Bhubaneswar/Sambalpur: His name features in the Limca Book of Records for collecting over 130 pictures of kings of India and beyond. This has been a hobby for Ajay Agarawala of Sambalpur district in Odisha since 2011.
Hailing from Kuchinda town, this autograph enthusiast has not only collected pictures of the royalty, but also got them signed by various kings. “I meet them personally and request them to sign their respective picture with their names. I never correspond via post, e-mail or social media,” said Ajay.
Besides kings and queens of Balangir to that of royal families of princely states across India, Ajay has autographed photos of kings from Belgium, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan and Iran neatly catalogued in special hand-made paper albums.
Though he has over 500 such signed pictures, 130 of them are exclusively of kings from different parts of India and the world, such as Maharaja Kanak Vardhan Singhdeo of Balangir, Maharaja Sawai Padmanabh Singh of Jaipur, late King Birendra of Nepal and Pakistan’s only Hindu King Hamir Singh.
“The royalty of India has significantly contributed to the socio-cultural growth of society for generations. However, their bloodline and traditions are slowly getting diluted due to changing times. I am attempting to preserve a part of their glorious present for the future generations to remember and cherish and aid in heritage tourism,” he added.
Ajay has started a Facebook group called Princely India, which has nearly 6,000 royal families as its members. He is planning to put up an exhibition of his collection in Jodhpur soon and is also compiling a book with interesting historical facts, titled Princely India- Paradise Lost Forever.