Nandita Pal

Romance Classics

3  

Nandita Pal

Romance Classics

A Princess Whom I Adore

A Princess Whom I Adore

4 mins
334


Gayatri devi, who was born in London on May 23, 1919 as third child of Queen Indira Devi and Maharaja of Coochbehar Jitendra Narayan. Depending on the Indian astrology princess, her name was with initial ‘G’. As her mother was reading through Rider Haggerd Novel ‘She’ and when her child was born she named her ‘Ayesha, as per heroine of the book. 


 Maharani Indira Devi was princess of Baroda, which was a Maratha princely state and her parents were against this marriage with prince of Coochbehar, where kings’ family was very much westernized. But marriage has happened in 1913 at London and same year prince Jitendra Narayan became Maharaja of Coochbehar. King Jitendra Narayan and Indira Devi later got blessed with five children. Maharaja JItendra Narayan died only after 9 years of marriage at age of 36 only when his elder son Jaggadipendra Narayan was only 7 years old. Jaggadipendra Narayan became crown price when his mother Indira Devi became Regent who used to handle all royal duties and communications with british administration that time.


Gayatri Devi, whose childhood memories are all around Cooch-behar palace, her daily life with going for hunting was so thrilling, elephant riding where she spoke so much on ‘pilkhana’ and lives of people there. As a princess how she has spent lives in that luxurious and beautiful palace, where house governor for English, foreign languages was there for children study. During summer, they used to spend time in their house in Darjeeling or Ooty house of King of Baroda. And in winter many times they spent in their house in Kolkata, which is woodland house. Gayatri devi liked to play riding, shooting and tennis, and she shared her excitement at age of 12 she killed a panther in Patlakhawa forest in Cochbehar. She also explained how they used to feel free and like any other children when they used to be away from palace in Darjeeling or so.

From age of 9, Gayatri devi moved to England while her mother Indira Devi decided her all children specially crown prince to study in England. after few years when she came back India, her mother decided her children to be in Shantiniketan to learn bengali better. Gayatri Devi has spent around a year in this beautiful campus where she shared memories of legend Rabindranath Tagore, how he used to take care small small aspect of each student.


Within next few years she met Maharaja of Jaipur, Jai who was also a great Polo player of India. Maharaja of Jaipur married Gayatri debi, as his third queen while he had two wives and children. Gayatri Devi was a symbol of beauty and later on she do pearls make known with beautiful chiffon sari and ornaments. Gayatri Devi s marriage at age of 21, which happened in Coochbehar, where it was like a big celebration enjoyed by every person over couple of weeks, every house was decorated and so on. And Gayatri Devi s reception in Jaipur in splendid one. That majestic beauty, arts and crafts, design of Maharaja Jaipur’s palace as Rambagh, City Palace really gives a description how Indias Kings and Queen lives with luxury and grand facilities. In Jaipur parda system (zenana) for women was there that time.


Gayatri Devi being a queen of Jaipur she took interest in some work which her husband used to do. While Maharaja was away in world war II, she tried to manage some administrative work in Jaipur. She also established a school in Jaipur and wanted girls from elite families come out of parda system and learn together. Gayatri devi’s main strength and guide was her husband Jai, Maharaja of Jaipur. After princely state got desolved, a huge change in royal families and set up she stood by her husband and handled. 1960 when Queen Elijabeth visisted India, Gayatri debi and Maharaja hosted them in Jaipur. History changes turn, Gayatri devi joined politics in Swatantra party which was in opposition to National Congress. She won the election and went to parliament with a guniess book of record wining numbers. It’s a huge change in her life how she worked for ground level people day in any day out. She joined parliament couple of times and she was in prison also. She also spent sometime in Spain where Jai was appointed as ambassador and her son Jagat singh used to live. She was in extreme pain when she lost her mother, and very soon her husband and bhaiya (king of coochbehar).


This book is a very interesting read when a real princess life is explained who becomes a queen of big palace, and she has exposure of so much western world. Though this description I have again learnt the situation of country and social lives of our people during that juncture time just after independence. During this journey Gayatri devi’s mind as sister, wife, mother and guardian comes out very beautifully. To me, who is from Coochbehar and once saw Gayatri Devi during childhood this book was extremely big attraction and probably lockdown helped me to complete this.


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