India is a country of Royals. Being under the British Raj didn’t end the Royal Era and neither did India’s independence from them. Though India stopped being a collection of princely states, we do still have Kings, Queens, Princes and Princesses who are the heirs of the bygone rulers of our country. One such woman, who is still revered and remembered with love, is Gayatri Devi. For those who are unaware, Gayatri Devi, who was born as Princess Gayatri Devi of Cooch Behar, was the third Maharani consort of Jaipur. She held this position from 1940 to 1949 and came to be so titled because of her marriage to Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II.
However, this title isn’t the only thing which made her immemorial. Her beauty, her many acts and her very nature made her a name and face to reckon with. Here’s a look at some of the interesting facts from her life and times. Let’s get to know more about her.
Her beauty and grace were much talked about and appreciated. And this wasn’t just limited to India either. The proof of this? She was listed by none other than Vogue, as one of the most beautiful women in the world.
The roots lay deep
Labelled as a rebellious, opinionated and strong woman, her boldness and free spirit didn’t come without reason. Women in her family had that free spirit nature. Because her grandmother, Chimnabai too refused to live a restricted life and entered the world of men; whereas her mother, Indira, refused to accept an arranged marriage and married for love.
In an era which was dominated by Indira Gandhi, Gayatri Devi remained actively involved in politics. She joined the Swatantra Party which was formed as an opposition to the Congress government when Rajasthan became a state. She was a force to reckon with even here, because she became the first ever lady to have won the Lok Sabha election seat by winning 1,92,909 votes out of 2,46,516 ; which was and even today, a milestone in Indian history. Her winning percentage of votes in the 1962 elections even earned her a spot in The Guinness Book of Records. US President John F. Kennedy had an opinion about this achievement too and said these words about her, “the woman with most staggering majority that anyone has ever earned in an election.”
She was declared Rajmata of Jaipur after her husband Man Singh passed away and her stepson was declared Maharaja. Under the Congress rule when Rajasthan was de-recognized as a princely state, both Gayatri Devi and her grandson were arrested and imprisoned in Tihar Jail. This was done despite the fact that there had never been any serious charges laid against them.
She loved attending sports events. In fact she herself was a fine horsewoman. Until the very end, she remained an avid follower of polo and enjoyed breeding racehorses.
Messiah of the common folk
She actively fought for the rights and upliftment of the poor and downtrodden. After her jail time, she even fought for murderers, prostitutes and pickpockets and other inmates who were living in filthy conditions in the prison. In her pursuit for women empowerment, she successfully curbed the Purdah system practiced by women in Rajasthan.
An ageless beauty and a woman with a golden heart, Gayatri Devi will always be remembered for being more than just a Maharani.
Do you have a favorite royal from our ancient Indian history? Is there anything you know more about this royal? Let us know in the comments!