Jaipur City Palace is a fusion of Indian, Rajput and Mughal architectural styles with some European influences. The beauty and opulence of the palace complex are praiseworthy. It is an ensemble of courtyards, gardens and buildings. Sawai Jai Singh II built the Jaipur City Palace between 1729 and 1732, with subsequent rulers adding new structures. It has been home to the royal family since the 18th century, and they continue to reside here even today. Parts of the city palace complex are open to the public except the Chandra Mahal, the abode of the royal family. After purchasing entry tickets, we find ourselves in the courtyard.
We first explore the ‘Mubarak Mahal’ or ‘Welcome Hall’ built in 1901 to welcome guests, hence the name. It has now been converted into a costume and textile gallery. Photography inside is prohibited. Ceremonial costumes worn by the royals embellished with intricate embroidery made with firefly wings (yes, you read that right), gold thread and stones are on display. The ghagras or skirts worn by women, angarkhas or tunics worn by men for festive occasions like Diwali and Gangaur are all on display. A highlight for us is the comparative childhood and later adult life clothes of Sawai Madho Singh I, who was 7 feet tall, 4 feet wide and weighed 250 kilograms (550 lb). Bhati, our guide, points at the stark contrast in sizes of similarly styled garments of the royal.
Crafts Demonstration Area
Jaipur has also bagged a UNESCO WHS tag because of its century-old arts and crafts that continue as a living tradition. A separate area has been designated in the City Palace complex where one can see the artisans at work. At the entrance is a signage listing all the ‘Chattis Karkhanas’ or 36 industries that were prevalent earlier. Bhati explains to me these industries: clothing, artillery, cooking, horse trading, perfumery, and lighting. The subsequent royal family generations have tried to revive some of these industries. As we enter a hall, we see some artistic traditions and their practitioners demonstrating them. Artists are doing miniature paintings; perfumers are selling fragrances, blue pottery, minakari jewellery, and other art forms are on display.
We next visit the Selah Khana or the Weapon Gallery. Here, too, photography is prohibited. The gallery was originally where the women lived, so it has a beautifully painted ceiling. Various arms and ammunition are on display. The gallery is choc-a-block with swords, shields, guns, and other weapons decorated with ivory, gold, silver, and crocodile hide.
We return to the courtyard and see the Rajendra Pol, which is an ornamental gateway to the adjoining courtyard. Two monolithic marble elephants flank the gateway with intricately carved floral patterns on its arches and jharokas or galleries.
Diwan i- Khas
In front of us is the Diwan-i-Khas, or the House of Royals, where the emperor met ministers and dignitaries. We notice two giant silver urns. Bhati explains their significance. Emperor Madho Singh II only drank water from the Ganges. So, when he visited London in 1901, he carried the holy water in these silver urns, which also made it to the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest silver objects.
The Riddhi Siddhi Pol is a four-storied red sandstone doorway that takes us to the Pritam Niwas, or ‘Court of the Beloved.’ It is a courtyard where the festivals were celebrated with song and dance in a bygone era. The highlight of the court are the intricately carved and decorated doorways, each representing a different season of the year. The door with blue-green peacocks is dedicated to the monsoon or rainy season, and another with roses to winter. The lotus door represents the summer season, while another with green waves/leheriyan is dedicated to spring. I could almost visualise the festivities and song and dance events here. I was tempted to even break into a dance but shied away.
From Pritam Niwas we can see the Chandra Mahal, the royal abode, which can only be accessed with a premium fee and out of bounds for if you pay standard tourist fees. The Chandra Mahal is a seven-storied structure where the royal families reside. We are content just gazing at it from the Pritam Chowk. One can only dream of the beauty and luxury it houses.
The Diwan-e Aam, shops and transport gallery are also part of the city palace.
It will take you roughly an hour and a half to see the city palace. For us, the Pritam Nivas and Galleries were by far the best in the Jaipur City Palace. If you want to walk back in time and witness the opulence and grandeur of the royals, then a trip to the city palace is surely a must do.
Nearest Airport: Jaipur has an airport with connectivity to major cities in India.
Where to stay: We stayed at ITC Rajputana. You can do a net search for hotels depending on budget and comfort.
Contact of guide:
Vismaya Singh Bhati- 919829271900
Fees for City Palace: Premium Fees Rs. 3000 Indians. Rs. 4000 Foreigners.
Travel Help: Rajasthan Routes and Trails helped us plan this trip to Jaipur.