Meet 7 Maharanis of royal India; Know everything about Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan, Begum of Bhopal, Indira Devi of Cooch Behar & others | The Financial Express

Meet 7 Maharanis of royal India; Know everything about Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan, Begum of Bhopal, Indira Devi of Cooch Behar & others

Meet the royal Maharanis and Begums of India. Here’s all you need to know about their luxurious lifestyle

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Meet the royal Maharanis of India

During the 20th century, most of the royal households in India were quite modern in their thoughts and culture. The women in the families often were interested in art and culture, social work, and fashion. They were the connoisseurs of the finest art and were the perfect hostesses for influential guests at the Palace. Here’s a look at the royal Maharanis and Begums of India and their luxurious lifestyle:

Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan, Begum of Bhopal

In 1901, Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan took over the Throne of Bhopal, following the death of her mother. She was the prime ruler of the state till 1926. A great reformer, she was one of the most progressive rulers of her time. In 1918, Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan made primary education free and compulsory. That’s not all, she was the only female chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University. When it comes to fashion, Kaikhusrau Jahan often donned embellished purdahs when stepping out of the palace. She was the most social Begum who was loved by the people and heavily awarded by the British for her reforms in education, taxation, health, the army, and almost every field of public service.

Maharani Chimnabai of Baroda

An educated woman who worked for the rights of women in India, Maharani Chimnabai of Baroda the President of the All India Women’s Conference. Her husband, Maharaja Sayaji Rao III was a ruler well ahead of his time and encouraged his wife to play an active role in public life. She went on to become

Maharani Bibiji Bakhtavar Kaur Sahiba of Patiala 

Maharani Bibiji Bakhtavar Kaur Sahiba of Patiala, the official Queen-consort of the last Maharaja of Patiala, was the leader of the ‘Ladies of India’. The Maharaja had 10 wives and many concubines. That’s not all, he was notorious for his indulgent and luxuriant lifestyle. However, in 1911, the Maharani presented Queen Mary with the famous Delhi Durbar tiara, to mark her visit.

Rani Sita Devi of Kapurthala

The heart of French parties and salons, Rani Sita Devi of Kapurthala was married to Prince Karamjeet Singh, the younger brother of Maharaja of Kapurthala. For the unversed, Rani Sita Devi was one of the most important patrons of haute couture of her time and was featured in Harpers’ Bazaar, Vogue, Look, and various international magazines. Her fashion game was on point – She paired fur coats with French chiffon saris, and added dramatic jewellery from Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels to complete her look.

Rajamata Gayatri Devi of Jaipur

Rajamata Gayatri Devi of Jaipur was one of India’s most famous Maharanis – She became the symbol of royalty in India. Born in 1919 in London, as Princess Ayesha of Cooch Behar, she had a rather unconventional upbringing. In 1940, she married Sawai Man Singh II, Maharaja of Jaipur after a courtship of many years. Gayatri Devi had an illustrious personal life but that’s not all – she was known for her enchanting beauty (she was named amongst Vogue’s 10 most beautiful women in the world and was the most photographed lady of her time). Rajamata Gayatri Devi of Jaipuris is known for her efforts in ending Purdah system in Jaipur and all of Rajputana and for her active political opposition to the ruling Congress Party. She also supported the Princess in abolishing the Privy Purses of the Government of India. In 1975, she was jailed due to a political vendetta.

Rajamata Vijayeraje Scindia of Gwalior

Another princess, whose story is quite similar to Gayatri Devi, was Rajamata Vijayeraje Scindia of Gwalior. In 1975, both of them were jailed in the same cell. However, she did not belong to a royal lineage. Her grandparents, the influential Rana family of Nepal raised her while they were living in political exile in India. She is remembered for her poise, dignity, forward-thinking, and political strong-will, all of which made her a true and natural leader.

Indira Devi of Cooch Behar

Ma Cooch Behar or Indira Devi was born as the Princess of Baroda and then became the first Maharani of Cooch Behar – one of the most advanced and modern princely households in India. She ruled the state alone for several years after the death of her husband. She was known for hosting luxurious parties in India and England. She was fond of riding, hunting, and tennis.

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First published on: 11-03-2023 at 16:00 IST
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