at India Security Press, Nasik. The first stamps produced were the definitive series of George V, printed using typography from the same plates used earlier in England by De La Rue, which were now transferred to India.

The new technique of photogravure printing was installed in 1952. The October 1952 series of six values on the theme of Saints and Poets was the first to be so produced. However, these were not the first photogravure stamps of India, having been preceded by the first Gandhi series of 1948, which were printed by Courvoisier of Geneva using the photogravure technique. Since then, photogravure has been used to produce all Indian stamps; typography and lithography being reserved for service labels only.

 

The First Stamp of Independent India was issued on 21 November 1947. It depicts the Indian Flag with the patriots' slogan, Jai Hind (Long Live India), on the top right hand corner. It was valued at three and one-half annas.

A memorial to Mahatma Gandhi was issued 15 August 1948 on the first anniversary of Independence. Exactly one year later a definitive series appeared, depicting India's broad cultural heritage, mostly Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Sikh and Jain temples, sculptures, monuments and fortresses. A subsequent issue commemorated the inauguration of the Republic of India on 26 January 1950. Definitives included a technology and development theme in 1955, a series all showing the map of India in 1957, denominated in naye paisa (decimal currency), and a series with a broad variety of images in 1965.

The old inscription of "INDIA POSTAGE" was replaced in 1962 with "भारत INDIA", though three stamps issued between December 1962 to January 1963 carried the earlier inscription. India has printed stamps and postal stationery for other Countries like - Burma (before independence), Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Portugal, and Ethiopia.

India has been divided into 22 postal circles, each circle headed by a Chief Postmaster General. Each Circle is further divided into Regions comprising field units, called Divisions, headed by a Postmaster General, and further divided into units headed by SSPOs & SPOs and Sub Divisions headed by ASPs and IPS. Other functional units like Circle Stamp Depots, Postal Stores Depots and Mail Motor Service exist in various Circles and Regions. Besides the 22 circles, there is a special Base Circle to provide the postal services for the Armed Forces of India. The Base Circle is headed by an Additional Director General, Army Postal Service holding the rank of a Major General.

Gandhi, Nehru and other historic personalities continued to appear on the postal issues coming from the country since Independence. New themes are now finding their place on Indian postage stamps, with some stamps issued jointly with postal agencies of other countries, renewable energy sources, the local flora and fauna and even the special annual issues wishing season's greetings.