A Piece of Paris, in Punjab
In the heart of the fertile plains of Punjab, an hour’s drive from Amritsar, you will still find a little piece of Paris – Kapurthala. Amazing as it sounds, this little town’s Parisian connection came thanks to its ruler Maharaja Jagatjit Singh who loved everything French. The Maharaja spent so much time in Paris, where he was quite the star, that he modelled Kapurthala along its lines and in its prime, at the turn of the 20th century, the kingdom attracted a bevy of royals and Hollywood stars.
While the Kapurthala kingdom came to be known for its international guests and glamour under Jagatjit Singh, the kingdom itself had far more humble origins. Kapurthala was originally part of the Ahluwalia Misl, one of the numerous Sikh principalities known as ‘Misls’ which had emerged, following the decline of the Mughal power in the 18th century. It was Baba Jassa Singh Ahluwalia (1718-1783) who established the kingdom of Kapurthala and named it after ‘Rana Kapur’, the Jaisalmer prince who migrated to Punjab in the 10th century. The Ahluwalia clan traced its ancestry to him. Jassa Singh’s 18th-century haveli still stands in Kapurthala, albeit in a dilapidated state.