You are on page 1of 88

My Rajput Princely Life

Vasan Sri
Preface
This is a fictional story, set in colonial
India ,of a Rajput princely family in
Rajputana, present Rajasthan, before
Independence from the British in 1947 and
their transition as common citizens of
Independent India, with the life sketch of
a Prince.


My name is [Prince] Yuvaraj Baldev Singh Bahadur,
second son of Maharana Pratap Rajeshwar Singhji,the
ruling Maharaja of Vijaypur, a large princely state
,under the suzerainty of the British Crown. My father


was entitled to 21 gun salute at British Durbar, an
empty title which the British Crown assigned to Indian
Maharajas ,just to satisfy their whims and keep them in
pecking order of 21 guns down to one gun salute for
postage-stamp size kingdoms of some 'Rajas'.

Vijaypur is a Princely state, about 100 miles wide
and 50 miles long, along Chandravati river, which has
almost dried up, like the Saraswati river in desert
sands, except for a small rivulet which gets flash
floods during the rainy season, for about a month each
year and lets its water into a thin lagoon near the
sea.
Vijaypur is blessed with a coast line and a small
sea port of Kanwar which was the entry point for
European goods and at one time the port of export of
exotic silks,spices and carpets from our state. My
father Maharana used to narrate stories of Roman and
Arab tycoons coming to this port for brisk trade in the


first century and 8th century respectively. They were
trading not only these merchandises of high quality and
finish, particularly the carpets, but also acquiring
lovely fair-skinned nymphets of medium build, with lot
of jewels adding to their weight, Rajasthani girls with
almost cylindrical hands and legs in colorful langas or
skirts ,short bodice and long tresses of hair twisted
in two or three braids, with gold studs pinned every
four inches at the back. The traders used to smuggle
these women under some pretext , without the knowledge
of Maharana who had imposed strict rules for their
movements near the port buildings or market places . At
the same time, they also brought in very fair skinned
women with almond eyes , large foreheads ,sharp noses
,deep navels , supple waists and long thin legs , noted
for their twirling belly dances from Persia [Iran]and
Syria for the pleasures of Hindu princes as nautch
girls [dancing girls] in their zenanas [harems].



But these things had almost disappeared in my time,
when local girls rarely studied beyond high school and
were chaperoned around palace grounds.
Vijaypur was famous for its jewelry, with cut
diamonds brought from Panna mines in Central Provinces
at a distance of about 300 miles and weaving of sarees
of different fibers with exquisite dyeing in pigments
made of vegetable juices, dried in open sunlight. It
did not have any fertile field for crops . It had small
patches of dry soil for growing peanuts, mustards and
peppers, and small quantities of vegetables for hot
summer days, like cucumber and radish in hilly parts.
Maharana was allowed to keep an army of 10000 troops,
as part of the Treaty signed with the British Crown in
1861, as well as a small cavalry regiment of 100
horses. But when the Crown needed, 5000 troops should
be lent to the British Army.
The Bupendra Palace and the Old Fort
Bhupendra Palace was the main palace of Maharana, built


by his grandfather Bhupendra Singh Bahadur. Bhupendra
was fond of western style rooms and halls. Hence he
constructed the palace using Italian marble tiles from
Carrara and the walls were plastered with special
alabaster from Portugal. The granite stones and red
stones were of local origin. Several chandeliers were
brought from Belgium. Almost all furniture were made of
Burma [Myanmar] teak.
The palace had two towers with cupolas which were of
copper sheets from Rhodesia [now Zambia] and were gold
plated with British technicians. Sri Bhupendra Singh
also bought a custom-made large clock , about 3 feet
in diameter , from Seth Thomas in London for the
Palace. The clock was the center piece on the top panel
on the front wall , with royal emblem on both
sides---with two large lion figures. The palace had two
watch towers, stone buildings with a spiral stair case
and a top viewing port with hexagonal dome and six
windows. A guard stood on that porch watchful for


intruders into the palace. He could see easily a
distance of about 4 miles. There were sepoys at the
bottom of the towers to arrest any intruder sighted by
the watch guard.
The Palace had two large halls--a Durbar hall [court
hall] and a Banquet hall adjoining it. It had a large
Yojana Hall [ conference room] on the left for seating
the ministers and courtiers when Maharana wanted to
discuss state matters. It was always kept closed and
heavily guarded. The Raksha [Security] Hall was on the
right side --a place to discuss matters relating to
Defence and Law and order situations. The main feature
of this room was a large map on one of the walls. There
was a Ghazana [treasury] behind the Raksha hall with
underground cellars to store gold and silver bars and
precious jewelry ,including crown jewels.
The Palace had a large central courtyard--open space
reserved for wrestling matches and martial arts
demonstrations.


The Durbar hall was open to any one authorized to
meet Maharana and would be a place where ambassadors
and British dignitaries would be received. This hall
had a number of beautiful chandeliers and paintings on
the side walls. Several swords were fixed on the walls
with special brackets. Maharana sat on the throne on an
elevated platform, at a height of about six feet from
the floor. The throne itself was made of polished
silver ; my father Maharana kept the Gold plated throne
in an inner chamber and used it only on ceremonial
occasions. There were always two beautiful young women
to fan the Maharana with large hand fans on both sides
of the throne. A small shrine for the Kuldevi Bageswari
was kept on the right side of the throne. Maharana
always commenced the Durbar after praying for five
minutes in front of the shrine.
The ministers and courtiers sat on several chairs on
both sides in the hall, with due protocols. There was a
red carpet , about ten feet in width, all along the


hall, leading to the platform for the throne. Children
and women were not normally allowed inside the hall
except on special programs. On the left side were two
large tables at which scribes sat. They recorded the
discussions and later would publish the main rulings of
Maharana after approval by the Dewan or Prime minister
of the state. Maharana ,being a lover of music and
arts, important musicians were invited to the Durbar
and allowed to sing or play instruments for short
times, and receive rewards or gifts from Maharana.
In later years, photographers were always ready to
take pictures of various events in this hall.

Maharana- a Dharmic Prince
There were moments in the Durbar hall that was
significant and turning points for the state. Maharana
wanted to experiment and introduce 'open prison system'
for prisoners charged with minor offences. There was a
lot of opposition from certain ministers and courtiers.


Maharana had earlier discussed this with Mahatma [M K]
Gandhi in his Wardha Ashram in the year 1924,and taken
a message from him. Maharana asked one of the
ministers to read out this message. This silenced the
detractors and Maharana's ruling was welcomed.
Another event was when Maharana made a "temple entry
proclamation" allowing dalits ['harijans' or
'untouchables' ] into all Hindu temples . There were
several protest meetings from orthodox Hindus against
this move . But Maharana was firm and asked the Diwan
to lead a group of harijans into Bageswari temple on
that day. This proclamation was widely published
throughout India and many would praise Maharana for
this bold move ; many other states followed this step.
This temple entry move for harijans brought many
visitors to the State --to congratulate Maharana---the
foremost visitor was Gandhiji. The date of the
Mahatma's visit was broadcast in the city through local
radio. Thousands thronged to see the great man.


