Maharaja Jaswant Singh

Maharaja Jaswant Singh (1851, r.1853-1893)
Maharaja of Bharatpur

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 Bharatpore

Maharaja Jaswant Singh was born in Deeg on 1st March 1851. He was the only son of Maharaja Balwant Singh and came to power as a minor in 1853. He received full powers in 1871, which were handed to him over by the regent Dhau Gyuii Ram. He married at Patiala on December 1859 with Maharani Bishan Kaur and his second marriage was in 1870 with Darya Kaur.

During his reign they opened a railway and established a cavalry and infantry regiment. The Maharaja was firm in his principles and invariably observed the religious rites and family customs. He took opportunities to visit Nathdwara, Hardwar and Pushkar. He built a temple of Brajendra Bihari at Sewar and regularly attended the service there.

After a successful rule of 22 years and in the 42 year of his age he breathed his last on the 12th December 1893 and was succeeded by his son Ram Singh born on the 9th September 1872. He died at the Deeg Palace having had four sons and three daughters. In this portrait the Maharaja, is wearing a traditional outfit with leggings and footwear and isn’t wearing any jewellery but has
heavily embroidered borders on his overcoat. He is sitting on a chair and beside him he has a table with an artefact, books and a curtain draped over it.


Pusapati Vijayarama Gajapati Raju III

Pusapati Vijayarama Gajapati Raju III (1826, r.1845-1879)
Maharaja of Vizianagram

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 Vizianagram

Pusapati Vijayarama Gajapathi Raju III laid the basic structure for the cultural edifice of Vizianagaram which was later expanded by his son. Vijayarama has been credited to transforming Vizianagaram into an Educational Centre. Vizianagaram is named after him and is spelled with a ‘Z’ to differentiate it from the Vijayanagar Dynasty in Hampi.

Vijayarama’s reign also experienced various developmental works like roadways, schools etc in Vizianagaram. It is observed that ‘he was a prince’, handsome in mien and enlightened in mind, a poet and a scholar, an athlete and man-of-letters, a musician, a virtuoso. The Duke of Buckingham addressed him as ‘Prince Charming’ which was a just testimony to his physical beauty. He and his illustrious son- Ananda Gajapati, had a distinction of being the only father and son to be the members of viceroy council at the same time.

In this image we can see the Maharaja standing in an upright position and looking towards his right. His right hand is rested on his belt and left hand clasping a sword. He is wearing an embroidered coat with leggings, hunting boots and a hat with feather. The background has a backdrop curtain, a pedestal pillar with a sculpture and on the right, there is a hint of a chair.

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.


Maharaja Bhagwant Singh

Maharaja Bhagwant Singh (1824, r.1836-1873)
Maharaj Rana of Dholpur

Albumen print on carte-de-visite, c. 1870
Size: 4 x 2.5 in. (10.2 x 6.4 cm)

Inscription: HH the late Maharana of Dholepore

Rana Bhagwant Singh was the Jat ruler of the princely state of Dholpur in Rajasthan. He was from the Bamraulia gotra of Jats and succeeded his father, Kirat Singh the first Maharaja Rana of Dholpur. He came to the throne in 1836 and continued to govern under British protection.

He helped and provided security to the British and Maratha refugees who came to Dholpur in the 1857 war of independence. He had no issue and thus adopted Maharaj Singh and named him Kulender Singh. Kulender was married with Basant Kaur, daughter of Maharaja Narender Singh of Patiala, but he died young at the age of 28 prior to Rana Bhagwant Singh. However, Kulender Singh had a 5 year old son, Nihal Singh and thus he succeeded Bhagwant Singh, in 1873 to the throne.

This image is most likely taken in a studio setup as the backdrop curtain and carpet on the floor is visible. The Maharaja is sitting on a chair with his hand resting on a table or a pillar, strategically covered by the backdrop curtain. The Maharaja has 2 swords in his left hand and also a sling like belt hanging from his shoulder. He is wearing traditional attire, jewels, turban and footwear.

Maharao Shivdan Singh

Maharao Shivdan Singh (1845, r.1857-1874)
Maharao Raja of Alwar

Albumen print on carte-de-visite, c. 1870
Size: 4 x 2.5 in. (10.2 x 6.4 cm)

Inscription: HH the late Rajah of Ulwar

Shivdan Singh was born in 1845 and was the only son of Maharao Bane Singh of Alwar. In 1857, he succeeded as a minor at the age of 12 to the throne. He reigned from 1863 till he was removed from his ruling powers.

He was a patron of the arts, and commissioned many paintings and manuscripts. He was a believer of the god Shiva. Alwar was one of the first Rajput states to ally itself with the British, however during Shivdan Singh’s reign there was a Rajput uprising against the British. In response, Shivdan Singh was deprived of actual power from 1870 and a council was given ruling power. A fixed allowance and an establishment were granted to the Maharao. The Maharao, being divested of all powers, led a miserable life, fell ill, and soon passed away in October 1874.

In this image, the Maharao is sitting on a chair looking towards the right, as his right hand rests on a table beside him. He is wearing a vest, leggings and a long cape over it. The turban worn by the Maharao is encrusted with jewels and the cape is heavily embroidered, kept in place with a belt and has a sword leaning against his leg.

Maharao Mangal Singh

Maharao Mangal Singh (1859, r.1874-1892)
Maharao Raja of Alwar

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

Inscription: HH the Rajah of Ulwar

Mangal Singh was born on 1859 and adopted by Maharaja Shivdan Singh from Thikana Thana. He succeeded to the throne as a minor on 14th December 1874, in preference to Kunwar Lakhdir Singh of Bijwar. He married twice.

