The intriguing Jal Mahal in Jaipur

posted in: Asia, Heritage, India, Rajasthan | 49

I don’t remember when exactly, I got obsessed with Jal Mahal in the Man Sagar Lake – I know it was even before I started planning my Jaipur trip. I remember obsessively asking every person who had been to Jaipur or belonged there on whether they had been to Jal Mahal? Were they allowed in? How can one go in? What is there inside the palace?

Jal Mahal
Jal Mahal

I must admit that the one thing that I was extremely disappointed about the fact that no one that I knew, had ever managed to go in. No one knew about the place. And it seemed that we were not allowed it either. Just before my trip, I searched online extensively and had to accept the fact that I could now not even go by boat to see it up close and personal. Some small hope still remained that maybe my research was outdated and after I was in Jaipur, I would find a way to get into the Jal Mahal.

So, what was it about the Jal Mahal that had me completely crazed –

  1. Unlike the other water palaces, this one was not built on an Island.
  2. A five-storied palace of which the first four floors are submerged in water! Wow! What must it be like to see water from the windows (if there were any).
  3. How did the water not seep into the palace? How did they really build it, given that the foundation was underwater? Imagine the water pressure it withstood.
  4. Built by Maharaja Jai Singh II, this was not a palace to live in but a short halt option when the royal family wanted to do some duck hunting. The reason was not a good one but the concept was intriguing. So, if there were none of the ostentatious bedrooms or living quarters, what was there inside?
  5. Why were we not allowed in? Were there some haunting stories?

Here is what my online research told me –

  • Jal Mahal was built during the famines when the lake had completely dried up. Hence, the foundations were built in the normal manner.
  • It was a stone palace with walls so strong that it did not allow any water to seep through. It had some limestone mortar reinforcing the walls.
  • It was indeed, a place to entertain and stop-over when the royal family was duck-hunting. It was also, a place to spot migratory birds. What was inside was revealed to me through this website. From what I could read about, I was specifically intrigued by the beautiful gardens – Chameli Bagh and the Badal Mahal. I sure would have loved to even see those interior designs and motifs that were described here.
  • The palace was in ruins and there was a lot of water logging within the property. However, the same was renovated and there was a lot of restoration done.
  • We were not allowed here any moreย the property had a legal case pending. They had even stopped the boat rides that took you close to the palace. :-(. There went my gondola ride!!!!

However, some small part of me still hoped against hope for some miracle. I did not leave hope and after reaching Jaipur, I asked every possible guide, hotel and taxi driver on whether one was allowed inside Jal Mahal. With every no, I felt disappointed but my hope still remained!

I got my first glimpse of this obsession of mine en route to Amer Fort. I had already extracted a promise from my travel companions that we would halt here – just for a few minutes on our way back. And we did. It was a delight to spot the various chhatris or domes that I had read about. I could see the tall trees of Chameli Bagh and the round minars of the palace. Beyond that, I could not see anything.All I could do is gaze at this lovely monument and let my imagination take over.

Against the Jal Mahal
Against the Jal Mahal
Man Sagar Lake, next to the Jal Mahal
Pavillions near Jal Mahal in Man Sagar Lake

We took a few pictures against this monument and gazed out at the ducks swimming around it. I thought that the ducks were lucky enough to be able to see what I could not :(. To make myself feel better, I bought a little junk jewelry off the street vendor nearby and with that last wistful look at this monument, we drove off.

The only way I could satisfy my thirst was by watching this video over and over again. Someday, I hope that I get to see what is inside this intriguing piece of architecture – The Jal Mahal in Jaipur. Someday, I hope to quench this thirst.

Jal Mahal

Getting to The Jal Mahal

  • My earlier posts on Jaipur will serve as a guide to getting into this city.
  • Once in Jaipur, you can see Hawa Mahal enroute to the forts of Jaipur. You can hire a car or an auto or take one of the local buses that head to Amer and get here.

Travel Tips:

  • There isn’t much that you can do here except watch the palace from the outside.
  • You will find a street market, especially in the evening, along the lake. You can buy some Jaipur artifacts, jewelry, scarves and bags from here. However, note that these are just imitation stuff.ย Bargain well
  • There are some entertainment options like camel rides here. You can opt for the same.
  • There are plenty of restaurants around the Jal Mahal and you can try some out for authentic Rajasthani cuisine.





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49 Responses

  1. Jatin Chhabra

    Hi Ami, Its always a pleasure to see a fellow blogger covering attractions of Jaipur.
    Plus its possible to take a boat ride to Jal Mahal for which you need to contact the Hotel Jal Mahal team. This palace was once converted into hotel which within months was taken back by the Rajasthan government as there was a case of corruption involving the lease of Jal Mahal. But all this story apart, boat rides can be arranged here if one is in touch with the team which was hired here for few months.