Maharana wanted me to make all arrangements for his
visit and his entourage of nearly 10000 Congress party
members and other big leaders. I had to build nearly
100 tents in the Parade Grounds with the help of army
sepoys [soldiers]. Several langars [community
kitchens] were built in smaller tents. The grounds were
covered with white khadi-clad [home spun yarn cloth]
men with bright white cloth caps. There was no law and
order problem, but providing them with food and chai
[tea] was formidable, because they were moving about
like ants everywhere.
A large stone tablet [2 feet x 3 feet] inscribing the
proclamation was installed on a special mantap [hall]
with a picture of Mahatma on one side . Gandhiji walked
into the hall to unveil the plaque; he spoke a few
words praising Maharana and the citizens of Vijaypur.
When Mahatma was stepping out of the hall, a loud
explosion was heard from the nearby park a hundred
yards away. A bomb had exploded . I swiftly mounted my


horse and went there with four of my guards. On
searching , we found two muslim boys hiding in a bush
nearby. They were brought for questioning and they
admitted to their plot to kill the Mahatma. Both gave
information about their ring leader who was a Hindu
extremist leader from Nagpur. After due trial, one of
them was hanged. This incident gave us a foretaste of
the Hindu-Muslim riots that would erupt in the next
few years--even in peaceful state like Vijaypur.
Earlier Maharana was inclined to abolish capital
punishment [death penalty] in the state,as it was done
in the State of Travancore [Kerala]. But after this
incident of bomb explosion during Gandhiji's visit
,Maharana changed his stand .
There was also another amusing incident in the
proceedings at the Durbar. There were some communities
in hilly regions in which women would not wear blouses
and went about topless. This practice was supported by
certain high class Hindus, to keep these women in a


primitive condition. Diwan wanted to abolish this by
declaring a law. But ,interestingly, some upper caste
men protested against this stating that wearing blouses
would make the hill tribe women look more attractive!
Maharana supported the Diwan and the ruling was
approved. Such instances are ever green in my memory.
Many such measures in Vijaypur would make the state not
only progressive, but a model state for other princely
states to follow.

I grew up in a large fort, called the 'Purana Kila"
[ Old Fort], where one had large halls for bed rooms
and a study, with beautifully carved wooden furniture
and large chandeliers lit with candles. Each piece of
furniture--- chairs , tables, chest of drawers and
wardrobes, book shelves --was inlaid with gold or gold
plated brass inserts and some ivory panels that the
external surface was always smooth and firm, without
any speck of decayed wood or rough varnished surface.


The mattresses were filled with downs from local birds
the names of which I do not know. The fort had many
bird coves on its ramparts and it was delightful to
watch many birds making calls and fly offin formations
in the early mornings.
I was served by two valets who were also my daily
instructors--one senior with lot of history behind,
named Man Singh and another, a young fellow , Brijraj,
who would teach me martial arts, wrestling and horse
riding. Mansingh was a strict master, who always
talked of Rajput traditions and how I should behave in
the court of Maharana, my father, whom he had taught
some fifty years ago. There was a friendly rivalry
between Mansingh and Brijraj over the time they could
take care of me in a day for teaching their respective
skills.
I was also assigned a body-guard, a rough looking heavy
weight man, brought from Ethiopia, with enormous
moustache and large red turban, always carrying a


shining sword in his sabre and wearing the Royal
insignia [logo] of Vijaypur-- a large brass plate on
his chest, emblazening his official status as my guard
. There was always a fear that I may be abducted by
goons for ransom money.
I must add that the Crown Prince, my elder brother,
Vijayarajendra Singh, who would be the next ruling king
or Maharana, was five years elder to me. He had four
body guards for his protection and a large wing in the
fort for his quarters. He also had a horse-drawn
chariot for his movements. He was a regular 'shikari'
or tiger hunter in Bharatpur forest or in Jalawal. He
easily befriended the British officers who were keen
on tiger shooting. He was a college student in Jaipur
at that time--but he rarely attended the college except
to play in polo matches. The Crown Prince was trained
as a cavalry officer by the British Cavalry Regiment at
Deolali, near Nashik, famous for its cavalry ranches
since the days of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.


I must add that there was much enmity between Hindus
and Muslims from 17th century; but much of it had
disappeared in the early 20th century. Our kingdom of
Vijaypur employed many Muslim commanders and officials
and also several teachers, Urdu poets and literary
giants in the court. Court musicians invariably
included several maestros of muslim faith, called
'Ustads' who were well versed in Hindustani music
which was a blend of native Indian, Afghan and Persian
[Iranian]/Sufi music styles. In fact several songs
were written in Urdu and Persian verses. After all
these musicians and scholars were mostly Hindus and
then converted to Islam due to political pressures or
social favors. [There was double taxation on Hindus in
many Muslim sultanates in India; to avoid that, many
Hindus converted to Islam.]
Now I must talk about the great music teacher I
had---the famous Ustad Parvez-Imran Khan of Gwalior
Gharana [school]. I learned to play on Sitar from the


age of eight---I was big enough to hold the heavy
instrument. He taught me in easy,graduated steps that
was simple and perfect practice. This sitar training
would go on for 6 to 8 years. These were the best
part of my education, since I was tutored at home by
several tutors---a kind of home schooling for princes.
The music classes had additional attraction for me.
Ustad's young daughter Ameena accompanied him in
singing and in tweaking the tanpura. She was 12 years
old when I was also of the same age. She was fair
skinned and attractive in colorful skirt or langa with
sequined border and wore pearl necklace, nose studs and
ear rings. She never spoke a word to me ,but always
sat with head bent down that I could see only her lips
and chin. Occasionally she smiled at me when her father
made a sudden twist in rendering a raga. This smile
relationship continued for many years. I picked up
courage to talk to her only in my 18th year during a
Diwali festival when she had blossomed into a young


woman of great charm. I knew that she would eventually
marry a Muslim boy-may be a musician drawn from
numerous students of her father. But her charming
figure always remained in my memory as perfection of
female beauty crafted by her lineage and nurtured by
soft music.

Vijay Yogashala
I was a keen practitioner of hatha yoga [physical
yoga with focus on asanas and pranayama] since my
boy-hood days and learned it from Yogi Shivananda in
our city. Later I was taught advanced methods by
Yogiraj Madhavadasji at Vadodara [Baroda] for three
months. Yogiraj was nearly 100 years old at that time.
He commanded me to start a yogashala [yoga school] for
young boys in Vijaypur. With his blessings and
support from Maharana, I started the 'Vijay Yogashala'
in Madanmohana Palace, a place meant for physical
training of young princes.


There hangs a tale about this yogashala. I appointed
a young yoga master ,one Virendra Bhramachari from
Jammu. He had excellent credentials in yoga practice.
After two years I got a report from my sitar teacher
Ustad Parvez-Imran Khan that Virendra was building a
zenana [harem] with muslim girls in Amir Nagar, a local
suburb. One evening I raided the Zenana with a band of
five troops on horses. Virendra surrendered. He was
taken to the state prison and the girls were rescued.
The Metropolitan Magistrate sentenced that Virendra
should be castrated and sent out of the state! Such
instances were many in early years of my life.

