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The Hill of Devi

The novelist E. M. Forster opens the door on life in a remote Maharajah’s court in the early twentieth century, a “record of a vanished civilization.” Through letters from his time visiting and working there, he introduces us to a 14th century political system in “the oddest corner of the world outside Alice in Wonderland” where the young Maharajah of Devas, “certainly a genius and possibly a saint,” led a state centered on spiritual aspirations. The Hill of Devi chronicles Forster’s infatuation and exasperation, fascination, and amusement at this idiosyncratic court, leading us with him to its heart and the eight-day festival of Gokul Ashtami, marking the birth of Krishna, where we see His Highness Maharajah Sir Tukoji Rao III dancing before the altar “like David before the Ark.”

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