Close Encounter with a Maharaja


Close Encounter with a Maharaja (1)

It was Dasami (Dussera) and we had just reached Chaibasa a day before. 2015 Durga Puja vacation I had no plans but managed to go for a surprise vacation to Ranchi. From Ranchi we had a driven to Chaibasa to meet my grand mother in law. Chaibasa is in the southern tip of the state of Jharkhand and just an hour’s drive from Tatanagar (Jamshedpur). With nothing much to do at Chaibasa I managed to conspire a quick visit to the Kingdom of Saraikela which lies some 45 minutes’ drive from Chaibasa. And in this plan I influenced my father in law to come along, of course my wife and daughter joined me by default.

In fact, it was my father in law in the first place who had mentioned about Saraikela which he used to visit when he was in school. He used to keep telling me that there was a king’s palace and the king of Saraikela still lived there. This was the perfect time for me to visit since my father in law himself would be there with me.

We set out on a short 45 minutes’ drive to Saraikela, the roads are as smooth as it can be, these are the new roads that are being paved which is being used as a super highway between the different districts of the state. The landscape is very picturesque with farm land, railway tracks, ponds and small hill to greet us all the way.

Close Encounter with a Maharaja (2)
Road from Chaibasa to Saraikela
Close Encounter with a Maharaja (3)
Scenery around the Road from Chaibasa to Saraikela

There is a huge Durga Puja pandal where Durga puja takes place in Saraikela, it was not that difficult to find it out since most of the town dwellers were heading that way.

Usually in these places a village fair is always present near the pandal and here you get the best of village food and snacks. But our priority was to fist check out the palace of the Maharaja which lies just adjacent to the pandal.

Close Encounter with a Maharaja (4)
Savouries Being Sold At the Village Fair
Close Encounter with a Maharaja (5)
The Palace Gates Can Be Seen At the Distance

Seeing no one around we decide to enter the palace compound, in its present desolate condition one can presume what it once stood during its glory days. Most portion of the palace is either abandoned or completely run down and beyond repair.

Close Encounter with a Maharaja (6)
Entrance to the Palace Compound
Close Encounter with a Maharaja (7)
Different Name Plaques Inside and Outside the Palace

Getting straight to my work I start photographing every corner and try to admire the magnum presence it must have stood in between the hills and plains. A wall inside the palace had old photographs of the Maharaja and its family members, each of these photographs also had a caption detailing out the activity during which the photograph was shot.

Close Encounter with a Maharaja (8)
Inside The Palace Compound
Close Encounter with a Maharaja (9)
Inside The Palace Compound
Close Encounter with a Maharaja (10)
Different Buildings inside the Palace Compound
Close Encounter with a Maharaja (11)
Different Buildings inside the Palace Compound
Close Encounter with a Maharaja (12)
Different Buildings inside the Palace Compound
Close Encounter with a Maharaja (13)
Statues and Other Motifs inside the Palace Walls
Close Encounter with a Maharaja (14)
Different Buildings inside the Palace Compound
Close Encounter with a Maharaja (15)
The Main Building
Close Encounter with a Maharaja (16)
Interior Sections of the Main Building
Close Encounter with a Maharaja (17)
Interior Sections of the Main Building

My father in law was busy watching them when the bugle sounded, I was caught off guard and did not know what to do exactly. It was straight out from the television serials just like Tipu Sultan. All off a sudden I see a group of buglers and drummers enter the courtyard and from the right I see the king of Saraikela come out of the palace with his full entourage. The Maharaja dressed in silk dhoti and all around him were people with swords nearly five feet in height. There were even some who held silk umbrellas over the head of the Maharaja.

Close Encounter with a Maharaja (18)
The Drummers and the Buglers
Close Encounter with a Maharaja (19)
The Maharaja Stepping Out Of His Palace with His Entourage

Honestly I did not assume him to be the maharaja and only when he stepped out of the palace walls did I see his subjects which were the villagers bend down to the ground to honour his presence. This was a much of a shock for my father in law also as he had heard about the maharaja but this would be the first time in his life he is watching him.

Close Encounter with a Maharaja (20)
The Maharaja Stepping Out Of His Palace with His Entourage
Close Encounter with a Maharaja (21)
Vintage Photo of the Then Maharaja before India’s Independence – Photo Courtesy Singh Deo Family

Being Dasami or Dussera the Maharaja was going to the Durga Mandir for offering prayers and before this he was being paraded around the village.

Close Encounter with a Maharaja (22)
Villagers Gather around the Maharaja As He Moves Around the Village
Close Encounter with a Maharaja (23)
The Local Durga Temple Where Dasami Would Be Celebrated
Close Encounter with a Maharaja (24)
The Spot Marking For Animal Sacrifice outside the Temple

This one incident left me speechless as we were at the right spot at the right time. The frames captured by my camera were so unique that whoever I showed were stunned to see the Maharaja in action.

The Maharaja belong to the Singh Deo family who ruled the princely state of Saraikela. This kingdom was founded in the year 1620 by Raja Bikram Singh. He was said to be a descendant from the Rathore clan of Rajputs. The Maharaja wanted to join the state of Orissa after independence when the states were being divided but was forced to join the then Bihar. There was a rebellion of sorts but was later subdued.

Close Encounter with a Maharaja (25)
Vintage Photograph of Saraikela Royal Family – Photo Courtesy Singh Deo Family
Vintage Photograph of Saraikela Royal Family – Photo Courtesy Singh Deo Family
Vintage Photograph of Saraikela Royal Family – Photo Courtesy Singh Deo Family
Close Encounter with a Maharaja (27)
Shuddhendra Narayan Singh Deo Was a Padmashri Winner for His Contribution towards Chou Dance – Photo Courtesy Singh Deo Family

Let this blog end here as this kingdom has a huge history which I will definitely tell you someday in another blog. Till goodbye from Indian Vagabond, who know which kingdom I will land up next.

 

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

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