Explained: A love story that ties Saint-Tropez with Himachal Pradesh

On Thursday, during his official visit to the Cannes Film Festival in France, Union Minister Anurag Thakur visited Place Allard in Saint-Tropez. Here, Thakur, the deputy of the Lok Sabha from Himachal Pradesh, paid a floral tribute to Maharaja Ranjit Singh (the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire), Jean-François Allard (a general in Singh’s army) and Allard’s wife Princess Banu Pan Di.

Just a boat ride from Cannes, Saint-Tropez has a historical connection to Himachal Pradesh.

History of Saint Tropez

Saint-Tropez was a military stronghold and a fishing village until the beginning of the 20th century. It was the first city on its coast to be liberated during World War II as part of “Operation Dragon”. After the war, it became an internationally known seaside resort due to the influx of French New Wave artists to the cinema. It later became a resort for European and American travelers and tourists.

Since the end of the 19th century, Saint-Tropez has been and remains a land of inspiration for artists. A remarkably well-preserved Mediterranean village, won over painters such as Signac, Matisse or Marquet, who produced major works of pointillism and fauve here.

Saint Tropez Connection with Himachal Pradesh

General Jean Francois Allard was born in Saint-Tropez. He served in Napoleon’s army and fought at the Battle of Waterloo. Forced into exile after the fall of Napoleon, he served under Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Punjab, where he felt deep love with Princess Banu Ban Deo, who was born in Champa, Himachal Pradesh. They married and have seven children.

Upon the family’s return to Saint-Tropez in 1835, the general built the Oriental-inspired Palais de Bain-Dieu as a symbol of his love for his wife.

The general later returned to India, leaving Princess Bano at Saint-Tropez. He feared that if they were both in India at his death, she might have to endure the sati ritual, in which widows are burned alive with their deceased husbands. Three years later, the general died in Peshawar.

Princess Baneau and her children remained at Saint-Tropez Palace until her death in 1884.

Princess Bano Ban Di

India’s connection with Saint-Tropez did not break even after four generations. In fact, the people of Saint-Tropez love to tell the romantic story of General Allard and Princess Baneau. The family of Princess Baneau is respected in Saint-Tropez.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his trusted General Alarde

Allard arrived in Lahore, the capital of the Kingdom of Punjab, in 1822. Maharaja Ranjit Singh quickly sought to modernize his army, leading them to lead special phage (special brigade), which in 1826 consisted of 10,000 men in 4 infantry regiments, 3 cavalry regiments and 1 unit of modern artillery. In 1827, there were 15,000 men under French command in this army.

These forces were very active in the operations commanded by the Maharaja, towards the south (Sindh and Baluchistan), the north (the conquest of the Himalayas), the east (the Anglo-Sikh frontier) and especially towards the northwest when Peshawar was annexed in 1834. One of the most dangerous and successful missions of the officers And special phage The victorious battle was against the various jihadists who hailed from Afghanistan and were waged against the Punjab.

From 1834 to 1843, the city of Peshawar and the province practically remained under the command of French generals Ranjit Singh.

It is said that Maharaja Ranjit Singh had such esteem and affection for Alard that he feared that hearing the news of his death would have fatal consequences.

Union Minister Anurag Thakur at Allard Square in Saint-Tropez. He is depicted with busts of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (left) and General Allard.

General Allard, as he wished, was buried in Lahore.

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