Forget about Prince Will and Kate, these are the original Royals. The Art Gallery of Ontario's newest exhibit travels to the era of the Maharajas, courtesans, classical music, and opulent jewels. Jugni Style had a sneak peak at some of the exquisite pieces that are part of the Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Court exhibit, opening November 20 in Toronto.

We sat down with Dr. Stephen Inglis, the curator of the exhibit, for an insider look into how this epic collection found its way to Toronto. Organized in collaboration with the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, this is the first time the exhibit has been outside of London and Germany, which is great news for Toronto history buffs and royal watchers alike. 

Dr. Inglis's goal for the exhibit is to have each person to discover how the Maharajas were patronized in art, classical dance and music. "It's going to be an experience."

And the AGO has done an amazing job showcasing the great legacy of the Maharajas in a very modern way. When you enter the exhibit hall, you walk onto a gorgeous set designed by Rex (he only goes by his first name), with wonderful music created by Debashis Sinha setting the mood as you glide through each room.

The exhibit features more than 200 treasures spanning three centuries, including elaborate jewelry, ornate weaponry, stunning artwork, royal costumes and photographs by artists like Man Ray and Cecil Beaton. Most exciting is the fact that many of these pieces have been in storage and never even been shown at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. 

Pieces that struck us include a royal Rolls Royce from 1934, provided by the Maharaja of Rajkot, and the regal throne of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. But our personal favourites are from the collections of the Maharaja of Patiala, Bhupinder Singh, whose love for jewelry included a 400 carat Cartier Necklace and Emerald Belt Buckle.

Visit the AGO from November 20, 2010 to April 3, 2011, and live like the maharajas and ranis, experiencing their stunning courts for a day.

Check out some of our favourite pieces from the exhibit:


Story and Photography By: Joti Dhesi