Every sight has a story to tell

The Jaipur jars that helped a maharaja cross the oceans

What connects a pair of gigantic silver jars in the Jaipur city palace to the Cellular Jail in the Andaman? Surprisingly, a long-held Indian taboo called Kalapani that prevented Indians from traveling overseas. This is the story of a clever workaround that the British used, to move Indian soldiers across the world during World War I.

India is an ancient land with a long coastline. But barring a few exceptions like the Cholas, there are very few accounts of great Indian seafarers and explorers. The reason perhaps lies in an age-old taboo called ‘Kalapani’ that prohibited Indians from traveling overseas. And yet, in the early 1900s, a king from Jaipur went off on a long journey across half the globe, after finding ways to circumvent the taboo. This clever workaround was used by the British too, to move over a million Indian soldiers and hordes of indentured labourers around the world. This is the story of mighty silver vats that helped an Indian maharaja sail across the oceans.


1. Silver Vat – By Ray Tsang from Irvine, USA – City PalaceUploaded by Ekabhishek, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12096650

2. Cellular Jail in Andaman – By Jomesh – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12873773

3. City Palace, Jaipur – By Diego Delso – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8738337

4. London Parliament and Big Ben – https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=93510&picture=london-parliament-amp-big-ben&__cf_chl_jschl_tk__=pmd_Z1K.4eFzFkmjzRGWHjtFyxxml3jbIvtVsxXzBdbwWt0-1629265633-0-gqNtZGzNAmWjcnBszQbl

5. Death of Queen Victoria – By Coulter, John, ed;Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, 1819-1901;Cooper, John A. (John Alexander), b. 1868, joint ed – https://www.flickr.com/photos/internetarchivebookimages/14763413524/Source book page: https://archive.org/stream/queenvictoriaher00coul/queenvictoriaher00coul#page/n530/mode/1up, No restrictions, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44046795

6.Queen Victoria – By Alexander Bassano – Original text: Scanned from the book ‘The National Portrait Gallery History of the Kings and Queens of England’ by David Williamson, ISBN 1855142287, p. 153.National Portrait Gallery: NPG x95802, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6640482

7. King Edward VII – By Luke Fildes, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1612595

8. Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh – By Jessrajsingh Seesodia – https://archive.org/details/rajputsfightingr00jessrich, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25444299

9.Govind Devji – By Sameergoyal (talk) – I (Sameergoyal (talk)) created this work entirely by myself., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28146223

10. Jaipur – By Bourne & Shepherd – Jaipur, India -Principal Street, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4101209

11.Priest – By nevil zaveri from navsari (guj), india – wait .. there’s a chance!, varanasi, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45461379

12. Hawa Mahal – By Manudavb – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28188851

13. Cattle – By Japanexperterna, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34245112

14. Skihs in France – By Unknown author – [1], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35887672

15. British Indian Army – By Fred Bremner – en:Image:BritishIndianArmy.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4624517

16. Infantry in Flanders – By Indian Army photograph. – http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/LAND-FORCES/Army/Galleries/main.php?g2_itemId=713Originally uploaded to en Wikipedia as en:Image:Indian Army WW.jpg by en:User:Idleguy 27 November 2006, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3487637

17. Indian bicycle troops at Somme – By John Warwick Brooke – This is photograph Q 3983 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17823784

18. 39th Garhwal Rifles march in France – By H. D. Girdwood – This file has been provided by the British Library from its digital collections. It is also made available on a British Library website.Catalogue entry: Photo 24/(238), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26185155

19. Newly arrived Indian coolies in Trinidad – Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58459603

20. Freedom fighters in Cellular jail – By This mediaFconaway (talk) (Uploads)Original work – This is a scan of an original photograph in my collection, showing a prison under construction, n.d. The photographer’s name is not known. The inscription says, “Port Blair – Panoramic View of Viper New Jails”., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32927883

21. Hanging Cell – By Harvinder Chandigarh – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47771599

22. Cellular Jail entrance – By Biswarup Ganguly – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9551700

 

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