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What is your favourite part of Maharaja?

December 19th, 2010

Let’s face it, when it comes to picking a few of our favourite things, most people cannot agree. So, when I asked my family what caught their eye after a weekend visit to the AGO, of course, everyone had a different answer.

Bageshree Vaze, Vineet Vyas and Kalashree Vyas

My mother loved the antique saris and the paintings but, what was particularly memorable were the performances by Kathak dancer Bageshree Vaze and her husband, tabla player Vineet Vyas,  (I had timed our visit so we could catch them). Bageshree did a great job telling the story of her dance form and its role in courtly culture.  In fact, we spent enough time at the exhibition that we saw quite a few performances – all different.

The kid and I chatted mostly about the game case. If you know the board game Pop-a-matic Trouble or play Parcheesi,  you’ll recognize Chaupar. We noticed that instead of two dice there were three. And they weren’t cubes, but looked like mini gold bars. The dots were also different – they were rubies.

My husband spent a lot of time looking at the same case. He seemed enchanted by the eleven-in-one game box, made for Krishnaraja Wodeyar III of Mysore. My sister-in-law, on the other hand, fell for the black and white photos of the fashionable set in what could be called the Art Deco room.

Of course, one person did have a complaint. My brother was intrigued by the gaddi, and was thrilled to see a letter by the Rani of Jhansi (we grew up reading Indian history comic books). She was a favourite because she would later lead troops into battle during the 1857 Mutiny against British rule). He just wished there was more of a discussion of imperial policies as a counterpoint to all the opulence in the rooms.

Fair point. Yet, isn’t that what a good exhibit should do, leave you wanting to learn more?

  • Tell us what are your favourite parts of the Maharaja Exhibition?

Piali Roy is a Toronto writer with a long-held interest in South Asian culture and history. You can contact her at

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2 Responses to “What is your favourite part of Maharaja?”

  1. Rukhsana Hossain says:

    I visited the AGO and the Maharaja exhibit this morning and must say that it was fabulous! The most exciting part for me was that I saw many artifacts from Murshidabad on display. My ancestral heritage is from the royal family of Murshidabad. What was especially meaningful was that I took my parents with me and my mother who is the granddaughter of the last Nawab of Murshidabad provided me with a running commentary on the artifacts and the court life of that era. Again, it was very well organized and great job!


  2. Jonny_depth says:

    I loved the fact the 25 and under free deal! Thats awesome. Also, more than the paintings I loved the artifacts especially the beautiful and unique jewellery.

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