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The Rise and Fall of the Princely State of Alwar

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R C Mody

R C Mody is a postgraduate in Economics and a Certificated Associate of the Indian Institute of Bankers. He studied at Raj Rishi College (Alwar), Agra College (Agra), and Forman Christian College (Lahore). For over 35 years, he worked for the Reserve Bank of India, where he headed several all-India departments, and was also the Principal of the RBI Staff College. Now (2017) 90 years old, he is engaged in social work, reading, writing, and travelling. He lives in New Delhi with his wife. His email address is This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Introduction

I hail from a well-known family of the erstwhile Alwar State called “Modis.” The family was close to the Durbar for many years. The initial part of this narrative is based on stories I heard from my grand uncles. By 1933, however, I was grown up enough to see and assess events for myself. My description from that year onwards is an eye witness account.

Formation of Alwar

The Princely State of Alwar was one of the 22 Princely States (baais rajwade) of Rajputana on the eve of India's Independence, ranking 6th in Rajputana, and about 20th among all of the Princely States of India. Unlike many other Princely States, Alwar was not one of the ancient Indian kingdoms.

In the middle ages, the region was under Muslim rule. Alwar city, named after Alwaar Khan, was the capital of Mewat, a province of the Mughal Empire. Emperor Akbar spent some nights here on his way from Delhi to Agra. Akbar's grandfather, Babur, was there for a night in the Fort on the hill overlooking the city. Prince Salim, later Emperor Jahangir, spent some time in this Fort during the days of his estrangement with his great father. Later, Aurangzeb had appointed one of his grandsons as the superintendent of this Fort

In the later half of the 18th century, during the chaos following the death of Aurangzeb (1707), Pratap Singh, a Rajput adventurer, created the State of Alwar in 1775.  He had been a General in the Jaipur (Amer) army, but had revolted against it to form a kingdom of his own. This new kingdom included some of Jaipur's territory and some territory of the adjoining Jat Kingdom of Bharatpur.

At that time, the British were nowhere near this region. In the eyes of the rulers of Jaipur, Bharatpur, and other adjoining kingdoms, Pratap Singh remained a rebel till his death in 1791. He did receive recognition from Shah Alam, the tottering Mughal Emperor in Delhi. However, this did not give Pratap Singh the status he wanted. The Jaipur Rulers continued to call him the Rao of Macheri, and his name was announced at their Durbars as an absentee without leave of absence.

Alwar was recognized as a State only in 1803 by the British, around the time they entered Delhi. A British General, Lord Lake was fighting Scindia of Gwalior in Laswari near Alwar. Alwar's second ruler, Bakhtawar Singh, rushed on his own to help Lord Lake in defeating Scindia.

Lake and Bakhtawar signed a treaty, under which Bakhtawar was recognized by the British as the legitimate ruler of Ulwar (renamed Alwar a hundred years later) State. Thus, for all practical purposes, the Alwar State was a creation of the British, and it ceased to exist as a State in April 1948 within nine months of the end of British rule over India.

Alwar's Maharajas

During its 173 years of existence, Alwar had a colourful history, at times gaining prominence out of proportion to its size and its brief life.

Alwar had seven Maharajas (they were called Maharao Rajas till 1889 when the title was raised to that of Maharaja) in all.

Vinay Singh (1815-57) the third Maharaja, was an outstanding ruler. He was in fact the one who actually established Alwar as a State, and can be called its builder. He built magnificent palaces (the imposing City Palace which at present houses, inter alia, a precious museum which has some rarest of rare pieces of art and calligraphy obtained or got created by him), tanks (including the imposing Sagar tank at foot of the hill which is crowned by the 700 year Alwar Fort) ornamental temples, gardens (including the large Company Bagh, the lung of the city renamed by his erudite great grandson Jey Singh, as Purjan Vihar), and monuments (including his father Bakhtawar Singh's cenotaph, ­ an architectural master piece).

He got paved the main streets of the capital with well-cut red sandstone slabs, encircling them with imposing city gates. All these gave Alwar the looks of a princely capital, which it lacked earlier. Another architecturally impressive building, the Vinay Vilas Palace which he built for his summer residence, surrounded by a large dense garden, with a large all marble tank in its centre, is the seat since 1933 of Raj Rishi College (a Post-graduate College which for some years was accorded University status). For me, personally, it is a part of inedible memories because of four memorable years I spent in its portals.

