A reversed Cinderella story

Indian party lehenga and red embroidered kurta

Bollywood movies are commonly known for their unrealistic love stories that could hardly happen in real life. But let me tell you a real life story that sounds no more realistic than any Hindi movie or a fairy tale. The story happened in the second half of the 19th century in Kapurthala that was a Princely State of Punjab at the time. Princess Gobind Kaur was a daughter of Maharajha of Kapurthala and since childhood had lived in great luxury and splendour of the court of her father. She was married at the age of 12 to a nobleman of great wealth and position. Thanks to her royal status she didn't have to move to her husband's house as tradition required but stayed at her own six-storeyed palace. Nevertheless the life there was pretty boring.

Indian party outfit: black lehenga and red kurta

As the marriage was arranged the couple was not interested in each others and Gobind's husband lived separately in his own house and visited his wife only occasionally. Being a princess at that time meant that she was not allowed to go outside on her own but only in a company of a male relative and had to spend her time in the seclusion of purdah (purdah - minimizing the movement of women in public spaces and interactions of women with other males practiced in royal families of North India, Wikipedia). The gate of the palace was well-guarded by military guards and no one was allowed to enter without the permission of the officer-in-charge. However, the princess had hot temperament and creative mind. She involved herself in a few meaningless affairs with the palace guards and in one really scandalous affair with the Kapurthala's Prime Minister.

As the Prime Minister was a well-known person he couldn't openly visit the princess at her palace. So an underground tunnel was dug between princess' and minister's palaces and that was how the couple used to see each others. Sometimes the princess managed to escape from the palace by getting herself dressed up as a sweepress with her face veiled. She then hid herself in horses' fodder box of the minister's carriage and carried away by her lover to spend a weekend in his country house. This affair remained unnoticed for several months but one day they were caught red-handed. The Prime Minister was exiled from the State and the princess was put under even stricter watch.

But there are no boundaries for true love. The princess fall in love with a high military officer Colonel Singh who went to the palace of Gobind Kaur to inspect the military guard posted there. The Colonel too fell a victim to the charm and beauty of the princess. And they did find a way to see each others. There was a well inside the palace . The wall of the well was also the outer wall of the palace. The Colonel contrived a breach in the wall through which he would get inside the well and a rope would be thrown down to him by princess and Singh would climb up the rope straight into the arms of his beloved one. Before daybreak he would leave the palace through the well in the same way as he came in. These romantic meetings remained unnoticed for two years. 

But one day someone noticed the Colonel inside the palace and reported it to the guards. The Colonel had to escape because for him not being of that noble blood the matter would not end with exile only but with jail or even with death penalty. It meant that the princess would never see him again. And she made her choice. She escaped with him leaving behind all her jewelry, clothes, servants and careless life. They ran to a village about 20 miles from Kapurthala. This village being in British territory was beyond the jurisdiction of the Government of the State of Kapurthala and the police of the State could not lay hands on them.

Indian tribal print skirt, choli, tribal jewelry

The Princess was deprived of any allowance while the Colonel was disowned by the members of his own family and disinherited. They both lived in a mud house till the end of their lives and earned livelihood by farming. Were they happy? I hope so...

Indian tribal print skirt, choli, ethnic jewelry

Indian choli, ethnic jewelry

My photoshoot was inspired by the story. I had fun making this post and I hope you liked it. 
Sharing this real life fairy tale with SpyGirl's 52 Pick-me-up: Fairy Tale

The whole story as well as many others interesting real life stories you can find at Maharaja: The Lives, Loves and Intrigues of the Maharajas of India by Diwan Jarmani Dass


  1. Olga! What a story! And well illustrated by you! I love your bare foot shot with the straw broom and the cupboard chocked up with bricks. I could really see the poor princess :-) XO JJ

  2. Wow!!!! I enjoyed reading this romantic story and your photoshoot really nicely portrays the story of the princess!!!!! Love all the looks :) , you look beautiful and slim! !!!

  3. Love the stories of bad princesses and the men who fell under their spell. You look ravishingly beautiful in your sari and your waist is so teeny tiny in that fab wrap skirt. xxx

  4. What a great story, and I love the matching photos - inspired! You look stunning in your red princess outfit, Olga, but happier in your wrap skirt and barefoot! xxx

  5. What a wonderful post! Great job on storytelling - illustrated in such an inspiring way!! You look very pretty as both the rich and the poor princess. And of course they were happy, could it be any other way? :)

  6. The story is so romantic! Thank you for sharing. And you never stop surprising me with your gorgeous outfits!

  7. They were happy, I'm sure of it! Most likely without regrets as well. Thank you for sharing and your photos are lovely to go with it! Very creative.

  8. simply stunning story and images! Love both but the casual bohemian one is my favorite!

  9. An amazing story, I love it! I also hope their love survived all troubles.With your pics you highlighten the story well.
    Your Indian skirt is beautiful. I love this pattern very much!

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