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.

On 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.

Available in softback:

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.

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