India-Burma Connection: King Theba Palace in Ratnagiri

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images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQyhlqIL6ZbRj1eCvbnVhbKing Theba’s palace

It is difficult to imagine that Burma and India have a deep connection. It is on record that the British in 1824 began a conquest of Burma which was completed by 1885 when the Third Anglo-Burmese war was fought. The Burmese were decisively defeated and the King of Burma, Theba surrendered. The British as is their wont ,arrested the  entire Royal family and sent it to India in exile.  The idea was to stiffle any nationalistic notions of the Burmese people, which may have erupted in case the King had remained in Burma. The British followed up and  Burma was incorporated as a province of India and the Raj became omnipotent.

The place chosen by the English to keep the King Theba and his family was Ratnagiri. This is a fairly large town on the Goa Mumbaihighway in the state of Mahrashtra. Similarly, it will be recollected that Emperor Bahadur Shah, Moghul ruler at Delhi was exiled by the English to Rangoon, after the 1857 mutiny had been put down.Again the idea was to throttle any attempt in later years to revive Moghul rule.

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTYLfEHFhir0eT_W09bcZqking Theba and his family

To house the Burmese King the British built a large palace. This palace is situated in the heart of Ratnagiri and since 2000 is a state protected monument. This happened after the Burmese government wrote to the Indian government in 1994, to help conserve the place as a historical entity. Earlier it was used as the residence of the Collector and sundry other work.

It is on record that the King moved into this palace in 1910 and spent the later part of his life there, till his death. He was never allowed to go back to Burma. The king was kept in relative comfort by the British, but he was forbidden to take part in any political movement.

The Government has now ambitious plans to upgrade the monument as a tourist attraction. As the main occupant of the palace was King Theba, a special gallery dedicated to the life of the king in Burma and India will be opened. Work is already on for this. In addition the government plans a museum in the palace.The museum will display wooden replicas of Ships used by Maratha, English and Moguls. It will also have ancient scriptures as well as display local Konkani art. The restoration work of the Palace is in full swing and perhaps at the opening the Burmese ambassador can be expected.

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