​Hunting and other activities of Maharaja Serfoji ll

Maharajah Serfoji  ll  was fond of hunting and frequently he went on shooting trips.He bagged tigers, deers, boars and birds.He had a number of muskets and guns in his personal armoury brought from Europe.He maintained a half a dozen reserved forests where he went for shikar (hunting). The records show that he shot a number of tigers in the vicinity of Thanjavur and the population gave him enthusiastic orations on his return with the trophies. All his reserved forests were under the control of watchman and supervised by the head of each forest to prevent poaching and unauthorised hunting. He had also a few hunting cheetas trained for hunting deers and boars. The cheetas or leapards were trained in stalking, so that the deer can be caught alive.

A Panther seated at Krishna Vilas garden,Sadar Mahal Palace.This art was done by an German artist Karen Knorr.

He also reared a number of falcons (baj pakshi) which were also trained in hawking smaller games like rabbit, iguana, and birds. He adorned the cheetas and falcons with gold collars and anklets of the legs. Trainers and attenders were appointed to look after them. In order to treat them for illness,he caused arabic and urdu works yujanamah (for cheetas) and bajnamah (for falcons) were translated into marathi for his use.it was recorded that his favouriter falcon was brought from the nawab of devagiri by bhujanga rao, hari rao, his courtier. falcon was a favourite pastime for the kings and nobles of those times. He held competitions and many times he invited european dignitaries and the Thondaman Rajah of pudukottai to witness his cheeta’s and falcon’s hunt.

King Serfoji ll with his favorite falcon

He also  encouraged bullock cart racing and several members of public participated in the competition.The race was known than as ‘Rekhlaw race’ he also got a treatise written on the art of rekhlaw competition called “Hehatula Tumani” in marathi which prescribed rules for the same with details on training and usage during the actual competition. There were many works on presciptions to treat the illness of racing bullocks.

Falcon,one of the birds of King Serfoji ll. The nawab of Udayagiri presented it for the King to Bhujanga Rao and Hari Rao when they were sent to Hyderabad.

One of his another hobbies was gardening. He developed the Shivaganga garden by planting several kinds of trees imported from Europe and some huge trees can be seen in his garden even today. He brought flower and fruit seeds during his wide travels and used them to enrich his gardens. His two other gardens are Huzur mahal and Dastan mahal gardens which were adjacent to his palace and mostly used by the Rajah’s family. There were ponds in the garden stocked with multi coloured fishes. king serfoji  ll  also authored a book on horticulture espeically  on grafting and the usage of fertilizers and soil maintenance.

View of remarkable Banian tree near Tanjore’. Coloured aquatint by J. Wells after a drawing by Capt. Trapaud, 1788

His another hobby was collection of old curious and scientific and usefull articles of western countries which were not available in Thanjavur. He collected various first edition books in English and other European languages which were printed at that time. He requisitioned such books as soon as they were published in Europe and got them shipped.

Lord valentia visited thanjavur on 29th january 1804. He records in his account of travel that he visited  Rajah serfoji and saw his library, his private museum, musical instruments, and other valuable articles kept in his palace. He says that Serfoji had one octogonal carriage with exquisitely carved windows with an organ that played sweet musical noted as the wheel went round with a clock and a machine to mark the distance travelled (speedometer). He had also assortment of many viz; an electrifying machine, air pump, astronomical instruments, arrow work, guns of different bores,gold and silver encrushed tables, desk and almirahs inlaid with silver and gold a rare valampuri chunk (conch) of big size, watches, and rare clocks,western musical instruments.velvets from italy, razor and pomades from England, costly almirah and Arab swords,rare paintings, cut glass chandeliers and hallmark silver candle stick. Similarly Lord Bishop Heber, Buchanar, Bishop Middleton have also recorded about Serfoji’s museum and two skeltons, one of bone and the other of ivory. 

Rajah serfoji  ll’s another hobby was painting. He painted several pictures and views of buildings.He painted 18 caste people, in uniforms of several military ranks from sepoy to the commander in chief and palanquins and sedan chairs, falcons etc.

The King Serfoji’s military costumes are drawn in 17 pictures. These paintings illustrate the rank of the military servants and the colour of the dresses offered to them in those days.  Photo Courtesy:  Saraswati Mahal Library

Serfoji  ll  Maharajah was a good wrestler. He learnt wrestling during his boyhood and continued the same physical exercise when he was at madras, until his coronation in Thanjavur. He patronised fencing and archery. Similarly he encouraged silambam (fight with sticks) an ancient martial art of tamilnadu usefull for defence purposes.

