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Pankot Palace was the capital building of the province of Pankot, India. In addition to being the seat of government, it was the home for the Maharajah Zalim Singh.



Pankot Palace was built on the top of a mount[1] in the Pankot Principality[2] known as the "wounded" or "bleeding" mountain, so named[3] for its subterranean volcanic activity that left boiling pools and sulfurous fumes in its cave systems. The mount was located above a tropical valley, and not far from a murky but crocodile-infested[1] tributary of the Ganges River.[3] The site of the palace[4] was once the center of activity for the Thuggee cult before the time of Robert Clive,[1] featuring a large Thuggee temple dedicated to Kali, which was destroyed in 1828 with the violent suppression of the cult,[4] resulting in the deaths of more than 300 Thuggee priests.[3] For over a century, the surrounding diamond mines were a place of fear and death as Thuggee cultists were known to prowl the dark underbrush, kidnapping victims for their foul sacrifices.[5]

The newer palace was completed over the remains of the temple in 1839,[4] featuring an architecture of a mixture of Moghul and Rajput styles.[6] A sprawling citadel of alabaster domes and minarets encrusted with lapis lazuli stone, the palace complex was erected over a plutonic igneous rock with some crystallization.[3] Hidden passages allowed to enter in rooms and access to the catacombs.[1] The palace's interiors included the Royal Stables and exotic menagerie of animals and birds maintained in the palace's inner courtyard.[2] During its initial use it housed several Maharajahs.[6]

Pankot Palace was abandoned and left deserted in 1850,[1] as the Pankot Principality effectively ceased to exist as a political entity.[2] During the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857[1] the Indian rebels used the Palace as base of operations.[4] That spring the Palace was briefly besieged.[2]

Mola Ram's infiltration[]

Prior to 1930, Mola Ram, one of the last High Priests of Kali left in the world,[2] emigrated from Bengal to Pankot[3] with his followers[2] in search of three Sankara Stones.[3] With two already in his possession, Ram believed all five would empower the Thuggee to destroy their British persecutors and establish his goddess Kali Ma's reign on Earth.[1] Mola Ram found a powerful ally in Chattar Lal, the Prime Minister of the palace, now recently reinstated[1] by Maharaja Premjit Singh.[2]

In the spring of 1930, Singh discovered of the active Thuggee cult and threatened to expose them to the British. He was poisoned at the hands of Mola Ram and died in a riding accident[7] Ram, with Lal's help, subdued Premjit's heir Zalim and the pair restored the palace's long-neglected Kali temple, to show the power of Kali to all who looked upon the structure.[2] To search for the remaining Sankara Stone the Thuggee abducted children[1] from neighbour villages,[6] including Mayapore,[2] to dig the Stones underneath the caves.[1] Though Mola Ram was concerned about the British, he refused to let his or his followers' fear of them interfere with his plans. He kept an eye on the things happening in and around Pankot Palace, always looking for opportunities to spread the Thuggee influence into the very fabric of the realm.[5]

Thuggee downfall[]

In 1935, suspecting a revived Thuggee movement in Pankot Province[1] after hearing rumors of dark rituals and Thuggee activity,[2] Captain Phillip Blumburtt brought his unit[1] of eighty-man[2] at Pankot Palace, under the guise of a routine inspection tour.[1]

Mola Ram's plans were thrown into disarray by American archaeologist Indiana Jones and his companions Willie Scott and Short Round who were brought to India following a plane crash. Indy's action brought the death of Mola Ram, the liberation of the Maharaja, the end of the Thuggee sect and the liberation of the enslaved children.[1] It was believed that Chattar Lal left with several thousand pounds in gold, diamonds and jewelry, some stolen from the Palace.[8]

Behind the scenes[]

In the beginning, the Pankot Palace set would be in the Amber Fort that it was unsuccessful due to disagreements with the Indian government.[9][10] So the producers had to make the palace on their own in Sri Lanka with mattes and the set in studio.[11]

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Sourcebook and Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide described the Palace as existing since the 1500s and being loyal to the British Crown during the Sepoy Mutiny.[2][4] The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones instead presents the Palace as more "recent", having been erected in the early 19th century and largely abandoned during latter part of the century [4]


Non-canonical appearances[]


Notes and references[]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Sourcebook
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones
  5. 5.0 5.1 IndianaJones Mola Ram's Marshall College's entry on (backup link on
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom novel
  7. IndianaJones Zalim Singh's Marshall College entry on (backup link on
  8. IndianaJones Chattar Lal's Marshall College entry on (backup link on
  9. "Robert Watts: The one I liked best was the Amber Palace in Jaipur that we were gonna use as the palace. I then began the negotiations with the Indian government for permission. They have to vet the script. They began to ask for all these changes in script. - Indiana Jones: Making the Trilogy
  10. "Robert Watts: I told George that I getting an awful lot of trouble out if the Indian government about the script. I'd done everything. I discussed it with George. We' set it in principality on the border of India, so it wasn't actually India, all this stuff. In the end, they said, You can't use the word Maharajah I said, I've had enough of this. - Indiana Jones: Making the Trilogy
  11. "Robert Watts: I told George, I've found everything in Sri Lanka but the Maharajah's place. How about some nice matte shots and we build the courtyard on the lot? We're shooting the interior in the studio anyway. - Indiana Jones: Making the Trilogy