In the annals of world history there are few more striking tales than those of Princely India. The Maharajas became bywords for excess, for lifetimes spent in reckless expenditure and extravagant splendour on an almost unparalleled scale.
Their states were lost to the Indian Union at Independence in 1947, and even their official titles abolished in 1971. But the Princes, their palaces and feudal loyalties have lived on, and the full gorgeous spectacle of their lifestyle is captured here.
The Maharajas were – and are – diverse aristocrats, including in their number both descendants of powerful Maratha chieftains and the most famous princes of all, the Rajputs, living in their fortress palaces in the desert states of western India.
This is very much a visual story, full of gilded ceilings, crystal fountains, peacock mosaics, gold and silver treasures, of weddings, celebrations and festivals, and of the Maharajas themselves and their families, in public and in private.