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Some remaining royals of a bygone era
With the wake of independence, the Maharajas and Rajas have been sent to obscurity but their palaces still remain. The maintaining of these palaces has now become an issue. Here is an account of Taluqdars who still try to maintain their pomp.

AWADH REGION of Uttar Pradesh was spread over in about 14 districts. These districts were ruled by different nobles known as ’Taluqdars’. They were around 443 in number. The Taluqdari system had zamindars and the jagirdars under the Taluqdars i.e. zamindari may be given to a family member or as a token of appreciation to someone who does not belong to the same family. In jagirdar system a family member was given a whole palace and accommodated in that palace with all princely living styles. These rulers were different from the rulers of other states as these states were not related to the princely states. There the rulers remained rulers even after Independence and their titles were not abolished till date. They even have self-proclaimed and attained hereditary titles. In this article a few known Taluqdars are highlighted .

Raja Anand Singh of Mankapur, a descendant of Rani Saltnat Kanwar of Gonda, belongs from one of the big estates in Awadh and still lives like a king with more than 350 servants in his palace which is spread over 10 acres. His estate was spread in about 189 villages. He is into social service and politics. He was a minister during the rule of the Congress government and later became the Member of Parliament for a long time. He later shifted to Samajwadi Party. He is a great shooter, his hobbies include photography and safari. He is also the president of Raghvendra Rural Development and Research Organisation (RRDRO), an NGO which works for rural development and saving tigers. His wife, Rani Veena Kumari, who belongs to Kotwa, is a devout Lord Krishna worshipper. His son, Kirti Vardhan Singh is an MP from Samajwadi party. He is a lover of dogs and also into photography. Singh stays in Mankapur and has several other properties all over India.

"Today we are common men and citizens of independent India. Although our titles were not abolished but still we are trying to keep pace with the ever advancing spirit of the country", says Swareshwar Bali, erstwhile ruler of Daryabad estate.

Raja Rakesh Pratap Singh, Raja of Shivgarh estate in Rae Bareli district is an active leader of Bharatiya Janata Party. He stays in his palace at Shivgarh. His mother belongs to one of those royal families which were given the title of ’His Highness’. She is from the Royal Family of Sailana in Madhya Pradesh. His wife, Mandakini Prabha, is a social worker and a politician too. She looks after her chikan business. Both her daughter and son have married recently. While her daughter, Rani Shivika Singh married Raja Jayendra Bikram Singh of Payagpur, her son Kunwar Hanumant Singh married Kunwarani Shraddha Singh who comes from Madhya Pradesh.

Raja Rai Swareshwar Bali, Rai Saheb of Rampur-Daryabad, is an active politician and is also the assistant secretary of British Indian Association. His Taluqa (estate) is spread over 88 villages and over an area of 13,570 acres. He was one of the best squash players of his time and was the squash captain of Colvin Taluqdars College. Being an eminent old boy he was an active member of the Colvin College General Council which comprises of Taluqdars elected by votes given by different members. Although he stays in his Kothi’s at Lucknow, he frequently visits his village and stays in his fort at Daryabad. He says, "although it is very difficult to maintain palaces and forts today, as it is made up of Lakhauri bricks (thin uncommon bricks). The least we can do is to maintain it and stay in one portion of the palace". His fort also has a cricket field and hydro-power house inside. An underground tunnel goes to different places. His wife Rani Asha Bali belongs to one of the eminent families of Delhi. His son, Kunwar Rai Sanidhya Bali is an air rifle shooter and a student of Mayo College, Ajmer.

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