Sundeep Bhutoria

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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Castle Kanota's museum of memorabilia

For the past two weeks Jaipur has been at its busiest with some very high voltage events and functions – Jaipur Theatre Festival, Jaipur Literature Festival, Polo season, India Stone Mart 2013 and other events. Amid controversies like the Ashish Nandy case, that turned the national media glare on Pink City, there was a very unique and interesting event that did not get the kind of national media attention it deserved.
With K G Pramod at the Kanota Library
I am alluding to the inauguration of General Amar Singh Kanota Library & Museum on January 29th 2013 in the presence of Maharaj Gaj Singh of Jodhpur and Princess Dia Kumari at the Kanota Garh aka Castle Kanota. This hotel, located on 8-acres of land about 15 kms away from Jaipur on the Jaipur-Agra Highway, is one of the finest heritage hotels of Rajasthan.
Built in 1872, the 20-roomed hotel houses a built-in museum and library which displays gold work and unique collection of rare books and the walls are covered with frescoes and paintings.
For the first time I saw a collection of 44 years of diary by the dashing solider, booklover, diarist and respected senior statesman of the Jaipur State, Thakur (General) Amar Singh of Kanota, who was an extraordinary man. A graduate of the first batch of the Imperial Cadet Corps instituted by Lord Curzon in 1901, he was also among the first Indians to become a King’s Commissioned Officer in 1917; in other words, eligible to command British officers and soldiers.
After retirement from the British Indian Army, he was instrumental in establishing the Jaipur Lancers, that was later merged with other state cavalry units to become the 61st Cavalry of the Indian Army. He also had the spirit of a scholar and thinker. He wrote diaries for forty four years (1898 to 1942), leaving behind 89 volumes of what is perhaps the longest continuously-written diary in the world. The story goes that he wrote these diaries with an unfailing regularity on a daily basis for nearly four-and-half decades, except for one day, when he was ill.
These priceless collections contain astonishing details of its times and is a resource base of its era providing fascinating insights into both British and Rajput life. His legacy also includes several thousand books, journals, manuscripts and magazines in both Hindi and English which is possibly the finest period pothi khana or library in Rajasthan.
Writer Pramod Kumar K J took more than two years to arrange these 44 years of handwritten diaries into a library. Apart from the diaries, the museum showcases tables, pens, swords, suitcases etc., that have preserved and displayed nicely. Many of the erstwhile Thakurs and Royal families, after Independence, had sold off their royal properties or belongings.
The family of Thakur Amar Singh of Kanota has preserved all his memorabilia, from suitcases down to a pen nib, that is now a part of a unique museum opened to the public. This only-of-its-kind museum, I I think, would soon become a much-appreciated tourist spot. So don't miss it when you there in pink city next.
ess bee

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