When the Maharani went on the campaign trail


Two beautiful voices—D.K. Pattammal and Gangubai Hanagal—fell silent last week.

This week, two beautiful faces radiate  no more: Leela Naidu and Maharani Gayatri Devi.

The rajmata of Jaipur, whom Sarojini Naidu called the “little queen of a fairy tale land”, once one of the ten most beautiful women in Vogue‘s estimation, passed away in London today at age 90.


In his memoirs Alive and Clicking, T.S. Satyan describes how he got to snap his magnificent picture of the Maharani campaigning during the 1962 parlimentary elections.

“In her dawn to dusk election campaign, the Maharani drove a car wherever there was a road and switched over to jeep on country terrain. In many villages, she was served tea in porcelain cups.

“‘It is not becoming on my part to offer tea in the mud pots that we normally use. So I bought these things from the money I had saved,’ a villager near Tonk, on the outskirts of Jaipur told me.”

Elsewhere, Satyan describes the week-long experience:

“She used to visit the villagers and understand their problems. In doing so sometimes she became just one of them.”


“Sadly one cannot go anywhere near politicians [like that] now.

The Maharani was 41 years of age during the election campaign. Time magazine described “her lithe figure wrapped in a peppermint chiffon saree“:

“The Congress’s party’s economic policy is like growing a babul tree and expecting to get mangoes. They come to you when they need your vote; when they are returned to power, they become, little monarchs who levy taxes on you as they please, make you quarrel with each other, and swell their bank accounts.”

Also read: Whistle-stopping Maharani

Also visit: Her Highness, Maharani of Jaipur

On Facebook: Maharani Gayatri Devi Girls’ School