In the early 19th century, the Maharaja of Alwar, a princely state south of Delhi, was a tall and remarkably handsome man. He was also a rather scandalous character surrounded by a number of strange rumours.
The British had little to do with him until he committed what they saw as an unforgivable crime. The Maharaja had a string of racehorses. One day, one of his horses lost an important race. He was so upset and enraged that he doused the beast in petrol and set it on fire. This was regarded as unpardonably heinous and barbaric by the British occupiers and so he was removed from his throne, and was the last of his family to be maharaja.
He had an ancestor who was rather more celebrated, and known as a great romantic. He was deeply in love with his wife, the Maharani of Alwar, and she adored him too, to the extent that when he died before his time, she committed sati, an old Hindu custom whereby a widow kills herself.
Wearing her finest jewels, she lay on the funeral pyre which was then lit, as custom would have it, by her eldest son.
On the scene of this terrible sacrifice there stands today a magnificent monument built of marble and pink granite, alongside a large, square pool of turquoise water in which is reflected the palace where she once reigned.