The adventures of the famous hunter of Kolhapur, late Leelawati Jadhav, have now been chronicled in a book, Aathavanitil Shikar, by writer Yashodhan Joshi.
“The title of the book means ‘memories of hunting’. The book records all the experiences and memories of this hunter, who died recently at the age of 102. This book is the story of a woman who conquered all odds to excel in a male-dominated game in a conservative society,” says Joshi.
Leelawati was from the royal family of Kolhapur and a part of the hunting squad of Chattrapati Rajaram Maharaj. She was actively involved in hunting till the mid-1940s. After that, Joshi says, the situation in the country changed — princely states were dissolving, kings and royal families were losing their status and hunting was no longer acceptable.
“I interviewed Leelawati Jadhav to obtain first-hand information about her expeditions in that era. I compiled all her experiences into this book, which also contains a lot of archival pictures,” says Joshi.
The book describes the hunting techniques used in that era. “During that time, kings had their own jungles where they used to hunt. Hunting seasons were fixed and hunting was a part of royal culture. They used various techniques like ‘pig sticking’, where they would ride on horseback and hunt wild boar with a spear. The British even had various competitions involving this technique,” says Joshi.
“Trained cheetahs were shipped from countries in Africa, like Kenya, to hunt male blackbucks. The book reveals various types of hunting, the methods of training these animals, the food they were given and how they were kept,” he adds.
Joshi, who is from Kolhapur and interested in history, remarks,”The book is not about glorifying hunting but about describing the culture that once existed in our society. It also talks about the rich and varied ecosystem that existed during that time.”
The book was launched on May 25 at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.