Vinay Singh built a large artificial lake Siliserh (with a palace on its banks) some 8 miles west of the capital from which emanates a pucca (all-weather) canal. The canal keeps the public and other gardens in the rocky city of Alwar green.

However, more important than all these is the Alwar High School. Vinay Singh founded this in 1842. It is an imposing two storied building with a large compound just outside the walled city. It is at present is the seat of the city's Municipal Council and Town Hall. These and many other attainments in a single life time qualify him to be called as an outstanding ruler.

Vinay Singh remained steadfastly loyal to the British and sent his troops to Agra to fight for them during the Mutiny of 1857. However, they were badly defeated by the rebels. He died in July 1857, many months before the outcome of the uprising was determined.

Shivdan Singh (1857-74), Vinay Singh's son, was a luxury loving prince. During his short reign (he died at the age of 29), Alwar was mostly under the rule of the British Political Agent, initially due to Shivdan's young age, and later on account of his misrule. One of the Political Agents, Major Cadell, expanded the city by creating a large market named Cadellgunj outside the walled city. He encouraged my family to build a large complex (commercial cum residential), which became known as Modiyon ka Godam, the largest private property in the State.  It has remained a well-known landmark in the city since then

Mangal Singh (1874-92) was Alwar's next ruler. The rule of the Political Agent under which Shivdan's regime ended, continued until young Mangal Singh became an adult. He had problems, however even after he got ruling powers. Amidst all these, he modernised the State, and himself took to a western life-style. He built a modern residence (modelled on Scottish castles) atop Moti Doongari hill in the capital and named it Lansdowne Palace (after the then Viceroy). It beautified the city which it overlooked and used to shine like a bright lamp during nights.

However, the next ruler, Jey Singh, driven by an idiosyncrasy, demolished it with the idea of building a still more beautiful palace on the site, which he could never do. The vast heap of rubble left behind, which in itself has remained a sight to see, has been a permanent feature of the city for the past 95 years

Three successive Viceroys visited Alwar during Mangal Singh's rule. He was decorated with Knight Grand Commander of the Order of Star of India (GCSI) and made an honorary Colonel in the Indian Army. "Khitabe fauj men Karnal, sawai GCSI" is how he was poetically described.

A very distinguished personality who visited Alwar as his guest around 1890 was Swami Vivekanand.

Yet all was not well with Mangal Singh's rule. The British Political Department imposed a Dewan on him, with whom he could not get along. The Dewan was assassinated during an evening drive in a horse driven carriage, when Mangal Singh was holidaying in far off Nainital.

The wordings of the telegram conveying the news to Mangal Singh late the same evening made it obvious that Mangal had a hand in the murder. He mixed some powder with his drink while going to bed that night, and was found dead next morning. He was 34 years old.

There was a high level trial ordered by the Political Department. The result was that sender of the telegram (a known favourite of Mangal) was sent to the gallows while the actual assassins were awarded lesser punishments. Capital punishment was abolished in Alwar State after this execution.

Alwar was connected with the Indian Railway system during Mangal Singh's rule. Close to the rail station at the eastern end of the city, my forefathers built (at Mangal Singh's behest) an orchard garden Modiyon ka Bagh (the largest private garden in the city) along with a large Bawri (an enclosed water reservoir- step well).  Modiyon ka Bagh and Bawri became yet another landmark in the city by which the family became known.

Jey Singh, Mangal Singh's son, ascended the gaddi in 1892 at the age of 10. Once again, the rule of Political Department was revived till Jey Singh became 21. In between, he was sent to Mayo College Ajmer, where his talent as a student and in sports came into bold relief. He was invested with full ruling powers in Dec 1903 by the Viceroy, Lord Curzon, who came from Calcutta to Alwar for the investiture.

Jey Singh ruled for over 29 years till May 1933, when the British forced him into exile, requiring him to stay outside the State, Delhi and Simla. He stayed at many other places in India and in Europe dying in Paris in 1937 before he was 55.

Jey Singh's rule

Jey Singh was an outstanding, though troubled, ruler. His nearly 30 years' rule was epoch-making. During his rule, he made Alwar known all over the country. His earliest act was to change its name from Ulwar to Alwar, thereby raising it from the bottom to near top in the alphabetical order of Princely States.

He became known for his scholarship, and brilliance as a writer and a speaker. According to the memoirs of Rajeshwar Dayal (a Foreign Secretary in independent India), Jey Singh was known to be one of the three most distinguished orators in English of his times. His speeches at the forums of Princes, at the Imperial Conference, and 1st Round Table Conference in London became famous.

