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Maharaja Teachers' Resource

Welcome to the AGO’s interactive site for Maharaja: The Splendours of India’s Royal Courts.

Visit each page, and scroll over the artworks to zoom in on details and ponder questions that will lead to an understanding of the themes of the show. 

The pages on this site lead to the Maharaja Online Tumblr, where students’ thoughts, reactions and extrapolations can live. Students can post text, images, sounds or videos to add to a growing commentary on what it means to be powerful in today’s day and age. For a description of what Tumblr is and how to use it, click here.

Teachers – we invite you to use this resource in part or in its entirety, in any number of ways.

  • If you are planning a visit to the AGO to see Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts, use this resource to familiarize your students with some of the artworks and themes they will explore.
  • If your class has seen the exhibition, use it a follow-up activity where students can post their reactions.
  • If you are not able to visit the AGO to see the Maharaja exhibition, this resource is a way to delve into the works and themes of the show in a rich and interactive way.


This colourful and dynamic painting of the Procession of Raja Ram Singh II and his son at Kota captures the festive spirit, splendour and excitement that surrounded the spectacle of a royal procession.

Procession of Raja Ram Singh II of Kota and his son at Kota

Click on each work below to learn more

The Procession

A royal procession was an exciting event. People came from far and wide to witness the splendour and power of India's rulers. Explore a fascinating procession scene…

Tools of the Trade

In India’s royal courts, elephants were highly valued for their power and their majesty. The tools used to handle them, such as this ankus, were created with great artistry. Take a closer look...

An Ideal King

What makes a good king? Kingly attributes are described in a life-sized ‘miniature’ painting.

The Lives of Maharajas

Maharaja were expected to be fair rulers, strong warriors, spiritually pure, as well as cultured patrons of the arts. See a painting which depicts all of these activities taking place in a royal palace…

Royal Adornment

The Maharaja and his entourage convey the well-being of the people through the opulence of their clothing and adornment. Take a closer look at a royal jewel…

Lives of Women

Chand Bibi was a famous Muslim Warrior Queen. Her life would have been very different from most women living at her time…

Clothing a Maharaja

The Maharaja and his entourage express their status and roles through their clothing. Look more closely at an article of clothing…

A Gift Fit for a King

The receiving and giving of gifts was an important ritual in the courts of the Maharajas. This painting was one such gift; what do you think it may have meant to the Maharaja who received it?

The Throne

This sumptuous throne is fit for a king, but was not the traditional furniture on which an Indian king would sit.

Significant Guns

The time of the Maharajas was a period of great change and saw many battles being fought. Weapons were used as symbols as well as tools in warfare. Investigate an interesting pair of pistols…

Power Relationships

The time of the Maharajas saw many shifting alliances and power relationships – explore a depiction of one such power-shift...

A Sword with a Story

This is the personal sword of the Maharaja of Indore of the Holkar family. The blade of the sword is made of steel and the hilt or handle is covered in diamonds, emeralds and rubies set in gold...

A Portrait of a King

In this portrait, the Nawab (another name for an Indian ruler) is looking directly at you - a significant change from how Maharajas were traditionally depicted in India. This type of representation reflects the changing tastes and power relationships taking place in India in the early 19th Century.

Carrying a King

It's not an elephant, but this ornate silver carriage certainly conforms to many peoples' ideas of royal rides. Take a close look to see both the Indian and British contributions to its construction.

An Impressive Ride

Maharajas began travelling to Europe more and they began to commission portraits, jewellery, clothes and cars from European designers and companies. This car was commissioned by the Thakore Sahib of Rajkot to replace his 20-year-old Rolls-Royce...

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