Drawn from his book, ‘False Allies’, historian and author Manu S Pillai draws an intriguing portrait of the rulers of India’s princely states as we have rarely seen them before.
On the life of Parukutty, consort of Maharaja Rama Varma XVI of Cochin and a formidable leader of the Kingdom of Cochin
This is a portrait of an unidentified prince of Rewa, an important princely state in Central India, second only to Gwalior. Rulers in the Indian Subcontinent were typically chosen from the ranks of warrior nobility and given legitimacy by a council of ministers and nobility. Kingship was often hereditary and princes—and, less frequently, princesses born… Read more »
Wadiyars served as vassals of the Vijayanagara rulers but as that empire weakened in the 16th century, the they asserted their dominance as independent kings. After the final Anglo-Mysore war ( 1798–99) ended the era of Tipu Sultan, Mysore was returned to the Wadiyars to rule as a subsidiary to the East India Company. Chamarajendra… Read more »
This photograph is of Jayajirao Scindia (1834-1886), the Maharaja of Gwalior, with his counsels. The Maratha Confederacy was an invincible force in 18th-century India. Ranoji Shinde, a Peshwas lieutenant who was pivotal in the Peshwas’ fight against the Mughals in Malwa, was one of the army’s rising stars. In 1731, Ranoji established his rule in… Read more »
This is a Carte de Visite portrait of the Begum of Bhopal, Shah Jahan Begum (1838-1901). The state of Bhopal was unique in Indian history for being ruled exclusively by women for over a hundred years. Their line began with the 19-year-old widow of the second Nawab of Bhopal, Qudsia Begum. A remarkable matriarch, Qudsia fought… Read more »
This is a studio portrait of Thakur Sahib Maharaja Lakhdirji Waghji and the young Mahendrasingh of Morvi. They represent two generations of the Jadeja Rajputs who ruled the state of Morvi on the Kathiawar peninsula. In 1807, the East India Company declared the state of Morvi a British protectorate, a system by which local rulers… Read more »
This is a portrait of Jagatjit Singh, Maharaja of Kapurthala from the album Delhi Coronation Durbar, 1st January 1903 by Wiele and Klein. Jagatjit Singh (1872-1949) carried his royal Sikh heritage with pride. He was the descendant of Sardar Jassa Singh, founder of the Ahluwalia dynasty, who led the various misls or ancestral warrior clans… Read more »
This is a Carte de Visite portrait of the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, Ranbir Singh (1830-1885). After the decline of the Mughals, power over Jammu was seized briefly by the Afghan Durrani dynasty who were defeated in the early 19th-century by the armies of the Lion of Punjab aka Ranjit Singh, the first Maharaja… Read more »
This photograph is of the Maharaja of Indore, Shivaji Rao Holkar (1859-1908). Maharaja Shivaji Rao Holkar was the 13th monarch who took the throne in 1886. On his chest is the medal for the Knights Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India, an honour awarded to Indian princes and chiefs and British… Read more »
This is a studio portrait of Umaid Singh II, Maharaja of Kotah (1873-1940), Jai Singh, Thakur of Bambuliya and other unidentified noblemen by PA Herzog & P Higgins. While early photo studios were concentrated in the British administrative heartlands of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras, by the 1880s, the trend spread to other cities and princely… Read more »
This is a portrait of Maharaja of Cooch Behar (present-day West Bengal), Nripendra Narayan (1862-1911). Bounded in the north by Bhutan, Cooch Behar was once a part of the ancient Indian kingdom of Kamarupa. Two centuries later, the East India Company would recognise the location as strategic to their imperial ambitions in Bengal and ally… Read more »
This book commemorates and celebrates the assumption of the title Empress of India by Her Majesty the Queen. It documents the historical Imperial Assemblage at Delhi which took place on lst January, 1877.
This is a brief historical record of the various chiefs and ruling princes who attended the Imperial Assemblage of 1912. Called the “Delhi Durbar” after the Mughal usage of the term, this was an official imperial event that was held in the Coronation Park, Delhi to celebrate the coronation of King George V and Queen… Read more »