Military training at Meerut
My life would take a definite turn at this time when
I reached 20 years. After some deliberation with state
officials, Maharana, my father,decided that I should
have some military training in British Army. He
arranged for my training at the Meerut Army Cantonment,


with Col William Olcott , Commander of 54th Regiment.
Col Olcott had the reputation of having trained several
princes from other states.
I was sent to the Army barracks with a small bunker
as my residence for the next two years. It was a big
change from the Royal comfort of Vijaypur Fort. The
bunker was a tiny room of 15 feet by 10 feet. While I
had seventeen servants at the palace along with two
valets who attended on me, here I had to shine my own
shoes and wash my clothes in a tub of water. I resented
the situation so much that I even thought of running
away from the barracks to some cave in the Himalayas.
The other cadets soon showed respect and kindness for
me as I was a prince but was one among them in the
cantonment. The training ,with lot of physical
exercises, horse riding and artillery drills ,was hard
but exciting. The Polo games were most delightful part
and I excelled in this game right from the beginning. I
was nicknamed "polo saheb" by other cadets. After a


month I forgot my miserable situation and had become a
fine soldier under the watchful eyes of Col Olcott and
one Major Wolverton who was like a personal trainer for
many things. The only silver lining in the cloud was
that I got a new "Hillman" car from Maharana for my
travels .
I also learned to move with other cadets to common
areas like the movie theater and gymkhana club for a
game of billiards. The best part of weekly life at the
regiment was the saturday dance at the Gymkhana
Hall---a dancing floor with several British girls
brought from nearby towns for ball room dancing.
Initially I did not know anything about ball room
practices or western dance. Major Wolverton saw my
plight and fixed a teacher in the name of Mona Skelton,
a woman of 25 years. Mona had been a schoolteacher in
London and was sent to the cantonment to assist the
teachers in military schools. Mona was fair-skinned
with purple cheeks ,quite tall and with rather large


waist and shapely legs. I was attracted to her at first
sight. She made intimate moves and was soon my regular
partner in dance and also while dining at the club.
She was a girl from a parson's family of limited means.
She showed lot of respect for my royal lineage in India
and the upbringing I had. She taught me many things
regarding western ways of living and also introduced me
to western cuisine and European hard liquor. Soon I was
drinking regularly at the club or in her tiny cottage
near the main office of the regiment. One thing I was
strict about and which she respected was that I would
not touch beef to eat.
On one evening when I met her in her cottage, she
kissed me passionately and I took her on my lap. Soon
Mona was my intimate partner at least for two days in
a week. I also took her in my Hillman car which I drove
myself to nearby hill stations , including Shimla, for
weekends. Shimla used to be a heavenly place for
British officers and Maharajas --a place where you


would find many British women for companionship. Mona
enjoyed her stay in Shimla and the locals thought that
she was the Maharani of Vijaypur.

Two years of training sped by fast. For my good
behavior and my supervision of artillery garrison, I
was given a 'bronze cross' with emblem of British Crown
and the citation of 'best garrison major' from the
Army Commander. I did not quite understand what this
bronze cross was all about. I knew that British
commanders wanted to keep Indian princes in good
relations and always showered some cheap title or
awards . Anyway I showed this cross to Maharana and
other courtiers, who even arranged a special reception
for me after my return from Meerut Cantt.
While taking leave of Mona Skelton, Mona cried and
wanted a job for her in Vijaypur in some school with
better salary. I told her that I would help her but
could not promise. On returning, I spoke to the Diwan


{prime minister] of Vijaypur-- Sri Bhawani Shankar Rao
M. A .[Oxon] and the teachers' job for her was
arranged at the Maharaja's High School. Soon Mona
reached Vijaypur and was received at the railway
station with royal pomp; she was also offered a cozy
cottage in Vrindavan Palace Gardens. I learned then
that she was six months into her pregnancy. She also
received a house maid to assist her.
My Wedding
Meanwhile Maharana , my father , was busy seeking a
bride for me from the many royal families in
Rajputana. A search party was formed with Sri Dig Vijay
Singh, his cousin as the leader . There were several
criteria to be satisfied for the suitable bride-- one
being that the bride should be well versed in music.
They chose the daughter of Navnagar Maharaja as the
bride for me-- Vasundara Devi was just sixteen years
old and was an accomplished violinist who had studied
under Vedamuri Shankara Sastry of Vizianagaram in


coastal Andhra .
A royal wedding was soon held in Navnagar which was
about 300 miles from Vijaypur. A mile long caravan
would haul goods and presents for the Wedding from
Vijaypur. About 200 courtiers would attend my
wedding. A procession of fifty elephants would precede
my ride on a fully decorated horse with golden saddle.
A grand reception for the bride was also put up at
Vijaypur with the whole city illumined with lights ;
several dance and music performances were arranged at
the Durbar hall.
Maharana had invited several British officials
including the Bombay presidency Governor, Sir Elihu
Yale. There were separate pandals for Indian and
British invitees. A large forty course dinner was
served in the main durbar annexe for British guests
with continental and Indian cuisine and choice liquor.
Maharana moved about talking in glowing terms about me
and my first rate performance at Meerut Army Regiment


to those guests. On the next day, it was revealed that
I would enter the Sandhurst Military Academy in
England to qualify as a Colonel .
Initially I was shocked at this next so-journ for me.
But I would not protest against my father Maharana. I
gently sent some emissaries from his courtiers to
convey that I could join Sandhurst after a year of
marital bliss with my lovely dharm-patni Vasundara
Devi. Fortunately Maharana agreed.
My life with Vasundara was the most joyful one year. I
spent lot of time at the hill station of Mount Abu,
listening to her exclusive performance of violin for me
in the palace gardens. I would sometimes follow her in
Sitar, though my rendering was below par.
Vasundara was deeply religious in her upbringing,
always clinging to her gold idol of Krishna , pouring
out her heart in music. I even thought that she may
abandon our married life and go away as a nun, like
Meerabai of Mewar state did two centuries ago. This


fear lurked in my mind. I privately consulted my music
teacher Ustad Parvez-Akram Khan. He had a practical
suggestion. Vasundara Devi should become friendly with
his daughter Ameena Begum who was already married and a
mother of one girl. Both of them loved music. Further
Ameena being a woman of the world would bring Vasundara
into romantic life with flowers,perfumes and costly
jewels . At first I was skeptical about this approach.
But soon I learned that Ameena was quite an adept at
teaching Vasundara about courtly life and amorous ways.
My tension was relieved and soon Vasundara became a
constant companion to me in all my movements.
Maharana wanted me to reorganize his army along
modern lines like the British army before I left for
Sandhurst.. I took this task seriously introducing new
training methods and sacking old lance naiks[majors]. I
also bought new guns from Britain and tanks from
Germany to replace the obsolete ones.
Meanwhile I must tell you about Mona. Mona had a baby


daughter. She was christened Vijayandra , sounding
similar to Alexandra, at the local Anglican Church.
The child's father was one Major Atkinson according to
birth records. We learned to utter many lies as we go
along the high society life in British India!.
Mona decided to go back to England if I could provide
a decent apartment for her in London. Obviously she was
tired of her life in hot,dry climate of Rajputana. She
would like to bring up Vijayandra as a London girl. I
arranged to buy her a house in South London which
belonged to another Prince, Krishan Singh of
Bhavaninagar at a nominal price. Mona was very happy. I
gave her a set of jewels as heirloom to keep. I
arranged a farewell for her at the Jodhpur airport
when she took a flight to London. Her eyes were
brimming with tears which she controlled in true
British reserve. To get ahead of my story, I met her
three years later in London. She was a teacher in a
London school . She was now Mrs. Mona Wilson, married


to an Army officer in Tank division and was a mother of
a boy as well. She longed to visit Vijaypur , though.

