The Maharaja of Jaipur, Sawai Madho Singh II, was on board when the SS Olympia berthed in London in 1902. He was travelling with a company of 132 servants and more than 600 pieces of luggage. The 8,000 liters of water stored in two massive silver urns on board, however, really stood out.
The Globe described the dismemberment of the Maharaja as “a wonderful sight” in its issue from June 1902.
More amazing was the explanation for why the water had travelled via Bombay more than 5,000 kilometres from Jaipur to London.
Following the passing of Queen Victoria, Madho Singh was one of several significant Indian royals invited to Edward VII’s coronation.
When confronted with crossing the ‘Kala Pani’ (forbidden by orthodox customs back then), Madho Singh decided to carry thousands of liters of water from the holy Ganges with him to England to prevent ‘his soul being polluted’.
Interestingly, the vessels had been fashioned in 1894 by melting down 14,000 silver coins, according to the Rajasthan State Archives. Today, these two silver jars are the star exhibits on display at the Sawai Man Singh City Palace Museum in Jaipur.