Images of India: Royal rumble over family gold…

image0002The fortune is one of the greatest on earth – the legacy of India’s richest princes, which tens of thousands have died in battle to protect. At the centre of several key trade routes, and with its own gem and gold mines, the kingdom of Mysore swiftly became incredibly rich. Now however, it will be a battery of lawyers who will defend the palaces, fortresses, jewels, crowns, paintings and vast domains of the royal house of Mysore, once an independent kingdom that was founded more than 500 years ago, and quickly established itself as one of the most powerful in southern India. And it will be Indian judges, not force of arms, that will decide on their ownership. A court in Bangalore will hear the claim of Kanthraj Urs, the eldest nephew of the 28th Maharaja of Mysore, the late Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodiyar who died two years ago, childless and without naming an heir.  Some however blame an ancient malediction for the family’s problems with bearing heirs. The “Talakad curse” was cast upon the dynasty in the 17th century by the queen of the neighbouring Srirangapatna kingdom, when it was invaded and annexed by Mysore’s kings. The queen fled with the temple jewels and hid near a village called Talakad. Discovered by her enemies, she cursed the royal house of Mysore for eternity and jumped to her death in the river Cauvery. Since 1610, barring one king who had a deaf and mute son, no other king in the Wodeyar line has had children. Urs wants the entire estate and properties – worth £8 billion by some estimates – to be split equally among the family