I found information related to the Mariam Mahal ruins in Jaipur two years ago & ever since then I wanted to explore this place. Despite all efforts to find the Mariam Mahal ruins for over a year in the jungles around Jaipur, I wasn’t too lucky. But the quest for elusive Mariam Mahal continued!
Mirza Man Singh I, the ruler of Amer was one of the Navratana (nine gems) in the court of Mughal king Akbar. He led the Mughal army as a general, from Afghanistan in the west to Bangladesh in the east. He was instrumental in growth of Mughal rule in India. Despite his popularity, hardly anyone knows about his eldest son Jagat Singh who also fought many wars along with his father, Mirza Man Singh. He built a palace for his lover Mariam located far away from the famous Amer Fort. It was called Mariam Mahal. Jagat Singh died at an early age around 32-34 due to the habit of excessive drinking. Mariam continued to live in this place till her death. The daughter born to the duo got married to the Mughal ruler Jahangir, whose son Shah Jahan built the World Famous Taj Mahal. Her name was Koka Kumari. She was the 22nd wife of Jahangir; much famous Nur Jahan was 25th. Jagat Shiromani temple in Amer was built as a remembrance to the Jagat Singh.
Who was Mariam?
There are no written records to answer this question. But from what some historians infer she must have been an Armenian Christian. During the Mughal emperor Akbar’s rule many Armenians were granted special privileges to settle and trade in India. It is believed that she must have come to India when Armenians first emigrated. Probably, we will never know the truth!
The Ruins of Mariam Mahal
Mariam Mahal is in idyllic surroundings amidst dense forest. Even though there is no confirmed information, the popular belief holds that this palace is 400-450 years old. The floods of 1981 caused extensive damage to the Mariam Mahal. It’s cannot be reached through a road; it is accessible only through trekking path amidst the thick forest.
Previously, there was a cobble stone path but now it’s hidden under the thick foliage. The palace overlooks the valley on the edge of a hill. The drop from the edge is at least 170-225 feet.
There are some structures in the valley forming part of the palace, which looks like the entrance gate and place meant for the security guards.
The wall ramparts are completely damaged, visible in hardly a few places. In the palace area, living quarters barely exist. A small section of a dwelling unit is all that remains now apart from the base of a turret.
It’s really sad this piece of history will be completely gone in a few years, escaping the attention of conservationists and authorities.
Coming back to the main story of locating Mariam Mahal, it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of a local who lives in the this jungle. It was a chance meeting during a hiking exploration. His traces his lineage to 400-500 years and narrated a few incidents and stories from his ancestors of Jagat Singh. He pointed out a broken path through which the prince would arrive riding on an elephant or horse.
It’s a dense jungle where finding your way is not easy apart from the danger of encountering the wild beasts. It’s almost impossible to reach this place on your own.
We heard many incidents & habits of panthers who live in these jungles from the locals who accompanied us. We visited one of the panthers’ hideouts, a den! The quest finally ended!