I don’t know about you, but I sometimes forget that India actually used to be a British colony.
In fact, the country was ruled by the British Crown for almost 100 years. Yeah, India only became an independent country on August 15, 1947, which is pretty recent in the grand scheme of things.
But with the joy of gaining independence came a whole slew of new challenges.
One of the biggest questions at hand was how to unite the 500 or so princely states that were left behind.
These “princely states” were basically little monarchies all across India that were all pretty much held together thanks to their alliance with the British Raj (that’s what India was called during this time).
Anyway, once India gained independence, stitching together these territorial puzzle pieces were gonna be one tough challenge. Most of the states were fine with becoming part of newly born India.
But some of them wanted to become part of a neighboring country, while others wanted their own independence.
If you ever get a chance to visit India, here are some places you can go today. That at one point almost didn’t become part of the Land of Spices.
This was the first state to object to becoming part of the newly independent India.
At first, Travancore wanted to become its own country, but after a series of negotiations with the Indian government. It finally agreed to join India. The modern-day southern state of Kerala was formed from Travancore in 1956.
Today, Kerala is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India, and National Geographic Traveler dubbed it one of the “10 paradises of the world.”
The state is known for its pristine beaches, quaint and peaceful backwaters, and picturesque tea gardens. And if you’re a foodie like me, don’t miss the delicious Dosas and the savory Rasam.
Oh, and, of course, don’t forget about all the coconut water you can drink! Mmm, a true paradise indeed.
Here’s one of those states I mentioned earlier that thought about becoming part of a neighboring country.
Well, more specifically, Jodhpur is a city in the Indian state of Rajasthan.
The prince of Jodhpur at that time thought that it might be beneficial for him to join Pakistan because his state shared a border with the also recently independent country to the northwest.
Pakistan was even gonna set Jodhpur up with some pretty tempting conditions that would help the state’s economy and security.
However, the Indian Deputy Prime Minister swooped in and offered the prince an even better deal, so that’s why Jodhpur is part of India today.
And if you can go there, it sure is a sight to behold!
Today, the historic walled city has sorta spilled out beyond its walls that had once been erected to keep the city safe from outside invasion.
Jodhpur is known for its magnificent forts and temples set against the stark landscape of the Thar Desert.
Famous tourist attractions include the Mehrangarh Fort, Umaid Bhawan Palace, and Jaswant Thada.
The historic buildings and landscapes of the city have even been in a number of movies, including The Dark Knight Rises and Kung Fu Yoga.
Although a vast majority of the population in Bhopal wanted to join India, the king there wanted his state to be independent.
He even made his decision clear to his friend Lord Mountbatten, who wrote back to him saying that “no ruler could run away from the dominion closest to him.” (Man, what a Debbie-downer of a pal!)
So, finding no support from neither his friend nor his subjects, the king finally decided to merge his state with India.
The historic princely state of Bhopal is now a city that bears the same name.
It’s the capital of the central Indian state called Madhya Pradesh and is among the greenest cities in the country.
Bhopal is also known as the City of Lakes because, well, it has a bunch of them!
And 22 miles from the city, you’ll find the Bhimbetka Caves. They were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003.
The story behind Junagadh is kind of a shocking one. It was a princely city-state in the present-day the westernmost state of Gujarat.
Now, the Indian government was sure that it would join them because that’s what the local people wanted.
But the king surprised everybody by agreeing to become part of Pakistan. Well, the citizens of Junagadh didn’t take that too well, so they revolted.
The king left, the Indian government swooped in, and they decided to hold a referendum just to make sure that’s what the people wanted.
It’s enough to say that they got their answer when over 90% of the voters chose to join India.
Now, Junagadh isn’t the most popular tourist destination in India. But the city is full of remnants of its glorious past.
You can visit the “Buddhist Caves” and one of the Edicts of Ashoka. Which are these huge ancient pillars with writing on them from the 3rd century BCE.
So, yeah, if you’re into ancient history and architecture, you’d love Junagadh.
The case of Hyderabad was probably the most interesting.
It was a state located in the heart of India. Yet the king there wanted to remain independent and become a member of the British Commonwealth of nations.
The last viceroy of India however, made it very clear to him that the Crown would not agree to Hyderabad becoming a member of the Commonwealth unless it was through either India or Pakistan.
So, in the end, the ruler chose India. And the southern Indian city of Hyderabad is just as famous today for its lakes, palaces, and culture as it is for its distinct cuisine.
A tourist looking to explore Hyderabad’s rich history can check out the Mecca Masjid, the Salar Jung Museum, and the Falaknuma Palace, to name just a few.
But if you’re like me and looking for the best food around, then you can try the legendary Hyderabadi Biryani and kebabs. And then there’s something for movie buffs too.
The Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad is the largest film studio complex in the world. And many of India’s, most popular movies were shot there.
And, yes, you can visit it.
Have you ever been (or would you like to go) to any of these Indian states? Let me know down in the comment.