Sadar Mahal Palace was built by Maharajah Serfoji  ll  in 1824 A.D which was his residential Palace. 

Source: TMSSML 

Advertisements

185th Death anniversary of king serfoji ll on 8th March 2017. His funeral was attended by ninety  thousand  people.He still lives as god in many people’s heart and also an Inspiration for many people. 

Raja serfoji ll passed away on 8th March 1832. The sad demise of the noble king was reported by the acting resident J. Blackburn to the secretary to the government at fort St. George. A true extract of the letter is produced below, which will indicate the high esteem in which he was held by his subjects. 

“The Right Honorable The Governor will be much grieved to be informed His Highness Maharaj Serfoji is no more. 
His decease took place at 4 a.m yesterday morning and his life had been despaired of for 18 hours previous to the final dissolution. 
The ceremonies prior to the removal of the body in procession then commenced and by 6 p.m. The corpse was consumed in sight of an assembled multitude of little short of 90,000 persons; and I endeavoured that every possible honour should be paid on the part of the British government. 
During the protracted and varying state of His Highness’s illness I passed much of my time in the palace as did also Mr. Assistant Surgeon Bill and Mr.Acting Superintendent Surgeon Currie, and I cannot resist bearing my testimony to the firmness, perfect resignation and cheerfulness with which his highness bore it throughout. The time carried attendance, soliciture, and care of some of his highness’s relations, principal officers and servants was such as to impress me with the highest respect for the kindness of heart and social qualities that could have called them forth is so eminent a degree. The testimony of deep respect and regret shown towards the corpse on the whole line of the procession by all rank of people, two thirds of whom must have been in the intimate knowledge of his behavior,to and government of, his subjects goes far to prove the moderation the equity and liberality of his rule over them.  In some countries of Europe I have witnessed similar scenes but never Did I witness over where the expressions of regret were so touching or apparently so sincere, it seemed as the whole community were deprived of their common father and friend. 
Our common feeling of sorrow seemed to pervade the whole,and I am assured that the whole population of the fort in number about 25,000 abstained from good the whole day, and that upwards 30,000 persons again attended his highness Shivaji when he returned to collect the ashes of his father this morning.
It will be proper to bring to the observation of the right honorable the governor, that the fact of the queens having been dissuaded from ascending the funeral Pyle of  her husband will have most effectually and entirely broken the practice of this place such as permission can now never again be given from the palace.
May I request the favour of you to procure me the orders of the Government for the installation of his highness the Raja Shivaji ll.
May I request you also to bring to the right honorable the governor’s notice the extract from the general letter of the court of directors under date January 12th 1831, contained in yours of the 1st November 1831 directing the discontinuance of the office of resident in the demise of his highness the late Maharaja and with reference to the subsequent recommendation of the government for the continuance of the office and procure me his commands”

Tanjore,

March, 9th 1832

J.Blackburn

Acting Resident

Source: TMSSML 

Oval portrait of King Serfoji ll, Raja of Tanjore, 1820 Edwin Binney 3rd Collection, The San Diego Museum of Art.

Royal Kitchen of Maharaja Serfoji ll 

Maharaja Serfoji ll was believed to be a connoisseur of food and expert epicurean. He had collected some old works on English cuisine. Few of his collections of European kitchen can still be seen in his assemblies. The Modi records reveal that Serfoji maintained three kinds of kitchen – one purely non vegetarian (Marathi type), Brahminical Kitchen (Vegetarian type) and Angriji (English kitchen) where European style of delicacies were cooked.Non-vegetarian or Marathi Kitchen mostly prepared meat dishes of exquisite and temping to the palate of the most discriminating connoisseurs of food. This section of Marathi kitchen prepared rarest food items unknown in Maharashtra state and of purely belonging to Thanjavuri roots. Thanjavur Maratha rulers had not only encouraged culture, fine arts, literature during their reign but also food habits.

