Tuesday, November 10, 2015

My forthcoming coffee-table book 'The Ancient Gohil Rajput Dynasty of Rajpipla'

My forthcoming coffee-table book 
'The Ancient Gohil Rajput Dynasty of Rajpipla' 
will commemorate a landmark year for my family.

Homage to Maharana Chhatrasinhji, 
the 35th Gohil Rajput ruler of Rajpipla
on the centenary of his demise (26th September 2015)

Celebration of the 125th birth anniversary (30th January 2015)
and centenary of coronation (10th December 2015) 
of Maharaja Vijaysinhji,
 the 36th and last Gohil Rajput ruler of Rajpipla

This exclusive coffee-table edition, 'The Ancient Gohil Rajput Dynasty of Rajpipla', profusely illustrated with rare photographs from the Rajpipla royal family archives, charts the 1400-year history of the Gohil Rajput clan from 542 A.D. till merger with the Indian Union in 1948, tracing their migration from Saurashtra to Mewar and Marwar, then back to Saurashtra, before carving out a new kingdom in Gohilwar in the south of the Kathiawar peninsula, and finally establishing their rule over Rajpipla around 1340 A.D.

The book then brings forth the trials, tribulations and triumphs of the valiant Gohil dynasty during its 600-year sway over the principality of Rajpipla with its capital in Junaraj (Old Rajpipla) deep in the western Satpuras, and flanked by the rivers Narmada and Tapti, warding off attacks by the sultans of Ahmedabad, braving the invasion of Emperor Akbar’s army, reconquering their territories after the weakening of the Mughal empire and shifting their capital to Nandod or New Rajpipla, only to be confronted by the forays of the Gaekwars before reaching a settlement through the mediation of the British East India Company, and leading to rebellion against the British during the Mutiny of 1857.

The final glorious 90-year period of the dynasty from 1858 witnessed far-reaching reforms and development, which led to the emergence of modern Rajpipla. It was also a glamorous era for princely India before the winds of democracy wafted in.

The specifications of the book are as follows:         
Size:  8.25 inches x 11.75 inches
Paper: 130 gsm imported art paper
Cover: Hard cover with jacket 170 gsm imported art paper laminated
Printing: Colour
Binding: Perfect with section stitching

A limited number of two-page advertorials are being offered in this exquisitely designed book at Rs. 75,000/- (Rupees seventy-five thousand), with write-ups of up to 750 words (without photographs) on the left-hand page and advertisements on the facing right-hand page. This offers a wonderful opportunity to top brands for associating with historic events

To place advertorials in the book, or for purchase of overseas rights and other details, please send email to singh_iv@hotmail.com.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A time to celebrate. Excerpt from Indra Vikram Singh’s book ‘A Maharaja’s Turf’

Festivities after the victory of Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla’s horse Windsor Lad in the Epsom Derby 1934

Many ambitions were fulfilled. It was a night of celebrations. Maharaja Vijaysinhji already had a dinner booking for twelve guests at London’s Savoy that evening. Now there was a Derby triumph to celebrate. The delighted Maharaja simply changed the booking to a hundred.

So it was a big supper party at the Savoy that night. Maharaja Vijaysinhji was always immaculate in the way he entertained his guests, and as The Evening News recounted, “He had gone to no small trouble to find something new for last night. Each woman guest as she arrived was offered an orchid which reproduced the purple in her host’s successful racing colours.”

Daily Mail focussed on another scene: “A young elephant wearing a garland in the purple and cream colours of Windsor Lad’s owner, the Maharaja of Rajpipla, played a prominent part in last night’s Derby Night festivities in London. Shortly after midnight the elephant and her trainer made their appearance on the rising floor of the Savoy restaurant, where the Maharaja was entertaining guests to celebrate his horse’s victory. Proceeding in solemn measure round the floor, the elephant made obeisance opposite the table where the Indian Prince and his guests were sitting, and then marched off, amid cheers.”

Also privy to the celebrations was The Leader. In an article entitled “What Prince ‘Pip’ Said After Derby Victory”, the publication elaborated, “Last Wednesday night I had the honour of attending H.H. The Maharajah of Rajpipla’s Derby dinner. The Savoy can never have accommodated more people, and I have seldom seen more celebrities gathered under one roof. Opposite me was His Highness, or ‘Pip’ as he is known to his best friends, and on either side of him were his trainer, Marcus Marsh, and his jockey, Charlie Smirke. A little further away was Steve (Donoghue) in just as good form as if he had won the Derby himself, George Duller and his wife, Mrs. Smirke, Mrs. Marsh (Marcus’s proud mother), and a host of others. It was a memorable evening, and from time to time His Highness remarked: ‘Is it really true or shall I wake up to find I’ve been dreaming?’ Never has the Derby been won by an owner who more appreciated the honour of winning the greatest race in the world. As he said to me before he left Epsom, ‘I have realised my life’s ambition’.”

