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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 Zalim Singh from 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. It was ruled from Pankot Palace.


"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, the central northern Indian region of Pankot had existed as early as the 1500s with the beginning of a succession of maharajahs that ruled out of Pankot Palace. Once the Principality of Pankot, which included a pilgrimage site called Mayapore, rumors began to circulate that the area was a center of activity for the Thuggee cult dedicated to the goddess Kali after the first arrival of the British in the 18th century.

Pankot Palace

In the 1830s, the British swept through India to eradicate the Thuggee and around 1837 destroyed a Kali temple in Pankot, killing more than three hundred of the cult's followers, including their priests. The cult was widely thought to have been wiped out but the Thuggee survived in small pockets.

In 1850, the Principality of Pankot ceased to exist as a political entity and eventually became the Princely State of Pankot Province, while the decade also saw the foundation of a small village in Mayapore which was said to have been created for the express purpose of watching for signs of a resurgence in cult activity. In part fearful of the display the British showed in attacking the Kali temple, Pankot stayed loyal to Crown in the Sepoy Rebellion of 18571858, during which the palace housed British refugees from Delhi. Though forces of the rebellion laid siege to the palace in the spring of 1857, it was alleged that a counterattack was launched from secret catacombs beneath Pankot Palace which sent the attackers away to look for an easier target.

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 a fictional Indian province of unknown name 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.

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.[1]



Notes and references[]