Glen Esk has been popularised by many royal and noble visitors since Queen Victoria strayed over the hills from Deeside, but the most remarkable (if we are to believe the story) came here in 1929. In that year the Maharajah of Alwar came to the glen as a shooting tenant and made a lasting impression. There may exist somewhere a sober account of his coming, but word of mouth (coloured by the attitudes of the time) paints a more lurid picture. Locals are said to have reported that the maharajah and his entourage appeared in Glen Esk one moonlit night, a party that included a string of elephants and an entire harem. During his stay the maharajah is said to have slaughtered sixty-five stags. One of his peculiarities was that he did not set out for the hills until late in the afternoon and he continues to stalk until one or two in the morning, guided by torchlight. Those not in his immediate retinue had to stumble around in the dark and take good care not to shoot each other instead of the local wildlife. So much for that.
|Elephants journeying towards Glen Esk. (Note Brechin in the background.) Rumour states that some elephants escaped and their descendants still infest the Angus glens (especially Glen Mark).|
Do we believe this story? I think we should, even if there is a variant of it which casts doubt on its authenticity. This alternative version insists that the maharajah, still incognito, said he wanted all seven Rolls which were on display in the showroom, but only on condition that the unctuous salesman accompanied them as they were shipped back to his homeland. The salesman unsurprisingly did not refuse. But he was crestfallen, not to say heartbroken, when the pride and joy vehicles were transformed into bin lorries before his disbelieving eyes.
Jai Singh Prabhakar was a charismatic and intelligent ruler, famous as any rock star during his day - the stories reflect his personality and have something of Keith Moon about them, I think. Due to his disagreement with aspects of British colonial rule he was exiled for a long period to Paris. But a small valley in Angus remembers him still.
|Jai Singh Prabhakar|
Meanwhile, for more local elephantine lore, head over to the very excellent Dark Dundee website and see the tale of another long dead mega beastie!