Maharaja Nihal Singh

Maharaja Nihal Singh (1863, r.1873-1901)
Maharaj Rana of Dholpur

Albumen print on carte-de-visite, c. 1875
Size: 4 x 2.5 in. (10.2 x 6.4 cm)

Inscription: HH Maharana of Dholepore

Nihal Singh was the Jat ruler of Dholpur state in Rajasthan. He was the son of Kulender Singh and Basant Kaur, daughter of Maharaja Narender Singh of Patiala. Kulender Singh died young when Nihal Singh was 5 years old. He succeeded to the throne on the death of his grandfather in Feb 1873. His mother became the regent till he came of age and was then invested with full ruling powers in 1884. He married on 30th April 1879, the second daughter of Shah Dev Singh of Pandriganeshpur in Lahore and had an issue. He was popular as ‘Pyare Raja Saheb’. He assisted the British during the Tirah expedition in 1882, becoming one of the first Indian to secure a commission and to serve in person in a Royal regiment.

Under his leadership, Dholpur had one of the most modern infrastructure facilities in all of the princely states of India. He was succeeded by Maharaj Rana Ram Singh.

In this picture, we see a young Maharaja, around ten years old, standing and resting his arms on a fringed chair and on the table behind him, lays a book. He is most likely wearing the ceremonial attire of his clan; dressed up by necklaces of varying length and elaborate earrings with jewels incrusted head gear.