City Palace, Jaipur is a complex of palaces and was the official residence of the Maharaja of Jaipur. The palaces provide a beautiful synthesis of Rajput, Mughal and European styles of architecture. The palace complex comprises of gardens, courtyards and buildings. City Palace is a top tourist destination.
The history of City Palace is interwoven with the history of Jaipur. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amber, decided to shift his capital from Amber to Jaipur in the early eighteenth century. The city was founded in 1727 and the palace was built during the years, 1729 – 1732. During this time, the palace was envisaged and the outer walls were built. The later rulers of Jaipur made additions to the palace complex and the construction carried on right up to the twentieth century. The palace has been a museum since 1959 and a part of the palace, the Chandra Mahal, is used by the royal family as the residence.
The entrance is through a grand gateway, with rich decorations. This entrance is named Udai Pol, or Atish Pol, the stable gate. The other entrance, Virendra Pol, is close to the Mubarak Mahal. There is a third entrance, Tripolia Gate, which is reserved for the royal family.
Sarvato Bhadra is the Diwan-i-Khas of the palace, the Hall of Private Audience. Sarvato Bhadra means good or auspicious in all directions. Sarvato Bahadra is the place where the Maharajas used to meet the ministers, official guests and other important people. It is a square building set in a courtyard, open at all four sides with beautiful arches and chandeliers making it a truly special place. There are two big silver jars, called Gangajali, kept in Sarvato Bhadra, which catch a visitor’s immediate attention. Each Gangajali has a weight of 345 kg, height 5’3″, circumference of 14’10” and a volume of 900 imperial gallons or 4091 liters. Another interesting fact about these Gangajalis is that there is no soldering involved. Each Gangajali was made by melting 14,000 silver coins into sheets of silver. Then a wooden mold was made over which the sheets were beaten into the shape of a jar. This work was done over a period of two years during 1894-96. Gangajalis are used for keeping the sacred water of the river Ganges, called Gangajal.
The Sabha Niwas is the Diwan-i-Am, the Hall of Public Audiences. Now it is an art gallery, displaying rare handwritten manuscripts, paintings, Kashmiri shawls and carpets.
Ridhi Sidhi Pol
Ridhi Sidhi Pol is a four-storied grand gateway that leads to the Pritam Niwas Chowk.
Pritam Niwas Chowk
Pritam Niwas Chowk is a rectangular courtyard between Sarvato Bhadra and Chandra Mahal. It has four beautiful doorways representing the four seasons. There is Peacock Gate, representing autumn, Lotus Gate representing summer, Green gate representing spring and the Rose Gate representing the winter season. In the earlier times, musicians used to perform in the balconies of these gates. Pritam Niwas Chowk has been a favorite of Bollywood movies for filming of colorful dance and song scenes.
Chandra Mahal is the most impressive palace in the complex. It is a seven-storied palace used as the residence by the royal family. Inside the Chandra Mahal, there are palaces like Sukh Niwas, the living room, Sri Niwas the Mirror Palace, Chavvi Niwas, the Blue Palace and Shobha Niwas, the Ceremonial Hall. The flag of the Maharaja flies on top of the palace. It indicates that the king is in the palace. When the king is away, the queen’s flag is hoisted.
Friends of the Museum
Friends of the Museum is a gallery started at the initiative of Brig. H.H. Maharaja Sawai Bhawani Singhji MVC to provide opportunity to the craftsmen from different areas. The gallery provides space to artisans working in the areas of Jaipur’s art and craft, paintings, enameling work, blue pottery etc. These artistes work, demonstrate and sell their products directly to the visitors to the gallery.
Mubarak Mahal is set out in the center of a courtyard, next to Sarvato Bhadra. Mubarak means auspicious. So Mubarak Mahal is literally an auspicious palace. It was made as a reception center in the late 19th century by Maharaja Madho Singh II. Now it is a museum displaying textiles and costumes used by the royalty in the past. A special mention must e made of fine Pashmina shawls, Benaras silk sarees, sanganeri prints and folk embroidery on display in the museum.
The palace has an iconic clock tower which can be seen from a distance from many places in the city.
After spending time and appreciating the fine art in the palaces, it is time to relax. The Palace Cafe is just the right place for that as it has great ambiance and serves delicious food.