City Palace Jaipur: A tribute to Rajput heritage
A state of sand dunes and lush forests, palaces and camels, Rajasthan is one of the most well maintained states of India. It is tourist friendly with ample sign boards, multilingual guides and friendly locals. Rajasthan is known as the Land of Kings, with the opulence of the kings of past still visible to this day. Rajasthan has a very rich heritage and it strewn with Mahals and Havelis. Majority of these constructions show the influence of The Rajput clan, a strong clan that flourished in Rajasthan and its surrounding areas between the 9th and 12th Centuries. They resisted the Mughal invasion of India for a long time until they had to secede due to the rising influence of Mughals is the rest of North India. They even endured through the British rule as a princely state. Rajput royalty survives to this day, and they continue to contribute towards maintaining and restoring Rajasthan’s heritage. A fine example of this is the City Palace Jaipur.
It is located in the centre of the old city of Jaipur. It was built by Sawai Jai Singh II in 1729-1732. Sawai Jai Singh mostly constructed the outer walls and fortifications. The inner palaces were developed over the centuries by future rulers of the city. Sawai Jai Singh was farsighted and his undertaking to build the palace left a magnificent legacy in and around the city. Like the rest of the architecture in the region, the City Palace is also a beautiful blend of Mughal and Rajput architecture.
As you enter the City Palace, you will come across the Mubarak Mahal. Mubarak Mahal literally translates to Welcome Palace. This particular area also shows the European influence due to the European architects who worked on its construction. You will move on to see a museum which displays a wide collection of royal costumes that were actually worn by the royalty of olden times. The collection includes exquisite clothes with Sanganeri prints, Pashmina shawls and silk brocades. Prepare to be stunned when you see the clothes of the corpulent Sawai Madho Singh I who ruled in Jaipur from 1750-68. Sawai Madho Singh weighed a whopping two hundred and fifty kilograms. If you take a guide along, he will also tell you what a man his size ate for breakfast. The royal wedding dresses are also on display. Some are subdued while some are extravagant. You will see dresses with gold embroidery that were worn around the Hindu festival of lights, Diwali.
In the City Palace, there is also a section dedicated to the achievements of the royal family in Polo. Polo conjures images of aristocracy and exclusivity. The Rajputs have been fans of the sport for generations and they proudly display a collection of Polo trophies that the Royal team has won in worldwide tournaments. Indian Polo’s home is considered to be Jaipur.
Further, you will come across the Maharani Palace. Don’t be fooled by the name though. The Maharani’s Palace unexpectedly and absurdly displays the weapons of the Rajputs. At the entrance, daggers arranged and stuck together to say ‘Welcome’ in English, giving the visitors an ominous reception. One interesting weapon is the scissor dagger. This scissor dagger is stabbed into the enemy. After the stabbing, it opens up and thus tears the insides of the victim, making the damage irreversible. You will also see different sizes and shapes of swords, cannons, guns, blades and gunpowder pouches.
Next you will visit the art gallery located in the Diwaan-i-Aam. Diwaan-i-Aam is the hall of public audience. You will see several copies of a miniature Bhagwat Gita. They were made in such small a size so that they could be hidden from Aurangzeb and thus protected. There are several other Hindu scriptures of this miniatures. There are also large paintings painted in the miniature style of Rajasthan. You will also come across Persian translations of Bhagwad Gita that were made for Akbar.
Then comes the Diwaan-e-Khas, which the hall of private audience. The passageway is decorated in delightful pink and white marble. This hall holds two massive silver vessels. They are the largest silver objects in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records. These were used by Sawai Madho Singh I to transport the water of Ganga along with him when he travelled abroad.
As you walk through the City Palace, do not forget to stop and admire the ceilings. They are adorned with beautiful and well preserved frescos. As you exit past the Chandra Mahal, which is still occupied by the Royal Family, you will see the Peacock Gate outside. Three superbly decorated peacocks gaze down at you. Their bright colours add to their splendour. There are several other attractions inside the City Palace such as palaces and temples. The well-preserved nature of all the exhibits makes the City Palace quite an enchanting visit.
Guidetrips to City Palace: