Published on 26/12/15 in Reading
I discovered her before I fell asleep.
In her palace, the Rambagh.
As I was switching from channel to channel, a documentary caught and held my attention. Perched on the neck of an elephant was an Indian girl of gentle birth. The narrator was saying that, at twelve, she had killed a tiger that had been distressing the villagers who worked her father’s lands, and here she was, photographed with her shotgun in her arms and her prey lying at her feet! This tomboy grew into a very beautiful young woman and married the equally attractive young Μaharaja of Jaipur, all in the name of love. Chronicles of the time said they were the most beautiful couple in the world.
This was exactly the kind of story I needed to lull me to sleep, but my eyes wouldn’t close because I was asking myself where I had seen the Μaharani’s palace before, watching her walk gracefully through an inner, marble courtyard wrapped in a gauzy sari. When I realized it was the Rambagh, and that I was happily lying in one of its rooms, I ran over to…
…My favourite time to wander around the Rambagh Palace was just before dinner time. For as long as I was walking, I could feel myself sinking deeper and deeper into its magic. It was a curious amalgam of domes, verandahs and gazebos, open to the sky – a collaboration of Old Europe and Oriental refinement, with elegant English furniture dressed in lush Indian silks. I asked myself if there was any place more beautiful for a sunset stroll…
…At one of the lounge areas, I stopped under a portrait of Gayatri Devi. She was wearing an apricot-coloured sari that contrasted with her lavish necklace of rubies and emeralds. She had a serious expression and you could see the discipline in her posture, but her eyes shone joyfully.
“What made your marriage so wonderful?” Simi Garewal, the beautiful journalist from Bombay, asked her in an interview.
“There was great love, mutual respect and understanding,” she replied, “But there was fun too,” and her eyes danced playfully.
“And much companionship.”
“Yes, much companionship…it was a complete marriage.”
She passed away in 2009, at the age of 90. In the hearts of the people here, she will always be the Queen of Jaipur...
Excerpts from the book: INDIA and my Persian garden
The eBook INDIA and my Persian garden, illustrated with colour images, is available on:
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