That’s the King’s bed,” said my guide pointing at the cot in front of me. I was standing in the private chambers of the royal family in the majestic Junagarh Fort in Bikaner, Rajasthan, gaping at a cot that looked smaller than the one I slept in when I was a school kid. It was the most ‘unking-size’ King’s bed I have ever seen in my life.
Junagarh Fort was the fortified residence of the descendants of Bika Rao, the founder of Bikaner; a grandiose palace of the royal family until 1902 and a formidable fort that remained unconquered.
One would expect the King to sleep in a rather opulent king-size bed. But this cot was narrow and hardly two feet from the floor. It wasn’t fit for a King. There was just enough room for the King; throw in a concubine and it would have been a tight squeeze, without any pun.
But there was a reason why ‘small’ things mattered in the King’s bedroom. A low bed eliminated the possibility of an attacker hiding under it, unless you are the Thumbelina version of Tyrion Lannister (a fictional character in A Song of Ice and Fire and TV series Game of Thrones). It also meant that the King would be able to swiftly jump to his feet in case of a surprise attack. The bed could also be turned into a jhoola — to help destress the King.
The private chambers of the royal couple also had a unique and efficient arrangement. The couple had separate rooms with adjoining windows. If the windows were closed, it meant that the king was spending time with his concubines, whereas open windows indicated the king’s desire to spend the night with his queen. I only hope the queen slammed the windows on the king’s face and banished him to his little cot every now and then!
(The author is a travel writer, photographer and artist. She blogs at www.asunnysquare.com)