NEW DELHI: Do you know a rare Maybach car gifted to Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala by Adolf Hitler in the mid 1930s changed hands without any transaction of money and later made its way to a vintage collector's hands?
Or the Patiala House here was witness to a historic meeting that decided to hold the Asian Games every four years with the first games in the national capital in 1951.
"Princely Palaces in New Delhi", authored by Sumanta K Bhowmick and published by Niyogi Books, has several such anecdotes related to the mansions which form an integral part of New Delhi’s urban topography.
Citing an incident in Patiala House in 1957, the author writes, "...It resulted in the loss of the rare Maybach car gifted to Maharaja Bhupinder Singh by Adolf Hitler after their meeting in Germany in 1935. There were only six of these specially made cars in the world and the last of them stood unused in the garage at Motibagh Palace in Patiala.
"As young Raja Malvinder Singh (Bhupinder Singh's grandson) was sitting in the drawing room in the first floor at Patiala House, his father (Maharaja Yadavindra Singh) ordered him to make drinks for some assembled guests."
Sardar Satyajit Singh of Bharoli came in to join the party and in the course of conversation, asked the maharaja whether he could buy the Maybach lying unused in Patiala.
"The maharaja replied generously that he was not selling any car but if his guest wanted the car as a gift, he could take it. Sardar Satyajit did not hesitate to accept the offer; furthermore, he got a letter from the Maharaja of Harvey, the garage in-charge at Patiala Palace, directing to hand over the vintage car to him.
"The next day, Hitler's gift to Maharaja Bhupinder Singh changed hands without any transaction of money. It later made way into a vintage collector’s hands for an undisclosed sum," the book says.
"The book also mentions how the Asian Games federation had its birth at Patiala House on February 13, 1949.
"Representatives of Afghanistan, Burma, Ceylon, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines and Thailand met in a two-day conference at Patiala House and were addressed by Maharaja Yadavindra Singh as chair and G D Sondhi as its secretary. In his speech, the maharaja highlighted the importance of sports as a catalyst for promotion of friendship and understanding among various countries.
"It was decided to hold the Asian Games every four years, the first being held At Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, New Delhi in 1951," it says.
The coffee table book replete with old photographs, letters, maps and plans, describes the seven main palaces of the states of Hyderabad, Baroda, Bikaner, Jaipur, Patiala, Darbhanga and Travancore, besides other such princely mansions in Delhi like Bahawalpur House, Bhavnagar House, Bundi House,
Cochin House, Dholpur House, Faridkot House, Gwalior House, Jaisalmer House, Jind House, Jubbal House, Mandi House and Pataudi House.
The book tries to delineate the story behind the story, documenting history through archival research, interviews with royalty and unpublished photographs from royal private collections.