Nottingham Guardian also had its say in its issue dated 7th June 1934

Derby prophesy of 1868 fulfilled

Crowd cheer “Good old Pip” after Windsor Lad’s win

Bookmakers hard hit

The Maharajah of Rajpipla, who gave a party at a London hotel last night, said to a reporter: “I am proud to have won the Derby with Windsor Lad, but I am prouder still that I should have won this great race before such a sporting public. Windsor Lad is a great horse and I hope he will add still further to the stable’s triumph this summer, for he will run in the Eclipse Stakes and the St. Leger, all being well. Don’t forget that he had a great little jockey riding him in Charlie Smirke,” Smirke and his wife were guests at the Maharajah’s table at the party.

A film of the race was already at hand at the Savoy, as The Leader recounted: “You all know the story of the race, of how Colombo was baulked, of how he failed to come down the hill, and, finally, most important of all - of how he failed to stay. At the Savoy I watched the film with Charlie Smirke, and how the film confirmed what Charlie had told me, that Colombo actually headed him, and led the field for a few strides about a furlong-and-a-half from home. His stamina then gave out, and Windsor Lad, a dead stayer, ran him out of it, and withstood the challenge of Easton.” 

“Directly he had passed the post we made a mad rush from the stand to the unsaddling enclosure,” The Leader went on, recalling the post-race scene, “I find myself jammed on the staircase against Marcus Marsh, and we shout, ‘Make way for the trainer,’ and somehow we find ourselves by the unsaddling ring. In a minute or two a burst of cheering announces the arrival of the winner, being led by his owner bare-headed, with a look of joy on his face I have seldom seen on any man. ‘Smirkey’ too is, of course, all smiles, and there is the usual amount of congratulatory pats on the back, until Brig.-Gen. Tomkinson comes along and takes the Maharajah away to be presented to the King. ‘His Majesty was charming,’ the Maharajah told me, ‘and insisted on having a glass of champagne together. He told me how pleased he was my horse had been trained by Marsh, the son of his own old trainer, who had trained Derby winners for his father’.”

About the victorious jockey Charlie Smirke, The Leader had nothing but admiration: “What a wonderful day in the life of this young man, even more wonderful when one realises that for five long years Charlie was prevented from earning his living. No man ever paid more dearly for the follies of his youth, and it was not until last autumn that he was allowed back on the Turf he loves so well. It speaks volumes for his pluck, ability, and general self-confidence that he should win the Derby, in his first year back in the saddle. My remarks that not even Steve Donoghue himself had a finer knowledge of the Epsom gradients than Smirke appear to be bang on the mark, for never have I seen a better ridden Derby winner than Windsor Lad.”

Colombo’s failure was as much a talking point and The Leader appeared to assess the situation perfectly, “After the race a number of people, talking through their pockets, blamed Johnstone, but save for the fact that he went a little wide rounding Tattenham Corner I thought he rode a perfect race. Colombo did not have the luck of the race, but the primary cause of his failure was that he failed to stay as well as either Windsor Lad or Easton. Hard-luck stories can always be anticipated after a hard-fought contest over this most tricky and trying mile and a half, and certainly, had Colombo met with the same good fortune in running as the winner, he would have given the ‘Lad’ a hard race.”

Commending the winning horse’s performance, The Leader said, “Windsor Lad handsomely justified the strong recommendations given him as the soundest each-way bet in the race. No colt could have run in gamer fashion to stall off the desperate efforts of Easton and the favourite, Colombo, and it was just that extra bit of sticking power that stood him in good stead when the others were waning. To see a horse punch it out in that fashion and refuse to be beaten is a never failing test of condition, and, whilst Smirke can well be congratulated upon riding an admirable race, it should not be overlooked that the colt’s trainer, Marcus Marsh, was responsible for sending the winner to the post fit to run for his life.”

It had been a memorable day, and night, for the jubilant Windsor team.

It was estimated that more than 10,000 people of a score of nationalities celebrated Derby night in the West End hotels of London.

The King gave his usual Derby Day dinner at Buckingham Palace to members of the Jockey Club. About fifty guests, all men, attended. The Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, the Duke of Gloucester, Prince George, and the Earl of Harewood were among the members of the royal family present. Lord Lonsdale, the steward of the Derby, was present and felt no ill-effects from the mishap which occurred when he was on his way to the race.

The Queen - who in former years had dined at a friend’s house on Derby night - drove to the Queen’s Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue to see “Old Folks at Home” accompanied by her brother, the Earl of Athlone and Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone.

(Author Indra Vikram Singh - grandson of Maharaja Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla - can be contacted on email teddy.rajpipla@gmail.com and singh_iv@hotmail.com. His other blog is singhiv.wordpress.com).

A Maharaja’s Turf  
Published by Sporting Links
ISBN 978-81-901668-3-6

Distributed in India by :  
Variety Book Depot, 
AVG Bhawan, M-3, Middle Circle, Connaught Circus,
New Delhi - 110 001.  Tel. +91 11 23417175, 23412567.