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A Noble Gift – Jagatjit Palace (Sainik School), Kapurthala

Ipsita Ganguli

Standing there, at the Sainik School, which used to be Jagatjit Palace, the Palace of the last Maharaja of Kapurthala, it was an humbling and wondrous experience.

Not only because I was looking at an absolutely spellbinding heritage structure, but because I had the rare opportunity to be in a Palace which was gifted by the members of the Royal family to the Government of Independent India for the making of Sainik School!

What a noble act!

Truly Truly Royal!

The Sainik Schools were started in India with the idea of preparing youngsters who would join the Indian Army. So here was the family of the Maharajah who simply gave up his Palace, acres and acres of property, a gorgeous structure, as well as beautiful artefacts, towards Nation Building for India Today!

That is largesse!

That is Nobility!

Photo Credits: Sujan
Photo Credits: Wikiwand

This was a powerful dynasty, tracing its origins to the Rajput Bhattis of Jaisalmer, who in turn traces their origin to Lord Krishna. They later became part of the Ahluwalia Misl under the Sikh religion and rose to prominence under Jassa Singh Ahluwalia who is regarded as the founder of Kapurthala state.

Photo Credits: Maharaja Jagatjit Singh: Pinterest
Photo Credits: Maharaja Jagatjit Singh: Wikipedia

The last king of this famous dynasty was Maharajah Jagatjit Singh.

Under him Kapurthala came to be known as ‘Paris of Punjab' largely due to the beautiful buildings and gardens commissioned by him. The palace bearing his name was inspired by Versailles and Fontainebleau.

He was also highly decorated even within army ranks and his last held Army title was Major General.

Photo Credits: Shatrujit Singh: Academic Dictionaries and Encyclopaedias
Photo Credits: Suryajit Singh: Hello

Curious to know about how the members of this powerful and noble lineage, I was given to understand that the Maharajah Jagatjit Singh had four sons. The current custodian of this family is Shri Sukhjit Singh who retired as a Brigadier of the Indian Army and is based in Kapurthala. His son Shri Shatrujit Singh is known as the “guru of luxury,” is the Advisor to the Chairman of multinational group Moët Hennessy-Louis Vuitton (LVMH). A banker for almost 10 years after completing his education from Doon School and Delhi University, Singh joined LVMH as the Chief Representative in Asia.

I am always interested to know about how the scions of such old lineages adapt to contemporary India. Not just the one chosen custodians, but all the children and legatees. Theirs must be a curious journey. To be born into a certain way of life, certain values, certain patterns of aesthetics and demeanor and to adapt to a new way of life. How they adapt, how nobly (or ignobly) they carry themselves is a telling story in itself.

The rules have changed.

They no longer have their previous jobs of being Kings or Lords or Administrators.

Do they cling on to past glory and fight their siblings for a share of imagined power...or do they move on and integrate into building a new world?

So many of the present generation have grown up with grandparents and parents who were real time Rajas and Rajkumars, They were Royalty with Royal responsibilities and their Titles were Real, not just a title to flaunt long after they have acceded to the Modern Union of India.

Photo Credits: Sainik School: DNA India
Photo Credits: Sainik School: SM219

As I bid good-bye to Kapurthala and Punjab, the hotelier in me can't help but wonder, what if the Maharajah had converted his beautiful palace into a Royal Heritage Hotel, so common in other parts of India. Kapurthala is the Heart of the Heartland. The central point from where so many Holy shrines can be made into Religious and Heritage Tourism Circuit. Additionally there is so much history here.

Kapurthala presents a taste of Heartland Punjab.

The Indian in me salutes him and this dynasty for their noble gesture of gifting their palace towards Nation Building of New India!

No act could be more befittingly Royal, post accession of this erstwhile Princely state with 13 gun salute to the Union of India!

It is perhaps time that the contemporary Indian government takes this noble gesture ahead, repair and maintain the erstwhile Palace, shift the Sainik School to a new premise and throw open the gates of this Palace to the people and develop tourism around this precious Heritage hub for Heartland Punjab!

Photo credits: Banner Left - RailYatri Blog; Banner Center - RailYatri Blog; Banner Right – Ampersand travels