Shrimant Narayanrao Bhonsle

Shrimant Narayanrao Bhonsle (1863, r.1871-1883)
Chhatrapati Shivaji VI, Raja of Kolhapur

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

Inscription: HH the Maharajah of Kolapore

Narayanrao was adopted at the age of eight by the widow of Rajaram II. Shivaji VI reigned under a regency until he had come of age to rule. It is said that he had become insane by 1882 and was thus placed under the protection of the British Government and a regent was appointed for the state.

Eventually, Shivaji VI died, in Ahmednagar on 25th December, 1883, at the age of 20, due to injuries received in a scuffle with or due to beating received from a British soldier appointed to take care of him. The whole episode became famous as the Kolhapur Prakaran (affair).

The regent, Karbhari Mahadeo Barve was also accused of poisoning Shivaji VI along with some British officials and native servants. This involvement was made on the basis of letters written by Mahadeo Barve to his subordinate officials and were also published in the Kesari and Mahratta.

In this image we see the young Maharaja, around 10 years old, staring into the camera with his one hand resting on a table as he is seating on a fringed chair, wearing a traditional tunic, and trousers. His head is adorned with a corded turban and a brooch having pearl tassels. He is wearing several necklaces, a single earring and a bracelet in his hands.