Why is Jal Mahal closed? I have frequently been inquired. The reason why Jal mahal is closed is because of an impending court case.
The Rajasthan government under Congress party rule in 2003 invited bids for the Jal Mahal project which covers Mansagar lake & Jal Mahal. The project included cleaning & developing the area, restoring the Jal Mahal Palace, and building two hotels along with a handicraft market. The subsequent government under the BJP rule challenged the awarding of the contract to the bidder. The reason cited was awarding the contract at a value much less than its worth and tax evasion. There are many opinions about this decision. Some cite reasons like politics and favoritism, among others. Until the court pronounces its verdict on the case, visitors will not be allowed inside Jal Mahal.
History Of Jal Mahal
It is strange not much is known about the history of the Jal Mahal. Numerous sources mention conflicting information. One theory claims Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the founder of Jaipur built the Jal Mahal. Another one mentions, Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, the king who commissioned Hawa Mahal & Brij Nidhi Temple. I believe the first theory must be true based on various corroborations. Therefore, it is likely to have been completed by 1740 AD.
Why was Jal Mahal Built?
Due to the lack of reliable information, many theories have emerged. The most popular is this was a bird hunting place for the Maharaja. Another contest Jal Mahal was built as a monsoon palace or maybe it was used as a pleasure garden. Hence, it is implied Jal Mahal is where the Maharaja spent his time with an entourage of Maharani or queens. Well, who knows?
A Visit Inside Jal Mahal
Tourists and locals both ask the same question. What does the Jal mahal look like from the inside? Since visitors are not allowed in Jal Mahal, the details pertaining to the beauty of Jal Mahal are not easily available.
I did have a chance to visit and take the Jal Mahal inside tour some time ago. I’m sharing the pictures in this blog on Jal Mahal.
The gallery on level 1 has been restored and currently showcases paintings by local artists. These paintings depict scenes of Jaipur from the bygone period.
Chameli Bagh is the crowning glory of the Jal Mahal. This refers to the garden on the terrace with incredible views of the surrounding area. I’m not sure why they call it Chameli Bagh as I could only see the Champa flower.
The current garden might be different from the original one as this entire place has been restored. The restoration work was done by Mitchell Crites. He heads Saray design and specializes in Indian-Islamic art & architecture restoration. Apart from the garden, there are pavilions or Chhatris on all four sides along with Tibaris. Tibari or Tibara as some people call it is an important architectural element of this region; it essentially refers to a structure with walls on three sides.
A raised platform in the center looks stunning in white marble. The terrace garden concept is derived from the Mughal garden, similar to the one in the Amer Fort.
There are four Tibaris or Tibara, depending on how one terms it on the terrace. More details later in this post.
The Beauty Of Jal Mahal | Architecture
Jal Mahal is built in Rajput-Mughal architecture style. The building comprises a chamber-less terrace garden flanked by pavilions.
There is a corridor at level 1 running all along its sides. This has now been converted into an art gallery and displays pieces of art depicting glimpses from the past, as mentioned above.
There are four Tibaris on the terrace. Each of these has now been named differently.
- Anand Mahal Tibari
The key feature of Anand Mahal Tibari is floral motifs. Reminiscent of the Mugal art forms, floral patterns & designs are in gold, red, and blue color.
Anand Bihari Tibari restoration is inspired by some sections of Jaipur City Palace.
- Badal Mahal Tibari
Badal Mahal represents monsoon clouds and recreates the elements one witness & experiences in monsoon-like swirling clouds.
- Raas Niwas Tibari
Krishna remains the inspiration behind the decorative elements of Raas Bihari Tibari. The ceiling has a painting depicting Krishna and Gopis in Raslila in a garden. Also painted on the ceiling are City Palace Chandra Mahal, Kanak Vrindavan Garden, and Jaigarh Fort. These are prominent places in Jaipur.
- Gulabi Tibari
Gulabi Tibari is called so because it features pink stucco.
- The Scented Chamber
The Scented Chamber comprises a room where one can experience the scents and smells of the royal court with “Ittar” or perfumes. This is one of the five current themed exhibitions. Other themes for the exhibitions are Monsoon unfolding, Joys of Jal Mahal, Mela Unfolding, and Gardens of Pleasure.
Restoration Of Jal Mahal
It is hard to imagine the Jal Mahal without water. But a couple of years ago before the restoration of Jal mahal began, there were periods when the lake was devoid of water. The sewage was diverted to Mansagar lake and it killed the local ecology and the lake. The building too was in disrepair. Things improved after the restoration project was taken up. Presently, the lake supports a variety of birds.
People repeatedly ask about Jal Mahal boating charges. Unfortunately, it is not permitted, at the moment. In the future, it certainly will be.
Jal Mahal Timings
Jal Mahal is closed for visitors, at the moment.
The Jal Mahal hotel project is called JalTarang. It is a unique project in Jaipur. Unfortunately, the project is held up for certain reasons.
Location- Where is Jal Mahal?
Jal Mahal is located close to Kanak Vrindavan Garden on the road connecting Jaipur with Amer Fort and Nahargarh Fort. It is mid-way between Johari Bazaar and Amer Fort.
Places Near Jal Mahal To Visit
Among the places one can add along with a visit to Jal Mahal are Amer Fort and Nahargarh Fort. Those interested in offbeat explorations can visit Natwar Ji Temple and Radha Madhav Temple not far from Mansagar lake.
Birding In Mansagar Lake
Unknown to most tourists, Mansagar lake which surrounds Jal Mahal is home to many birds like Great Cormorant. During the winter season, migratory birds from Mongolia and Russia can be spotted in Mansagar lake. Pelicans have been spotted during the last few years on a regular basis.
The promenade in front of Jal Mahal is a popular place for pre-wedding photoshoots and morning walkers. It is a popular sunrise point in Jaipur. Even if one cannot take a tour of Jal Mahal, I highly recommend a stroll on this promenade. Here is a picture of the promenade.