The courtly life with Vasundara Devi on tow, with
numerous ceremonies and functions to attend, was too
much to bear. I had become a noted military officer by
default--after the reforms I made in my State Army.
British officers were full of praise for my work in the
tiny state that was Vijaypur. Vasundara was blooming
with the nice company of Ameena and had learned the Art
of Life with company of children . Soon she was
pregnant with my first child for the Royal lineage. A
boy , named Vijay Bhadra Singh was born on 11th July,
1925. Maharana and the entire Royal household was
rejoicing with the arrival of the baby prince.
On the next day, I touched the feet of Maharana, took
the blessings of my mother and elders, and left for
London from Bombay [Mumbai] airport by a Dakota
propeller aircraft to join Sandhurst. It would be


another two years of hard life at the Military
Academy.

My Life at Sandhurst
I met my training commander Maj Gen Duncan to discuss
my training plans. I needed two weeks to consult with
my father Maharana. I sent a telegram to him. I
received a wire reply stating that I should take up
'tank warfare' training there. I joined the tank
division. We would be trained to ride and shoot from
Sherman tanks of USA and from Vickers-Armstrong tanks
made in England.
It was a grand preparation against the rising strength
of Hitler with his tank columns. Only much later I
realized how right my father Maharana was; during World
War II I fought for the British army against the
'Desert Fox' Erwin Rommel with his tanks in North
Africa near Tripoli.
To return to my life at Sandhurst. It was hard , from


early morning pre-dawn exercises at 2 AM till late
afternoons in foggy or rainy weather. I realized why
the Britishers often talk about weather which could be
nasty in England. It was quite challenging to work with
some British officers, mostly veterans of World War I.
There was much fire and noise during the tank war
games we played. The dictum was : " You shoot as soon
as you see an enemy tank going across at a distance of
half a mile ;or else you are dead in 10 seconds"
...that is the kind of battle that went on.
I enjoyed a lot of smutty jokes the soldiers threw
around ,some things I would never hear in Rajasthan.
The British cadets also wished to engage me in
wrestling though that was frowned upon by prim British
officers. The British soldiers loved to carry a whiskey
bottle in their hip pocket--a habit I soon cultivated!

The relaxing moments were in the evenings with
drinking bouts, in the Offiers' Club, with lot of women


around, mostly wives of Army officers, who would be
quite drunk and ready to hug ,to plant a kiss or to
hold tightly at the waist and to rub their open backs.
I behaved rather clumsily unlike the British officers
and they accepted my uncouth gestures because I was a
Prince from India and I owned a Bentley car which
Maharana had ordered for me in London. I was sometimes
shocked at the brazen way in which British women,
these wives of colonels and majors, fondled a man at
the club in dim lights, but soon accepted these mores
as part of military culture there. Many women were
attracted to me because of the strong arms and biceps I
had due to kusti [wrestling] practice in Vijaypur. I
gently let them kiss me as they pleased.
I was attracted to one woman, Clara Thompson,wife of
a Colonel , who was alluring and quite open in her
appreciation of me and often hugged me close, scantily
dressed as she was most of the time. She invited me for
small parties in her house. I always carried some


presents made in India for her...an ivory broach , a
silk scarf and so on. I was mistaken. She was not
interested in me but she wanted me to move with her
daughter Sally Thompson who was a fashion-design
student at Madame Bowery Fashion School and was twenty
years old. Sally was thin, tall and bony but had a very
attractive face with almost diamond-like bright eyes
and sharp nose. I would compare her mentally with
plumpy ,short Rajasthani girls at the court. She also
dressed in high fashion with a thin gown , slit at the
right side revealing her thighs , a short blouse with
open shoulders and high heeled shoes. Again I would
think of Rajasthani girls with several layers of
petticoat, then langa or skirt and then two folds of
thick saree ,laden with jewels, in the hot weather of
Vijaypur. In cold foggy Sandhurst air, Sally was only
wearing most of the time a short ,thin skirt extending
to her mid thighs . I was soon very friendly with Sally
but Sally had other designs for me. She wanted to kiss


me all over and take many jewels from me enticing me
after a few drinks. She was particular about the gold
chain and the dangling Patek-Phillippe pocket watch
which was my prized possession. I told her that I would
get her another ladies pocket watch from London's Seth
Thomas watch company.
One day, at her house, while caressing me, Sally
rubbed my gold necklace with a pendent on it. I always
wore that,as a talisman ,to protect me; the pendant
carried a picture of our Royal kuldevi [family deity]
'Bageswari'. Sally asked :"Who is that in the
pendant?".
I replied: "Our goddess, Bageswari";
Sally laughed and said " You should keep such things in
the altar and forget about it".
I instantly got angry and told her: "You don't know
about such things.You keep your mouth shut" . I rose up
,ready to leave in a huff. Clara came down fast and
asked what the matter was. She told Sally to apologize


to me. Sally immediately sobbed , put her head on my
lap and apologized. I lifted her up gripping her
shoulders and stared at her face with angry look ,
about to push her away. She shed copious tears and
hugged me. I could not bear to see a girl cry like
that. It was against Rajput chivalry. I took out my
silk handkerchief and wiped her tears. She planted a
kiss on my fleshy chest. I reciprocated with a
passionate kiss on her cheeks and held her close. That
was the beginning of a long relationship with Sally,
extending over twenty years,as I shall narrate later.

