Tuesday, Jun 28, 2022
Outlook.com
Saurashtra Diary

Royalty in Flannels

Royalty in Flannels
Royalty in Flannels
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

We motored across a dry, dusty landscape, with searing hot winds. There was no water to be seen, no well, handpump or even a pond. Goatherds with their flocks struggled eastward to find some green and a drop of water. At Kalakankar, we drove through a small shabby township with marble statues of maharajas. I thought they could be rescued out of the shoddiness and put in some palace museum.

The palace is on a barren stony hill; cream-coloured with a high clock tower and cupola. The top had crashed in the earthquake and efforts were being made to restore it. The master of the house, Maharaja Pratapsinhji, Clare College, Cambridge, 1924—a junior contemporary of Duleepsinhji—96, ramrod straight and with a firm grip, welcomed me. The yuvraj, Digvijaysinhji, was a minister in the government of India once; Ranjit, the younger son, a distinguished Indian civil servant and an authority on the flora and fauna of India, were also there. The cool halls with their hunting trophies and autographed copies of kings and queens took me back to another time. Saurashtra, particularly, had been a land of maharajas only. Over lunch, we talked of Cambridge colleges and the great cricket duo of Ranjitsinhji and nephew Duleep.

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