The first among the Indian princely rulers to sign instrument of merger in 1949, Maharaja Manvendra Shah, passed away on Friday evening due to prolonged illness. He was 85.
A BJP member of Lok Sabha, Shah also had the distinction of winning from Tehri Lok Sabha constituency for a record eight times since 1957. He won the seat unopposed in 1962, and subsequently in 1967, 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004, having lost only once to Paripurnand Painuli, a social activist in 1971.
Shah, the last scion of the Tehri dynasty, was a custodian of the holy Badrinath temple and was popularly known as Buland Badri, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Shah's son Manujudha Shah will now be made the new custodian of Badrinath temple, family sources said.
Shah was president, Temple Board of Management, Tehri Garhwal; and patron of many hill associations and Trustee of Maharaja Narendra Shah Trust and Maharaja Kirti Shah Trust.
Born on May 26, 1921, Shah studied at Government College, Lahore and ICS Camp, Dehradun (Uttaranchal). He succeeded his father Maharaja Narendra Shah to the throne in 1946.
He remained king of Tehri dynasty for a brief period of two and a half year before he signed the instrument of merger into India on August 1, 1949 in response to a call for merger from the then Home Minister Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. Shah served as India’s ambassador to Ireland from 1980 to 1983.
Former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee went to the residence of Shah on Saturday morning to pay his homage and convey his condolences to the bereaved family.
Shah's body will be taken to his ancestral Narendra Nagar Palace in Tehri district where it would be kept for public to pay their last respects before the last rites are conducted at Rajghat near Rishikesh on Sunday.
The Uttarakhand government has announced a two-day state mourning. Chief Minister ND Tiwari and BJP leaders have expressed their condolences over the death of Shah.