Our tribute to an ethereal beauty and a fearless mind: Rajmata Gayatri Devi on her birth anniversary !
She was both beautiful and a brave soul. She was a believer, dreamer, trendsetter and above all an epitome of grace. The woman etched in our memories as the lady in French chiffon sarees with strings of pearls. She was one of the most beautiful women in the world with unmatched style and progressive attitude. Do you know that she shot her first tiger at the age of 12? She refused to follow the Purdah system prevailing in Rajasthan. At the time when the girls’ education was not given much importance, she took the lead and started the most prestigious girls’ school in Jaipur. On her death anniversary, Jaipur Beat presents to you, an enlightening interview with Ms. Dharmendar Kanwar, the celebrated writer who has authored two books on HH Gayatri Devi – ‘Enduring Grace’ and ‘The Last Queen of Jaipur’, a person who knew Rajmata like no one did.
- You have worked closely with Maharani Gayatri Devi, what was so unique about her?
Rajmata Sahiba was a very special person in the sense that despite being from the royal family, she was grounded, very down to earth and easily accessible. Anybody could meet and talk to her – that is not true of a lot of royalty and that in a way made her stand out.
- Tell us her vision about Jaipur at that time.
Where Jaipur was concerned, she felt very strongly about preserving the character of the city. She used to say this very often that whatever she is, it is because of Jaipur. For her, the heritage of the city was very significant and to preserve that she was ready to go to great lengths-she even sat on dharna thrice and wrote letters to the concerned authorities so that they pay attention to people’s problems. She was also concerned about the environment as she had offered her land for a park. Gayatri Deviji believed that open spaces are very vital.
She also protested against the chopping of an old tree on Queen’s road. That is the kind of love she had for Jaipur and everything related to the city.
- What was her vision about girl child education?
Even though she was a Maharani and had enough royal duties and activities to fulfil, yet she focused on the education of girls. She wanted the girls of Jaipur and the state to be well educated so that they could stand on their own and be independent. This, predominantly, is the reason that she started Maharani Gayatri Devi Girls’ School in Jaipur.
- How was your experience when you were writing the book “The Last Queen of Jaipur”?
It was the second book that I wrote on her, making it an absolutely great experience for me. It gave me a chance to spend a lot of time with her. She had been close to leaders like Rajgopalacharya ji, Sarojini Naidu and many others, so she herself was a part of history and for me, it was wonderful to have learned all about it through Rajmata sahib herself.
- She was very bold and way ahead of her time. Do you agree?
Yes certainly! She was known for her larger than life personality. She drove her own car, played sports associated with men and dressed as she wanted – that was her life. And people were really shocked to see her that way in those times.
- Tell us something about her style and the way she carried herself.
Everybody knows her inimitable style! The way she carried herself , her trademark chiffon sarees and her string of pearls – she really had great aura and her personality was really outstanding.
- Share your personal experience with her. Do you remember anything unique about her, that you would like to share with us?
She was always very firm about what she believed in – be it eradicating purdah system, educating girls or protecting our heritage. She was a very strong woman and somebody you would admire for her outstanding qualities. She was special.
Jaipur Beat in Conversation with Dharmendar Kanwar
Dharmendar was closely associated with Rajmata Gayatri Devi as her media advisor and is the Managing Trustee of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh Benevolent Trust, a charitable Trust started by late Rajmata Gayatri Devi. She is also the Convenor of Jaipur Chapter of INTACH and the author of the Times of India Jaipur Food Guide since 2012.