True blue Jodhpur royal

Ayodhya Prasad Gaur, a communications personnel with the oil major Cairns India Limited, is enjoying a different facet of life – that of a storyteller. In his first outing as a storyteller, he traces the life of Maharani Krishna Kumari of Jodhpur royal family, who has witnessed three eras that of rajshahi, Partition and democracy. While there are many books on Rajasthan’s most famous royal Maharani Gayatri Devi of Jaipur, this is a first book on this elusive Maharani Krishna Kumari, who from the princely state of Dhrangdhra became the Queen of Marwar by marrying a king, who went onto marry thrice. And in a palace, which was witnessing acts of vengeance and betrayals, she found herself caught in an intense political war, replete with back stabbers. Gaur tells Rajasthan Post that life of a queen behind the palace walls is unpredictable but exciting and he has tried to unfold it in the most nuanced way

How did you get inspired to write The Royal Blue?

Earlier history and biographies never caught my attention. In fact I used to perform very poorly in this subject and loved to hate them. But my own story took a 180 degree turn in the last few years during my extensive travels in Western Rajasthan. I met people from different socio-economic segments. And the one thing I discovered was a certain uniqueness of Marwari villagers. Questions like what is that one element that still preserves a unique flavor of these places and among its people and that is omnipresent even after so many decades of independence, ran through my mind. Questions were many but the conclusion was the special connection of ex-royals with the people of Marwar. It is quite unusual in modern India to see the locals respecting members of royal families in a manner that we see in Marwar (Jodhpur). I found that Krishna Kumari is the among those few ex-royals who have witnessed three eras (Rajshahi-Partition-Democracy) and if I explore her story, I would be narrating the story of Marwar during the most turbulent phase of history (1931-72).

Is it one of the first books on Jodhpur royalty or Maharani Krishna Kumari?

Yes, it is the first one on Maharani Krishna Kumari. There are few in the market about her son Maharaja Gaj Singh.

What does the book talk about or what is its USP since there are many books on Jaipur maharanis and royalty?

There are many books about royal families of Jaipur but there are very few about Marwar royalty (Jodhpur). Few years ago, Zubeidaa movie (indirectly) touched the life of the Maharaja of Jodhpur but that was a story told without mentioning Jodhpur and was not based (entirely) on facts. There is not a single book that tells you the story of Krishna Kumari – the last Maharani of Raj Era. Research based facts and novel style of narration is the USP of this book.

How did you do the research work for the book? With whom did you speak and who all gave you the little insights for the book?

The royal family of Jodhpur and its various Thikanedars helped me a lot. I approached Gaj Singh- the present head of family at the Umaid Bhawan Palace and he happily agreed to give me access to their archives (Man Singh Pustak Prakash at the Mehrangarh Fort). The director and his staff provided me unconditional access to their gazetteers, compilations of royal letters and also to the image library. I visited the places which were to be mentioned in this biographic novel and held a series of interviews. While gathering facts about Maharaja Hanwant Singh (husband of Maharani Krishna), record of Lord Mountbatten’s diary and archival record of the then Department of States helped me a lot. The archival of Bikaner is so rich and that was also a source for vital inputs.

In terms of writing, which part of the book do you cherish most?

It is indeed very difficult to choose any particular section because entire writing was a joyful journey. But to name one, I would love to mention the section where Maharani Krishna was subjected to unfaithful attitude of her husband. The manner in which she handles those incidents is very unique. It is not very loud but has a strong message in itself. Life behind the walls of a palace is as unpredictable for a queen as it is for any housewife. That section has many dramatic elements in it and hence presented a challenge to me as a writer. I hope I have done justice to it.

Since you have written the book in Hindi, would you want to get it translated since there is always an interest in royalty?

The English version may hit the market anytime after August. The treatment and flow of story would be re-crafted. It would not be a simple translation but a fresh project keeping in mind readers’ taste in mind.

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