C’è un monumento all’Indiano qui?? There’s a statue of an Indian here?? As an Indian in love with all things Italian, I tend to find Italy in India and India in Italy (Ganga is one of the rivers in the sculptor of the Fountain of Four Rivers in Rome!) So you can imagine my surprise when I saw the Statue of Prince of Kohlapur in Parco delle Cascine, Florence!!
Prince Rajaram II of Kohlapur, India
Prince Rajaram Chattrapati, was the King of the city of Kohlapur which is located in the state of Maharashtra, India. The Maharaja or the Great King was the only one of his time to be a modern monarch and travel out of India. During his short reign, he traveled to the British Isles to meet the Queen and eventually also complete his education. During his travel, he caught an unusual illness and had to rush to cross the Alps and parts of Bolzano (as mentioned in his diary) to reach the Tuscan capital of Florence!!
Unfortunately, the Maharaja did not live long enough and soon died in his hotel room in Florence in 1870.
Being an Indian Prince, cremating him was of utmost importance. His courtiers along with the British Consul, managed to get him cremated in the city of Florence despite facing opposition. (Cremation was forbidden in Florence!)
The Last Rites
A Hindu cremation ceremony was performed on the banks of the confluence of the rivers Arno and Mugnone. The King’s ashes were thrown in the two rivers.
Interestingly, in 1872 a monument was constructed to commemorate the young Prince. The statue, a large bust, is now part of the Parco delle Cascine (Cascine Park) in Florence. The bust is in-scripted in 4 languages- English, Italian, Punjabi and Hindi. It was designed and carved by Charles Francis Fuller. Decades later, a bridge was aptly named “Ponte all’Indiano“(Bridge of the Indian).
I had the pleasure to see this myself and learn the history of this fascinating Prince from my friend Piero!
If you plan to visit Parco delle Cascine for a walk or to see this statue, don’t forget to tag #Italophilia on social media because I’d love to see your pictures!!
Piazzale delle Cascine, 50144 Firenze FI, Italy
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Paolo Ciampi’s book “Il Maragia di Firenze” talks of the Prince and his life.