An international beauty whose passion for girls? education was just as impressive as her royal lineage, Gayatri Devi was the most prolific woman in Jaipur during her lifetime. Born Princess Gayatri Devi of Cooch Behar, she enjoyed a privileged childhood of parties, servants, horses and travel. At 21, she became the third wife of the dashing Maharaja of Jaipur. As the maharaja?s youngest and most visible wife, Gayatri Devi seemed to live a storybook existence, it's hard to imagine the staggering wealth shared by the Indian princes before partition. We are talking palaces so grand in scale they required thousands of servants, gilded thrones, the finest polo ponies, private rail cars, private planes and of course elephants!
At that time power and wealth was always a measured by how many elephants a family owned, the Maharaja?s elephant count was way over one hundred. The Maharaja and Maharani Gayatri Devi were considered part of the original 50?s and 60?jet-set, often spending part of the year abroad following the polo season. When they were back in India, they entertained everyone form Jackie O to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip in the most lavish style. We are talking tiger hunts by day and grand balls by night.
Once named by Vogue as one of the ten most beautiful people in the world, Gayatri Devi loved teaming ultra-bright turquoise or pink saris with an armful of handcrafted ivory bangles. Devi?s personal collection of rubies, emeralds and diamonds made the jewelry boxes of Elizabeth Taylor and the Duchess of Windsor look downright paltry.
As time marched forward and the politics of India changed the Princes lost most their power and were forced to live a more modest lifestyle. Before you start feeling sad for them, this only meant they were down to one or two palaces and about 100 in staff. Our hero Gayatri Devi was not one to be left mourning the past; she moved in step with modern times and devoted herself to improving the life of the people in Jaipur. She was elected to the Indian parliament in the 60?s and 70?s, and continued to work tirelessly for education reform up until the time she died in 2009 at the age of 90.
You can read the life story of this remarkably privileged woman in her autobiography, A Princess Remembers. Also when in Jaipur wander the grounds and stop for a cocktail at Gayatri Devi?s former home the Rambagh Palace now a part of the Taj Palace hotels. You can also visit Lily Pond, her residence in the later years.
Bejewel yourself and live like a Maharani! Shop our curated collection here!
March 15, 2013
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