Pudukkottai's Victorian silver jubilee arch - a forgotten legacy of Britain and Pudukkottai state !!

Victoria silver jubilee arch. Pudukkottai, TN
 Above: Demolished in 2009. At extreme end on either side  one can see a tall tower with steeple standing independently. ............................

Diamond Jubilee arch 1897 Pudukkotai town flickr.com

During their misrule the English,  under the East India company and later (after 1858)  directly under the British Crown administration,  ran the country till 1947. When they left the Indian shores, they had  left behind their legacy and imprint of their long rule across India in the form of numerous  public buildings, colleges, courts  clock towers, statues of British administrators and most impotently the railways. Almost all of them came up here at  British India government's revenue for their benefits. Surreptitiously, the colonists  in a subtle manner, looted about  USD 41trillion (in today's value) and  countless Indians are  of the view now  the Indian netas behave like the wily British masters and  in the past few decades  have looted a lot of public wealth - supposedly belonging to the common people - all in the name of democracy. Historians  say it is a paradox and we have to accept it!! 

1913 map Madras Presidency  with Pudukkottai State.en.wikipedia.org

The district capital of  erstwhile Pudukkottai samasthanam   was once  effectively ruled by the dynasty of Tondaiman. When the administration of the small princely state was in a mess, the British put it under their control and appointed a Dewan one Seshaya  Sastery to improve the revenue and cut down the unwanted expenses.  Under his dewanship and help from the royal members, t  Pudukkottai town saw many civic developments - most important one being  potable water supply system for the town from near by lakes in this semi-arid area. 

Upon Ramachandra Tondaiman' death in  1886, Martanda Bhairava Tondaiman, then a minor, succeeded  to the throne of Pudukkotta.  Seshaya Sastri, continued his Dewanship till 1904 and  ruled Pudukkottai  as Regent  till Martanda Bhairava Tondaiman attained the eligible age to rule the state on his own. 

The Maharajah of  Pudukkottai  (1875-1928), a loyal ally of the British, built in 1897  in a prime locality an  archway commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria  as a token of his respect for a grand lady who had been holding the reign for a long time. 

I heard people mention about the  gateway on the East main street as being a legacy linking the princely state with the British crown.  It is said there was  an unusual image  of Queen Victoria in an oval frame on the center of the  arch  smiling, with her left hand  raised to her chin. With unusual jet-black hair and brightly colored royal regalia  and headgear  she  appeared odd -  more an Indian royal  than a  British one;  the image was flanked by a lion and a horse in a victorious gesture. 

The design of the arch is European with Gothic styled tower on either side. besides there is a taller tower  of similar look  on both sides standing  independently. Atop the portrait on the arch is the replica of the British empire crown. 

 In the second week of November, 2009, this age old narrow   arch was pulled down  because  the structure became weakened after a heavy vehicle rammed on to the structure. In a matter of 40 minutes the entire arch was pulled down (on collector's order) and  it showed how fragile the structure  was.   Just like silver jubilee arch of Thanjavur near Ranee's clock tower, the arch was not an impressive one. The Thanjavur Diamond jubilee archway was pulled one year  before  the World Tamil conference in 1995.


Queen Victoria, the empress of India:

Queen Victoria. Getty Images

Above image: Queen Victoria: She went on and  continued to rule the British empire till her death in 1901. Her reign was  the  longest one, (second longest female monarch after Lorraine  of France)  in the annals of world history.  Incidentally the queen never visited India during her reign. The reason attributed was she became too obese to move out...............................

England's Queen Victoria did not participate in any public event soon after the demise of her husband  in 1861. Haunted by pangs of separation from her husband the queen took to the life of isolation and also she was aware of her responsibility to run British empire with many colonies across the globe.  

The  Golden Jubilee of 1887 provided her a limited return to  view since her husband's death   following her near total isolation after her husband’s death in 1861. In 1876 she was proclaimed and assumed the title  ‘Empress of India.’   It was a controversial Royal Titles Bill ’introduced during tenure of PM Benjamin Disraeli, a conservative party leader. In 1876 her son the Prince of Wales )later king George V) was on a trip to India to get himself familiar with culture and tradition of the vast Indian subcontinent. 

On 21 June the Queen, wearing the Orders of the Garter and the Star of India, was taken to  Westminster Abbey escorted by  an Indian cavalry, commanded by  Captain Charles W. Muir, for the first time each member of the escort was later presented with a covetous Jubilee medal by the Queen in a ceremony at Windsor Castle

A galaxy of rich and opulent Indian Maharajahs and other rulers were in attendance in their respective royal regalia and later had royal dinner.