It will be very significant and pertinent to record that Marathi type of food of Thanjavur should not be confused with the typical food cuisine followed in Maharashtra. Their preparation has no bearing on Thanjavur Marathi food and is of the south Indian Tamil type and belongs to south. The food preparation of Maharashtra is entirely different from that of the south Indian one. The people of Maharashtra never use tamarind for sour taste like the Marathas of south; particularly that of Thanjavur. The two systems of food basically differ in taste and method of preparation. TheTanjoreMarathas; at the time of their rule invited several kinds of victuals and gave them names also, the counter part of which cannot be found in Maharashtra state. Even today the people of those regions like and praise Thanjavur non vegetarian dishes. At least some similarity can be found between Thanjavur and Mughlai Preparations.
The food prepared in the Rajah’s kitchen are of pure Tamilnadu origin except in their names but are the products of Tamilnadu cooks, and in their recipes tamarind pulp is generally mixed. The ingenuity and inventive talents of the south IndianMaratha cooks those were in the service of the Maratha raja’s since several centuries. This has resulted in a new and special type of food preparation which has come to be as Maratha preparations. South India is fully aware of the Maratha military hotels that were in existence in large number over the south in 1960’s. They are now fast disappearing due to abandonment of such hotels by the Marathas. The hoteliers of today have gradually forgotten the old methods of food preparation. Therefore, to recollect our old tradition culture of food, we have decided to post the Thanjavur Maratha royal recipes with the method of Preparation for everyone. The posts on our Facebook page and blogger will greatly help in resuscitating and recollect old Maratha recipes to the people.
Rajah Serfoji in addition to his 3 kinds of kitchen (Marathi, Brahmani and Angreji) maintained Sherbatkhana, ObdharKhana, ThattiMahalKhana (Sherbat, water and milk departments).The store rooms are called Kottiyam, where grains, groceries, oil and condiments are stored. They contained the choicest and unadulterated stuffs. Apart from fine and tasty food production, care was taken to clamp strict control over the purity of food and ingredients. Strict Vigil was maintained in water supply of the rajah in his obdharkhana and Dowlathmahal and Krishna Vilas Tank (Inside the Palace) departments, whose officers were supervising water and Sherbath.
In English kitchen Venkatasami was employed as a Buttler to the Rajah in the year 1825 and his preparation in the shape of Jellies, Puffs, Stuffings, Broth, Sauces of vegetable and Mutton are recorded in great detail. Delicious fish and egg Preparation like Omelets, Pickles and similar recipes are recorded.
According to Hindu Beliefs there are 6 kinds of tastes sweet, sour,salty,hot,bitter and astringent and all these elementary tastes are appropriately blended in these preparation to make the food appealing to the palates of people. The recipes are neither excessively hot nor bland. And similarly the sweet preparations are not too much sweet or sour. The Shedrasas (six rasas) are properly balanced to earn the appreciation of the King.

Portrait of Maharaja Serfoji ll at Vyasarpadi Vinayaga Mudaliar Charities, Mylapore.

The book titled ‘Sarabhendra PakaSastra’ which is available at SaraswatiMahal Library even today contains more than 100 ThanjavurMaratha royal recipes during the times of Serfojill which are not known to today’s world. This book is based on a very valuable two volume manuscripts in Marathi Preserved in SaraswatiMahal Library. The 1st volume manuscript contains both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food preparations. The manuscripts are said to be recorded or written by some scribes as per the Jabani (Oral statement) of one Narayanan and Butler Venkataswamy during the period of Rajah Serfoji. This work contains in addition to Hindu vegetarian and non-Vegetarian dishes, English type of preparation. The 2nd volume was original hand written manuscript and its pages bear a number of water marks of the year 1816 A.D. The 2nd volume contains every recipe of Thanjavur origin Non vegetarian recipes.


Reference: Late A. KrishnaswamyMahadik former Guest Editor TMSSML

Maharajserfoji2museum.blogspot.in 

Maharajah Serfoji 2 memorial hall museum, sadar mahal palace Thanjavur

Thanjavur Maratha Royal recipe, Kesar Mass


kesar mutton (kesari mass):

 Method of Preparation:

-Cut the mutton into large pieces and boil and cook it well.

-Remove the mutton pieces and shred it by fingers in the shape of saffron flower or thread.

-The fibres of the mutton will be like thread if shreded by hand.

-Mix in it one spoon of salt and grinded paste of chillies, khas-khas seeds in the shreded mutton, mix well and keep aside, place a fry pan on the fire and pour half litre of ghee, and when the ghee gets heated put the mutton shreds and fry them till they turn golden red.


– In the end pour the juice of one lime fruit and mix them together.


The name kesar or kesari indicates and strike as a sweet to many people but it is not a sweet dish. It is a light spicy dish. A kind of mutton receipe which is soft like a sponge and has a delicious Yummiee taste which takes few minutes to prepare and said to be kept for a week and eat.



