Updated: May 22
In a royal family, various traditions, customs, judgements and values are upheld, and unless one cautiously observes or narrates, their reasoning, the actions taken or the thought process behind the measures do not seem justified.
“Sahis’ Chronicles: Anecdotes” by Vaidurya Pratap Sahi narrates a few anecdotes from Tamkuhi Raj, a province in northern India. The stories are often about the royal staff, cooks, pets and commoners, alongside the accounts of the rulers, queens and their children.
1930’s Releasing on 12th March 2023 Releasing on 27th March 2023 Releasing on 12th April 2023 Releasing on 27th April 2023 Releasing on 12th May 2023
1940’s Releasing on 27th June 2023 Releasing on 12th July 2023 Releasing on 27th July 2023 Releasing on 12th August 2023 Releasing on 27th August 2023
This anthology will be available in paperback & ebook soon.
Clash of Egos
A train trip from Lucknow to Gorakhpur with a retinue of staff was nothing unusual for the Raja of Tamkuhi. All was well until another Raja wanted to board the train, and there was a miscommunication.
Read “Clash of Egos” by Vaidurya Pratap Sahi to know how the steam of the train, the people at the station and the staff of Raja of Tamkuhi all added up to the heat that led to the Raja of Tamkuhi pointing his pistol at the other Raja.
The train was booked, and a coach was reserved for the Raja of Tamkuhi and his staff. It had been a busy day, and everyone was eager to reach Tamkuhi. Raja sahib, along with Babu Kodai Roy, Lallan Babu and a retinue of staff, had left the councillor’s residence and were on the way to the railway station.
On the way, through his private secretary, Lallan Babu, Raja sahib came to know that only one coach was booked, and it was set to change at one place in between. When Raja sahib reached the station, the Tamkuhi party arrived and being an MLC  and an important zamindar of the province, due protocol was given to Raja sahib, and staff of the railway department escorted him to the coach.
That day, it was busy, and there were more people at the railway station than on regular days. The steam from the engines and the smoke from the coal added in making the atmosphere around the platform hot. Among the retinue of staff were the khansamas , tahloos , pahalwans , the driver and a few more people. Raja sahib had an entire cabin for himself where he had already started to come into relaxation mode. Babu Kodai Roy and Lallan Babu were in another cabin and the other cabins were occupied by the staff and luggage.
While the Raja sahib was resting, a commotion started at the entrance of the Tamkuhi coach. One of Raja M Chand’s men had got into an argument with Raja sahib’s staff. They wanted to enter the coach by claiming seats in the coach for their Raja M Chand, an influential zamindar of Benares.
The argument continued for a while before Raja M Chand himself arrived, along with a police constable. Noticing this was getting out of hand, Tamkuhi staff informed Lallan Babu and Babu Kodai Roy about the situation.
Lallan Babu and Babu Kodai Roy came rushing to greet Raja M Chand before trying to explain very politely that the coach had been reserved for Tamkuhi. Their discussion continued for a while, and after overhearing the continuous discussion, Raja sahib came out.
The Rajas greeted each other and by this point, a big crowd had gathered. Raja M Chand who looked tired and perplexed, told Raja sahib that his men were undisciplined and needed controlling. This complaint annoyed Raja sahib to such a degree that he showed displeasure. Raja M Chand smirked and made a passing comment about Tamkuhi being a rogue zamindari, to which everyone was shocked. For a moment, everything was silent, and suddenly a pistol was pointing in the face of Raja M Chand.
Raja sahib Tamkuhi, in a rage, had taken out his pistol and pointed it at the face of Raja M Chand. In the meantime, the station master came, and other senior police officers arrived, noticing the huge crowd. Before anything untoward happened, Raja sahib was dissuaded and calmed down. On the other hand, Raja M Chand was given a place in another coach, and the train started.
A couple of days later, the commissioner of Gorakhpur invited Raja sahib for tea. Over tea, the commissioner started talking about the train incident and casually informed Raja sahib that Raja M Chand was moving a formal complaint, and the governor had also come to know of this decision because of which the commissioner had to bring up this conversation. It turns out that Raja M Chand wanted the Raja sahib to apologise by coming to Benares. Raja sahib listened patiently, thanked the commissioner for tea and without responding to the pistol episode left the commissioner’s residence.
