City Palace is the main attraction of the art of construction in the eighteenth century in Rajasthan. Royal vision and foresight led to the building of pearl necklace like city of Jaipur and the City Palace is this necklace’s encrusted diamond. Chandramahal is the main palace of the City Palace. Jaipur was divided into nine parts. Out of these, 7 were where the common folk dwelled, the rest 2 were utilised for royal purposes. In these two parts, areas from Badi Chaupad to Choti Chaupad and from Chandi ki Taksal to Chaugan Stadium were reserved for royal duties, the centre for which was Chandramahal. Till today, the royal descendants live in Chandramahal. Influenced heavily by Rajput, Mughal and European architecture and due to its fame as the home of the royal family, even today it attracts tourists from all over the world in large numbers. Various public sites have been constructed within the City Palace where the tourists can freely roam the monument. Ordinary entry to the royal family’s home Chandramahal is not permitted.
The City Palace is situated right in the middle of Jaipur. Rather than being one unit it is a conglomeration of monuments, gardens and small palaces. The main palaces in City Palace are Chandramahal, Mubarakmahal and Surajmahal. Situated in the royal gardens of City Palace is Surajmahal where Jaipur’s foundation God Govinddevji’s temple is located. Chandramahal is the residence of the royal family whereas the rest of the Palace has museums dedicated to depicting the history of the royal family.
There are two common approaches to the City Palace-Udaypol and Virendrapol. There is a separate gate for the royal families’ entrance known as Tripolia. In Jaleb Chowk at Udaypol and nearby Jantar Mantar at Udaypol one can buy tickets to enter the City Palace.
The City Palace was constructed by Raja Sawai Mansingh II between 1729 and 1732. The Royal Vaastu consultant and builder Bhattacharya and the British architect Samuel Swinton Jacob had constructed a 20th century city along with all the facilities and amenities prudent to such a developed city. The City Palace too, was built with the same care and affection. It was constructed with red and pink sandstone and the detailed work done on the walls of the City Palace is a sight to behold.
The main palace, Chandramahal, is also known as Chandraniwas. It is a seven storey building, each floor has a particular feature of its own which is then related to its name, like Sukh Niwas, Rang Mandir, Pritam Niwas, Shri Niwas, Mukut Mahal etc. The palace is in the shape of a crown, hence the name ‘Mukut’, meaning crown in Hindi. The lower floors are widely built, tapering off towards the upper storeys. The walls are coloured in blue and the detail work on the walls is done in white and brown colours. During the times of the king’s rule the entrance was from Mayur Dwar at Pritam Niwas. Straight towards the north of the palace are royal gardens, trees and flowers, water fountains and small ponds that make the entire place beautiful. Today Govinddevji’s temple stands tall in the area where Surajmahal is located, earlier a place for the king to conduct his courtly affairs.
Then there is the Diwan-e-Khas. Here in the North-East are kept two cannons towards a gate that forewarn someone passing through it that this is the royal abode of the king and his family. Lots of tourists try and peep into the window made into this gate. Many don’t believe the the royal family still lives here in Jaipur. They are amazed at standing so close to history itself. Straight to the north is the Cafe Palace where one is reminded of royal dining and leisure while being served tea, coffee and snacks here.
Towards the north-east of this is Baggikhana. This is an open space displaying royal cannons and artillery. There are various souvenir shops here where one can buy Jaipuri apparel and home decor things from.
Truly a sight to behold, the City Palace, the heart of Jaipur, is a must visit for anyone in the city for a few days.