Jaipur has a valuable legacy of heritage temples built by the royalty. The Kacchawa Rajput rulers of Jaipur were devout followers of Lord Krishna and built many temples in the city. If you are a regular reader of JaipurThruMyLens you must have read about a few of these heritage temples in Jaipur. While most of these are accessible to everyone, a few are an exception. Raj Rajeshwar Temple is one of them. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is a part of Jaipur City Palace. It is open for “Darshan” only on two occasions – Maha Shivratri and Govardhan.
The temple was established in 1865 AD/1921 Vikram Samvat by Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II. Jaipur rulers were ardent Lord Krishna followers except Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II. He was a devout Shiva Bhakt. This modest temple makes a departure from the usual palatial temples built by the Jaipur royalty like Ramchandra Temple. The likely reason could be the paucity of space because it was constructed almost 125 years after the City Palace was founded. The space must have been “managed” in the palace to accommodate a temple.
Here is a picture of City palace as seen from the temple. Seen here are the Chandra Mahal in the background and Pritam Chowk in the foreground. Pritam Chowk is famous for the four beautiful City Palace gates representing the four seasons. These gates are very popular among travelers. They are one of the top Instagram worthy places in Jaipur, especially the Leheriya and Peacock gate.
Who was Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II?
Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II is one of the prominent kings of Jaipur who reigned between 1835-1880 AD. Being a forward-looking and development-oriented ruler he undertook many initiatives including the building of a modern hospital, schools, colleges in Jaipur. He is credited for the reorganization of the police and revenue department, the building of gaslighting for streets and piped water system among many others. His rule is associated with peace and development. He was one of the early photographers in India; probably the only photographer king of his times.
The Visit to the Raj Rajeshwar Temple
The access to the temple is through Chandni Chowk. Here is a picture of the same from the previous post Rang Malhaar | Welcoming the Monsoon in Jaipur
The temple is near the royal kitchen and sandwiched between Mardani (male) and Janani (female) Deori. Janani Deori housed the royal women. This section of City Palace is closed for the public. It is an impending court case between the City Palace/Jaipur royal family and the state government over the ownership tussle.
The temple is reached through a host of galleries and corridors. I visited this temple on the occasion of Maha Shivratri. People residing in the walled city retain the tradition of visiting this temple on this day. The temple was teeming with devotees.
Fortunately, this is a lesser-known Shiva temple in Jaipur, therefore the crowd scene wasn’t bad. Other Lord Shiva temples in Jaipur – Tarkeshwar Temple and Ekling Temple in Moti Dungari Fort witness a mighty rush.
A group of volunteers had set-up to provide water service because people offer water to the Shivling in temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. While many devotees carry water from their residences, some chose to use the services of the volunteers to fill water in Ramjhara pots. Ram Jhara is unique to certain reagion in India; it is a pot made from copper/ brass/ steel with an opening on the top and a long pipe on one side to pour water.
Farther ahead, a young boy was playing the drums- Dhol. The mood was joyous. I assume the kids here were residents of Janani Deori.
On crossing a long dark passageway similar to the ones in Hawa Mahal, I reached open housetop. A couple of sentries were guarding the site. One of the guards was instructing people to remove the leather waist belts along with footwear before entering the temple.
One needs to enter a dark alley from this spot before reaching the sanctum. At the other end of the alley was another gate. I presume this possibly provided Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II a direct access from the City Palace. The temple door has intricate carving featuring flowers and peacocks. Customarily, temple doors are covered with brass foil, but this being a royal temple, was covered with a silver foil.
The entrance directed towards a small courtyard that is open to the sky.
The temple dons simple yet beautiful interiors. Mughal styled niches and flowers adorn the wall and arches.
The only stone used in the temple is white marble. Over here is a painting of Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II from one of the walls in the temple.
Red, green, and blue glass windows provided a view of Chandra Mahal of City Palace.
In general, Shiva temples are devoid of grandeur and are simple. This temple makes a departure from this norm. The idol of Lord Shiva and Parvati are adorned with precious stones and gold. And probably, for this reason, they don’t permit photography of sanctum.
One might question why the temple has been named Raj Rajeshwar? There are two different assumptions. The first one is that the temple is also associated with Tantric practice and Raj Rajeshwari is synonymous with the occult and Tatntic power. You can read my post on Sri Raj Rajeshwari Temple in Jaipur and its association with Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh of Jaipur. The second one suggests this being a temple of the king – Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II, it was called Raj Rajeshwar. Probably, we won’t know for sure which one is true. The most famous Raj Rajeshwar Temple in India is in Maheshwar. After spending a couple of minutes in the temple, it was time to return back. Just when I reached the exit gate, I met this interesting gentleman wearing a beret in a joyous mood. His name was Sanjay from Galta Gate and he offered to apply Gulal on the forehead. I sought his approval for a picture and clicked this on my smartphone.
Raj Rajeshwar is one of the few temples that can be accessed from the Chandni Chowk area of Jaipur City Palace. Other temples are Brij Nidhi Temple, Pratapeshwar Temple, and Anand Bihari Ji Temple. Chandni Chowk is behind the Tripolia Gate.
Significance of Raj Rajeshwar Mandir in the history of Jaipur
It is being claimed that Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II used to worship every day in this temple. Tarkeshwar Temple is considerably older, and he commissioned renovations in this temple, it wasn’t possible for the king to visit every day for practical reasons. Probably, this must-have prompted him to establish one in the palace premises.
Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II convened a religious conference called “Mod Mandir.” Initially, it was initiated by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh in Amer and eminent & learned Brahmin heads would take part in it. The decisions of this committee were accepted all across India. The meetings of Mod Mandir would take place in this temple.
Often, the personal guests of the Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II would also visit Raj Rajeshwar Temple. This temple differs from other Lord Shiva temples because of an element of “Tantra-Mantra” or occult power.
Two of the most well-known aspects of Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II are photography and being a Shiva devotee. Devoting 2-3 hours in this temple was part of his daily life. Foreign visitors have mentioned in their travel journals waiting for hours because the king was busy with his religious routine. He spent most of his time living in a quarter close to this temple. Many considered him a Sadhu by nature than a king given his preference for simplicity.
How to Visit?
The opportunity to visit Raj Rajeshwar Temple is limited. The temple is open to public only one two occasions. One being Maha Shivratri and another during Diwali. I’m glad I was able to visit the temple. For travelers visiting Jaipur and wanting to visit this temple, they need to time it well with these date.
If you enjoyed reading this post, don’t forget to share it on your social media.