Think the Arabs live a lavish life? Think again. Our Maharajas weren’t too far behind.
1. The Nawab of Junagadh – Mahabet Khan Rasul Khan
The Nawab of Junagadh loved his dogs. So much so that he had 800 of them and each with its own room, telephone and a servant. Why? Just. But that’s still not the craziest thing Mahabet Khan Rasul Khan did. The Nawab’s favourite pet dog was Roshanara who had ‘fallen in love’ with a golden retriever named Bobby. The Nawab was so happy to learn this that he decided to throw a lavish wedding ceremony for the two dogs. All this while people in his town rotted away in poverty.
The wedding, as expected, was larger than life. He even invited Lord Irwin (the viceroy of India back then) for the event, which was politely declined. The bride was dressed up beautifully with shampoo and perfume. She was even made to wear expensive jewellery and brought in a silver palki to the Durbar Hall where the wedding was supposed to happen. The groom wore gold bracelets and a necklace and was received at the railway station by 250 dogs in a brocade, a military band and a guard of honour. Rs 22000 was spent on the wedding – a figure that comes to a very generous Rs 2.25 crore in today’s time.
2. Mir Usman Ali Khan
Mir Usman Ali Khan, the last Nizam of Hyderabad was a rich guy. Actually, a filthy rich guy. Time magazine even featured him on the cover page for one of their issues. But here’s how much money he had just lying around – the Nizam used to use the “Jacob Diamond”, the fifth largest diamond in the world, worth approximately 100 million pounds, the size of an ostrich egg and weighing around 184.97 carats, as a paper weight!
AS A PAPER WEIGHT.
3. Maharani Indira Devi of Cooch Behar
The Maharani of Cooch Behar used to just love her footwear. A big fan of the famous Italian shoemaker Salvatore Ferragamo, she had once ordered 100 pairs of shoes from him. Including some which were diamond studded!
4. Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II
Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II was clearly a bit off, with his whims and fancies. How else would you describe this? He ordered his craftsman of Jaipur to make two massive silver vessels just so that he could carry Ganga Jal along on his trip to Britain. 14,000 silver coins were melted to make this gorgeous vessel and it even found a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest silver vessel.
5. Maharaja Bhupinder of Patiala
It wasn’t really anything materialistic that stood out with Maharaja Bhupinder, just his love for people, or women rather. The Maharaja of Patiala had 365 wives and 88 children! There were so many women that some of the wives wouldn’t even get to see the Maharaja for months at a stretch. In fact, to make sure that his wives don’t think he’s dead, he used to parade around the palace butt naked. Just because he could.
6. Krishna Raja Wodeyar IV of Mysore
The Maharaja of Mysore was known to be a generous man. And being one of the wealthiest men on the planet (35 billion pound valuation) during that time, it paid to be friends with him, or working for him. Take this for example. When the Maharaja learnt that he had to do something to shield his servants from the scorching heat, he didn’t just build a shelter. No, sir. He just ordered a customised Rolls Royce for them! The car was finally auctioned in August 2011 for 400,000 pounds.
7. King Jai Singh of Alwar
The story goes that the king of Alwar was once insulted by a Rolls Royce salesman as he was mistaken for a pauper on his trip to London. That very day, Jai Singh ordered a fleet of Rolls Royce cars only to be used as garbage trucks to carry the rubbish of his city. It eventually stopped after Rolls issued an official apology to the King.
8. Udaipur Royal Family
The Udaipur Royal family had a fascination with crystals. Seriously, they loved crystals so much they had it in everything possible, including chairs, tables, thrones, even fans!
9. Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala
Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala in 1926 sent a trunk full of precious stones worth millions to jewellery design company Cartier. The Maharaja wanted a Parisian style necklace made for him. Cartier did come good and made for him what remains to be one of the finest pieces of jewellery ever made.
10. Lalbagh Palace
We have always had this fixation with Britain. So much so that the Lalbagh palace in Indore had its palace gate crafted and shipped all the way from London to Indore.
11. Jagatjit Singh, the Maharaja of Kapurthala
Very few know that one of luxury brand Louis Vuitton’s very loyal customers was Jagatjit Singh, the Maharaja of Kapurthala. The Maharaja loved his LVs so much that he owned more than 60 LV trunks that he would use for his travels.