20 Rare  facts of King Serfoji ll (Maharaja of Thanjavur from 1798 to 1832 A.D) in the field of Dance and music 

  1. ​Swati Thirunal Maharaja of Travancore kept contact with King  Serfoji even before he came to the throne and exchanged scholars, musicians, and even their personal compositions. Saint Tyagaraja, Syama Sastrigal, Muthuswami Dikshitar, the musical trinity were the contemporaries of Rajah Serfoji ll. Eminent dance masters like Gangaimuthu, Salapathy, Subbarayan,Mahadana Annachi, Tanjore quartet (four brothers) and Sundari were patronised by Serfoji. 
  2. Maharaja Serfoji ll was also called “SARVENDRA RATNADHI PATI” since he was the author of the 72 Volumes of The “SARVENDRA RATNAVLI” a compilation of the immense Knowledge & Wisdom of all the Shastras & Kalaas (Natya Shastra).
  3. King Serfoji ll  wrote hundreds of songs in Sanskrit,Telugu,Marathi  and all are set to music and dance and recitals.
  4. He is the author of several dance pieces of Alarippu, Jatiswara, Sabadam and Padam. He has composed numberless kavuthuvam,slokavarnam and prabhandas all adopted to Bharatanatyam,Sollukattu,Swaras Jathis and Sathiyas with their respective notations in indian swaras are given for every items with merticulous care.
  5. His collections on bharatanatya dances are the largest in the whole of India. Nowhere in india in one single place can be seen such a huge collections of sampradaya natyam. Such rare types of dances like jakkini, perani, dharupad, desi navadadam and kuravai were in vogue and we have evidence of their being practiced at his court. These type of dances have now become obsolete. 
  6. He was also praised by Lord Valentia who visited him in the year 1804 as capable of composing tunes in english. His orchestra comprised of several native and english instruments richly ornamented with diamonds and pearls.
  7. He also composed songs in several indian languages capable of orchestration in western musical instruments.Maharaja Serfoji  also composed tunes in English. He further records as having heard “god save the king” malbrook played in his orchestra.
  8.  His band consist of both European and Indian musical instruments called Tanjore Band.
  9. He composed songs on several indian languages capable of orchestration in western musical instruments.
  10. Indian tunes and ragas were set to european staff notation fit to be used on his orchestra.They are recorded in several of his music books.
  11.  Bharathanatya was then at his peak and several prodigies whose compositions are now considered the best that south india has every produced flourished at his court.
  12. The traditional Bhagavathamela, the oldest type of drama of the south received support at his hand. To the artists of Bhagavathamela of the villages of Saliamangalam, Thepperumanallur, Needamangalam, Serfoji Rajah gave gifts of land and cash.
  13. To many of his chatram Bhagavata melas were attached and provisions were made for them in the chatram. 
  14. He patronised poets and scholars at regular intervals.He used to call for vidwat sadas and delighted in hearing extensive poetry, panegrice and discussions on tharka sastra and subjects on music and dance. 
  15. Serfoji devoted his attention not only towards revival of serious types of dances but introduced to Thanjavur.Some lighter types of folk dances like modi dance with bag pipes,kanchin naatch and a kind of street dance drama with some adaptations from the kathak dance of north india and dummy horse dance, a kind of folk dance in stills of the nomadix religious mendicants of maharashtra accompanied by sammela kirikatti like twin drum used by gondhalakar of Thanjavur.
  16. Works like kumara Sambava Tika, Mudraraksha Charya, Smriti Iswagraha, Palakappuja and Gaja sastra pradhandam are attributed to his authorship.
  17. Serfoji Rajah invited learned scholars and distinguished poets from different parts of india to adorn his court.He patronised poets and scholars and flooded them with gifts of cash and lands.
  18. He encouraged folk art forms,Such as Kuravanji dance drama,and authored a book called “Devendra Kuravanji”
  19. Kottaiyur Sivakkolundu Desikar composed the Sarabendra Bhupala Kuravanji, a ‘Natakam’ or dance- drama of the Kuravanji genre. In praise of Serfoji, it was danced by a group of selected Devadasis on festive occasions. 
  20. A palace dancer of his period whose name became a legend was Veenabhashini Ammal. She is supposed to have been the Rajamohini or princess in performances of the Kuravanji in Thanjavur. The gurus of the Thanjavur palace also directed the ‘Manmatha Nataka’ in the temple on special occasions. Artists were flourished. His permanent gift to the Tamil tradition is the vast collection of manuscripts housed in the Sarasvati Mahal Library, an adjunct of the Thanjavur palace. Serfoji  himself composed many songs for dance, and lent his name as a signature to compositions by court musicians. 

Reference: Thanjavur Maharaja Serfoji’s  Saraswati Mahal Library (TMSSML) 

        Canvas Painting of King Serfoji ll in Saraswati Mahal library of size 10*12 feet.This painting is a copy of the original which was drawn in 1908 and retouched in 1947.This painting was brought from Mukhamba Chatham School at Orthanadu in 1992.

