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Notes on the Geography of Northern India: Bishnupur: Photo 38

world pictures Northern India: Bishnupur

Bir Hambir's son, Raghanath Singh, or possibly Raghunath's son and successor, Bir Singha Dev, built the "stone door" one brief century before the good times came to a miserable end, with the royal family subsisting on a British pension. O'Malley reported in 1908 (p. 37) that "their descendants, who live in Bishnupur... are now in reduced circumstances; but they retain a strong hold on the affections of the people, and it is not forgotten that their ancestors were the rules of the land."

For a time, the Mallabhum Kingdom had been almost independent, nominally part of a Muslim empire that allowed the Malla kings to take care of their own affairs, so long as tribute was paid--107,000 rupees annually in the case of Bir Hambir. Romesh Chunder Dutt, writing in the Calcutta Review for 1892, put it this way while deferring to the kingdom's mythic sense of its history: "Protected by rapid currents like the Damodar, by extensive tracts of scrub-wood and sal jungle, as well as by strong forts like that of Bishnupur, those jungle kings were little known to the Musalman rulers of the fertile portions of Bengal, and were never interfered with. For long centuries, therefore, the kings of Bishnupur were supreme within their extensive territories."

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