The Maharaja Exhibition

So after blogging spectacularly about blogging itself last time, I actually didn’t blog at all for over a month ahhaa ha ha ha ha. Anyway I was back in the South Kensington area last Friday afternoon. It is really good to see its pedestrianisation going so well. While I was at Imperial College London for my magic decade I saw all the plans for it but to actually see them come to reality is a great thing.

The Maharaja Exhibition

The Maharaja Exhibition

One of my tutoring students had enticed my interest in the Maharaja Exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum in London.  Given my Rana roots from North East India itself I really had to go there 🙂

My journey started off by talking to the security staff at the museum, the guy checking my bag happened to be Nepalese and he got into a light chat about the exhibition. Nepalese people also have the surname Rana and both his and my presence was a reminder of how history had bought us together at that spot in that moment of time.

The exhibition detailed the history of India’s Kings from about the 18th century onwards, the royal courts and how Indian royalty adapted to the changing political landscape through the centuries. From a state of complete control, to partial administrative control (during the Raj) and ending with no control after India’s independence when royal rule of every form in India was abolished.

Rani of Jhansi

Rani of Jhansi

There were a range of exhibits in several rooms there from mock elephants, swords, jewellery, clothing, giant paintings to a room full of cars, furniture and modern photographs etc., To me what was doubly fascinating were articles like the sword of Tippu Sultan and a hand written letter from the Queen of Jhansi (A Boudicca like figure who has significant legend attached to her). Both Tippu Sultan and Queen of Jhansi have had a whole TV series dedicated to them in India and are part of staple history lessons there.

I was quite interested in reading the notes made by later historians on the letters in pencil. The letters were in Urdu (maybe even Persian) so I couldn’t understand the actual letters but the Hindi and English writings were pretty interesting. Flying off on a little tangent here; Indian English handwriting and British English handwriting are very distinctly different and it is easy to tell them apart.

At £11 for an adult ticket the exhibition is not cheap but it is certainly worth a visit. The exhibition captures the colours and spirit of India well without getting too political or heavy. It’ll take you at least 3 to 4 hours to visit it properly.


1 Response to “The Maharaja Exhibition”

  1. 1 2010 Blog Stats « Atul's Blog Trackback on January 2, 2011 at 10:33 am

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