Clara was worried that my training would be over in
the next six months and that I would go back to
Vijaypur. Being a clever woman, she spoke to some
Under-secretary in the India Office at Whitehall ,to
secure a job for Sally at Vice-Regal Palace in
Lutyen's 'New Delhi'... Sally could become a costume
designer for the wife of Viceroy of India. Given the


lethargic pace of India Office, it would take another
two years before Sally could land in India. Meanwhile
Sally was already a mother of my first child --a blue
eyed boy - christened Richard Thompson - in the next
few months.
Clara called me one day and wanted to speak in
private--without the knowledge of Sally. She wanted me
to make a college fund deposit of 1000 pounds with
Barclay Bank for Richard's education. I told her that
after my departure , the Bentley car I had could be
sold and the proceeds would make this fund. The
Bentley could fetch about 2000 pounds. Accordingly I
told Major William Templeton, my friend at Sandhurst,
to make the necessary arrangements.
My training was proceeding smoothly; I
received generous praise for my tank
tactics in war games and I was awarded a
gold medal. The commander , Maj Gen Duncan


had recommended me for another title: KCIE
[Knight Commander of Indian Empire] which I
would receive from the hands of the
Vice-Roy at New Delhi a year later--
another empty title bestowed on Indian
rajas.. Maharana, my father was, however,
proud of me for all these accomplishments.
The British resident and his misery
The British Crown planted a British
officer,called the 'Resident ', in each
Princely state or for a group of small
princely states.. His main duty was to spy
on Maharaja and his men so that no
seditious activities were encouraged
against the British Empire. The resident


also kept a close watch on the financial
condition of the state and the strength of
the army, if there was one in the state.
Most residents were decent officers while
some were cranky or whimsical.
Our resident was one Michael Collins B A
[Cantab] who started his career as a
diplomat in Delhi. Mr Collins rarely
interfered with our administration and had
a great regard for Maharana. He liked tiger
hunting and would accompany my brother
Crown Prince to forests in Bharatpur and
Jalawal on hunting expeditions. His wife
Mrs Florence Collins,called Floe, was a
fine woman and a good piano teacher. She


taught piano to many Rajput princes,
including me. Soon she was attracted to the
tall erect figures of Rajput princes. She
developed intimate relationships with
several students. It was rumoured that she
had amorous relationship with my brother
Crown Prince, also with Ustad Vilayat Khan
, son of my sitar teacher, and with
Ramachandra Rao, son of the Diwan, who was
a treasury officer in the state. I do not
know how far these rumours were true. But
her scandalous behaviour was watched by
many courtiers and became the talk of the
town. Mr Collins also noticed her absence
from the resident's mansion, particularly


when he was out in his hunting trips.
Obviously Mr Collins was in no position to
check her promiscuous ways. He became
withdrawn and had taken to drinking
heavily . He had become an addict to the
bottle. It was a moot point whether his
drinking habit drove Floe for waywardness ,
as some courtiers alleged, or her behavior
led him to addiction.
The rumours surrounding Mrs Collins
reached the ears of Maharana and the Diwan,
Bhawani Shankar Rao. Maharana requested
the Diwan to adopt some clever trick to
send Collins out of the state. Diwan Rao
conspired with Dr T Gopal Rao FRCP, Chief


Medical Officer of the state for a little
ploy. Dr Gopal Rao issued a medical
bulletin stating that a dangerous bacteria
had been spreading in Vijaypur and that
white folks were vulnerable for this
bacterial infection. Following this
bulletin, Dr Gopal Rao advised Mr Collins
to leave the state within a few days. Mr
Collins spoke to the Viceroy in Delhi and
got himself transferred to Kashmir state!

Tragedy at Vijaypur
Crown Prince , my elder brother, was an
avid 'shikari' going for tiger hunting
every year to Bharatpur, the kingdom of his


father-in-law . Bharatpur had a huge,lush
forest with hundreds of tigers . Crown
Prince would spend about two months every
year in Bharatpur which is only about 100
miles from Vijaypur. He would also take
British Babus who wanted to kill tigers and
take pictures with their prey. [Tiger skin
was highly valued and was used by many
sadhus and religious leaders for meditation
seat .] During the recent hunting trip,
the Crown Prince contracted an infection in
the forest. This led to high fever and lung
infection for him. He died within a week. I
received a wire message [ telegram] to my
room at Sandhurst ;I was shocked and lost


my balance. Only after nearly half an
hour, I could think of what to do next. I
took the message to my commander Maj Gen
Duncan and asked for a leave of one month
to be back in Vijaypur. The general
immediately approved my leave and also told
me that he would arrange for a flight from
London to Mumbai by Royal Air Force [RAF]
aircraft.
I reached Vijaypur two days later and was
trying to console Maharana, my father and
Rajmata , my mother. Both were in deep
grief. Crown Prince's body was
interred at the Royal cemetry following the
religious injunctions for Rajput Kshatrias


[ warrior caste]. A 10-day mourning was
declared in the state. Chanting of slokas
[hymns] continued in all the temples with
the citizens participating with a sense of
deep sorrow. Thousands of sadhus
[mendicants] and brahmins were fed for free
at a large shamiana [tent ] near the palace
for ten days. Hundreds of cows were freely
distributed [go-dhan] to brahmin priests --
to ensure a safe passage for the departed
soul to the lotus feet of the Lord.
After the 10- day rituals, Maharana
convened a meeting of his
ministers,courtiers and
family members to reorganize the


administration which was largely looked
after by the Crown Prince. I was anointed
as the next Crown Prince in the Durbar
hall, with religious function conducted by
the family priest before the shrine of
Kuldevi Bageswari ; my duties and
responsibilities were spelt out for me. I
suddenly realized the enormous burden I had
to carry--no more the care-free life of a
military officer or a play boy.
I would sort out a few problems and then
would get back to Sandhurst to complete my
training for the next three months. An
immediate task was to make arrangements for
the widowed Princess and her children--


their going back to Bharatpur, her father's
Kingdom.
I returned to Sandhurst next week and
got on with training schedules though my
heart was heavy with sorrow . I pondered
how Maharana was coping with the tragedy
and how Rajmata would miss her son. Along
with training , I made plans for my return
with all the personal effects. I was keen
on taking part in the passing -out parade
from the Academy. I was given a place of
honor in the graduation list ; the
commander was generous in his citation with
the remark that I could be a valuable asset
to the British Crown in India. The year was


1934. The gathering storm for the
calamitous world war II was ominous at
that time. Several reports came from
Germany which was getting heavily armed
with tanks and bomber aircraft under the
Third Reich.
I also learned that the tragedy of losing
her son was too painful for Rajmata, my
mother. She used to wail many times in her
antapura [inner chambers.] She had bouts of
depression. She died of heart attack one
week after my return from Sandhurst. I had
to console Maharana who had to cope with
double tragedy within a year. Rajmata was
buried in the Royal cemetery close to the


palace. Maharana installed a statue of her
in the central courtyard of the Palace.