Mangal Singh used to disregard Hindu cultures and traditions and would spend most of his time in the company of westerners and other luxuries. His conversation with Swami Vivekanand is of a historical significance and has been discussed and analysed by various scholars and biographers. He built a modern residence, modelled on Scottish Castles, atop Moti Doongari hill and named it Lansdowne Palace after the then current Viceroy.

However, all was not well with rule of Mangal Singh. The British Political Department imposed a Diwan in his court, who was assassinated. Mangal Singh was accused of the conspiracy and in a high-level trial all the accomplices were punished. He died at the age of 34 years, on May 22, 1892 at Nainital, owing to excess dose of liquor. He was succeeded by his minor son, Jai Singh.

In this portrait we see the young Maharaja wearing heavily embroidered clothes and multiple pieces of jewellery, and also has a sword around his waist. He is looking to his left and wearing a pearl encrusted headgear He resembles a westerner wearing princely clothes.

Maharaja Rajinder Singh

Maharaja Rajinder Singh (1872, r.1876-1900)
Maharaja of Patiala

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 Puthala

Rajinder Singh was born on 25th May 1872 and was the son of Mohindra Singh. His father died prematurely and so he succeeded the throne when he was around three years old. He was the Maharaja only from 1876 to 1900 as he died following a riding accident.

He has been described as “the first reigning Prince to blend the elements of the English gentleman and Indian potentate.” He was the first Indian to own a car in 1892, and the first to own an aircraft as well.

He implemented reforms, including endowments for a woman’s hospital, orphanages, and training of troops. The Maharaja defied everyone when he married Florence Bryan, the daughter of his Irish horse master, persuading her to convert to the Sikh faith. The Irish composer, Thomas O’Brien Butler, who spent some time in India, dedicated a song composition to him.

This is a portrait of the Maharaja as a child, where he is standing and looking towards the right side. He has a sword in his right hand and is wearing glittering garments, and a turban with a protruding head jewel. He is also wearing a belt around his waist which is embroidered, as well as jewel crusted. In the background is a huge couch with fringe details on the bottom.

Maharaja Mohindra Singh

Maharaja Mohindra Singh (1852, r.1862-1876)
Maharaja of Patiala

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

Inscription: HH the late Maharajah of Puthala

Mohindra Singh was the son of Narinder Singh, Maharaja of the State of Patiala. He was a member of the Phulkian Dynasty and succeeded to the throne in 1862 while still a child. Thus, a council of regency ran the state government until he came of age in 1870.

The Sirhind Canal project was completed during Mohindra Singh’s reign. The Mohindra College was founded and made as a palatial building for the promotion of higher education, which was given free. The telegraph line between Patiala and Ambala was also constructed during this reign. Mohindra Singh died in 1876 and was succeeded by his young son Rajinder Singh who was born in 1872.

This is a full length photograph of the Maharaja, standing with both his arms in the front, clasping an intricately designed sword. He is wearing a tunic, leggings, heavily embroidered cape and his turban is adorned with different kinds of jewels. He is also wearing the badges and honours given to him by the British Government which stands out, even beside multiple necklaces and sash worn by him. The backdrop is a curtain, which hints that the photograph was taken at the studio of the photographer.

Shrimant Anandrao Puar III

Shrimant Anandrao Puar III (1844, r.1864-1898)
Maharaja of Dhar

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

Inscription: HH the Rajah of Dhar

Anandrao Puar III was born 8th April 1844 and became the 9th Raja of Dhar. He succeeded to the throne by adoption and his investiture was held on 21st November 1864. He married twice, as his first wife had died. His second wife also died prematurely, following which he adopted a son. He died in 1898.

Anandrao Puar III adopted Shrimant Udajirao Sambajirao Puar, the youngest son of his half-brother, Shrimant Sambajirao Puar. However, Udajirao was only 12 years when Anandrao III died. As a result, the ruling was under the regency council from 1898 to 1904, till Udajirao came of age to assume his duties as a Maharaja.

In this image of the Maharaja, he is sitting on a chair, holding a sword in his right hand that appears longer than his lower body, which might have been the cause of probable achondroplasia. He is resting one of his feet on a stool kept in front of him. He is resting his other hand on a pile of books kept on the table beside him, which is decorated with a flower vase. The Maharaja is adorned with the jewelled, traditional head gear and multiple necklaces with varying lengths. This is one of the few portraits where the subject is looking directly at the camera and smiling.

Maharao Raja Ram Singh

Maharao Raja Ram Singh (1811, r.1821-1889)
Maharaja of Bundi

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 Bhoondee

Raja Ram Singh, the 21st Maharao of Bundi, was born in 1811 and succeeded to the throne in 1821. He married three times, first to Maharani Gulab Kanwar, then to Maharani Chandrabhan Kunwari and lastly to a Maharani from Nagod.

He grew up to be a much-respected ruler who initiated economic and administrative reforms, and established schools for teaching of Sanskrit. He ruled the throne for 68 years and was described as a grand specimen of the Rajput gentleman and “The most conservative prince in conservative Rajputana.” His rule was popular and beneficial. During the mutiny of 1857 his attitude was equivocal, yet he continued to enjoy the confidence of the British.

He died in 1889 and was succeeded by his adopted son Raghubir Singh.

In this image, the Maharaja is seated cross-legged on a heavily embroidered sheet along with patterned backrest and cushions on his either side, and is looking towards his left. Here he is wearing the traditional attire with his sword and shield resting on his lap. His turban is decorated with jewels and stones and alongwith his necklaces.