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    A photography exhibit aims to provide a rare glimpse of our past.

    Dedicated exclusively to photography, the decade-old Bengaluru based gallery (active in more than 5 cities), Tasveer is coming to the city with its new exhibition. Titled Maharanis: Women of Royal India, it has been showcased  in Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Ahmedabad. Featuring a collection of 68 photographs chronicling the royal women of Princely India going back to roughly over half a century (from the late 19th to the mid-20th century), the exhibition will also have a preview of a book on the same lines produced by the gallery in association with Mapin Publishing. Among the 130 images are rare reproductions  such as that of Victoria Gowramma of Coorg, the earliest known photograph (1854) of a royal Indian woman.  Contributor and editor Shilpa Vijayakrishnan calls it “the first significant volume of its kind.”

    Beyond grandeur
    The exhibition and the book seek to redress the pictorial underepresentation of royal women from our history, “not with reference to their jewellery or fashion sense, but as significant historical players of the time,” the 27-year-old says. One such example is of the  first Begum of Bhopal, Begum Qudisa, mentioned in the book, who was illiterate and only 18 when she declared her infant daughter Sikandar as the ruler and herself as regent, upon the death of her husband — a marvellous stroke of political strategy, writes Vijayakrishnan.

    Of scandals and more
    Sharing the many interesting stories of the lives of these women, “from political to the juicy,” Bengaluru-based Vijayakrishnan talks about the iconic Gayatri Devi who had “the most expensive wedding in the world at the time that earned her a Guinness Record and a second Guinness Record for receiving the largest margin in a democratic election.” Plus there was a “scandal caused by her decision to marry the twice as old, and already twice married Maharaja of Jaipur.” She   picks the portraits of the Rana women of Nepal ( late 19th and early 20th centuries) as one of her favourites. In their “extraordinary gathered skirts, with sweeping trains, piled up hairdos and striking headdresses and bold jewellery,” these women were  associated with Indian royalty through marriages.
    July 30 to August 14. At The Folly, at Amethyst.  Details: 9886942096

    —Simar Bhasin


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