This is the amazing story of a ferocious man eater being mauled and killed by the daring Nawab Iftikhar Ali Khan of Pataudi.
One cold winter morning, with mist settling on the rose garden so majestically spread around Qasr-i-Sultani the Ruler of Bhopal’s residence, the Nawab of Pataudi, a cricketer of international repute having played in the body line series under Jardine, was found walking amongst the roses when he spotted a beautiful damsel sitting on Emperor Aurangzeb’s, cannon caressing a rose. Needless to say they fell head over heels in love.
Now the young and dashing Nawab from Pataudi, my beloved grandfather, was returning to India and wanted a transfer from playing for England to playing for his beloved country. In this regard he had come to meet with the president of the Board of Cricket Control in India, His Highness Hamidullah Khan the Nawab of Bhopal.
As we well know the State of Bhopal had vast forests and over 8,000 tiger and was prime tiger country. Hadn’t the crown of England and the Viceroys hunted in our Bhopal jungles? The Nawab would often exclaim with unbound pride.
It was ordered that the two Nawab’s were to go on a tiger hunt to conclude the arrangement that would affect the transfer of the cricketer from England to India.
Everything was going according to plan till the faithful meeting between the young and fiery princess and the cricketer. He was an eligible bachelor or so he believed. She the daughter of the Nawab of Bhopal. He a dashing cricketer and a Nawab too. Love was in the air and it was a kind of fiery passion that had every conceivable attribute of the fiery love of a pre WWII era. Un-abandoned and fearless. It was desperate and it was beautiful.
When young Pataudi asked for the Princesses hand in marriage, the Nawab of Bhopal scoffed at him. How will you take care of the daughter of the Nawab of Bhopal, the largest Muslim Princely State in India? Your state is but as large as two cricket fields put together, he was mocked. The proposal was rejected. The tiger hunt was cancelled.
The story of what happens next between the Nawab of Pataudi and Princess Sajida Sultan of Bhopal will continue in another post. This post is solely dedicated to the ferocious man eater of Pataudi.
Now Pataudi was a small state around 45 kilometers from Delhi. Needless to say there never were any forests in the region and the only game one ever saw were blue bulls and black bucks. Tigers were unheard of. Not to be undone by the State of Bhopal, the Nawab of Pataudi asked for his Council of Ministers to gather. An emergency meeting was held. It was decided that Pataudi would have its own tiger hunt and the photo would be framed in a beautiful silver frame with the state monogram and sent to the Nawab of Bhopal as a gift on a tray carried by a bevy of beautiful ladies.
How do we have a tiger hunt when we have no tiger asked the Dewan?
Not only do we have a tiger but it’s a ferocious man eater that’s drifted in from the jungles of Jaipur came the firman.
A stuffed tiger was procured with great urgency and secrecy from the neighboring state. It was placed in the tall grass next to a sugar cane field. The local Pataudi photographer was called in and the Pataudi Council of Minsters displaying fear and shock were spread around the tiger. Whilst his trusted head of security protecting his wife stepped up to take on the tiger charge on a spear, The fearless and composed, Nawab of Pataudi with his younger brother pulling his shirt in terror, stood tall and killed the ferocious man eater of Pataudi with a single shot through its brain.
The picture was framed and as no ladies could be found who were willing to take this prized photograph to the Nawab of Bhopal, it was dispatched by private courier to Naseem Salammudiin, who you will hear more about in the coming blogs. When Naseem nana (he was like my grandfather) presented the photograph in a beautiful silver frame to His Highness Hamidullah Khan the Nawab of Bhopal, it is said he laughed so hard that the palace doctors were summoned by a worried Begum. They had never seen him like this ever before.
The proposal of marriage remained rejected. But that’s another story.
We at the Royal Migration Camp welcome you to the surreal wilderness of the Serengeti with many such tales of royal valour.
Nawabzada Saad bin Jung
I do not hunt. We speak of an era where princely state administrations were run in private hunting lodges called shikar gahs.
Nawab Iftikhar Ali Khan is my grandfather
Princess Sajida Sultan would later become the Ruler of Bhopal after her fathers death in 1960.
His Highness Hamidullah Khan is my great grand father.
Naseem Salamuddin’s father was a highly respected part of the Bhopal State Administration and a close confidant of the rulers.
These stories were narrated by our elders to me. I am sure much poetic license has been used over the years. I narrate them as i remember.