The City Palace lies in the heart of Jaipur and can be easily combined in a day on foot with the Hawa Mahal and Jantar Mantar. The palace was built between 1729 and 1732, initially by Sawai Jai Singh II. He planned and built the outer walls, and later additions were made by successive rulers continuing up to the 20th century.
Having passed through the first courtyard (avoiding the massively overpriced cafe on your right), you enter into the second courtyard with the Diwan-I-Khas nestled in the middle. This was a private audience hall of the Maharajas.
Beyond that is a gateway that leads to Pitam Nias Chowl…more on that in a moment…
Instead I initially turned left through another gateway to Mubarak Mahal.
Mubarak Mahal, meaning the ‘Auspicious Palace’, was built with a fusion of Islamic, Rajput and European architectural styles in the late 19th century by Maharaja Madho Singh II as reception center. Now a museum of textiles, it displayes some of the clothes worn by Sawai Madhosingh I who was 1.2 metres (3.9 ft) wide and weighed 250 kilograms (550 lb), but interestingly had 108 wives…
Retracing my steps, I entered into Pitam Nias Chowl, which is the highlight of a visit to the City Palace.
This inner courtyard, which provides access to the Chandra Mahal, contains four small gates (known as Ridhi Sidhi Pol) that are adorned with themes representing the four seasons and Hindu gods.
The gates are the Northeast Peacock Gate (with motifs of peacocks on the doorway) representing autumn and dedicated Lord Vishnu; the Southwest Lotus Gate (with continual flower and petal pattern) suggestive of summer season and dedicated to Lord Shiva-Parvati; the Northwest Green Gate, also called the Leheriya (meaning: “waves”) gate, in green colour suggestive of spring and dedicated to Lord Ganesha, and lastly, the Rose Gate with repeated flower pattern representing winter season and dedicated to Goddess Devi.
The City Palace houses many small museums and a couple of souvenir shops, but please ensure you seek out these four spectacular gates in the Pitam Nias Chowl, artistically probably the highlight of my Jaipur excursion.
The City Palace is open 9am – 5pm.
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