To the eye, Jaipur offers a landscape of opulence that tells of a magnificent and bygone but always a well-built era. The capital city of Rajasthan is the most flamboyant and colorful city and the rulers always have that flair to preserve heritage of this world’s most fancied destination that opens its windows to many wonders. Of all the beautiful monuments of this city, there is one, which is a treasure trove of centuries old art and craft, a place that loves fêtes, refreshes the glorious past through a spectacle Sculpture Lumiére Show and where one can experience an unparalleled gateway to Rajasthan’s Royal hospitality under the magnificent dining arcades of Baradari restaurant- The City Palace, Jaipur.
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.
The City Palace, Jaipur-History
The City Palace in Jaipur is spread out over a seven interconnected courtyards. Some courtyards are now public property. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II as part of his ambitious city project founded it in 1727, and his successors continued to ornament and add to the elegant buildings up until the 20th century. The palace has always been much more than the grand residence of a royal family. It was also, from the start, a centre of patronage of the arts and of learning, and with its many temples; it is also a place of ritual and worship. On important festival days such as Gangaur and Teej, the procession of the image of the Goddess through the streets unites the City Palace and the people of the city in shared celebrations. Today, the palace has thrown open its exclusive spaces to the public through the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum Trust, welcoming domestic and international visitors from far and wide.
The Museum began during the reign of Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II in 1952, when the Silehkhana and an Art Gallery were opened to the public. At that time, a turban or pagri was a part of the entrance requirement for male visitors, as wearing one was the contemporary etiquette of the Palace. In 1959, a Textile and Costume gallery was added (in the Mubarak Mahal), and the Museum was formally named the Maharaja of Jaipur Museum. In 1972, after the death of Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II, his son and successor Brigadier Maharaja SawaiBhawani Singh reorganized the museum to expand the collections and buildings, and renamed both the Museum and its managing Trust in honour of his father.
Voyage at Night
Based on our personal experience, we will take you to discover City Palace but remember, the City Palace is beautiful by day but simply stunning by night.
As Rajasthan Tourism Buzz was invited to take this royal tour, we moved inside from the ceremonial Tripolia Gate that takes us straight to Mubarak Mahal. Usually, only royal family uses this gate.
Mubarak Mahal – As you enter from Tripolia gate, the first thing that your eyes meet is the striking Mubarak Mahal, which was commissioned by Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II in the year 1900 for use as a guesthouse to receive foreign visitors. As it was situated in the outermost courtyard of the palace, it allowed him to be a gracious host while maintaining his, and his family’s privacy.
Now, this elaborately decorated building 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.
Opposite there is Painting and Photography Gallery, which is the latest edition in 2015. There is a broad selection of pictures from the Museum’s reserve collections that have been displayed for the first time. Many new and interesting stories about the paintings have emerged as a result. The exhibition begins in the era of the founder, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, in the 18th century and concludes after Indian independence in 1947, when ruler of the time, Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II, was no longer the sovereign ruler of Jaipur, but the democratically appointed symbolic head or Rajpramukh of the Indian state of Rajasthan.This room contains paintings bought for and commissioned by the founder and his sons.
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. One use of the SarvatoBhadra was as the Divan-e-Khas, or the Hall of Private Audience, which meant the ruler, could hold court with the officials and nobles of the kingdom in a more private, intimate space than the grand spaces of the SabhaNiwas which was open to more people. But it’s also one of the most important ritual buildings in the complex, and continues to be so today, representing ‘living heritage’. 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.
The courtyard is rectangular and has the famous painted and carved gateways. All four arched and painted gateways carry pictures of dancing peacocks and blossoming lotus flowers. Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, who lived about 200 years ago, built them. The courtyard was used for the Maharajas’ private gatherings and events, and the women could look down on them the same way they looked at functions in the Sabha Niwas.
Opulence – Museum at Night with Sculpture Lumiére Show
Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum Trust has recently started a Sculpture Lumière Show, created by the 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.
The Museum at Night offers an élite experience of the City Palace. The buildings are specially lit and magically transformed, and selected galleries are open for viewing. The Sculpture Lumiére Show is an enlightening experience, basking in the glory of its past to today’s royal family it takes you on a 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 SarvatoBhadraChowk, and the Chandra Mahal. Guests can visit the illuminated palace buildings, courtyards and museum galleries before the Sculpture Lumiére Show.
Drenched in the spirit of pride, Chandra Mahal or the moon 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, GovindDevji temple and the 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 the famous Lalique Peacock table, an incredible piece specially made for the Royal Family of Jaipur by the world renowned artist Marc Lalique.
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 magically 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!