After much persuasion, Raja sahib was ready for a compromise but on the condition that the other party came to Tamkuhi. That incident which was a clash of egos had now been inflated. For a while, no solution could be reached until the commissioner came up with an idea. He proposed to invite both parties to Gorakhpur for the compromise. Since Raja sahib was adamant about not going to Benares as it might have reflected on him being submissive, the commissioner told Raja sahib, “You are the biggest landlord of the district, and by virtue of that, Raja M Chand is coming here.”
On the other hand, he sent a message to Raja M Chand that the meeting would be held in Gorakhpur and not Tamkuhi and since this decision was a middle path, both of them accepted it. A day was fixed when all parties met, and a compromise was made, thus ending the clash of egos.
MLC: Member of the Legislative Council.
Khansamas: A male cook, who often also assumes the role of house steward.
Tahloos: A manager of household concerns, a servant.
Horse & Car Track
Back in the 1920’s racing tracks were a rarity, even amongst royalty. Very rarely did Maharajas build trails, but most of the time, gardens or preexisting paths were used for racing through repurposing.
“Horse & Car Track” by Vaidurya Pratap Sahi tells the anecdote of how the first car racing track in Tamkuhi was a repurposed horse track intended to entertain & serve the Maharaja of Tekari.
Chakkarbagh, as the name suggests, is a round garden where chakkar means round, and bagh means garden. Located about 1.5 km from the main palace of Tamkuhi, it’s basically a grove used as a horseback track. Built-in the time of Raja Krishna Pratap Sahi, the local zamindars and English officers used it; sometimes, it was the venue for the local horse race.
In 1902 the sister of Raja Indrajit got married to Maharaja Kumar Gopal Saran Singh of Tikari Raj. He was a man of modern tastes and preferred cars over horses. Later in life, he even went on to be India’s first motorcar racer in Europe. When he married the princess of Tamkuhi, it became necessary to have a motor track prepared for him so that he could be entertained during his visits to Tamkuhi. This was when the horse-riding track of Chakkarbagh turned into a route for motorcars.
The first visit of Maharaja Tikari to Tamkuhi was not just a normal one. Along with the Maharaja came a car he would ride at leisure, and this would be the first time a car would roam freely in Tamkuhi. What a scene it must have been when the young Maharaja sped along the dusty roads and the surprise it would have brought on the faces of the innocent villagers.
One day while the Maharaja was on the course, some Europeans came from the nearby indigo factory, and a shamiana had been set up. Tea, cookies and cakes, along with some savouries, were prepared. The young Raja of Tamkuhi and his cousin were also there to enjoy the scene. In his car, the Maharaj Kumar of Tekari came, and one could see the smile on his face, which a teenager has when showing off a priced possession.
The car took a few rounds seated with the Maharaj Kumar of Tikari and his European friend. And the two made quite an entertaining show. After a few rounds of speeding, the show came to an end with tea and cookies served. A few of the European ladies tried sitting in the car, and almost everyone seemed delighted. However, one person, the Panditji, was not pleased. The roar of the engine and the smoke seemed quite devilish to him. He even appears to have suggested to Chote Sarkar, the uncle of Raja sahib of Tamkuhi that such a thing should not be encouraged at Tamkuhi as it might affect the mind of the young Raja.
Maybe that or the lack of passionate riders, Tekari cars went into oblivion in the long run. The last of the vehicles which the Maharaj Kumar of Tekari owned went to be scrapped. It was left in such a state that a tree had grown out of it.
A Herd of Cows
Raja sahib and his nephews wanted to go to the animal fair in Sonepur, and when they did with the royal entourage, Raja sahib noticed nearly two hundred cows being shipped. He enquired to be informed about their harsh fate.
“A herd of cows” by Vaidurya Pratap Sahi tells the anecdote of how the Raja of Tamkuhi made a deal that saved the lives of innocent animals and made a cherishable memory that lasted through time.
At Tamkuhi, the zoo, elephant stables and gaushala all needed animals, and it had been almost six months since one of the leopards, Sultan, had passed away.. Meanwhile, Raja sahib and his nephews wanted to go to the animal fair in Sonepur. Well, it is even today a lovely time of the year when the Sonepur Mela  is held. Raja sahib’s entourage had a pretty exciting journey, hopping on and off cars, trains and steamers.