Palace Intrigues
Palace intrigues are common in the kingdoms
of Rajputana. I had faced a few of them. I
will relate one that pained me most. After
my return from Sandhurst, about a year
after the passing away of Crown Prince,
some vicious elements in the state floated
a rumour that the death of the Crown Prince
was not due to infection from the forest
but due to food poisoning at Bharatpur and
I was behind this conspiracy to kill the
Prince, my brother. Such malicious reports


appeared in the newspapers and the state
was asked to conduct a police
investigation. I was shocked and dismayed.
I guessed at once that this canard was the
work of a minister whom I sacked , by name
Dayanidhi Gupta. Gupta was involved with a
smuggling gang operating in the sea port of
Kanwar and was highly corrupt. His aim was
to malign my name and dissuade Maharana
into making me the future king. I knew that
Maharana did not believe this story, but it
was necessary that I should be cleared of
this accusation with proper proof.
My confidant was the sagacious Diwan,
Bhawani Shankar Rao who had practiced


earlier as a criminal lawyer in Bombay.
Diwan Rao promised to help me with this
nasty situation. He called together a few
top police sleuths to trace the source of
this rumour and find evidences for
exonerating me. It was rather easy. The
sleuths found that Dayanidhi had paid some
thugs to spread the rumour and to inform
the news media. Fortunately, Diwan Rao
identified a doctor who had examined my
brother after his return from the hunting
trip in Bharatpur forest. He was Dr Joseph
Murphy FRCP,the highly respected Chief
Physician at Agra Medical Hospital. He
showed Diwan Rao his medical record that


the Prince had extensive insect bites on
his arms and legs, but no skin
discoloration due to poisoning. He also
had the blood test report to indicate some
form of bacterial infection. Diwan Rao gave
an interview to the press corp at Vijaypur
and I was absolved of this false
accusation. The Police chief Ramachandra
Rao arrested Dayanidhi on charges of
corruption.
I went to Maharana and touched his feet
for not believing the rumor, with tears in
my eyes. I presented a Cadillac car to
Diwan Rao in appreciation of his efforts
and a Rolex watch for the police chief,


Ramachandra Rao.
A tricky arranged marriage.
Now it was my turn to help Diwan Rao. One
day Diwan Rao came to me wringing his hands
with a serious look on his face. He wanted
my help on a tricky situation. His daughter
Padmavati, a college student in Jaipur, had
fallen in love with,my second son,Yuvraj
Gajaraj. It was the traditional custom
that the bride's father must approach the
boy's parents in arranged marriages. Diwan
Rao was nervous because we always sought
brides from Rajput families. It would be a
stigma for a Rajput prince to marry a girl
from other castes.


Fortunately Gajraj was the second son, not
the first son or Crown Prince. Crown Prince
always married a bride from another
Princely family.I was perplexed. I told Rao
that I had to consult Maharana who would
decide and should give his approval. I
broached the matter when Maharana
was in a happy mood and when Rajmata was
also present. Rajmata had several criteria
for the bride to be! She told me that she
had no objection provided Rao's daughter
Padmavati was fair skinned like
Rajput girls and was also slim in waist,
with ample hips. I was not sure whether
Padmavati would meet these criteria. [In


Rajput families, women with large hips were
preferred as it was thought that wide hips
would ensure birthing several children.]
Maharana was more practical in his view. He
wanted to know what Yuvraj Gajaraj planned
to do after studies. I told Maharana that
he might become a lawyer and would
practice law in Delhi or Bombay.
Maharana told that he would express his
decision after two days. Meanwhile I
ascertained from Yuvraj his interest in
marrying this girl and in becoming a
lawyer. After four days, Maharana
called me ;after deep thought for five
minutes, he spoke slowly: " Yes, Yuvraj can


marry this girl,but he must leave the
palace after that. He can go
to other kingdoms or any city --Delhi,
Bombay,London or Timbuktu. He will be
entitled to family property though."
Maharana was precise in his instructions .
Rajmata tacitly approved too. I spoke to
Vasundara , my wife and Yuvraj's
mother---she would go along with Maharana's
decison. I knew that this decision amounted
to banishing Yuvraj from the State. Was it
a harsh decision? - I cannot tell. I
conveyed this decision to Yuvraj and also
to Diwan Rao.
On the next Friday--an auspicious day--


Rao came to our Fort with his wife and
daughter Padmavati.
Padma was nicely dressed in a brocade
saree,with a set of six bangles on each
arm,nose studs, three gold necklaces and
diamond ear studs. Rao had brought a basket
of flowers and a bowl of fruit. He asked
Padma to touch the feet of
myself and Vasundara--her future in-laws.
We blessed her. I
requested Rao to take her to Maharana and
Rajmata to receive their blessings and then
visit the temple of our kuldevi [family
deity] Bageswari. I presented Padmavati
with a pearl necklace.


I was relieved that this tricky arranged
marriage could be settled amicably.
There was another instance. Mr Rajesh
Sharma , our revenue officer belonged to an
orthodox south Indian brahmin
family--strict vegetarians.
His son, Ravi Shankar who was an auditor,
wanted to marry Gulmohar Bano, daughter of
our court musician , Vilayat Khan ; Bano
was already a well known ghazal singer and
considered a great beauty in the State. As
in the case of Rao,Vilayat Khan went to
Sharma's house for marriage approval. He
had a tough response. Sharma became angry
and asked Khan to leave the house. Sharma


wanted me to help. How could I mediate in
this case? This was an involved issue
because the boy was a brahmin and the girl
was of Muslim faith. I told Sharma politely
that I would not interfere in this matter
and that Sharma should consult his
religious elders. As it turned out later,
Ravi Shankar eloped with Bano to Dhubai and
got a job there.
Such instances were many in my early life
as Crown Prince./////

The Nautch Girls
The Palace had several nautch girls [female
dancers],hailing from different parts of


India, nearly 20 of them. Their main role
was to sing and dance before Maharana and
the princes--- to entertain in the
evenings. According to the latest trends in
Rajputana courts, Maharana introduced a few
dancers from Persia [Iran] and Turkey and
one Spanish flamingo dancer into the
troupe of nautch girls. Many of them would
remain unmarried and become mistresses of
courtiers and ministers, a custom that was
tacitly accepted in India since the middle
ages in the courts of Princely states.
[Hence the word "courtesan" in English.]
The spanish dancer was Maria Mendonca, a
Roman Catholic, given to regular rituals


in local cathedral--the only cathedral in
Vijaypur. There was one priest Fr.
Fredicick de Souza from Goa who was the
officiating priest at the cathedral. The
priest was supported by Maria from her
income though the Church was rich . The
intimate relationship between Fr Frederick
and Maria was common knowledge in Vijaypur
though no one interfered with her because
she was a Christian woman. Soon Maria
became a mother ,leading to a scandal and
then local population turned against her.
The Hindus avoided her like plague. One day
she was found dead in a well in a nearby
village and Fr. Frederick de Souza was


accused of killing her. Mr G Ramachandra
Rao D G P started the investigation in
right earnest. There was a protest meeting
by Christian groups that proper
investigation was not being done and the
Palace somehow interfered in this police
matters. Maharana wanted me to probe
further and report to him. Though Father de
Souza was the main accused, there were no
proper witnesses or evidences to prosecute
him. My own knowldege of legal matters was
minimal. I consulted with Diwan Rao also.
Fortunately, one able Prosecuter Mr Virpal
Singh was available from the neighboring
state of Bikaner. I brought him in to the


case. He ordered a thorough search of
Maria's quarters in 'Gopi Gardens' where
the nautch girls lived. He found a suicide
note written by Maria, a hand-written
letter. The police officials found this
note to be a forged document. The
handwriting analyst matched this note with
the writing of Father Mendonca. When Mr
Ramachandra Rao was proceeding to arrest
Fr.Mendonca, he had already taken a boat to
Portugal. Then Maharana decided not to
import any more nautch girls from abroad.
One nautch girl I remember very
well--Radhakrishna Sundari Bai from Nasik.
She would sing and dance in my chambers