His speeches at religious, academic and public gatherings in various parts of India, Delhi, Varanasi, Hardwar, Lahore, Multan, et al, gave him a status of a public figure of all-India standing. Edwin Montague Britain's Secretary of State for India whose visit to India led to Montague-Chelmsford Reforms of 1919, refers to Jey Singh in his "India Diary" as "the most brilliant Indian he met"

In the initial years of his rule, he built a large hospital in Alwar's capital, and several bunds for irrigation making the State famine free for some years. He laid the foundation of Panchayat Raj. He also became a great builder and constructed a number of magnificent palaces; their design reflected his architectural talent.

He also got known as the best polo player and tiger shot of his times.

But, eventually, the negative side of his personality started manifesting itself.

He was overspending on shikars (hunting) and on building palaces some of which he never occupied. Intarana was the first such palace he built, modelled on an Italian villa but never occupied due to a superstition. Siraska Palace, an impressive castle located in the heart of a tiger sanctuary (now a famous hotel) was casually occupied only when he and his guests were out on shikar. A lot of money was spent on the demolition of Lansdowne Palace, as stated earlier.

At Mt Abu, he built the beautiful Jai Vilas on the side of a private lake (now houses a public school) for a few weeks' stay in summer, whenever he went there. And last of all, he built magnificent Vijay Mandir Palace overlooking a lake, encircled by mountains (his last residence six miles away from the capital, now lying locked due to family disputes).

All these were architectural pieces but at what cost? The Treasury was emptied. And despite all his love for learning, he did not have money to build a single school, nor a hospital building in the interior of the State during his long rule.

As expected, the State became heavily indebted due to his profligacy. He had to impose unreasonably heavy taxes on peasantry to repay the loans. This led to agrarian uprisings every now and then.

He quelled one of the major uprisings in 1924 at Neembuchana. His troops resorted to heavy firing, resulting in numerous deaths. Gandhiji compared the event to Jallianawala Bagh, which took place five years earlier. Agrarian revolts by Meo (Muslim) peasants, starting around 1932, assumed communal colour.

Due to his inability to control the peasants, he sought help of the British Indian Government. The help came at a heavy cost. He had to hand over the administration to Mr F V Wylie a British officer designated by the Political Department as Prime Minister. Wylie forced Jey Singh to go into exile in 1933, which was expected to end 17 years later in 1950. But he was not destined to live that long.

He spent his exile in different places in India, and in Europe till he died in Paris in 1937. The British Government acted with utmost grace on receipt of the news of his death. His earthly remains were brought to Alwar in deference to his last wishes, and received with utmost reverence at the same royal railway siding of Alwar railway station from which Jey Singh had departed four years ago. The British Prime Minister of Alwar, Major Prior, and Mr F V Wylie (who saw him off at the same spot 4 years ago), now the Political Agent, both in white uniforms and plumed hats, with black silk bands tied around their arms, led the mourners.

As for the people of Alwar, their sorrow knew no bounds. Heart rendering elegies recalling his days of glory and wailing at his tragic end were recited. A typical one was:

Falak raham kar, shore gul naa machha too,
Heavens, be kind, restrain your thunder,

Ki Alwar pati neend-an me so rahen hain
Alwar's beloved master is fast asleep,

Mitaya tha mit ke jin dushmanon ne
Even his enemies who did all they could to reduce him to ashes

Wo mitti teri dekh kar ro rahen hain
Are wailing today at the sight of his ashes

The funeral procession, with the dead Maharaja seated in his regal attire wearing sun glasses, passed through the streets of Alwar, with crowds crying inconsolably.

The citizens, officials and non-officials with shaved heads covered by white turbans accompanied the cortège.  The young ones like me, watched the procession from balcony of a building along the route. Jey Singh's own 6-year-old daughter watched it from a vantage point with her tutor- governess briefing her and giving her a running commentary on the sad scenario. (I met her 55 years later in Lucknow - she was the ex-maharani of Datia then. She told me how well enshrined the memories of that day were, in her mind and heart). It was a great funeral the like of which was not given to any one in Alwar, before or after him. The 12th of June 1937 thus became an unforgettable day in the annals of the city and the State

11 years of British Rule

After Jey Singh went into exile, Wylie (later Sir Francis Wylie, the last British Governor of UP 1945-47) became Alwar's Prime Minister. He was in that position for two years. During this time, he which he changed the face of Alwar, in some ways beyond recognition.

