The Nawab of Junagadh's Dogs

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The Nawab of Junagadh's Dogs
The Indian royalty was known to pamper their dogs, and went to strange limits doing that. While some intensely loved them, others hated them with equal candour. The Nawab of Junagadh, Nawab Sir Mahabet Khan Rasul Khan, invited Lord Irwin to grace the occasion of marriage of Roshanara with Bobby. But the Viceroy refused. Understandably so. After all, Roshanara was the Maharaja’s favourite pet dog, while Bobby, a royal golden retriever, belonged to the Nawab of Mangrol, and Lord Irwin was in no mood to indulge the eccentric Nawab in this unprecedented and frivolous pastime. Films and photographs were taken of this widely world-reported unique three-day event, where no less than Rs 3 22,000 were spent Approx $1.70 Million nowdays.

A number of ruling royals and dignitaries attended the marriage. Shampooed, perfumed, bejewelled and decked in brocade, Roshanara was carried in a silver palanquin to the Durbar Hall. Earlier 250 dogs attired in brocade, a military band and a guard of honour had received the groom Bobby, bedecked in gold bracelets and necklace, at the railway station. This had been followed by a grand wedding feast.

Oil portraits of his favourite dogs, that he commissioned British painters to paint, are still exhibited in Junagadh Palace. They wore diamond-studded collars. One painting shows a marriage between two of his dogs, the celebrations of which lasted for three days (including one day which was declared a state holiday).

After this, dog weddings were much in vogue among rulers in North India. Maharaja Ranbir Singh of Jind and Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala celebrated the weddings of their dogs in a pompous manner.

The Nawab of Junagadh owned 800 dogs out of which 150 were his favourite, each with its own room, a telephone and a servant. A white-tiled hospital with a British vet attended to their ailments. When a dog died, Chopin’s funeral march was played and a state mourning was declared.

"To annoy the Raj whose airs and graces he resented," the Nawab of Junagadh had his liveried staff dress his dogs in formal evening suits, mount them on rickshaws and drive them on British summer capital Shimla’s fashionable Mall. "The women were infuriated, often feeling a dog’s breath on their pale powdered faces as the rickshaws jostled for space on the way to Cecil Hotel ( Now Oberoi Cecil) for a dance. The Nawab had a stormy meeting with the Viceroy and promised to keep his dogs locked away. .

After the partition of India in 1947, as he was fleeing to Pakistan on a Dakota plane which was filled with his wives, treasure and dogs, one of his four wives on board found that her child had been left behind. She asked the nawab to wait and rushed to the palace to get the child. He filled the vacant seat with two dogs and fled.

Bollywood actress Parveen Babi was also related to the Junagadh Royal family


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