When experiencing the famous Golden Triangle (Delhi-Agra-Jaipur) circuit in India, make sure to squeeze out ample time for The City Palace, Jaipur. The Royal Grandeur walk at the palace is your best bet to savour the absolute splendour of history, heritage, and culture that the princely state of Rajasthan has to offer. By Sushmita Srivastav
Owning a keen eye for unique architecture and intricacy, a Maharaja once arrived at a land in northwest India, dreaming of building a planned city that could be reminisced forever for its aesthetics and grandeur. This was some 300 years ago. What followed were years of constructing a city with a grid-like urban layout, royal palaces and forts, ancient temples, workshops for artisans, and sprawling marketplaces that have everything from age-old murals to precious gemstones on offer. Jaipur, today, stands as a sea of mighty palaces and hoary sandstone buildings brushed in salmon pink, and fresh mid-rise towers, quirky cafes, and urbanisation muscling in—colourful and chaotic at once—the Pink City has a heady brew of the old and the new flowing through its labyrinthine lanes.
And right in the heart of this beautiful mess of a city, the City Palace rises like a dreamland marinated in the magnificence of a proud past. It was in 1727 when Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II thought of making a city around a colossal citadel that not only played the grand residence for royalties of Jaipur, but was also a centre of patronage for arts, learning, festivities, and religious faith. Intricate walls were raised, best of architects proficient in Rajput, Mughal and European architecture and design got to work, and the king’s successors continued to bedeck the exquisite City Palace up until the 20th century.
Arrive at the palatial complex now, and the sweeping palace welcomes you through one of its many grand entrances to a world full of ornate walls, courtyards, lawns, and an array of museums. But not before you struggle your way in through the throngs of tourists from all over the world who love spending hours here basking in the royal heritage and history that the City Palace is known for. Though a regular ticket (starts at INR200 for Indian citizens and INR700 for foreign nationals) can get you into the palace, which has now thrown open some of its spaces to the public, it’s the exclusive Royal Grandeur tour that you should be booking. Why, you ask? Two things—the crowd is comparatively slimmer on this side, and the royal tour gets you into the seven-storeyed Chandra Mahal, the current residence of Jaipur’s royal family.
Your tour starts only once you’re through the open spaces of Mubarak Mahal, Armoury (the Royal Arms Museum), and Diwan-i-Aam, entering the huge courtyard from one of the ‘four seasons’ along with a private guide. One look at the crimson-yellow façade of Chandra Mahal, and you know it’s time for everything pomp and plush from hereon.
Expect manicured lawns, ornate dining halls, huge chandeliers, chairs with silver lions on armrests, walls painted in gold dust and rose pink, intricate jharokas, overhanging balconies, a whole private museum dedicated to the family’s hand-knitted carpets, treasured manuscripts, and etc. The royal residence stands tall as a testimony of fine art and aesthetic, and the grandeur keeps getting fiercer as you explore further. Each of the seven floors in Chandra Mahal has a specific name and a different purpose to serve.
You enter the verandah or the Pritam Chowk set against lush gardens, and find yourself amidst unique paintings, mirror-work murals, and floral decoration adorning the walls. A ramp takes you to Sukh Niwas that has its walls awash in a gorgeous Wedgewood blue with patterns in white all over. Fully ornamented with portraits from the past, miniatures, antiques, silverwares, and glass tables, Sukh Niwas is the living and dining space of the Maharaja. Then there’s Rang Mahal—the room full of mirrors that is still used for entertaining guests. The golden room of Shobha Niwas has red and emerald-coloured stones studded on the walls, ceiling and pillars, with a kempt floor seat draped in deep red velvet placed right in the middle. This is where the royal family performs Diwali puja every year.
Chhavi Niwas on the fifth floor is a monsoon retreat, and offers sweeping views of the palace. The elegant Shri Niwas is on the sixth floor—you enter, the lights are switched off, candles are lit, and what you witness is a maze of small mirrors lit up in a melted golden hue. The marble walls have blue tiles that are further done with mica and golden leaves. This certainly is the most surreal space in the palace as the soft golden light falls on patterned walls, and turns the room into a kaleidoscope.
The crowning Mukut Mandir is a rooftop temple where the royal Kachhawah flag is hoisted high in all its glory. Interestingly, the legendary flag is furled up when the present Maharaja Padmanabh Singh is away from the city; only to be replaced with the flag of Maharani of Jaipur. Once done adoring all this glory, move to the terrace to feast on the breathtaking panoramic views of the entire city bordered by the Aravalli ranges. Spot easily the famous Hawa Mahal and Jantar Mantar right from where you are. Breathe in the serenity, and get lost in the moment—there’s a seldom chance that the end of a walk through the glory and grandeur of bygone years could be better.
Jaipur airport has good air connectivity with major domestic and international cities across the world. Jaipur is a five-hour drive (260 km) from Delhi. The City Palace is at a distance of 13 km from Jaipur airport.
Families, art enthusiasts and history buffs.
September to February.
Price Per Ticket
Entry ticket for The Royal Grandeur tour starts at INR 1,500 (Indian citizens) and INR 2,000 (foreign nationals). Audio guides are also available at an additional cost of INR300. Book a tour here.