Story of a Palace: Then & Now

A slice of Indian royalty was on display with all its grandeur and beauty when a coffee-table book, Rambagh Palace, Jaipur, was released at The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, last week by erstwhile Maharaja Jai Singh. Author Dharmendar Kanwar explores the history of the palace till 1957 when it was a royal residence in the first half of the book, and its transformation into a luxury hotel in the latter part.

However, what stood out in this elaborate soiree was the kind of life erstwhile Maharani Gayatri Devi had led there after her marriage in 1940. Most of the photographs and records used for the book are from her personal collection. "Her recollection of parties, celebrations and visits of international guests such as Jacqueline Kennedy and Prince Philip gives some interesting insight into the life in Ramgarh," says Kanwar.

Interestingly, Ramgarh was built in 1835 as a small lodge for the then maharani's favourite handmaiden. It was later redesigned in the Rajput architectural tradition by English architect Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob to include additional spaces, courtyards and gardens.

The well-attended event provided glimpses of Gayatri Devi's life through an array of rare photos, while a brief fashion show curated by Sabyasachi summed up her impact on fashion. The designer had five models clad in as many French chiffons saris with their styling inspired by hers.

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