royal Maharaj Ganga Singh

India’s ostentatious royals really knew how to blow up a pretty penny. From spending Rs 20 lakh on their dogs’ wedding to melting 14,000 silver coins to create a vessel to carry ‘Ganga jal’, some of these stories are downright ludicrous. 

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 10:  Lucy Anne poses for photos in the lobby of the main tent during Olympus Fashion Week Fall 2005 at Bryant Park February 10, 2005 in New York City.  (Photo by Katy Winn/Getty Images)

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Maharaja of Junagadh

The Maharaja of Junagadh owned 800 dogs, each with its own room and personal servant. When the dogs fell ill, they were taken to a British vet to get treated. If a beloved pet passed away, a day of state mourning was declared.

And if you thought that was crazy, check this out: when two of his favourite dogs mated, the good Maharaja was said to have spent nearly Rs 20 lakh for their “wedding”. Needless to say, the day was proclaimed a state holiday.

Maharaja Jay Singh

Maharaja Jay Singh of Alwar

While on a visit to London, a casually dressed Maharaja Jay Singh entered a Rolls Royce showroom to enquire about the cars. The ignorant salesmen took him to be another ‘poor Indian’ and dismissed him perfunctorily. Infuriated, the Maharaja entered the showroom a second time in full royal regalia and purchased 10 cars on the spot.

On his return to India, Jay Singh ordered the roofs to be torn off all the cars, designating them as garbage trucks and using them to transport the city’s waste. Eventually, Rolls Royce was forced to apologise for their mistake.

A woman trying on a selection of shoes, 1951. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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Maharani Indira Devi

Maharani Indira Devi ordered over 100 pairs of shoes — some studded with diamonds — from one of the most famous and expensive shoe designers of the 20th century, Salvatore Ferragamo.

Italian shoemaker Ferragamo later wrote in his memoirs about the Maharani’s astounding requests, like the time he crafted a pair of shoes encrusted with pearls, and another made of black velvet and studded with diamonds.

Mir Osman Ali Khan

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Mir Osman Ali Khan

The last Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan, was so rich, he used the world’s fifth largest diamond — the 184.97 carat Jacob Diamond — as a paperweight. The Nizam was the world’s richest man at the time, with more than $2 billion in his coffers. The ostrich egg-sized jewel is now the property of the Government of India.

September 1970:  British coins, a silver 50p piece, ten pence piece, five pence  piece and copper coins two, one and half pence.  (Photo by A. J. O'Brien/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

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Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II

Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II entered the Guinness Book of World Records when he had two enormous sterling silver vessels, the largest in the world, created to carry ‘ganga jal’ on his travels to England. These giant vessels were created by melting 14,000 silver coins.

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 10:  Louis Vuitton luggage is shown at a press conference to announce the opening of a new store in New York City celebrating their 150th anniversary February 10, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)

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Maharaja Jagatjit Singh

Luxury brand Louis Vuitton’s best customer was undoubtedly the Indian Maharaja of Kapurthala, Jagatjit Singh. The maharaja was an avid traveller, who owned over 60 large Louis Vuitton trunks that would carry his clothes, turbans, swords and riches no matter where he went. Talk about excess baggage.

NEW YORK - JANUARY 9:  Gold bullion bars and coins are seen for sale at Manfra, Tordella and Brookes, Inc. January 9, 2003 in New York City. The price of gold has risen by nearly 30 percent over the past year with investors looking for stability as war with Iraq has become more likely. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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Maharaja Ganga Singh

Once a year, Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner would distribute his weight in gold to the poor. The generous ruler distributed so much gold, that even their pets were fully blinged out.

TIVERTON, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 17:  Suzy Wall from Chilcotts Auctioners and Valuers holds Lot 13, a  Hornby O-gauge toy train, the Folkestone Flyer, valued at 1000-1500 GBP at The Chilcott School Saleroom, Tiverton, on October 17 2007 in Devon, England. The train is part of a collection valued at over 30000 GBP and belonged to Dr Clifford Patrick who died in 2003.  The collection is being auctioned on October 23 2007.  (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

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The Maharaja of Gwalior

The Maharaja of Gwalior took no shortcuts when treating his dinner guests to the utmost luxuries. He owned a model train made from real silver that moved along his royal banquet table, circulating cigars and liquor to the seated diners. The maharaja loved his toy train so much, that he displayed it at the end of every royal banquet.

FRANCE - APRIL 30: Crystal perfume bottles, 1925, Baccarat glassworks, France, 20th century. Paris, Musée Des Arts Decoratifs (Art And Crafts Museum) (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

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Maharana Sajjan Singh

Maharana Sajjan Singh of Udaipur was so fascinated  by crystals, he decided to have his entire palace decorated with them. He ordered the entire crystal collection from the ‘F&C Osler’ company located in England, which included tables, chairs, ceiling fans, dinner sets, glasses… even perfume bottles. The Maharana even had his bed made from crystal, making it the only crystal bed in the world. His palace is known as the Crystal Gallery, and is located in the Fateh Prakash Palace in Udaipur.
Maharani Sita Devi

Maharani Sita Devi of Baroda 

 One of the most most extravagant Indian queens in history, Maharani Sita Devi had a golden tongue-scraper made and ordered from Europe. She was also said to have owned over a thousands sarees, each with its own matching bag and a pair of shoes. She even had a cigarette holder that was embellished  with rubies.
AGRA, INDIA - SEPTEMBER 30:  The Taj Mahal is seen on September 30, 2010 in Agra, India. Completed in 1643, the mausoleum was built by th Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who is buried there alongside Jahan.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Shah Jahan

Sure, you’ve heard of the Taj Mahal, but do you know the painstaking effort that actually went into creating it? Over 1,000 elephants were used to lift heavy materials during its construction, and the Taj Mahal’s beautiful white marble was inset with 28 different types of precious and semi-precious stones that were gathered from all over Asia.