City Palace of Jaipur is a complex of pavilions, chambers and large courtyards. Each and every element of this expansive palace complex oozes grace and elegance. The architecture and layout of this edifice exhibits a beautiful amalgamation of Rajput and Mughal styles of architecture. It is so well-maintained that you’ll be left wondering whether it could have looked any more beautiful in its heyday. The descendants of the royals live in ‘Chandra Mahal’ which is a part of the palace complex.
Jaipur was the brainchild of Maharaja Jai Singh II, he started developing it in 1727. Eventually, he shifted his capital here from the nearby town of Amer. This palace complex, occupying the one-seventh area of the walled city, became the new home of the royals after Amer Fort. Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, a Brahmin scholar from Bengal, had helped Jai Singh II in designing Jaipur. The layout of streets was based on a mathematical grid of nine squares representing the ancient Hindu map of the universe. In the Hindu map, the Mount Meru sits in the central position and here that position is occupied by the City Palace complex.
The Palace Complex
As you enter City Palace from the main entrance, you find yourself in a large courtyard. The building standing in the middle of this courtyard is ‘Mubarak Mahal’. Faced in white marble, it was constructed around the end of 19th century. It was originally a reception hall but today it houses an impressive textile collection. The collection has a wide array of costumes which once belonged to the royals. You get to see the robes, queen’s ensemble, hand-blocked garments and centuries-old fabrics.
Situated in the north-west of the same courtyard, the armoury has a wide array of lethal weapons. There are pistols, swords, flintlocks, rifles, daggers and shields studded with precious stones. This should be the biggest collection of weapons in Rajasthan. This building served as the queen’s palace in the past .
This gate, situated near the armoury, is quite ornate and charming. Its intricately carved alcoves with delicate arches and jail screens are worth admiring. Two elephants, each carved from a single block of marble, flank this gate.
Diwan-i-khas (Hall of Private Audience)
Rajendra Pol leads into another large courtyard called ‘Diwan-i-khas Chowk’. In the centre of the courtyard is a raised open-sided pavilion with marble gallery. Now labelled as ‘Sarbato Bhadra’, it was once the Diwan-i-khas (hall of private audience). As soon as you enter this hall, your attention would be attracted towards the large silver urns – two in number. Here is the picture of one of those two:
These two urns have made it to the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest silver objects in the world. These urns were used by Madho Singh II when he went to London to attend the coronation of Kind Edward VII in 1901. The water of Ganga River was filled in these urns for the king would only use water of his country.
Diwan-i-am (Hall of Public Audience)
Situated on the east side of the Diwan-i-khas courtyard, this hall is the most ostentatious part of City Palace. It is labelled as ‘Sabha Niwas’ and was the hall of public audience. In the middle of the hall is a set of thrones and over them hangs a massively huge chandelier. It is considered to be the second largest chandelier in the country. The floor is covered with intricately woven carpets. A collection of the old carriages is also on the display.
Pritam Niwas Chowk
A gate on the northern side of the Diwan-i-khas courtyard, called Ganesh Pol, leads to a beautiful courtyard called ‘Pritam Niwas Chowk’. Also called ‘Peacock Courtyard’, it has four beautifully and intricately painted doorways representing the four seasons. From this courtyard, you can closely observe the facade of ‘Chandra Mahal’ where the present royals reside.
This palace, with the seven-storey facade, overlooks the ‘Pritam Niwas Chowk’. ‘Chandra Mahal’ is the home of the present royals of Jaipur. There is a separate fee to access this building, it is in the tune of INR 2500.
Before exiting the palace complex, you can check out the carriage museum.
Note: It is very easy to explore the City Palace of Jaipur because of its simple design. If you are interested in more details, you can rent an audio guide which can be availed from a booth near the main entrance.
How to reach?
City Palace is situated right in the middle of the walled city of Jaipur. It is just opposite Jantar Mantar and is a short walk from the popular ‘Hawa Mahal’ palace.