by Hugh Purcell

  1. ISBN: 978-81-291-2468-5
  2. Pages: 204 pages
  3. Date: July 2013


Dynamic, enigmatic and a spirited public figure, Ganga Singh (1880-1943), the twenty-first maharaja of Rajasthan, was one of the last Indian princes to play an important role in the politics of the British Empire. He lent his support to the British Army in both the World Wars by fighting on the Western Front and in Egypt. A soldier in his own right, he commanded his own camel corps, the Ganga Risala, and became the first ever Indian general of the British Indian Army—a contribution that was rewarded by invitations to London for the Imperial War Conference in 1917 and the Paris Peace Conference in 1918, where he signed the iconic Treaty of Versailles.
At home, Ganga Singh built the famous Gang Canal, which transformed Bikaner from a town plagued by famine and poverty to a thriving centre of trade. Against the backdrop of the Home Rule Movement, he managed to persuade the British to include India in the League of Nations—no mean feat, as India was not an independent nation at the time.
In The Maharaja of Bikaner, Hugh Purcell profiles one of the most pragmatic rulers that India has ever known and, in the process, chronicles the role of the Indian princes in the British Empire.


Hugh Purcell is a writer, documentary film producer and lecturer with a long-standing interest in India, the Raj and the First World War. He worked for many years producing history programmes for BBC radio and television. His previous books include Fascism, The Spanish Civil War, Revolutionary War, a biography of Tom Wintringham, The Last English Revolutionary, After the Raj: The Last Stayers-On and the Legacy of British India and a biography of Lloyd George. He is a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He has visited India continuously since 1964 and knows the Bikaner family.

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