C’è un monumento all’Indiano qui?? There’s a statue of an Indian here?? In Florence, who would have thought!! As an Indian in love with all things Italian, I tend to find Italy in India and India in Italy (for example Ganga is one of the rivers in the sculptor of the Fountain of Four Rivers in Rome!) So you can imagine my reaction when I saw statue of Prince Rajaram II of Kohlapur, India in Parco delle Cascine, Florence.
Prince Rajaram II of Kohlapur, India
Prince Rajaram Chattrapati, was the King of the city of Kohlapur located in the state of Maharashtra, India.
The Maharaja (Great King) was the only one of his time to be a modern monarch and travel out of India. During his short reign, he was traveling to the British Isles to meet the Queen and also complete his education.
However, on the way, he caught an unusual illness and soon crossed the Alps and parts of Bolzano (as mentioned in his diary) to reach the Tuscan capital of Florence.
Unfortunately, the Maharaja couldn’t be saved and died in his hotel room in Florence in 1870. Cremating him was of utmost importance because of his stature so his courtiers along with the British Consul, managed to get him cremated in the city of Florence despite facing opposition and rigidity. (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 and the King’s ashes were thrown in the rivers.
Interestingly, in 1872 a monument was consctructed to commemorate the young Prince.
The Prince’s statue (a large bust) is now part of the Parco delle Cascine (Cascine Park) in Florence. It was designed and carved by Charles Francis Fuller. Decades later, a bridge close by aptly named “Ponte all’Indiano“(Bridge of the Indian).
The bust is in-scripted in 4 languages- English, Italian, Punjabi and Hindi. 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 share your story and tag me (Italophilia) because I’d love to see your pictures!!
Piazzale delle Cascine, 50144 Firenze FI, Italy
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