All arrangements for the visit had been made, and the Tamkuhi camp was already set for the nephews, Babu Kodai Roy and other staff, along with Raja sahib’s visit. What a fair, rather what an animal fair. The Gandak meets the Ganges and that confluence is the venue for the fair. The mildly cold weather, with the sound and smell of animals, along the mighty Ganges was a sight to behold. Fauna of all sorts was on sale, right from small white mice to a giant elephant. A circus was also arranged with jugglers and shows of monkeys and bears.
The first day was spent on elephants and cows by the entourage of Raja sahib. The gaushala needed some nice bulls & few cows, and the best breed suited for Tamkuhi was the Hariana breed. A few beautiful milch cows were purchased along with three pairs of bullocks. The entourage also visited other sections of the animal fair but the only place which attached Raja sahib was the section on elephants. Although the usual supply of elephants was fulfilled through the Balrampur Raj or from Nepal, this year, Raja sahib needed some female elephants for his shikar  and making an exception was no problem, especially since it was for shikar.
The second day was spent looking for animals for the zoo. Often, orphan cubs of tigers or leopards, fawns etc., would be up for sale. But this year nothing was attractive enough to be taken to Tamkuhi. A few purchases of some wild birds were made, and the party was supposed to leave after breakfast the next day.
The morning was sunny, and the Sun had dispensed the little fog in the air. While Raja Sahib was having his tea in the camp, he saw a man herding some 150 to 200 cows. Babu Kodai Roy was next to Raja sahib, and he enquired who was buying those cows. Babu Kodai Roy sent a man to enquire, and after a while, it was found that a butcher was taking those cows towards Bengal. Now, what was just an enquiry became an issue. Raja sahib looked at Babu Kodai Roy, and the looks meant something. The plan to leave was postponed, and after about half an hour, the butcher was presented in Raja sahib’s camp.
The butcher didn’t care much for the Raja, and naturally, why should he have? He was not doing something illegal, it was his job, and moreover, there was no law forbidding what he was doing. The Raja offered him the price he had used to purchase the cows with a few more rupees and his fare. The butcher turned out to be a businessman and said he would sell it to Raja sahib at a price at which he would have sold them in Bengal. The face of Raja sahib turned red, and a frown appeared, but that was all he could do. Now it was his turn to make the decision whether to let the butcher take the cows and have them slaughtered and sold as beef or protect them by spending some money and getting them off to Tamkuhi.
It took three days for the cows from Sonepur to reach Tamkuhi. The old cows were sent to an orchard, where they lived till their end. Some of those which were good enough were sent to the dairy. The male calves were donated to some farmers. The trip to Sonepur, although it turned out to be an expensive affair, in the end, made the Raja sahib a “Gaurakshak” .
Gaurakshak: Cow protector.
Wood for Qazi sahib
On a foggy winter morning, Raja sahib meets a servant carrying wood to Qazi sahib’s home. On enquiry, Raja sahib is told it is purchased wood.
“Wood for Qazi sahib” by Vaidurya Pratap Sahi tells the anecdote showcasing how loyal members serving the royal family were. It also shows how Raja sahib always rewarded loyalty unlike anything else.
Raja sahib was looking forward to the coming week when he would go to the forests of Bettiah for his shikar  camp. It was a foggy winter morning, as is typical on a December morning in the region close to the Himalayan Tarai. Raja sahib, an early riser, had finished his ablutions, and the Raj pandit , Umapati ji, had just completed the daily pooja . The morning exercises had also been finished, and Raja sahib was strolling in the rose garden along with his favourite dog Tulip. Anon, the dog, started barking, and Raja sahib saw a man coming close, and because of the fog, it was not clear. He became cautious and sternly asked, “Whose there?”
The man came closer, kept the bundle of firewood he was carrying on his head, and bowed to salute. He then introduced himself as the servant of Qazi sahib. Raja sahib looked at him and enquired about the wood. The servant said the wood was for the fireplace and kitchen. He said that he bought it from the local woodcutter and was passing through the palace garden as it was a shortcut. He excused himself and left for Qazi sahib’s home.
Raja sahib returned from his walk and sat on the verandah overlooking the palace gardens. His khansama  came along with the ginger, milk and almonds. When the khansama was about to leave, Raja sahib asked him about the wood being taken to Qazi sahib’s house. The khansama confirmed it and said that this was a regular affair and that Qazi sahib’s household purchased firewood. Raja sahib asked his khansama to let Qazi sahib know he wanted to have an audience with him.
