Descendents of the Rathore Champawat clan, the Kanota rajputs moved from Peelva, Jodhpur to Jaipur, during the mid-19th century to offer services at the royal household of the Maharaja of Jaipur. Thakur Jiv Raj Singh (1799-1853) became a trusted associate of Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur (1835-1880), and his son Thakur Zorawar Singh (1826-1908) was eventually gifted Kanota for the services rendered by the family in 1867. Thakur Zorawar Singh completed Castle Kanota in 1876. By the end of Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh's reign, he had established himself as a prominent noble in Jaipur state and played a very important role in the succession of Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh to the throne of Jaipur. He served the Jaipur royal family for 46 years.
Dashing soldier, respected senior statesman of Jaipur State, booklover and diarist, General Amar Singh of Kanota, grand son of Thakur Zorawar Singh, was an extraordinary man. A graduate of the first batch of the Imperial Cadet Corps instituted by Lord Curzon in 1901, he was also amongst the first Indians to become a King’s Commissioned Officer in 1917; in other words, eligible to command British officers and soldiers. After retirement from the British Indian Army, he was instrumental in establishing the Jaipur Lancers, later merged with other State cavalry units to become the 61st Cavalry of the Indian Army.
He also had the spirit of a scholar and thinker, writing a diary for forty four years from 1898 to 1942, leaving behind eighty-nine volumes of what is perhaps the longest continuously-written diary in the world. A vast and astonishingly detailed resource for his times, it provides fascinating insights into both British and Rajput life. His legacy includes several thousand books, journals, manuscripts and magazines in both Hindi and English in what is possibly the finest period library in Rajasthan.
The collections of the General Amar Singh Kanota Library & Museum Trust, housed at Castle Kanota, reflect the rich family tapestry. The collections hold many objects that date from Thakur Zorawar Singh’s time, with gradual additions by other members of the family, especially the multi-faceted General Amar Singh. Amar Singh is perhaps the only member of the Rajput nobility to have developed and sustained a practice of writing / chronicling. Culminating in a voluminous set of diaries, these offer a fascinating glimpse of the royal courts, colonial encounters and connected histories of Rajasthan.