He brought his own men/women as heads of most departments, and in some cases even at the second level. Most of them were retired or about to retire officers from Punjab. Thus, departments like Judiciary (Chief Justice), Revenue (Revenue Minister), and Police (IGP), had new heads. Education (Principal and Vice Principal of the College, Medical Head of Women's Hospital, Director of Female Education, and a Head Master and Head Mistress, Accountant and Deputy Accountant General, Collector of one of the two districts, Registrar of Co-operative Societies - all of them saw new faces.

Except one or two, all them were from Punjab where Wylie had served earlier for most of the time.  As a result, there was a sudden influx of Punjabis into Alwar, transforming the entire socio-cultural life of the city and bringing about changes in people's values and customs. It was in a way decline of feudalism and emergence of Alwar into the modern age, before any other state of the then Rajputana. Another influx of Punjabis and to some extent Sindhis in Alwar took place 14 years later in the wake of Partition, when displaced persons from Pakistan took refuge in this city. One of them was Lal Krishna Advani, who later became Deputy Prime Minister of India.

Wylie was followed by four other Britishers as Prime Ministers. Most of whom brought changes according to their whims and fancies but their impact, unlike that of Wylie, lasted only till the end of their respective tenures. (Wylie succeeded in most of his undertakings but one, that of dislodging Jey Singh as a hero of Alwarians. The scenes witnessed at Jey Singh's funeral were not the last evidence of it. In fact, they never got reconciled to his successor to Alwar gaddi during many years of his rule.)

The last of the persons deputed by British Government to administer Alwar as Prime Minister was an Indian ICS officer. With his departure in early 1944, the eleven years of direct British rule over Alwar, came to an end.

The last Maharaja

Jey Singh died without leaving a male heir. He left behind a 6-year old daughter but according to the custom, which the British duly respected, a daughter was not entitled to inherit her father's throne. Jey Singh did not Will a successor. Or, if he did (there were all sorts of rumours in this regard), the Will was destroyed or ignored.

So, the British started a search for Jey Singh's successor after his death. This search was under the supervision of Linlithgow, who was India's Viceroy at that time, assisted and briefed by the Political Department. Two or three persons advanced their claims for the Alwar gaddi (throne). They remained under consideration, and the suspense continued for over two months after Jey Singh's death. At last towards the evening of 22nd July 1937, Alwarians received a shooting issued from the Viceregal Lodge Simla, declaring 26 years old Tej Singh as the next Maharaja of Alwar.  (I have tried to catch the high drama of that evening)

Tej Singh was a distant cousin of Jey Singh but so were the other claimants. No clarification of the decision accompanied the order. But it was widely known that Mr. Wylie, now a Political Agent (Resident) at Jaipur, had a major hand in the selection.

Tej Singh was the son of a Jagirdar of Alwar who had incurred displeasure of Jey Singh, and was exiled from Alwar. When Wylie became Alwar's Prime Minister after Jey Singh's own exile, he terminated the exile of Tej Singh's family, and restored their Jagir to them.

And now, after Jey Singh's death, Tej Singh became the Maharaja of Alwar. The income from his Jagir was just around Rs 6,000 per year. Now, overnight, Tej Singh found himself the master of the State, with area of 3,200 sq. miles (half the size of New Jersey according to John Gunther in Inside Asia), plus sovereignty over eight lakh people (aath lakh janata ke swami), dozens of forts and palaces, and crown jewels worth millions.

The change was like one in a fairy tale.

But while the British gave Tej Singh Alwar's gaddi and all perks attached to it, they didn't part with the administrative powers that they had assumed when Jey Singh was sent into exile. The rule of the British officers deputed as Prime Ministers by the Political Department continued. Tej Singh had to be content with a Privy purse of Rs 3 lakhs per annum.

The reason was that Tej Singh, though old enough to rule, did not have any formal education. Further, he was found, on the basis of reports of his Prime Ministers, as incapable of administering the State. Tej Singh was unhappy, and continued striving to become an effective ruler. In the process, his relations with most of the Prime Ministers remained tense, described by KPS Menon (an ICS officer who was Prime Minister of the adjoining Bharatpur State) as those of "a red rag to the bull."

All efforts made by Tej Singh and his advisers to obtain ruling powers came to a naught for over six years. It was only in early 1944, when Wylie was head of the Political Department in Delhi, and principal adviser to the Viceroy on Princely States, that the British gave Tej Singh the ruling powers.

