Bhupinder Singh of Patiala

12 Oct 1891
23 Mar 1938
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Maharaja Sir Bhupinder Singh GCSI GCIE GCVO GBE (Punjabi: ਭੁਪਿੰਦਰ ਸਿੰਘ; 12 October 1891–23 March 1938) was the ruling Maharaja of the princely state of Patiala from 1900 to 1938

Bhupinder Singh was born at the Moti Bagh Palace, Patialaand educated at Aitchison College. At age 9, he succeeded as maharaja of Patiala state upon death of his father, Maharaja Rajinder Singh, on 9 November 1900. A Council of Regency ruled in his name until he took partial powers shortly before his 18th birthday on 1 October 1909 and was invested with full powers by the Viceroy of India, the 4th Earl of Minto, on 3 November 1910.

He served on the General Staff in France, Belgium, Italy and Palestine in the First World War as an Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel, and was promoted Honorary Major-General in 1918 and Honorary Lieutenant-General in 1931. He represented India at the League of Nations in 1925, and was chancellor of the Indian Chamber of Princes for 10 years between 1926 and 1938, also being a representative at the Round Table Conference. He married many times and had many children by his wives and concubines.

Maharaja Bhupinder Singh was the first man in India to own an aircraft, which he bought from the United Kingdom in the first decade of the twentieth century. For his aircraft he had an airstrip at Patiala built.

He was well known for the construction of buildings with bold architectural designs in Patiala, including Kali Temple, Patiala, and Chail View Palace in the summer retreat of Kandaghat along with Chail Palace and Oak Over and Cedar Lodge in Shimla which now houses the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab State Guest House respectively. He was known as a sportsman and built the world’s highest cricket pitch at 2443 m in 1893 at Chail.He was also known for an exceptional collection of medals, believed to be the world’s largest at the time.According to legend, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh would be driven in a motorcade of 20 Rolls Royce cars. He had a unique monorail system built in Patiala known as Patiala State Monorail Trainways.

He is perhaps the most famous Maharaja of Patiala, best known for his extravagance and for being a cricketer. His cricket and polo teams – Patiala XI and Patiala Tigers – were among the best of India. He was a great patron of sports.

He was captain of the Indian cricket team that visited England in 1911 and played in 27 first-class cricket matches between 1915 and 1937. For season of 1926/27, he played as member of Marylebone Cricket Club . He donated the Ranji Trophy in honour of Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji, Jam Sahib of Nawanagar. He was selected as the captain of India on its first Test tour of England in 1932, but dropped out for reasons of health two weeks before departure and the Maharaja of Porbandar took over. The cricket ground at Chail was made by Maharaja Patiala in 1893. It is the highest cricket ground in the world. Most of the buildings of Chail Military School were donated by Maharaja of Patiala to the government of India.

Sir Bhupinder Singh founded the State Bank of Patiala in 1917.

He served as the Chancellor of Chamber of Princes from 1926 to 1931. He worked tirelessly for his subjects’ betterment and introduced many social reforms in Patiala.

His elder son, Maharaja Yadavindra Singh and younger son Raja Bhalindra Singh both played first-class cricket, Yuvraj also played in one Test for India, in 1934. Raja Bhalindra Singh, later served as President of Indian Olympic Association.

Yuvraj Yadavindra Singh became the Maharaja on 23 March 1938. He was to be the first Maharaja, agreeing to the incorporation of Patiala into the newly independent India on 5 May 1948, becoming Rajpramukh of the new Indian state of Patiala and East Punjab States Union.

Bhupinder Singh’s grandson Captain Amarinder Singh is a politician in India and served as Chief Minister of Punjab from 2002 to 2007.

Bhupinder Singh was born in a Jat Sikh family and married at only 5 times and had numerous consorts. From those unions, he sired an estimated 88 children of whom at least 53 survived him. He was the proud owner of the world famous “Patiala Necklace” manufactured by the famous brand Cartier SA. His wife Maharani Bakhtawar Kaur presented Queen Mary with a magnificent necklace on behalf of the Ladies of India during the Delhi Durbar of 1911 to mark the first visit to India by any Queen Empress.

On 23 March 1938 Bhupinder Singh died.

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