every friday. She had great musical talent
and would sing hymns of poet-saints of
Maharashtra such as Tukaram and Namdev. I
learned later that she was widowed at a
young age and was living with her maternal
uncle in a poor section of the city. I
organized a small bhajan mandali [singing
group] in the city for her to sing
regularly and get some income. A bhajan
hall was also built near the famous
Lingaraj [Shiva] temple of Vijaypur. This
act on my part would be misconstrued as a
gift I extended to her for her intimacy
with me at the Fort. But it was soon common
knowledge that Judge Keshav Ranade at the


court was her life companion. She had
committed suicide when her affair with the
Judge was to be exposed in the press. I
had to intervene so that there would be no
police inquiry into the circumstances of
her death and that she would have a decent
funeral.
Vijaypur - a New State
After my return from Sandhurst, Maharana
took the stand for slowly relinquishing
many duties by transferring them to me. He
would spend more time on religious
activities such as building a new Shiva
temple and a choultry [a free boarding
house for pilgrims]. He would also make


frequent travels to Haridwar where we had a
mansion and to Rishikesh for meeting some
sadhus.
I ,for my part,would focus on the
educational facilities for our citizens. A
'Maharaja's Arts College" , a teachers
college and an Art school were planned. I
would also build a western style
gymnasium.
Rajmata Vasundara Devi , my wife, was
already an expert in teaching music and
would form the first 'Vijaypur Gharana'- a
school with distinct style of music. Ustad
Shikayat Khan, son of my sitar teacher,
became the Pradhan Vidwan or chief maestro


for the gharana. His sister Ameena Begum
was the chief vocalist .I built a music
hall for the gharana--with excellent
acoustics employing Norman Shields , a
British architect. Soon it would become a
famous center for both Hindustani and
Western music . There was a wild rumour
that Rajmata Vasundara Devi was in intimate
relationship with Ustad Shikayat Khan,
spending long evening hours with him at the
Gharana Hall. The same rumour mill also
spread the word that I was in intimate
contact with Ameena Begum! Both were
baseless.
World war II adventures


The year was 1939. Hitler was overrunning
European states, with his 'Blitzkreig' of
rolling tanks , starting with Poland. I was
called by the Viceroy to Delhi ---to enlist
my service on tank warfare tactics for
the British Army. My work at Sandhurst was
instantly recognized. I made two trips to
the War Office of Winston Churchill in
London. It was obvious that I would be
inducted into the British army and sent to
front lines to face the enemies.
After about six months ,in the year 1940
I joined the British Army as a Brigadier.
The affairs of Vijaypur state were
completely in the hands of Rajmata


Vasundara Devi, my wife, and my eldest son
Vijayendra Singh, a boy of just 20 years
and still in College.
Soon I went back to London and I was sent
to Tripoli to fight against Erwin
Rommel,the desert fox--a real tank battle
that would rage for two years. There would
be heavy casualties on both sides. The high
point of my career was working closely with
Field Marshal Montegomary ['Monty'] to plan
some battles --days that I would cherish
for years to come. I got some photos made
with Monty on my side, poring over some
maps. The photos were enlarged and kept in
our museum in Vijaynagar Palace.


Life at the battle field was hard and the
only solace I had was a few meetings with
Sally who was back in London after her
posting in New Delhi. Now she was a
permanent attache at the India Office at
Whitehall. Her work was light and she had
plenty of time to spend with me during the
war years. I set up a nice house for her in
Kensington ,close to the War Office. I
could meet her during the lunch time too.
Clara , her mother ,was no more. Sally
leaned heavily on me. She was highly
respected now because she was a close
companion of a Brigadier who was an Indian
Prince. She was invited for many parties


and social functions.
It was in one of those parties I met a
familiar face--- a woman of thirty five
years and a great beauty ---Mona Wilson. I
did not know at that time Mr Wilson, her
husband, was a major in a tank regiment and
therefore my junior colleague. Soon we
found our bearings ,and Mona and Wilson
would spend a weekend at my mansion. Sally
was introduced to Mona as my present
companion . Obviously Mona was happy in her
life with Wilson. Sometime later I told
Sally about my previous relationship with
Mona at Meerut Cantonment.
I explained to Mona about the proposed


setting up of colleges in my princely
kingdom. Mona was enthusiastic about such
projects and would love to visit India
again for sometime. I told her that she
always had an open invitation to my
Princley estates.
The war ended in 1945 and I had very
little work in London. The economy of
Britain had collapsed. India was no more
an asset for Britain but a liability. It
was not ' a Jewel in the Crown', but a
thorn instead.
The Labor Party government with Clement
Attlee as PM had come to power and it was
obvious to everyone that soon Britain would


give independence to India...it was just a
matter of time--may be a year or two.
I promptly left my position as Brigadier
in the British army and returned to
Vijaypur to focus on the development of my
state. The ministers and courtiers were
very happy at my return. There were
religious festivities in Vijaypur temples--
thanks-giving rituals for Lord Shiva and
for 'kuldevi' Bageswari-- for my safe
return from the War Zone.
Vasundara Devi could again concentrate on
her gharana and became a music composer as
well---writing songs on local deities in
Vijaypur. My son would assist me in many


activities and I could also train him for
industrial developments in the state.
But it soon became apparent to me that my
military skills would be of no use in Free
India--India would develop its own cadre of
military officers. As it turned out, after
1947, the year of Independence, I was
occasionally invited to give a few lectures
at National Defence Academy, Pune and at
Defence Staff College, Quetta, on tank
warfare and the obsolete methods of World
War II. I had become a historic relic in my
own lifetime !
My interest was now restricted to
educational developments in my state. I


would also build an institution for
educating disabled persons with the help of
two US based charity foundations.
The big change--Loss of Kingship
After independence in 1947, the annexation
of princely states started in earnest ,
merging with the Indian Republic--due to
the efforts of the Home Minister ,Sardar
Vallabhai Patel, praised as "Bismarck of
India". Patel called the princes ,about 600
princes of big and small stamp-size states,
one by one and talked to them to join the
Indian Republic. Many princes joined
without murmur because the princes ruling
small patches of land would be an


anachronism in modern India. The public
everywhere wanted a democratic system, not
ruled by Rajas or Rajmatas,and their
whimsical courtiers. Some princes,however,
resisted such a merger--for instance the
Nizam of Hyderabad and the Nawab of
Junagadh. Sardar Patel was polite but firm
in handling the princes. It is indeed a big
story how he effected the
annexations in a matter of two years.
I gladly signed the annexation papers at
Delhi and offered whatever help that was
needed for the new republic.
Some princes became governors of nearby
states ,like Maharaja of Mysore and


Maharaja of Bhavnagar. Some were appointed
as Ambassadors to distant lands like the
Maharaja of Patiala and Raja of Aundh. I
became an advisor in defence planning cell
at New Delhi for three years. After that, I
had very little to do with the national
government.
Things moved swiftly in the transfer of
power from me to the Rajasthan state
government . Vijaypur became a small
district in Rajasthan state. The collector
[commissioner] appointed by the state
government was one Mr Samba Sadasiva
Venkata Krishna Rao, I A S, a thin, dark
skinned, short gentleman from Andhra. Mr


