‘The Jungle Prince of Delhi’ is an article that has been penned down by the famous investigative journalist Ellen Barry about a mysterious family that lived in a jungle close to Delhi. For decades, this family had been a source of fascination among journalists and common people. This family claimed to be the descendants of the Nawab of Oudh Nawab Wajid Ali Shah whose throne had been annexed by the British in 1856.
The story of this mysterious family which lived in isolation with their dogs and servants at began in the 1970s when a woman named Wilayat Begum decided to reside at the train station in Delhi as a protest against the annexation of the Oudh throne.
She along with her two children demanded that her properties be returned to her. The lady stayed at the VIP waiting room of Delhi station for ten years until the government allocated the family a 14th-century hunting lodge called Malcha Mahal.
The important fact is that the family called themselves Prince and Princesses and did not like communicating with the Indians. Although the international publications were greatly interested in the history and reality of this family, the siblings did not want to reveal much. Ellen Barry did not give up and continued investigating into the matter. After a few years, the man Prince Cyrus died and Ellen Barry discovered some of the lost relatives. She discovered that the family had nothing to do with the Nawab of Oudh as they were from a different background and were living in a make-believe world.
The original story published in The New York Times received great response from all over the world. Social media was ablaze with the account and the style of Ellen Barry’s writing. According to the people, this story depicted the height of investigative journalism narrated in beautiful words.
Even the famously eloquent politician Shashi Tharoor could not help to appreciate the rarity of this kind of work. According to one social media user, Ellen Barry’s story was like a Van Gogh painting. William Dalrymple revealed that he had also tried getting to know about this family but gave up as he did not believe anything they said. He was all praise for Ellen Barry for going the extra mile.
However, not all social media reactions were full of praise. To some readers, the story was insensitive stereotyping the Indians through a white colonial lens.
Ellen Barry is the Pulitzer Prize-winning international journalist associated with the New York Times. Currently posted in London, Ellen Barry has been the South Asia Bureau Chief for the New York Times in New Delhi. It was during her stay in New Delhi that she came across the mysterious story of the jungle prince and princess who were believed to hail from the family of Nawab of Oudh. While many journalists had given up on the story earlier, Ellen Barry strived hard to find the deeper truth and succeeded in the end.