BENGALURU: Did you know? The official emblem of Karnataka is the adaptation of the royal seal of Mysore. Or that at one point of time, Hyderabad was the largest and the wealthiest of all states in the country, covering 2,20,000 sq.km of land. Or that the longest ruling dynasty in India was the Katoch dynasty of Kangra.
These are just a few nuggets of information that Vikramjit Singh Rooprai offers through a new card game developed by him. Called Princely States of British India, this game has been four years in the making and is finally available for pre-order.
“It covers some of the Salute States that are now part of the Republic of India. They have stories associated with them, that today’s generation is not even remotely aware of,” says the Delhi-based heritage activist, author, educator and founder of Heritageshaala.
If you’re wondering what a salute state is, Rooprai explains that as the British started spreading their wings in the Indian subcontinent, they began doing treaties with Indian kingdoms. The kings, who accepted the paramountcy of the British crown were called ‘Indian Princes’.
“Their kingdoms were called Princely States. Depending on the authority, population, rank and prince’s contribution towards the crown, he would be honoured with a hereditary salute, through firing a certain number of guns/cannons.
These were called Gun Salutes,” says Rooprai. The game covers 85 states, like Kota, Baroda, Tripura, Kangra, Manipur, Rampur, Benaras, Indore and Mysore. So, how does one play it? It is designed for anyone above the age of two years, and can be played to cover a variety of subjects like mathematics, logic, language, history, etc.
Each card provides similar categories of information: Name of the princely state, its flag, insignia or emblem, number of guns fired to welcome the prince, approximate area and population, number of years the dynasty ruled, which Indian state it was merged into and other information. Each is also colour coded.
There are different ways in which the game can be played. For example, if the card thrown by someone matches the colour thrown just before, the player can take the entire pile. The game continues until only one person is left with cards.
Or all players throw a card each and compare the gun salutes mentioned. The highest one is declared the winner of the round. “One standard rule remains. The person throwing a card has to announce the princely state’s name and the Indian state it is now a part of,” says the 37-year-old, who played this game aplenty with his 10-year-old daughter.
“We speak Hindi or Punjabi at home. But for the game, we pick either the first or last letter of the state and make words from it. Thanks to this, my daughter’s English has improved,” he says. To develop the game, Rooprai worked with a team of three others and pored over national archives and maps, besides travelling to places or interacting with members of erstwhile royal families to get images of the royal flag.
“In one case, the family from Ratlam contacted me themselves and helped me source the right emblem,” says Rooprai, who spent about Rs 3 lakh on the project. “I hope that the pre-orders will help me get the funds to manufacture this game,” he says. The game retails for Rs 640, and is available at a discounted price of Rs 480 on heritageshaala.com
Facts of the matter
- In terms of area, Mysore was the third largest in India (with 80,000 sq. km) and in terms of population, it was the second largest (with 6.5 million people)
- Both Mysore and Hyderabad were 21 Gun Salute States (which was the highest honour). Only J&K, Baroda and Gwalior had this honour besides them.
- The official emblem of Karnataka is the adaptation of the royal seal of Mysore