Jaipur – A city that is known for its royal charm and towering forts & palaces, houses in it a palace which was once an abode to the Maharajas of Jaipur – The City Palace. A palatial complex in the walled city, which is still home to the royal family and an unmissable tourist attraction in Jaipur, City Palace is like a whole city within a city.
A complex of courtyards, gardens and buildings, City Palace was founded by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II and it owes its fusion of Rajput, Mughal & European architecture to two architects – Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob and Vidyadhar Bhattacharya. This treasure trove of centuries old art and craft, a place that loves fêtes and the one which refreshes the glorious past through a spectacle Sculpture Lumiére Show is nothing less than a magical visual treat to the eyes at night.
So, let yourself loose on a voyage of discovering the City palace, at night. Located in the heart of the city in a rambling walled enclosure, the splendor of this Palace turns manifold when seen under the pristine night sky.
Voyage at Night
Jaipur Beat was invited to take this royal tour, so through the buzzing walled city and noisy roads, we entered the palace from Tripolia Gate that takes us straight to Mubarak Mahal. Usually, only royal family uses this gate and it’s like entering another world altogether.
As soon as you step inside the premises of City Palace from Tripolia gate, the sight of Mubarak Mahal welcomes you with all its might.
A gigantic door on the left of the passage leads to the Painting and Photography Gallery with an unusual collection of paintings & pictures that actually do tell a thousand stories !! It is interesting to see how an array of paintings portray a totally different and unconventional picture of what we see the old era as, for example, Chaugan painting by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh Ji showed his entire Jaipur family dressed in Black for a Diwali celebration, surprised? P.S. We consider black as an inauspicious color for festivals and celebrations.
The gallery also showed some of the self portraits taken by Maharajas at that time which we think is a recent discovery in the name of ‘selfie‘ but photography in this area is a strict no no !
Opposite this is the elaborately decorated building that displays the museum’s textiles collection. This embraces all textiles bought for or collected and used by the men and women of the royal family, irrespective of where they were made. No doubt, City Palace has the largest group of historic royal textiles surviving in India today. These are usually part of the personal collection and being relatively fragile, do not last long.
The SarvatoBhadra (where the famous silver urns are displayed) is built on a plinth or platform, with marble pillars that hold up the roof. SarvatoBhadra means single-storeyed, square, open hall, with enclosed rooms at the four corners. The rest of this building and the courtyard around it is built with ordinary stone pieces, finished smoothly with plaster and then painted pink. The SarvatoBhadra is at its glorious best when illuminated with lights at night.
Pritam Niwas Chowk
The gate on the western side of the Sarvato Bhadra courtyard is called Riddhi-Siddhi Pol. Unlike most of the other gates, which are only plastered and painted, this gate is decorated with beautifully carved marble, giving us a hint about its importance – it was used by the Maharajas to enter their private residence! It leads into the Pritam Niwas Chowk, with the 7-storey Chandra Mahal on the right.
Sculpture Lumiére Show
Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum Trust has recently started a Sculpture Lumière Show, created by world’s renowned light artist Patrick Rimoux, an introduction by the Shri Amitabh Bachchan and the State Anthem which has been revived by the Jaipur royal family and re-recorded by Rajasthan Roots inside the City Palace for visitors 🙂 It’s magical beyond words to see the buildings, walls of the palace suddenly transform, hold your hand and take you into the glorious past of the royal era.
The Sculpture Lumiére Show is an enlightening experience and an enchanting journey covering the history of Jaipur and its rulers, through images from the Museum collection, video, and graphics, all projected onto the walls of the Sarvato Bhadra Chowk, and the Chandra Mahal.
Drenched in the spirit of pride, Chandra Mahal or the moon palace (perhaps because the moon shines right next to this palace) was the main residence of the Maharajas of Jaipur. It is seven storeys high, and was built in just seven years. The state flag of Jaipur, called the panchranga, or five-color flutters on the top. You may notice a smaller, quarter flag flying above it. That denotes that the Maharaja is in residence and is connected with the title ‘Sawai’ that is added to the names of the rulers of Jaipur. The founder of Jaipur, Maharaja Jai Singh the second, was honoured by the Emperor Aurangzeb with the title of ‘Sawai’ literally meaning ‘one and a quarter’.
The seven storied building, Chandra Mahal is built with such proportion that one can hardly realize its grand scale without going around its various apartments. The walls of the verandah of Chandra Mahal on the first floor are covered with life size portraits of Jaipur rulers painted by German Artist A.H. Muller during the reign of Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II. The verandah faces Royal Jai Niwas gardens, Govind Dev ji temple and scenic view of the tiger fort on the Aravali Mountains all in one line.
The second storey of Chandra Mahal is Sukh Niwas. The gilded room has walls decorated with gold work from over 200 years ago. The room is full of royal memorabilia, including a dining table made specially for the royal family in a way that once the cooked food was placed on that table, its temperature would stay intact.
Chandra Mahal’s third storey, called Rang Mandir is embellished with mirrors on the walls, pillars and ceilings.
The fourth storey is called Shobha Niwas. Created in 18th century, it is a room of mirrors embellished with decorations in colour and gold. This is the point that heralds all the royal ceremonies.
The fifth storey is the Chhavi Niwas, which is painted with floral pattern in blue & white to depict the reflection of clouds in the sky 🙂
The Sixth storey of the palace is Sri Niwas, one of the finest examples of Mughal artwork decorated with mirror & gold during 18th century. The reflections of the intricate glass work in candlelight is a treat to the viewer’s eye.
The top of Chandra Mahal or seventh storey is known as Mukut Mandir. It is the crown of the royal Palace over which the flag of Jaipur flies relentlessly. One can have a panoramic view of the walled city of Jaipur from the Mukut Mandir. While standing on the terrace you will find that there is something that carries a whiff of magic about the most beautiful city of Jaipur from here.
When grandeur of past blends with avant-garde settings, a gorgeous ambiance is conceived, which can be experienced at the restaurant, Baradari the latest in a series of initiatives by the Jaipur royal family for the visitors at City Palace. It wraps around the courtyard of what was once the historic service court of the City Palace. With cooling water cascades and an elegant bar that plays with the traditional form of baradari (a columned, open pavilion), it is the perfect place to conclude a visit to the Museum, or to host a meal. It serves sumptuous Indian and international cuisines in elegant surroundings and also runs a Snack Bar for the convenience of visitors who wishes to grab a meal on the go. Baradari has won the INSIDE Award for the Best Building in the Creative Re-use category.
So the next time you are planning a trip to Jaipur in Rajasthan, soak in the character of beauty and royal grandeur at the City Palace during night!