Exhibition on Indian royalty in UK

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Exhibition on Indian royalty in UK

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London:  An exhibition on the life of the Indian maharajas is being held at a museum in the United Kingdom.

Maharaja: The Splendour of India's Royal Courts opens to the public at the Victoria and Albert museum.

The show opens with a life-sized depiction of a royal procession, also displaying turban jewels, howdahs, palanquins, thrones, a Rolls Royce - all part of the 250 items loaned to the museum for its exhibition on Indian royalty, their changing role and influence.

Most of these objects have been loaned by the erstwhile royal families of Mewar, Udaipur, Jaipur and Gwalior.

"The key theme is juggling two identities  - colonial expectations and traditional roles of kingship," says Deepika Ahlawat, the Deputy Curator.

One of the items on display at the exhibition is a spectacular necklace ordered  by the maharaja of Patiala in 1928. Originally with nearly 3000 diamonds weighing a 1000 carats, this is on display in the UK for the first time.

Most visitors are, not surprisingly, quite overwhelmed by the opulence.

"What I particularly find interesting is the influence of the 20th century on the maharajas. And also quite sad thinking of the pressure they must have been under force to be recognised on one hand at the same time maintain British tradition and be westernized. Allowed to play at being maharajas as long as they didn't intrude on British interests," says Rita Payne, a visitor.

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Largely set in the 18th and 19th century, the decline of the Mughal empire and the subsequent establishment of the British Raj, this colourful glittering exhibition is on till January and should go a long way in dispelling the gloom of winter in London.



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