Samba Rao, for short, ordered the
disbanding of Vijaypur army, of nearly
10000 troops [one division], nurtured with
great care by my father Maharana and myself
for the past sixty years. The arms and
ammunitions were collected, labeled and
sent to Ajmer Garrison in a convoy of
trucks. As per the orders of Sardar Patel,
I was allowed to keep only five platoons
,that is about 100 troops, as 'Palace
guards'.
I was answerable to Mr Samba Rao; the Law
and Order machinery went into his hands--
Samba Rao was also the Chief Magistrate of
the district. I did not have even the


powers of a village munsif or city
magistrate.
Much had to be done in the durbar or court
of my kingdom. The nautch girls [ dancing
girls] who used to entertain Maharana were
sent out of the palace. The ghazal singers
with their tradition of soulful Sufi
melodies, were also asked to leave ,except
three of them who would join the Gharana.
My children would start attending the
Rajasthan University at Jaipur--no more
private tutors for any of them.
The Palace had 28 horse-drawn chariots and
62 horses in the stables. I kept three
chariots for the use of Rajmata. The rest


were sold in Delhi auctions. 58 horses
were sold in Mumbai and Kabul.
The changes in a span of four months were
heart wrenching to me. I had a nervous
breakdown with frequent spells of
dizziness. The Palace physician Dr T Gopala
Rao FRCP advised me to move out of the
Palace and rest in a hill station for two
months. After giving the responsibilities,
including answering petty state officials,
to Vasundara Devi, I left for Shimla
accompanied by Ameena Begum and her
children. Ameena nursed me back to health
with her gentle music of ghazals and
herbal medicines; I called her "my


Nightingale". The hurts in my mind slowly
healed.
A modern Maharaja with a tight budget.
I kept visiting Britain once a year to
promote some business interests in Vijaypur
besides some tourism prospects. On each
visit I would spend a few days in the
company of Sally.
It transpired that in the year 1951,
Wilson was involved in a terrible car
accident in London and died after prolonged
hospital stay. Mona was distraught; she
had two children to bring up. I invited her
in 1952 to come over to Vijaypur and assist
me in the colleges run by our funds. She


accepted this proposal and landed in
Vijaypur next year. I had built a bungalow
[ cottage with a small garden] for her
adjoining the Maharana's Arts College near
the Palace grounds. Mona was in her forties
and became very active in running the
colleges.
Mona's return to Vijaypur was a pleasant
turn in my life. With her support, I took
part in western style sports--horse riding,
Polo, billiards and so on, now that my
military activities were a thing of the
past. I also taught Polo to a few princes
from nearby states. Mona would be my
regular companion for stay in hill resorts


in summer--like the stay in Shimla in our
Vijaypur mansion--which was loaded with
fond memories of the past . Mona was
charming in long thin gowns with open back
and sweet talk. Mona would soon become
pregnant in 1953 with my second child. In a
sense, life seemed to have come around a
full circle for me.
In 1954, I visited London for business
negotiations to set up a paint factory for
my second son , Gajendra Singh in
Vijaypur. I met Sally and spent a week
with her.
I was keen on her coming to India, which
would be her first visit --to see the pomp


and glory that was still left in Vijaypur.
Sally gently declined saying that for her
India was a remote land, difficult to
understand ,though she loved me so much.
The best I could do for her was to take her
for a vacation in Switzerland for two weeks
and gift her a valuable diamond-emerald
necklace with pea-cock design ,of Persian
origin which found its way into Mughal
courts and later into Vijaypur. She did
not say anything about a terminal illness
that was consuming her muscles. On my next
trip to London in 1955 , I learned from her
daughter that she was no more.



Government of India offered an annual
privy purse, a sort of pension, to each
prince depending on their land size. For my
small kingdom, it was just 5 million rupees
a year-- a pittance whose value would
decrease with increasing inflation. This
pension would be given only upto my
lifetime .
Myself and my son Vijayendra Singh Bahadur
planned for future financial security in
consultation with experts in Mumbai. We
divided the large palace into three parts;
one part would be a modern hotel of 5-star
category ,mainly for foreign tourists--this
would be the central part.
The Left wing would house quarters for
the Maharana family. Maharana , who was in

his eighties, would get a large suite of
20000 square feet on the top floor, with a
large open terrace from which he could get
an aerial view of Vijaypur, his former
kingdom. I had three large suites of 10000
square feet each in the second floor . My
children would occupy six suites in the
first and ground floor. The right wing
would be a museum with Rajputana exhibits
and would be open to public for a small
entry fee.
When the architects from Mumbai moved in to
make the changes in the palace, Rajmata was
distraught and refused to talk to them.
My father Maharana had twelve [12] Rolls
Royce cars and an assortment of other
cars--Feraris, Bentleys and Porsches. I
decided to sell all the RR's except one and
sell other cars as well and buy a few
Cadillacs and BMW's of recent models. This
sale of cars fetched some liquid cash,
about 10 million rupees, which I could
invest in chemical firms based in
Rajasthan and Gujarat. One of my sons would
also become a director of a chemical unit
making nylons.
Vasundara Devi, the Rajamata, for her
part ,sold many diamond jewels in
international auctions by Sotheby's and
Christie's in London. The crown jewels were
kept in a London bank for safe keeping.
The expensive lamps, large silver jars in
which my grandfather used to keep Ganges
water ['Ganga jal'],bronze statues and
chandeliers went into the museum, as well
as numerous paintings bought from Europe.
I chose not to enter national politics and
declined to contest in elections for
becoming a member of state legislature or
the Parliament. I am glad that I made this
wise decision.
I did not send my first son Yuvaraj [Crown
Prince] for military training. Instead he
would study technology at the University of
Mumbai [Department of Chemical Technology]
and learn to set up chemical plants. My
second son Yuvaraj Gajraj Singh would
become a lawyer because I could foresee
many legal battles ahead for princely
families with the national government. My
first son with Mona would later become an
import-export businessman at Mumbai.
Epilogue

My time for the most part is spent in
educational projects, ghazal music and
horse riding in the woods of Bharatpur.
My father Maharana was keen on changing the
image of Indian Princes as play boys and
big spenders. He wanted them to respect
our traditional values ;at the same time
serve the nation in constructive ways.
My service with the Army and my role in
World War II and later work for education
and social welfare had largely fulfilled
that vision of my father,Maharana.
My romantic life had become distant dreams
of bygone years.
India itself was undergoing vast
changes---from a
feudal , agrarian society with aristocrats
to one of common people wedded to
democracy.
Indian princes were part of the process of
this transformation. I am glad that I
played my part.
Though Vijaypur does not exist as a
Princely Rajput state on the map of
India,it remains a 'mani'
a gem or jewel in my mind and in my heart.
I thank God and our kuldevi Bageswari for
great opportunities laid before me in
this life as a Rajput prince.
-------------xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx-----------