        Artists performing in front of King Serfoji ll. Gouache on mica. Trichinopoly style (c.1850) Courtesy: British Library.                   
        Ivory violin gifted to Vadivelu (one of the brothers in the list of Tanjore quartet) by Swati Thirunal Maharajah in 1834 A.D. © Photo Courtesy: Pratap_rpb
        Maharaja Swati Thirunal of Travancore 

         

        ​Updated  facts about Our Indian Traditional art and  practice, “Jallikattu”

        • The practice of Jallikattu, also known as Eruthazhuvuthal or Manju virattu, is traditionally held annually in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations on Maatu Pongal day (the third  day of Pongal festival).
        • The term ‘Jallikattu‘, originated from the Tamil words Salli and Kattu, referring to silver or gold coins tied to the bulls’ horns.
        • Jallikattu is believed to have been practice at least 2,500 years ago, after an ancient cave painting was discovered near Madurai, which depicted a lone man trying to control a bull.
        • Rekhlaw race (Bullock cart racing) and Jallikattu were encouraged during Maratha rule in Thanjavur (1676 to 1855 A.D) where several members of the public participated in the competition.
        • Maratha King Serfoji ll got a treatise written on the art of Rekhlaw competition called “Hehatula Tumani” in marathi which prescribed rules for the same with details on training and usage during the actual competition. He also got many ideas to  work on prescriptions to treat the illness of racing bullocks with experts. 
        • The main objective of Jallikattu is taming the bull. There are 3 variants namely, vati virattu, where the bull after getting released from an enclosure needs to be held on to for a predetermined distance or time to win the prize, veli virattu, participants attempt to subdue the beast in an open ground and vatam manjuvirattu, in which the animal is tied to a 50-foot-long rope with players attempting to overpower it within a specific time limit.
        • Certain calves are specially reared to grow into strong bulls for Jallikattu, and these animals are trained to not allow strangers to approach them.
        • Temple bulls are prepared specially for Jallikattu, since they are considered the head of all cattle in a village; special rituals will be performed for them during important days.
        Evidence to show that Jallikattu sport was been practiced from ancient times.Sketches,old photographs of different breeds of bull.
          • Animal welfare organisations like PETA India have protested against Jallikattu since 2004, with the Supreme Court banning it in May 2014. This ban was reversed after the Government of India passed an order exempting it from all performances where bulls cannot be used. But, the SC upheld the ban on 14 January, leading to protests all over Tamil Nadu.
          • Being a popular tradition, Jallikattu has been shown in many Tamil films over the years including, Virumaandi, Murattu Kaalai, Cheran Pandiyan, Mirugam, Ilami among others. The leading men in these films were depicted as being able to gallantly subdue the bull.

          In Jallikattu sport during the rule of Nayak kings of Thanjavur, gold coins, wrapped in a piece of cloth were tied to the horns, and the tackler hung on to the hump of the bull and untied the knot to get at the prize. Jalli/salli means ‘coins’, and kattu is ‘tied’. A small bag of coins was tied to the horns of the bulls, which the players claimed as a prize. The only way you could do that was to embrace the hump of the bull long enough to grab the bag without getting hit.

          • After the event, tamed weak bulls are used for domestic activities and agriculture, meanwhile the untamable strong bulls are used for breeding the cows.
          • Thousands of  students and youngsters are  conducting  a rally at Chennai’s Marina Beach and across Tamilnadu  to urge the government to restore the practice of Jallikattu.

           Source: mid-day.com and Thanjavur Maharaja Serfoji’s Saraswati Mahal Library (TMSSML)

          #SaveJallikattu #ISupportJallikattu 

          Statue of man playing jallikattu in Sarjah Mahal (Built by King Serfoji ll), Maratha Museum Thanjavur.

          Jijau Jayanti (12/1/17)

          12/1/17 was Rajmata jijabai (Jijau)  Jayanti. Chatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj’s Mother.His inspiration. She inspired chatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj to defeat Aurangzeb and liberate our land from oppression. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj founded an ideal Hindu nation. Jijau (Jijabai – Shivaji’s mother) imbibed in him the urge for formation of such a nation in his infancy. She also inculcated in him a fiery sense of righteousness and patriotism. Jijau awakened his sense of warfare by giving him training in weapons and artillery. She brought about in him a sense of rage towards injustice and atrocity. She totally moulded him by planting the seed of devotion and righteousness right from his childhood. This facilitated the foundation of a free Hindu Nation, as a result of which we are able to live as a Hindu today. Jijau Jayanthi is celebrated everywhere  across Maharashtra and in every Maratha family.Jijau jayanti greetings to all 😊.