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Begums and Nawabs
Lal Kothi MP : Foreign Visitors' Anecdotes
Anecdotes on Lal Kothi Visits of Foreign Dignitaries
Sir Lepel Griffin (1881), Agent to the Governor-General in Central India, pointed out that Nawab Shahjahan Begum, because of her veil, was far removed from the people.
The Begum quickly replied that she had had interviews with the Prince of Wales, Lord Lyton, Lord Ripon and Lord Dufferin while she was behind the purdah, but they never objected to her veil.
She took strong objection to the fact that Griffin was the first British officer to object to her veil, that too without ascertaining the facts.
During Sir Griffin's tenure, relations between the State of Bhopal and the British Government were strained.
This was because of Nawab Siddique Hasan Khan's (husband of Begum Shahjahan) staunch support for political freedom of the country.
On Oct 24 1886, the British Government banned all his acts and withdrew his title, on the basis of Lord Griffin's report.
At this, Begum got upset and stormed out of the durbar, saying angrily, 'Griffin is worthless than the dirt off my shoes'
Sir Henry Mc Mahon, visitor to the Lal Kothi in 1911, demarcated the Indo-Tibet border in 1914. This line is named after him as the Mc Mahon line.
When Prince of Wales (1922) visited Lal Kothi, Begum arranged a banquet with great preparation.
Exquisitely decorated tents were pitched, provided with all facilities and comforts.
Accompanying guests were as follows :-
Admiral Sir Lionel Halsey,
Mr. Petrie (Commander, New Port)
Lord Louis Mountbatten
Col. C.B. Luard, Political Agent in Bhopal
Col. C.B. Meconaghy, I.M.S., Agency Surgeon in Bhopal
Mr. B.C. Ellison
Sir Godfrey Thomas
Capt. Metcalfe and Mrs. Metcalfe,
Col. M.C. Conaghy
Capt. Dudley North
Capt. O' Kingealy
Capt. Bruce O' Gilvy
Sir Geoffrey De Montmorency
Col. R. W. Burton
Sir John Morshall.
Several other arrangements, too, were made, such as :-
Organising games on the occasion : Polo, Tennis and Soccer for men and Badminton for ladies.
Special buggies were used for transportation instead of cars.
A special train with special coach was run upto Sanchi for the esteemed guests.
When Viceroy Earl Minto visited Lal Kothi, Begum Sultan Jahan made him lay the foundation stone for a new Durbar Hall.
This was close to the Lower Lake, near Lal Kothi.
Later, it came to be known as Minto Hall.
Built at a cost of approximately Rupees 3 lakhs, it was spread over 15 acres.
It took almost 24 years to be completed.
The design of the building resembled the Crown of George V.
Minto Hall served as the Vidhan Sabha of Madhya Pradesh from 01
November 1956 upto 02
Foundation Stone of Minto Hall
It is now being converted into a convention-cum-trade centre.
This building and the adjoining land will be handed over to the Commerce and Industries Department of the Government of Madhya Pradesh for this purpose.
A team from the ITPO has already visited Bhopal for an on-the-spot assessment of Minto Hall for this Convention Centre.
ILFS is preparing a Project Report on this aspect.
Lord Irwin's visit in 1927 was the last visit of a British Lord in the princely State of Bhopal. This was because, after independence, Bhopal became a full-fledged state under the Indian government and the Nawab of Bhopal was the head only for namesake.
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