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"If memory serves me correctly, this area, this province was the center of activity for the Thuggee."
Indiana Jones[src]

Pankot Province was a Princely State in British India that was ruled over by maharajah Zalim Singh from out of Pankot Palace between 1930 to at least 1935.

Pankot was located in the remote northern part of the country along the Yamuna River, around 80-100 miles northeast of Delhi and 20-30 miles north of Rampur with a road that led into the United Provinces.

For much of its history, the province was the base of operations for the Thuggee, a cult which venerated the goddess Kali with human sacrifices, until its activities disrupted British interests in the country which prompted a violent suppression in retaliation.

History[]

"Let me be blunt. Pankot has always been somewhat aloof from its neighbors, and little interested in contact or commerce with the outside world."
Sir Warren Fitzgerald Cromarty[src]

Surrounded by mountains,[1] the central northern Indian region[2] of Pankot was roughly 80 to 100 miles north east of the city of Delhi, and 20 to 30 miles north of the princely state of Rampur. The only major population center of the province was the town of Pankot. Surrounding Pankot Palace, the town shared the same cliffside[3] that overlooked a tributary of the Ganges River.[4]

The site of the Palace[5] 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,[5] resulting in the deaths of more than 300 Thuggee priests.[4] 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.[6] The cult was widely thought to have been wiped out but the Thuggee survived in small pockets.[7][1]

Pankot palace

Pankot Palace

Pankot Palace was completed over the remains of the temple in 1839[5] and was abandoned and left deserted in 1850,[1] as the Pankot Principality effectively ceased to exist as a political entity and eventually became the Princely State of Pankot Province.[3] The local Mayapore village[8] in the Mayapore hills[9] was first established in the 1850s, soon after the British destroyed the Kali Thuggee cultists operating out of Pankot. Some among the faithful of Shiva believed the god inspired his worshippers to found the village so that they could watch for any further resurgence of Kali's power.[3]

By 1860 events at the Province stopped rousing little notice in the world beyond after the Sepoy Mutiny against the Thuggee concluded a year earlier.[3]

By 1930 Pankot Palace was reinstated by the province's long-lived ruler Premjit Singh, later succeded by his son Zalim,[3] tutored by Prime Minister Chattar Lal. Unknow to outsiders, the Palace was controlled by a sect of Thuggee[1] led by Bengal priest[4] Mola Ram, who was deafeated alongside his men by American archeologist Indiana Jones in 1935. After his deafeat Chattar Lal, once Mola Ram's collaborator,[1] became a wanted man and the prince ordered Lal to be put to death if he' ever enters the Maharajah's province again.[3]

Behind the scenes[]

Pankot is a fictional name, most likely taken from Paul Scott's historical novels, The Raj Quartet, written in the 1960s and '70s. In the novels, which take place in an unidentified fictional Indian province during and right after World War II, Pankot is a hill station and headquarters of the British-Indian Army in the region, where Mayapore is one of the largest cities as well. Though the location of the province is never given in the novels, it's generally assumed to be somewhere in Northern India.

PankotMap

Pankot's position in India as depicted in Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures.

Producer Robert Watts first intended the Indian scenes of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom to be shot in and around Jaipur, in Rajashtan, India. The Amber Fort near Jaipur was intended to stand for Pankot Palace in the exterior scenes while the Rose Palace in Jaipur itself would be used for the interior scenes. It's interesting to note that the Amber Fort was built in 1595 and inhabited up to the 18th Century by a princely dynasty named Singh, and that there is also a service of elephants that carry tourists from the base of the hill to the fort.

However, the Indian Government found the script offensive and demanded many of its parts to be rewritten. As George Lucas refused to change the script, the production moved to Kandy, Sri Lanka, and a scale model was used for Pankot Palace when production costs went too high.[10]

Appearances[]

Non-canonical appearances[]

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Notes and references[]

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