Born on 23 May 1919 into a royal family, the daughter of the Maharaja of Cooch Behar, the Maharani had been personally associated with polo since her childhood days, when polo was much more than a sport but rather a way of life. She first saw the Jaipur team play at Calcutta in 1933. Her personal ambition then was to be a syce – naturally with the Jaipur string of ponies. However, life had other plans for her.
The Maharani studied at Shantiniketan and abroad, and spoke several languages. Listed by Vogue as one of the world’s most beautiful women, she fell in love with Man Singh, the heir to the Jaipur throne when she was 19. Man Singh was the last ruler of Jaipur and oversaw its transition to a secular part of Rajasthan state in independent India. He served as India’s first ambassador to Spain. The Maharaja died in 1970 while playing polo.
Besides her long association with polo, the Maharani was also busy with her school for girls’ education in Jaipur. She dabbled in politics for about a decade, and upon her retirement from politics, published her autobiography A Princess Remembers, written with Santha Rama Rau, in 1976. She was also the focus of a film called Memoirs of a Hindu Princess, directed by Francois Levie.
The Maharani had proudly proclaimed, “Jaipur has been very closely connected with polo since the days of yore. Indeed Indian polo owes a great deal to Jaipur, which carried the game to heights never since matched anywhere in the world”.