One lady just put my sleepy little town onto the world map. With approximately 5-6 kilometers of tarred road in toto acros the city, Kapurthala is a small town carefully avoided by most visitors to Punjab. Jalandhar, with its famous eateries and expert Salwar-Kurta Tailors (it is also home to Harbhajan Singh- Turbanator to our Aussie readers) is only 15 km away, yet we get a trickle of the tourist population that it does.
It was surprising then when I awoke yesterday morning to my phone buzzing with text messages from four different parts of the world with news about Kapurthala. Penelope Cruz, Hollywood Actress, had bought the rights to India Passion and had decided to make a movie: The Princess of Kapurthala.
The story of Anita Delgado a.k.a The Princess of Kapurthala ( later called Maharani Prem Kaur), a Spanish Flamenco Dancer from Andalusia who married Maharaja Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala when she was 18, is a fascinating, even risque one, that deserves to be told. You can read more about it here.
Probably the common Spanish origins of the Maharani and Cruz that brought them together.
The Maharaja seemed to have a passion for Europe. Curiously, the language of the State of Kapurthala was French during the Maharaja’s time. His passion for France extended beyond the language though- he had a French architect recreat the Palace of Versailles in Kapurthala in the centre of a sprawling 200 acre estate.
Today, and this is where my love for Kapurthala and Education and the curious news story about a Hollywood film to be shot here come together, the Maharaja’s Palace and the 200 acre grounds house a Central School- The Sainik School, Kapurthala.
The school is steeped in the Indian Public School tradition of small class-sizes, limited school strength, and a focus on sport and academics. Over the years it has gained an enviable reputation amongst the other Sainik Schools for consistently sending officers to the Armed Forces.
Not all are very happy about this though. Shatrujit Singh, great-grandson of the Maharaja laments the financial gains from tourism, questions the decision of the Government to hand over the estate to a school and states architechtural beauty of the Palace is coming to ruins. “The Jagatjit Palace could have been used as a heritage hotel, attracting thousands of foreign tourists,” he reasons.
As far as I am concerned, Soy cariñoso él !