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VEHICLE OF ROYAL PASSIONS

Once resplendent on their “ornate palanquins, pedigreed horses, bedecked camels and magnificently decorated elephants”, the princes of India took to the motorcar with a passion since the beginning of the 20th century. THE AUTOMOBILES OF THE MAHARAJAS (Eminence, Rs 3,000) is a fascinating chronicle of that passion. The accompanying picture — showing Maharani Chandrawati Devi Holkar of Indore having an al fresco picnic with her staff in front of her 1915 Wolseley — tells the tale of the Maharani’s affair with the motorcar. Another interesting use of the De Dions, Bugattis, Cadillacs, Hispano Suizas and Rolls Royces was during the shikars, when tigers and bucks (albeit dead) would provide the royals company on their way back. The restored cars in their modern lonely confines in the final chapter are silent witnesses of the days when the Jamsahib of Nawanagar’s breakdown car was no less than a Rolls.

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