    • Thanks Jatin. I wish I had known this earlier, I definitely, would have tried. The information that I got was that owing to the legal tussle, boat rides had been stopped and there was no way to get close to the palace. ๐Ÿ™

      • Jatin Chhabra

        Well I have been traveling in Rajasthan since 2013, and one thing which I have learnt that here is that the theory of “scratching back” is highly welcomed here (something which I don’t like about Rajasthan). I recently visit Abhaneri, Chand baori (100 km from Jaipur) and the sole purpose to visit this step well, was to feel it by reaching the bottom of the well. And after a 3 hour ride I was told to just take pictures from the top as no one is allowed to enter. But as I said earlier, its just a way to cash money from travelers, ended a heated debate by paying some cash as I was dying to enter in the step well.

        • I am not sure if I would like to encourage that. It would somehow, not feel as satisfying. And if it is happening illegally, then there definitely needs to be a larger action.

          • Jatin Chhabra

            That’s why I am planning to visit archaeological department of Rajasthan. As I took pics of the guys who demanded money to enter the stepwell.

          • Good luck with that.

  2. Yes that is one disappointing destination. We too came back hearing stories about the place.

  3. I have been fascinated by Jal Mahal for as long as I can remember. The disappointment of not being able to go close is something I can never get over.

  4. Nice pictures Ami

  5. Nice Pics Ami, Love the post too

  6. So beautiful

  7. Thank you again for showing the beauty of your part of the world. As a virtual traveler, I’ve seen so much, thanks to you.

  8. Thank you for sharing about Jal Mahal. Didn’t know about it. It’s disappointing that you couldn’t go inside or get a closer look, Ami. Loved the photos though. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. It is indeed intriguing! I was really hoping that at the end of your post you would write that a miracle happened and you could see the palace from the inside! Let’s keep our fingers crossed that one day you can satisfy your (and now mine) curiosity!

  10. Beautiful pics, Thanks for the post.

  11. I would like to visit this place. Nice post

  12. Beautiful photos. I must admit I haven’t travelled to Rajasthan but hope to do so some day. My sister loved it there when she travelled some years ago.

    • Thank you Sanch. I hope you manage to make a trip soon. A really amazing destination ๐Ÿ˜€

  13. Now, I am obsessed about it. Wish we could go inside and explore it.

  14. How heartbreaking that you could get so close without having an opportunity to explore it! Seems like a cool place!

    • I know. I wished someone would have seen my puppy dog look then and allowed me in ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. What a fantastic frustration. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t laugh a little. I’ve had this sort of stifled travel experience when I came to getting tickets to tour the White House in Washington DC… someday…

    • I can so imagine you empathizing and still laughing at my bizarre obsession. But I am still hoping for “Someday”.

  16. I’ve never heard of the Jal Mahal so this was a great read for me. Great research. Hard to believe royalty just built places of this magnitude (all through Europe, too) for their duck hunting overnights. LOL So grandiose.

  17. Wow, I have seen Jal Mahal last November, but I didn’t know the story. Thank you so much of sharing these interesting facts. I hope we’ll be able to enter soon!

  18. I often want what I can’t have too. I get a little obsessed and research tons also. Frustrating that you can’t just rent a boat and head in close to it! I hope one day that changes so you can see inside!

    • I know, it can get a little frustrating. Hopefully, soon we will be able to figure a way in ๐Ÿ˜€

  19. Jal Mahal is intriguing indeed and what adds to the mysterious aura is that visitors are not allowed in. What a pity! But how is it being maintained if at all it is?

    • Not sure, I think there is a committee appointed but there is some legal tussle going on with regard to the rights and stuff.๏ปฟ

  20. vishvarsha

    One of those many places that leave a history buff disappointed. Remember crossing this place thrice during my last trip to Jaipur and locals telling me some huge conference is to happen there in a week or two and some selected locals could visit the palace for the first time in years! But I was angry as I was neither a local nor a delegate in that conference and obviously could not see the palace from inside ๐Ÿ™

    • Ooh, I can so relate to that disappointment. Someday!!! Hopefully we will be going in.

  21. Its a pity that one cannot go inside the Jal Mahal. Even I saw it from outside, while travelling by.. which is kind of not fair to such a beautiful palace.

  22. I can relate to this post a lot and can feel exactly how you felt standing so close to it and not being able to go inside. when I visited the place in 2013, I too had a brief stopover and had to admire its beauty from the roadside. while my mum bought some junk jewellery , I started to take photographs of a beautifully decorated camel nearby, who was not quite happy to be clicked and instead thanked me by chasing me to the middle of the road. ๐Ÿ˜› Well, whats the fun if you dont have funny travel stories to share. ๐Ÿ˜›

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