A descendant of the ancient Indian King Porus, a colossus from ancient Indian history and a prominent aristocrat from the “Eastern Hellenic World”, opens up about Alexander the Great and ancient and modern Greece.
Porus’ dynasty was neither brought to an end like that of the Achaemenids of Persia, nor did Alexander the Great take direct control of his state; rather, he continued his rule as a Satrap, with an enlarged territory of almost 85,000 square miles.
Today, his descendant King (titular) Aishwarya Chandra Katoch is actively involved in family businesses and in local state politics.
He is the Director of Kangra Group, Indiabulls Group and Royal Expeditions, and has been actively promoting Kangra as a tourist destination internationally.
After almost 400 years, Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra fort witnessed the coronation ceremony of the 489th titular king of the erstwhile royal family of the region.
Mr. Aishwarya Chandra Katoch was crowned as the Raja (titular king) of this region. His family is very popular here, and they reciprocate the love showered on them by the people by working for the welfare of Kangra.
Asked by Greek Reporter about the coronation, King Katoch responded by saying “The coronation was amazing! It is part of our family tradition, attended by members of different royal families of India. Several royal families in India gave their princely states for the creation of a united democratic India, and we all respect and cherish the institution of democracy. The coronation is our family tradition that goes back ages, and we have been following it to preserve our traditions and culture.”
King Katoch is a forward-looking, progressive man, who has great respect for modern institutions. At the same time he is very attached to his traditions and culture, and maybe it was this same quality that inspired his ancestor King Parmananda Katoch (alternatively known as Porus) to face Alexander like a quintessential warrior, and not surrender without a fight and act like a serf, as King Ambhi of Taxila did.
When asked for his views on King Porus, King Katoch said “Porus is not a name, it is a title, meaning mountain lion, given to my ancestor by Alexander the Great in recognition of his bravery.
“King Porus presented a tough challenge to Alexander’s huge army. I don’t say Porus defeated Alexander, but I definitely believe that the result of the battle they fought against each other was inconclusive. This made Alexander accept Porus as a Satrap (Regional Governor), adding more territory to his already existing kingdom, and Alexander consequently had to take a different, and more difficult, route as he departed.
As a child, I saw a copper plate inscription of the treaty between Alexander the Great and my ancestor King Porus from our family collection. It had palm impressions of both Alexander the Great and King Porus, though they were faint, and had been shown to Lord Curzon (Erstwhile Viceroy of India during British rule) by my ancestors.
Actually, they used buffalo blood for palm impressions, because of a chemical reaction it allowed palm impressions on copper plates. But then I went to study abroad, and we lost this precious artifact from our collection back in Kangra,” the descendent of King Porus told Greek Reporter.
On Alexander the Great
When asked what are his views on Alexander the Great, King Katoch said that “he was a great warrior, but his army was too weary to advance, and he had to back off from India. A two-act play was staged for Alexander’s entertainment near the Beas River, according to a scholar’s recent research. The other bloodline of our family was happy to help Alexander, but my ancestor King Porus fought against him.
“Alexander, respecting his bravery and recognizing his might, took the territory from the other bloodline of the family (younger Porus) and gave it to my ancestor. Even the Seleucids who succeeded Alexander ruled outside my ancestor’s kingdom’s borders in Afghanistan.
“We have it in our oral history that one of my ancestors, a son of Porus, took Alexander’s cousin in marriage. We do not have a written record of this, but we Indians used to keep our history alive orally, so that is what we have in our oral history, and there are Greek tribes in the Himachal region.”
When asked whether he has ever visited Greece, and if yes, did he observe any similarity between Greece and his ancestor’s kingdom, King Katoch replied, “Yes, of course, I have visited Greece! It is a beautiful country. I stayed in a village there with a friend’s family and saw that while eating that family spat to ward off evil, something very similar to what we Rajputs (Indian caste) also do, and this was very interesting to me.
“I love the Greek islands, the natural beauty of the country and the resemblance of the forts in Greece to the forts of my Kingdom. My fort, the Kangra fort, is one of the oldest forts of India and it doesn’t look typically Indian! In fact it is very similar to Eastern European forts, especially Greek forts. When I was in Greece I listed in my diary a number of forts I saw that were very similar to Kangra fort, which has a very square design. “
Resistance to Turkish Aggression
When asked about his family’s history of fighting against the Turks, and if he sees a similarity to the Greek resistance to Ottoman aggression, King Katoch said “These nomads were hungry for power and did not follow the ethics of war like my ancestors. In the Puranas (Hindu religious texts) we are taught that you do not fight at night: rather, at night, opponents even used to go to each other’s camps to discuss, but these nomads did not follow this ethic of war.
“Nevertheless, when Timur invaded India from Central Asia, my ancestor drove him away from my kingdom. There is a theory that one of my ancestors migrated to Mongolia, which has also been mentioned by the Prime Minister of Mongolia.”
Travel and Tourism
When asked his opinions on travel and tourism, King Katoch said, “Kangra is very beautiful because of its nature, its art and craft, its history and the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s headquarters in nearby Dharamshala. Many people do not know about our history, and I hope to be able to spread the knowledge of my ancestor’s kingdom.
“Next year is the 2350th anniversary of the Battle of Hydaspes fought between Alexander the Great and my ancestor, and we hope, along with you and those associated with the Greek Reporter, that with the Greek Embassy in India and others we will be able to observe it in Kangra.”