The final years (1944-48)

Tej Singh's first act after getting ruling powers was to appoint (with the informal consent of the Political Department) Sir Siremal Bapna, 62 years old, as his Prime Minister. Bapna had earlier served as the Prime Minister of Indore and Bikaner. He was a seasoned administrator. But he was in the old mould, disregardful of the changed times, which called for association of the representatives of people with the administration.

Hence, the administration's relationship with the Praja Mandal (sister organization of the Indian National Congress in Princely India) were tense from day one. The Praja Mandal started gaining strength with the approaching independence of India, particularly after release in June 1945, of Nehru, Patel et al from incarnation in Ahmednagar Fort.

The Alwar administration remained disregardful of these developments and persisted with its policy of suppressing Praja Mandal. Its leaders were jailed. Hiralal Shastri, the top Praja Mandal leader of the adjoining Jaipur State (later the first Chief Minister of Rajasthan) came to lead the Alwar agitation and lent a major push to it.

Since Bapna was ill, Tej Singh had to handle the situation all by himself. And he had the beginner's luck. He made a compromise with Shastri, who got the agitation withdrawn based on some promise from the Maharaja, which was never fulfilled. The status quo ante was restored, and agitation could never be revived.

Tej Singh gained confidence. After this initial success, however, his shortcomings, on account of which power was held back by the British rulers from him for 7 years, started coming to the fore.

When Bapna had to leave on account of his prolonged illness and age, Tej Singh had to choose another Prime Minister. Normally, the choice would have fallen on a person in harmony with the emerging powers in Delhi who would have helped the State in steering its course through the critical days ahead.

But Tej Singh was itching for a fight with the new authorities, assuming that they were not going to be the Paramount Power whom he had to keep pleased. He assumed that with the lapse of Paramountcy which the successor Government in Delhi was not inheriting from the departing British, he would, head from 15th August 1947onwards, a quasi-independent kingdom.

He had no doubt signed a document named Instrument of Accession (IA) to new India but that did not amount to his becoming subordinate to the incoming Indian Government in the way he was to the departing British Indian government. IA was only in the nature of a treaty under which he would surrender to India just three subjects, viz. Defence, Foreign Affairs and Communications, besides currency management. In all other aspects, particularly in internal administration, he was going to be a sovereign. And this was his assumption which determined his and the fate of Alwar State during its last phase.

With such ideas in mind he chose Dr N B Khare as his next Prime Minister. Khare was a political adventurer who had a long history of hostility to the Congress party, and personal hostility to Gandhi and Nehru. Khare was originally a Congressman who became the first Congress Premier of C P & Berar under Provincial Autonomy in 1937. But, he quarrelled with the Congress High Command, was removed from Premiership and left Congress. During the Second World War, when Congress leaders were in jail, he was a member of Viceroy's Executive Council. Of late, he was a proclaimed Hindu Sabhite, opposing the secular policy of the new Indian State.

Khare took the job of Prime Minister of Alwar not with the idea of serving the Maharaja and the State of Alwar but to use this position to promote his personal agenda of settling scores with India's new leadership.

On basis of its population, Alwar State had been allotted one seat in the Constituent Assembly of India (CA), which was to be occupied by a nominee of the Maharaja. CA was also to function as India's Parliament till the new Constitution came into force. Tej Singh nominated Khare to it, thus making him a member of this august and powerful body. This provided Khare with a much desired platform to attack his long-time political adversaries on a day-to-day basis, accusing them of sell out to Muslims and to Pakistan, misgoverning the country et al.

The State under the combined rule of Tej Singh and Khare did not follow the secular policy of the new Indian government and openly took to communal discrimination. This soon degenerated into a reign of terror, a little short of jungle raj in Alwar They started demolition of mosques and grave yards, assisted by State PWD and started converting Muslims under what was called a Shuddhi (purification) movement. The Muslim peasants who lost their lands, could get them back after obtaining a Shuddhi certificate from the Patwari.

The Muslims of the city who didn't agree to get converted, migrated (ultimately to Pakistan); many got murdered. Public speeches by Dr Khare and others spreading communal hatred and ridiculing the weak and ineffective Government of India became a daily occurrence.

The nationalist elements in the population lay low apprehending problems for themselves, if they raised their voice.

Dr Khare would attend meetings in Delhi convened by the Government of India in connection with problems of incoming refugees and other matters. At these meetings, he would raise protests against GOI for interfering in the State's internal affairs in breach of the terms of the Instrument of Accession.

