Edited by Gianni Guadalupi. Texts by Louis Rousselet
2001 / 264 PAGES.
The small principalities of Central India in the golden age of Pax Britannica, when Kipling wrote that “Providence created maharajahs just to offer mankind a spectacle”.
Among the varied tapestry of large and small sovereigns sharing India in the second half of the 19th century (some as vast as half of Europe, some as tiny as courtyards), this volume will take readers to visit some of the states of the Malwa Plateau in the company of French geographer Louis Rousselet who, with the excuse of furthering his studies, spent six years (1863-1869) exploring the Indian peninsula far and wide. However, instead of dealing with the distribution of the Himalayan mountain range or with the hydrography of Punjab, Rousselet wandered from rajah to rajah like a tireless travelling courtier, enjoying the parties and hunts, banquets and balls typical of a world on the brink of disappearing. The intriguing photographs scattered among the pages (taken from the album gifted by the maharajah of Ratlam to the maharajah of Dhrangadhra) probably depict characters of the Ratlam court: sepia-toned ghosts of maharajahs, rajahs and begaums appear side by side with descriptions of cultural pluralities that fascinated old England.