Later in the day, Qazi sahib came and sat in the office after the formal salutations. Raja sahib asked him, “Manager sahib, I met your servant today while I was walking in the garden, and he was carrying some wood bought from the local woodcutter.”
Qazi sahib replied, “Huzoor , it was for the kitchen, and since it is cold, we need it for the fireplace to keep the rooms heated”.
Raja sahib said, “That is all fine! But what I fail to understand is why was it purchased? You can easily get the wood from the palace store or the orchards. It doesn’t look nice for the manager of such a big Raj to purchase wood from outside.”
Qazi sahib replied very gracefully, “Raja sahib, the contract which I had signed at the start of my employment with you had no mention of me getting wood allowances for my household purposes, and therefore I deem it a breach of trust if I get firewood from anywhere else other than buying from my own money.”
Raja sahib silently looked at Qazi sahib, smiled, took a piece of paper, scribbled something, signed it and handed it over to Qazi sahib. It read, “Firewood to be provided to all employees from Raj store.”
Khansamas: A male cook, who often also assumes the role of house steward.
Punishing the Pelters
Sometimes it is good company and their counsel which saves one from making drastic & life-changing decisions. It is also true that decisions taken in a fit of anger are not wise.
“Punishing the Pelters” by Vaidurya Pratap Sahi tells the anecdote of an incident from Raja of Tamkuhi when he was attacked. If not for Babu Kodai Roy & Qazi sahib, a few lives would have been ravaged.
It was the time of the year when the winter had set in. Haystacks dotted the landscape, and villagers were relaxed after a good season of paddy harvest. During this time, a meeting was supposed to take place for establishing another hospital at Tamkuhi, and Raja sahib had to go to Gorakhpur. The journey was to take place partially by road and partially by a train. The train for Gorakhpur would start at Tamkuhi Road station.
Raja sahib, accompanied by Babu Kodai Roy and K. B. Qazi Azimul Haq , started the journey from the palace to the railway station. There was a constable on a motorbike as a pilot. And a car followed Raja sahib’s car with some staff and luggage. The motorcade had to pass through a few villages before reaching the railway station. Everything was fine till a big stone hit the window of Raja sahib’s car, and the car came to a halt.
Immediately the constable and the staff came into action. A few boys had hit the car. No one knows whether it was a mistake or was done intentionally under the influence of some netas . But this was a security breach and an assault. Raja sahib was furious, and as soon as the car stopped, Qazi Saib got out, and Babu Kodai Roy approached him.
Raja sahib just instructed, “Burn the houses of these rogues.”
Having said this, he sat in the car, still furious, and did not speak until he reached the station. When he was settled in the train, and Babu Kodai Roy took leave, Raja sahib reminded him to take action against the boys. Babu Kodai Roy had no option but to say, “Yes, Raja sahib. It will be done”.
After reaching Gorakhpur, Raja sahib sent a telegram to Babu Kodai Roy. After a week of camping, he returned to Tamkuhi, and a few days later, he was approached by a few old gentlemen with some young boys when he was sitting in his faryadi  room. The old gentlemen had come to thank him and make the young boys apologise. They were brought to him by Babu Kodai Roy himself.
After these people had left, Raja sahib asked,” I hope the telegram had reached before you took action.”
Babu Kodai Roy replied, “Raja sahib. Unfortunately, I had already punished the young boys before I got the telegram”.
This visually made Raja sahib upset, seeing which Babu Kodai Roy replied, “I followed your instructions and after due discussion with Qazi sahib asked the hay to be burnt. But not the haystacks which belonged to the farmers. Rather I had asked these boys as punishment to clean the village and collect hay, and other garbage scattered around and had them burn that. Also, they were asked to report to the durbar and were asked to clean the stables for three days as a punishment”.
Hearing this, Raja sahib looked at Babu Kodai Roy and Qazi sahib, who were standing nearby, smiled, and said, “Babu sahib, let us for the Christian New year go together for the horse race at Calcutta”.
Babu Kodai Roy, later took the telegram from his table and kept it in his personal file. The telegram read: Don't burn. Punish the boys with some fine.
It is said that this incident made the general manager Qazi sahib, Babu Kodai Roy, and a few other prominent people of the darbar suggest that Raja sahib eventually focussed on public education.
K.B.: Khan Bahadur, a title given by the British.
Faryadi: Request, appeal.
Darbar: Court held by an Indian prince.