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This Compilation Extract, comes from “A GLIMPSE OF EMPIRE”; by Jessica Douglas Home.This piece is a fact-based story of the experience of a young Anglo-Irish Beauty, LilahWingfield (daughter of English LORD POWERSCOURT) on her visit, to Bhopal, somewhere in1911, as a guest of PRINCE OBAIDULLAH KHAN.

In her own words, of her visit, I gave below some chosen descriptive words:

1. “Living in a dream for a week”.
2. “Mysteriously conveyed from place to place”.
3. “Felt exquisite pleasure”.
4. “Rode in luxury Cadillacs and Fords model T”.
5. “Enigmatic servants in Bhopal livery accompanied her, whilst she rode on horseback through Royal Parks, gardens and glades of fruits”.
6. All my movements seemed like adventurous from – “The Arabian Nights”.
7. Saw Imposing and majestic Palaces, and Prince Obaidullah’s wife “A Beauty in purdah”.
8. I now go on to enumerate descriptions of General Obaidullah Khan who was described by this guest in the following words:

“The Prince was stout and tough with dark coarse skin and a black beard. The Begum, his mother appointed him as the Colonel in Chief of the Bhopal Imperial service Troops because she saw in him the fighting and military qualities of an unbroken line of Afghan warriors (His Tribal Ancestors). He also is credited to having saved his mother (On one of her trips to Mecca) from a Bedouin attack on their Caravan. General Obaidullah was commandeering the Bhopal Lancers who were accompanying the Begum on this trip. In 1906, he became ADC to Viceroy Lord Minto.

Generals Wife and Kids BW

In Lilah’s words, Prince Obaidullah had an endearing character, a mixture of candour, simplicity and Regal dignity. For him, war was a natural gift, but he seemed childishly pleased on knowing that Lilah admired the Crimson Roses that adorned their dinner table.General Obaidullah’s imperial hospitality included the following invitations to Lilah, over her week’s stay.

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Brief descriptions of the experiences

A) His first invitation, A Visit to The General’s wife. A brief visit to another little palatial abode revealed; “The daintiness and beauty of this little creature simply took my breath away. She has a pale olive complexion, finely formed features and glorious deep soft eyes with long dark lashes. She wore purple and gold, with a Rope of Emerald and pearls around her neck, sporting also Diamond bracelets and rings, gleaming through a white veil with a strong smell of scent, pervading the atmosphere around her. The Prince’s wife was an Exquisite Beauty in Purdah, she graciously presented me with tiny Bottles of perfume, on my departure.

B) The “Colonel” as he was called, also invited Lilah to Ride Horses. His stables had over sixty beautiful animals and several ladies saddles, escorted by a handsome Bhopal Lancer. She enjoyed riding in the fields, grass tracks, through villages of straw huts, into Luxuriant parks of the Royal summer palaces, she was presented with little bouquets of Roses on palm leaves after every ride. I was taken to race tracks to inspect the Prince’s horses. I drove a beautiful pair of ponies that were brought by The Colonel from England and had won prizes in Olympia.

C) A series of Drives in the Cadillac and white horse-drawn carriage, accompanied by enigmatic servants in Bhopal Livery took Lilah to Palace visits where she saw Sadar Manzil, Quaser E Sultani and Noor – Us – Sabah.

D) Hosting continued further with a Limousine drive and Liveried servant to a lake, where 2 picturesque boatmen in blue and gold Bhopal colours rowed her out to meet General Obaidullah and his newly procured 66 horsepower speedboat imported from England. Jetting across the lake, they went to an island, where waiting for them, was a sumptuous Tea spread, laid on a carpet of grass complete with chairs, tables, and attendants.

This was followed by a wild Duck shoot in the marshes.

E) Lilah was invited to Dining experiences by the General, where Prince Obaidullah and the Captain came down the steps of the Palace to personally greet her. The Prince was alwaysimpeccably dressed sporting a white Turban. Dinner was sumptuously arranged in a cool marble-paved room. The center of the table was covered by Banaras hand-made cloth with a design of peacocks and hand embroidered, silver, gold and jewels. A 13-course dinner of exquisite Indian dishes were impossible to refuse.

Lilah said that the hospitality lavished on her, made her feel ashamed of the English mode of entertaining and courtesy. This trip was a culmination of her quest for acceptance into the intimate and authentic heart of India. The mystery and charm of Bhopal impregnated her and she was overwhelmed with the General’s hospitality, calling it a Blissful Experience, called this “The Magic of The East”.

Jehan Numas’ Hospitality Roots are evidently displayed in this personal testimony of a world class Traveller, more than 100 years ago. It’s foundations have crafted the “Secrets” of Discerning Regal Hosting.

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