The Wild and Crazy Lives of Indian Royal Families

  • 21 Jul 2019

The royal families in India... they used to live such opulent lives in the past that it would definitely be considered as vulgar these days.

India is now a democratic republic and since 1971, the government of India has abolished all official symbols of the royals including titles, privileges and remuneration, but they had fun while it lasted, for several thousands of years.

Let's look at some of the wild things they did before their downfall.

Bhupinder Singh, the Maharaja Of Patiala

Bhupinder Singh was born in 1891 in the Sikh state of Patiala. The death of his father, Rajinder Singh, saw Bhupinder being crowned the Maharaja at the mere age of nine. A council of regency ruled until he could assume power in 1909 and the young ruler went on to serve the administrative units for the Allied Forces in the First World War, receiving the titles of honorary Lieutenant Colonel and honorary Major General, as well as proved to be a quick social climber amongst the British, Indian royalty, and even his European counterparts.

Obsessed with showing off, he owned one of the most expensive necklaces ever made which is priced at $25 million, making it one of the most expensive pieces of jewellery ever made. In 1926, he sent a trunk full of precious stones and jewellery including the seventh largest diamond in the world ,a 234 carat De Beers diamond, to Parisian Jeweller Cartier SA to create a ceremonial necklace. The Patiala Necklace was created after three years of labour with 2,930 diamonds and a weight of 962.25 carats. The necklace became famous for its unmatched brilliance and extraordinary design in what is the single largest commission ever to be executed by Cartier.

He was the first man in India to ever own an aircraft. He had a personal team of surgeons to operate any of his 350 concubines from his harem.

Mir Osman Ali Khan Siddiqi, Last Nizam of Hyderabad

Born on April 6, 1886, Osman Ali Khan was the last ruler of princely State of Hyderabad, from 1911 to 1948. The Nizam is often referred to as the 'Architect of modern Hyderabad'.

Many buildings established during his period have stood the test of time, and are still considered part of the city's rich heritage. Mir Osman Ali Khan ascended the throne on August 11, 1911, after the death of his father and the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad Mir Mahbub Ali Khan. He was 25 at the time.

His first Royal Decree, stated: "In every way, I will do my best to do good to my people and my State".

It was also stated that the first thing he did after taking power, was abolish the death penalty, which was not part of the penal code throughout his reign. On February 22, 1937, the Nizam even made it to the front cover of TIME magazine, which called him "The Richest Man in the World."

Noting that he was at least worth $2 billion at the time, which would easily be over $30 billion today, the TIME reporter also stated that diamonds, rubies, sapphires, pearls and gems at the Nizam's palace were stored in "$3 steel trunks fastened with padlocks."

There have also been several accounts of how the Nizam would use the large 185-carat Jacob diamond, as a paperweight.

The Wodeyar family

In 1612, when Raja Wodeyar took over Mysore, which was then under the Vijayanagara Empire, after dethroning the ailing Tirumalaraja.

After the change of guard, Tirumalaraja's wife Alamelamma took all the royal ornaments and escaped to Talakadu, an area in the vicinity. According to historians, Alamelamma was upset about what she considered was her husband's unceremonious ouster from the ruler's chair.

When Wodeyar's soldiers tracked her down to confiscate the ornaments, in order to escape arrest, she committed suicide by jumping into the Cauvery river. But not before she uttered ominous words cursing the Wodeyars to an heirless future. "May Talakad turn into a barren expanse of sand; may Malangi (a village on the banks of Cauvery) turn into an unfathomed whirlpool; may the Wadiyars of Mysore not have children for eternity," she is said to have chanted as she took the leap to her death.

Incidentally, soon after learning of Alamelamma's suicide, Wodeyar installed a statue of her at the Mysore palace and offered it prayers. To date, her statue is worshipped as a deity in the palace. Most significantly, ever since, the Wodeyars have birthed male children only in alternate generations.

If a king ended up not having a son, his younger brothers' progeny would be crowned the heir. For instance, Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar, one of the most celebrated Wodeyar kings, had no children and chose his nephew Jayachamaraja as his successor. Srikantadatta, who died on Tuesday, was Jayachamaraja's son. Srikantadatta died childless.

"If we take a scientific view, there is no scope for a curse. But if you observe the Wodeyar family tree, six rulers since the 17th century have been adopted sons (nephews). The Wodeyars too acknowledge it as fact," historian Dr A. Veerappa said.

Nawab Muhammad Mahabat Khan III, the state of Junagarh

In the early 1900s, Nawab Muhammad Mahabat Khan III, the ruler of the Indian state of Junagarh got his pet dog married and spent £12,000 on the wedding which in today's terms is about £1.2 Million.

The Nawab was already known for his love of dogs. He owned about 800 of them and each dog had a separate apartment of its own with a working telephone, electricity and a servant. They all also had a British vet to take care of them.

He was so fond of them that he once decided to get his favorite one, Roshana, married to a dog named Bobby. The dog was shampooed, perfumed and bejeweled before being taken out for the ceremony. The ceremony was so grand that each and every prince in India and all the senior British officers were invited to the ceremony including the Viceroy of India - Lord Irwin. However, the Viceroy politely declined the invitation. But everyone else did go to the wedding and a lavish buffet was arranged after the ceremony.

Maharani Gayatri Devi, also known as Rajmata of Jaipur

She was included in 'The Ten Most Beautiful Women Of The World' list by the Vogue Magazine in 1960s. Maharani Indira Devi, mother of Gayatri Devi, was a fashion connoisseur. The Queen of Cooch Behar ordered 100 pairs of shoes from Salvatore Ferragamo (one of the most famous designers of 20th century). Some of those shoes were studded with diamonds.

Daughter of the Maharaja of Cooch-Behar, Gayatri - or Ayesha, as she was fondly called - lived an unrestrained life in her palace staffed with five hundred servants. Her boldness and free spirit didn't come without reason but from her grandmother, Chimnabai, who refused to live a restricted life and entered the world of men. Gayatri's mother, Indira, refused to accept an arranged marriage and married for love, so it was pretty evident that Gayatri wasn't going to live her life dictated by the society. She opened a school for girls, which is today one of the finest in the country.

She rejected the ostracization of women in the country. She didn't just confine herself to the life of opulence and comfort which she would have had as the Queen but chose to work for the causes that she cared about. During the war, she carried out different kinds of war-work. In 1943, she opened the Gayatri Devi School for Girls with 40 students and an English teacher, which came to be known as one of the finest schools in India.

She was the first ever lady to have won the Lok Sabha seat by 1,92,909 votes out of 2,46,516 - a milestone in Indian history.

She remained actively involved in politics and joined the Swatantra Party which was formed as an opposition to the Congress government when Rajasthan became a state. She won her first election in 1962 against a Congress candidate by an avalanche by securing a majority of 175,000 votes that earned her a spot in The Guinness Book of Records. Hearing of her achievement, President John F. Kennedy introduced her as "the woman with most staggering majority that anyone has ever earned in an election."

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Source: Mensxp
Photo Credit: Newswble, Pinterest, lapolo

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