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India

THE DIWAN AND THE DANCER

  In Queen Ahilya’s inner circle there was a diwan, a minister of whom she was particularly fond. His name was Boliya Sarkar Chatri. She found him so remarkable that she offered him one of her relatives, a princess from Indore, in matrimony: but the diwan was smitten with a beautiful and loving dancer. He…


THE BEGUM

During one of my trips to India, I met a rather unique maharani. Her husband owned India’s most beautiful library, which was filled with ancient manuscripts about medicine and botany. She was short and round. She wore real Christmas decorations wrapped around her neck as a sort of necklace. And yet on each of her…


THE LAST GREAT MOGHOL

The Court of the Great Moghol had indeed fallen, by the middle of the 19th century. No more money; no more power; no more territories. Shah Bahadur, last successor in a famous lineage, was a charming elderly man. A poet and musician, he was splendidly bejewelled despite a lack of funds, and he held Court…

THE MAHARAJAH OF GWALIOR AND THE BANDITS

Many decades ago, we had been the guests of the sumptuous Maharajah of Gwalior, government minister and huge personality. He had told us of his dacoits. They were the local bandits that occupied the savannah. They were organized in gangs, the most famous of the time lead by a woman, Phoolan Devi, which had been…

MUMBAI, TAJ MAHAL PALACE HOTEL

The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai is probably one of the most famous palaces of India. It dates back to the 20th century and remains by far one of my favourite hotels of the country, and one of my favourite hotel worldwide, due to its extraordinary location by the ocean, extravagant and sumptuous architecture,…

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AKBAR’S ELEFANT

In the 16th century, a tribe chief from Central Asia, Babur, invaded India and founded a vast empire over the ruins of a Muslim Sultanate. A descendant of Genghis Khan, he took the name Great Mughol. His grandson Akbar, after a difficult start and cruel wars, became the greatest sovereign of the dynasty, and one…

THE BOURBONS OF BHOPAL

Many years ago, I stumbled upon the trail of a branch of the Bourbon dynasty, which would have settled down in Bhopal, India. It was hard to find traces, proofs, and yet the story appealed to me. I conducted long researches. If Bourbon they were, they did not belong to the official genealogical tree of…

VARANASI, THE HAUNTED TEMPLE

  Dagmar, our friends’ delightful and brilliant daughter, who had stayed at Varanasi, told me about this temple on the Ghats that is greatly haunted and feared by everyone in its vicinity. And suddenly I remembered an Indian man I met in Paris many years ago, who told me about the most harmful of sorcerers…

THE LAST KING OF OUDH

In the 17th century, the English devised a rich and powerful kingdom, that of Oudh, around the lavish and marvellous capital of Lucknow, to counterbalance power relations, however weakened they had become, in the Great Moghol in Delhi. In the middle of the 19th century, the sovereign of Oudh was Wajid Ali Shah. He was…

THE MAHARAJAHS OF INDORE

Prince Richard Holkar is the only male heir to Indore’s powerful dynasty of maharajahs. It is by no means an ancient dynasty, but revealed itself to be particularly remarkable and marked by rather original figures. Richard’s great-great-grandfather, the Maharajah of the time, was a local boxing champion.                …