The legendary decadence of the Rajputs

The Maharaja of Alwar must be one of the few people to have used his Rolls Royce as a dustbin...

Rajasthan and its history are inextricably linked with the Rajputs - the “Sons of Kings”  - directly descended from the sun or moon who modelled themselves on Rama, hero of the great Hindu epic the Ramayana.

Rajput history is a litany of bloody battles - often internecine or else repelling Mughal invaders - in which whole armies chose to die fighting rather than face the shame of surrender.  In such cases the women burnt themselves to death as happened not once, but three times at Chittorgarh.

In the 20th century valour and honour were all too often replaced by spectacular decadence and eccentricity; the Maharaja of Alwar bought 10 Rolls Royces during his visit to England for the coronation of Edward VII (and later cut off their tops and used them for collecting waste). 

The Maharaja of Jaipur travelled to Britain with two huge vessels made from 14,000 melted silver coins filled with 4,000 litres of Ganges water as a precaution against British water.  After independence princes saw their way of life radically transformed and now, more than 60 years later, some have converted their forts and palaces into magnificent hotels. 

Stay in a palace and take in the oversized portraits of these elaborate individuals and you’ll quickly sense the scale of the personality cult that surrounded the warrior Rajputs.

Posted by: Alex

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