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Truth or Fairy Tale?
May 13, 2000

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I enjoyed visiting Jaipur's beautiful palaces...but could you imagine living here?!
Once upon a time in Rajasthan, a land of warriors where desert stretches as far as the eye can see, a beautiful princess was born to the King and Queen of Coch. She was named Devi, which means Goddess, and she would grow up to be the best-loved of all the country's rulers.

She grew up in the royal palace, and from an early age she learned to hunt. She rode into the jungle (which was full of scary wild animals) on an elephant's back, and by the time she was 12, Devi had killed her first panther.

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Hawa Mahal, or the Palace of the Winds, is where the royal women of Jaipur, secluded in Purdah, would come to watch parades and processions from behind the delicately carved windows.
She was more than just a pretty face, though. To keep up with the times, Devi learned English and played sports like polo and traveled around the world.

At a fancy dance one night, she saw the Jai of Jaipur, and she fell in love with him at first sight. Handsome and smart, he won at everything he tried. He fell in love with her too.

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A typical Rajput warrior, in his brightly colored turban and sweeping moustache, stands guard in front of a golden door of the Rambagh Palace.
But it couldn't be. He was set to marry another woman from another royal land. Even though they were modern people, they had to follow their traditions. Unless their parents arranged the pair's marriage, it would not happen. They waited for six years, but their parents finally agreed to their marriage.

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The City Palace in Jaipur's old city was started by Jai Singh II and has been since added to by subsequent Maharajas
Adjusting to her new married life and leaving home were big challenges for Devi, but she managed to do it. A bigger challenge was becoming a Maharani, (which means Queen), and learning to rule her people with honor and fairness, but she did this too. She went on to become one of the most popular elected officials in India's government.

Now for the ending you've all been waiting for: This is a true story!

From shooting her first panther at the age of 12 to marrying a King, the story of Gayetri Devi is more wonderful than any fairy tale I could ever make up. Sometimes real life is better than fairy tales, huh?


p.s. - Please e-mail me at

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