by Louis Rousselet


From the early 19th century when the East India Company began to consolidate its rule, the princes were often seen as one of the most useful allies of the empire. Later, after the enactment of the Act of 1935, conservative opinion in Great Britain saw them as an instrument for thwarting the federation proposals and thereby maintaining British power at the centre.
India and its Native Princes (L’Inde des Rajahs: Voyage Dans I’nde Centrale, (1875) is an exquisitely detailed study replete with stories and vivid descriptions of persons, events, and places. It carries photographs of palaces, forts, religious places, and animals, and of the tribal people. A picture of the three Gonds is stunning. Sadly, some of the monuments imaged and represented in this book no longer exist.
As a travelogue, India and its Native Princes is instructive, meticulously researched and written fluetly. Its size would hardly deter the reader from reading the book cover to cover.
Originally published by Bickers & Son, in 1882 the book covers Central India, a neglected region in British India, and the Bombay and Bengal Presidencies. Princely India is exhaustively covered–Gwalior, Bhopal and Hyderabad. As Lieut.-Col: Buckle, the editor of this English edition wrote in 1882: “He makes his reader acquainted with the heroic traditions as well as the daily lives of the representatives of those ancient Rajput houses at the present day.”
It took Louis-Theophille Marie Rousslet (1845-1929), the celebrated author of this book, nearly six years to complete researching on the book. He estabilished his reputation with it, though his fame also rests on his being a first rate photographer and pioneer of the darkroom. His photographs now command high prices. His other book L’Inde: Photographies de Lous Rousselet 1865-1868 (Museee Goupil-Bordeaux (1992) is widely acclaimed



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