FAMILIES AND PALACES OF GUJARAT - INDIA
by Dr Hansdev Patel
Gujarat, the westernmost state of India, has attracted immigrants
from all over the world for millennia. They came to trade, to plunder,
to colonise, to seek refuge and to find their fortune on the west
coast of India. Over the centuries, invaders and immigrants set
up reign over principalities, which the British in the 19th century
crystalised into well defined princely states, ranging in area from
the 1/2 sq. mile to 1 million square miles.
"Royal families and palaces of Gujarat"
explores a selection of princely states from their legendary and
historic origin, the battles and skirmishes of medieval centuries
and the administrative reforms of the 19th and 20th centuries to
their merger with the Indian union. Each chapter concludes with
information on the 21st century descendants of the rulers who are
now heritage hoteliers, lawyers, doctors, businessmen, woman entrepreneurs
or politicians, often supported by interviews or quotes. A highlight
of the book is the vivid description of the palaces of the Maharajahs
and Nawabs, the works of art, furnishings and interior design of
the properties, and the royal collections of antiques, artifacts,
vintage cars, railway saloons, elephant howdahs, weapons and trophies
housed in these grand buildings. The travel chapter details those
properties that are now heritage hotels or museums, and can be visited
by readers during their travels in India, giving this historic book
a present day perspective. The British provinces and Portuguese
enclaves are mentioned in a separate chapter.
Dr. Hansdev Patel, a British citizen of Indian origin, has given
the book a combination of a western and ethnic outlook. The book
is illustrated with 144 award winning colour photographs and numerous
watercolours. The book is a must for history, architecture and art
enthusiasts, and for Indians the world over who want to know more
about their heritage.
The 26th January 2001, an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter
scale hit Gujarat. In 2 minutes it caused untold misery not only
in the tragic loss of over 100,000 human lives but also to hundreds
of years of its architectural and cultural heritage.
The epicenter of the earthquake was Bhuj, in the former Princely
State of Kutch where the Jadeja family ruled for more than 900 years.
Pratvirajshree, who is still known
locally as Maharaja lost all his palaces, his greatest losses are
among the ruins of The Aina Mahal Palace, where Venetian glasswork
worth millions lies in smithereens. Pratvirajshree was careful to
put his own misfortune in perspective. “I rank my suffering
pretty low,” he said. “What do I need with these palaces
at my age?” “ It is not the personal losses that depresses
me - it is more the hellish beating the culture of the region has
suffered,” he said as he prepared to tour the villages with
his wife Pritivedi, the former princess of Tripura.
Most of the other beautiful palaces and buildings described in this
book have also been reduced to rubble, ruining the lives of the
ruling dynasties. This book is now a historical document - the only
comprehensive work recording with photographs and text the Princely
heritage of this wonderful part of Western India.
The publishers, Windsor & Peacock have pledged
to send £5 ($7) to the Earthquake Appeal for each book ordered
through them until the end of the present print run.