City Palace

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India >> Rajasthan >> Jaipur >> Attractions >> City Palace

City Palace

History

City Palace is situated at the heart of Jaipur, laid in a grid pattern with wide avenues. The beautiful palace was built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh in the 18th century but a lot of changes and additions were made to the original structure by his successors. The City Place is an unsullied blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture, occupying a large area segregated into a series of capacious courtyards, enthralling gardens and magnificent buildings. The area covered by the City Palace is around one seventh of total area of the Jaipur. The beautifully caved marble interiors, magnificent pillars, jali or lattice work and inlaid ornamentations make the palace a cherished tourist attraction. Jaleb Chowk and Tripolia Gate are the two main entrances to the City Palace Jaipur.

The palace, which was originally used for official purpose, today serves as a museum. The City Palace is divided into two parts- one houses Sawai Man Singh museum and other is still the residential palace of the former maharaja. The museum of Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II established in 1959, has an extensive collection of art, carpets, enamel wares and 15th century weapons.

There are many palatial structures in the complex like the Chandra Mahal, Mubarak Mahal, Mukut Mahal, Maharani's Palace, Shri Govind Dev Temple and the City Palace Museum.

The first chamber that one comes across when one enters from through the Birendra Pole from Tripolia Gate is the Mubarak Mahal (Auspicious Palace). The palace was built by Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II with the main purpose of serving as a reception lounge for foreign dignitaries. This probably is the reason which explains why this palace was named Mubarak Mahal. The Mahal, now amended into a museum, houses a wide variety of textiles (such as the royal formal costumes, sanganeri block prints, embroidered shawls, Kashmiri pashminas and silk saris). A note worthy display here is of the set of voluminous clothes worn by Sawai Madhosingh I, who was 6 ½ feet tall, 1.2 metres (3.9 ft) wide and weighed 250 kilograms (550 lb).

Initially, the museum was known as the Maharaja of Jaipur Museum, and it was only in 1970 that it was renamed as Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum. Today, a large number of tourists are attracted to the museum from all over the world. A grand door from the Mubarak Mahal leads to the ‘Diwan-i-khas’ or ‘Hall of Private Audience’ with a marble paved gallery. It is located between the armoury and the art gallery. On display are two huge sterling silver vessels made from 14000 melted silver coins without soldering. They are officially recorded by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's largest sterling silver vessels. It is believed that Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II carried the holy water of the Ganges in the vessels on his trip to England as he was fastidious about committing religious sin by consuming the English water. Hence, the vessels are named Gangajelies (Ganga water holding urns).

Across a paved square lies the 'Diwan-i-am' or the 'Hall Of Public Audience', with its intricate decorations and manuscripts in Persian and Sanskrit. Gaze at the beautifully painted ceiling, on which the original semi-precious stone colors have barely faded and from which are suspended an enormous crystal chandelier. This chamber, functioning now as an art gallery, has exhibits of exquisite miniature paintings (of Rajastahni, Mughal and Persian art), embroidered rugs, Kashmir shawls, carpets and ancient handwritten original manuscripts of Hindu scriptures ( Bhagavad Gita and other ancient pulp fiction). The gallery also has some brilliantly carved palanquins and elephant howdahs.

Maharani's Palace, inside the complex of the City Palace, was originally the residence of the royal queens. The palace has now been converted into a museum, housing an awe-inspiring collection of weaponry dating back to the 15th century. All the weaponry is exquisite and very well preserved. The ceiling of this chamber has unique frescoes, which are preserved using jewel dust of semiprecious stones. The clandestine is a nice playground for colors, which change themselves a thousand times during the day. The display includes pistols, jeweled swords, guns and gun powder pouches, a belt swords, chain armors, small cannons, poison tipped blades, etc. However, the most impressive of them is the scissor-action dagger, which when thrust into an enemy’s body is said to disembowel the hapless victim.

To the north-west is situated the graceful seven-storied ‘Chandra Mahal’ or the “Moon Palace’. Chandra Mahal is essentially regarded as the best part of the City Palace. Each floor in the building is known by a different name such as the Sukh-Niwas, Ranga-Mandir, Pitam-Niwas, Chabi-Niwas, Shri-Niwas and Mukut-Mandir or Mukut Mahal. Paintings, floral decorations, mirror walls and ceilings in the traditional style adorn the palace. At present, most of this palace is the residence of the descendents of the former rulers of Jaipur. Only the ground and the first floor form the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum and are allowed for visitors, displaying carpets, manuscripts, weapons and other items that belonged to the royal family. A must see are the 14th century sandstone statues, ticked into a lovely leaf-filled niche via the passageway, which represents a league of musicians, each playing a different instrument. Chandra Mahal is set amidst well laid out gardens and a decorative lake in the foreground.

Very near to the Chandra Mahal are the Bada Mahal and the Jai Niwas Garden . In the Jai Niwas Garden stands the famous Shri Govindji temple , dedicated to the Hindu god Lord Krishna built in the early 18th century. The temple is adorned with European chandeliers and paintings of Indian art with ceiling ornamented in gold. The arathi (prayer offering) for the deity can be seen by devotees only for seven times during the day. The lane connecting the Bada Mahal with the Govindji temple is lined up with numerous fountains that contribute to enhance the overall beauty.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Jaipur is between October and March. During this period, the heat of the desert sun is less intense, the weather is cool and it is the best season for a sightseeing trip.

Trivia

Sawai means 'one and a quarter' and the story goes that Emperor Aurangazeb conferred the title of Sawai on Jai Singh whose marriage he attended. To date the Sawai title is used by the Maharajas of Jaipur.

Timing

The City Palace and the Museum are open to visitors from Monday to Saturday between 9:30 am to 5:00 pm.


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