This situation continued for many months, in Alwar State with all powerful national Government in Delhi just 100 miles away.

And then came the fateful 30th day of January (Tees January) of 1948 - the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Initially, the State administration ignored the news of the great national tragedy. Alwar's five coloured (pachranga) State flag continued to fly at the top of the mast on 31st January; India's national flag had never been hoisted in Alwar till then.

But a day later there was some nervousness on account of public protests. The State flag was lowered to half-mast. The Maharaja came to address a condolence meeting in Purjan Vihar (city garden). Normally a fearless (though not a cultured) speaker, he got nervous that day and ended the speech abruptly. The meeting ended in chaos.

And this turned out to be Tej Singh's last day in his capital as the Maharaja of Alwar.

Next day, he was summoned to Delhi, and he went. And at 9 pm, the news bulletin of All-India Radio opened with the news that the Maharaja of Alwar was suspected of having a hand in Gandhi's murder. Hence, the Maharaja had been asked not to leave Delhi till the conclusion of enquiry in the matter. Further, the administration of the State was being taken over by an Administrator, appointed by GOI, who would simultaneously conduct the enquiry.

(Thus, Tej Singh became the fourth consecutive Maharaja of Alwar whose administration was taken over by the Government of India. In this case, it was the national, and not British, government. Incidentally, the national government did not have the Paramountcy rights which the British had, but this legal hurdle was overcome by obtaining consent of a group of leading Princes for taking this action.)

A young ICS Officer, K.B. Lal (years later, India's Defence Secretary and India's Ambassador to EU) took over as Administrator of Alwar next morning and simultaneously started the enquiry. It was announced that Dr Khare had been dismissed as Prime Minister of Alwar. His membership of the Constituent Assembly was cancelled by the Maharaja.

Enquiry in Alwar went on for about three weeks. The Administrator met a cross section of people, including some leading citizens who underwent religious conversion. Meanwhile the national flag was for the first time hoisted on the State Secretariat on some date - I am not sure - in February 1948. While hoisting it, the Administrator said that it should have been there six months ago.

Shortly after that, Sardar Patel, the all-powerful Deputy Prime Minister of India, paid a day's visit to Alwar. At a largely attended public meeting he addressed, he was more humorous than angry.  "What had happened to you dear folks. I am told that some of you were taking out swords to fight with us. Swords are of no use these days; they are not as good as even a broom stick which wipes off your floor. Forget all that has happened and be good citizens of India."

The on-going enquiry concluded that Tej Singh had no hand in Gandhiji's murder. However, he was not a person with whom the fate of nearly a million persons could be allowed to remain (a view similar to that of the erstwhile British rulers).

Before, however, his innocence in Gandhi's murder was made public, Tej Singh was asked whether he would agree to merger of his State into a larger entity. He had already acceded to India by signing the IA. Merger meant erasing the entity of the Alwar State, which he had never contemplated. It was in a way anti-thesis of accession.

Some small States had no doubt merged with bigger entities by then but they were either too small or their circumstances were different. Alwar was considered a "viable state" which was entitled to independently send one representative to India's Parliament and the concept, till then, of merger wasn't applicable to it.

But with the Damocles sword of a serious enquiry hanging over his head, he was in no position to advance these arguments. And on 7th March 1948, he quietly signed merger of Alwar State with Matsya Union, a hurriedly improvised union of four Princely States: Alwar, Bharatpur, Dholpur, and Karauli.

Thus came to an end the existence of the State founded 173 years ago.

Epilogue

Tej Singh lived for 61 years after losing his kingdom. He died in 2009, aged 98, more than double the age most of his predecessors attained. After dramatic change came in his life, he did not take long to reconcile with it, and adapted himself to his new life. He soon turned his back to Alwar, locked the fabulous Vijay Mandir Palace and lived and died in a modest bungalow in Lutyen's Delhi.

After privy purses and titles such as Maharaja were abolished by Indira Gandhi in the 1970s, he was unconcerned. "Why bother about fringes when the essence is gone," he used to say.

After his death, Tej Singh's body was unceremoniously consigned to flames in a public crematorium close to his residence in Delhi. The people of Alwar whose grief knew no bounds when they received news of Jey Singh's death in Paris, 72 years earlier, hardly came to know when the last symbol of the small kingdom, to which they once belonged, passed into history.


© R C Mody 2017