Indian royal splendour on display

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When it comes to majestic grandeur, few monarchies in the world matched the opulence of India's royal courts in their heyday.

The Victoria and Albert (V&A) museum in London has brought some of that splendour to life in a new exhibition featuring more than 250 rarely seen objects, including thrones, gem-encrusted weapons and even a life-sized and bejewelled maharaja's model elephant.

Organisers say that Maharaja: The Splendour of India's Royal Courts is the first display that comprehensively explores the world of these exotic rulers and their rich culture.

The exhibition centres on the golden period of maharaja power: from the beginning of the 18th century to the mid-20th century. Many of the magnificent objects on display have been loaned by India's royal families.

The aim is to illuminate the plush and sometimes ostentatious lifestyles of maharajas that existed right up until the end of British rule in 1947.

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