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Portrait of Ram Singh, Maharaja of Jaipur in glasses
Ram Singh, a descendent of the Kachwaha Rajputs, ruled Jaipur as Maharaja from 1835-1880. The Maharajah has been described as a very pious man spending seven hours a day in religious devotions. He was the husband of ten wives, the majority of whom were married to the Maharajah for political reasons. He left no son or heir. The Maharajah was said to have risen early the morning he met General Grant to complete his prayers before the General arrived. He met General Grant and his traveling companions at his palace. An interpreter was needed while General Grant and the Maharajah discussed the General’s stay and the prosperity of Jaipur. If the Grants had been unaccustomed to the court protocol and etiquette they experienced while in Europe, they were utterly unprepared for the exotic ceremony in which a Maharajah welcomes foreign diplomats. Luckily, the English resident in Jaipur had briefed the General on what to expect and how to act. The first part of this ceremony was the Nautch, a sacred dance performed by low-caste Hindu girls. The significance of this ritual seems to have been lost to various members of Grant’s party. Expecting a dance to be entertaining, Mrs. Grant remarked in her memoirs that she was disappointed with the performance. Afterwards, the Maharajah invited General Grant to a game of pool. The Maharajah was an avid billiards player and possessed more skill than Grant at the game which made his hospitable attempts to lose to the General very difficult. General Grant and his companions then were shown the gardens by the Maharajah. The Maharajah placed two wreaths of flowers around the necks of each member of General Grant’s party. In return, General Grant was to place four wreaths of flowers around the Maharajah’s neck. The Maharajah then put perfume on Mrs. Grant’s handkerchief and on General Grant’s chest and shoulders. After this ritual to signify lasting friendship was complete, the Maharajah walked hand in hand with General Grant to the awaiting carriages where Grant and his party disembarked.
Ulysses Grant Dietz
T. Murray Photographer
Mississippi State University Libraries (electronic version).
Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library, Mississippi State University Libraries.
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[Title of Document], Ulysses S. Grant and Julia D. Grant Papers, Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library, Mississippi State University Libraries