5 things that can make you go WOW at the City Palace Jaipur

posted in: Heritage, Asia, Cities, India, Rajasthan | 63
First Published on February 9, 2016

The City Palace Jaipur is one of the most popular tourist destinations, especially for first-timers in Jaipur. Me – being a first timer in Jaipur and of course, a sucker for palaces, obviously could not wait to tour it myself. Bang opposite the Jantar Mantar, my heart pushed me to just cross over and explore it before the ancient observatory (Jantar Mantar) but the rational part of my brain asked me to wait a bit so that we could seek some shade at noon by exploring it later.

One of the most popular tourist attractions of Jaipur - The City Palace Jaipur

There is no avoiding the Jaipur City Palace when in the city. After all, it is possibly the most important among the palaces of Jaipur – especially since it has given the city the sobriquet of Pink City. How, what and why will be revealed shortly in this guide to the City Palace Jaipur. The guide takes you through the history of the palace and finally reveals the 5 key things to see in Jaipur City Palace. Finally, we will get down to the practical tips on visiting this famous Jaipur Sightseeing attraction – so that you are all prepped up to make this tour yourself.

History of Jaipur City Palace

The former capital of the reigning family was the famous Jaipur attraction – Amer fort. However, owing to the growing population and water scarcity, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II sought a new place for his capital. He found a perfect spot amid his royal hunting ground and build the City Palace. This was in the late 1720s and along with the new palace was born – the city of Jaipur.

Amer fort - the old capital of Jaipur

The palace became the administrative capital and the fulcrum of power for the Jaipur rulers. With the British influence getting stronger, there came a time when the rulers had to pick a side to support. The then Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh chose to help the British in the epic siege of 1857. He earned favors from them and became a favored ruler. When the Prince of Wales who became the King later – King Edward VII visited India, it was for his reception that the Maharaja changed the color of the entire city of Jaipur. Borrowing from his own city palace, he painted the city pink. So, if you are looking for the answer as to why Jaipur is called the Pink City, you have it :D.

The Architecture of City Palace Jaipur

The architecture of the City Palace Jaipur is a lovely amalgamation of three different styles – the Rajput, Mughal and European. Technically, the palace includes the Jantar Mantar and the Hawa Mahal. However, for the tourists, given the separate entrances, they are considered as three different Jaipur tourist attractions. The architecture of the main palace is credited to two architects. The first is a Bengali one called Vidhyadhar Bhattacharya and the 2nd is a British – Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob.

Hawa Mahal - A larger part of the City Palace Jaipur

The layout of the main complex includes a temple, a royal guest house, the royal courtrooms and the residential complex. There are three different gates to enter the City Palace. The first is right opposite to the astronomy complex – Jantar Mantar. The Virendra Pol is where we entered the palace. The 2nd is the gate in Jaleb Chowk which is closer to the Hawa Mahal and is called the Udai Pol. And the last one is a set of three gates called Tripolia. This is reserved for the royal family.

Still owned by the Royal Family of Jaipur, parts of this palace have been opened out to the public by the private trust of the royal family. The palace is well-curated and organized with an audio guide but we being a larger group, opted for a regular guide. While the palace has plenty of interesting things to talk about, I will share my pick of 5 things that made me go WOW about the City Palace Jaipur.

Things to see at the City Palace Jaipur

1) Mubarak Mahal at City Palace Jaipur

Mubarak Mahal - the reception and guest house of the City Palace Jaipur

The royal guest house – the last addition to the original palace, made by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. What I loved about this palace was the beautiful fusion of designs from three different cultures – Mughal, Rajput and British

The arches of the Mubarak Mahal

Spot the lovely arches with intricate designs that remind you of the Mughal palaces while at the same time, check out the Rajput Hindu temple designs atop the doors. The seamless blend of these cultures enhanced the beauty of this “Auspicious Palace”  – Mubarak in Urdu meaning Auspicious. The 2- storied palace indeed added to the charm of City Palace Jaipur.

2) The Royal Clothes in the Museum of City Palace

The Mubarak Mahal now houses a textile and handicrafts museum where you can see a display of the Royal wares and clothes. Unfortunately, I cannot treat you to any of the pictures as photography is not allowed here. It was quite amazing to see the heavy dresses of the princesses and Queens – so heavy that she could not carry it herself and needed more than a maid to help. What was even more fascinating was that she could not walk with all that weight. So, a palanquin or a wheelchair was what was used to move around within the palace. I am not sure if I would have liked that!
The highlight of it all was the voluminous clothes worn by Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh I. Humungous may be the right term here for the clothes were 4 ft wide. Yes, you could say it was for a giant of a man who weighed 250kgs. Seeing those clothes was quite a wonder – I think two of normal-sized humans would have fit into them. And if that has not popped open your mouth – here is one more astonishing fact. The Giant Maharaja had 108 wives!!!
Like my hubby remarked – managing one is a task and over 100…GOSH! 😉

3) Pritam Niwas Chowk at City Palace Jaipur

Monolithic Elephant at the Rajendra Pol of City Palace Jaipur

Once you make your way out of the Mubarak Mahal, you need to pass through the gate called Rajendra Pol. One impressive feature that I remember here is the monolithic marble elephants kept on either side of the gate. The elephant with its Mahout is a stunning gate decor – one that you cannot miss as you pass through these gates. This gate separates the royal area from the guest house and reception area.

Chandra Mahal

Standing against the Chandra Mahal, City Palace, Jaipur

It is here that you can see the main palace – the Moon Palace or the Chandra Mahal. The Palace is a 7 storied one, and some parts are still occupied by the Royal Family. A flag, larger than the regular flags flies atop this palace. They say that the reason for this flag being large was the name “Sawai” meaning one and a quarter. Sawai was a title given by Aurangazeb to Maharaja Jai Singh during his wedding and was taken forth by the dynasty thereon. As the story goes, when Aurangazeb was impressed with the witty quips of the young Maharaja Jai Singh and conferred the title – Sawai – someone who is one and a quarter. Since then, the larger flag was adopted by the family. Even today, it is unfurled when the Royal family is in residence.

The flag atop the Chandra Mahal

Today, only the ground floor is open to the public on the general tour. There is a special luxury tour that takes you to the upper echelons of the Chandra Mahal. Each of the floors has a unique name and has been built by a particular Maharaja.t

  • The second floor is called the Sukh Niwas after the wife of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh
  • Rang Mandir is the 3rd floor and is called so owing to its decor of mirrors and colors.
  • Shobha Niwas is the 4th floor of Chandra Mahal. This is where the king performed Laxmi Puja on the day of Diwali.
  • Chavvi Niwas is the 5th floor and has a decor of various images.
  • The 6th floor is called the Shri Niwas
  • The last and the 7th floor is called the Mukut Niwas. Mukut means crown and this is where the flags are hoisted. I believe, this is also, a place that gives a lovely view of the pink city.

I am sure there are plenty of treasures that these floors hold and I would have loved to avail of the Royal tour to see it. However, this particular visit could not accommodate it. However, it was the ground floor for me that was the highlight of this entire City Palace Jaipur. 

Pritam Niwas Chowk

The Pritam Niwas Chowk is one of the unique Royal Courtyards that I have come across. Pritam Niwas Chowk means “courtyard of the beloved” and was extensively used by the Royal family for festive occasions and ceremonies. The women observed the proceedings from the jharokhas on the first floor. The most beautiful feature of it is the four gates of the City Palace Jaipur that have been designed based on the 4 Indian Seasons. Each one is dedicated to a particular Hindu Deity. Let’s start with my favorite – The Mor or Peacock gate, that represents the Autumn season.

Peacock Gate or Mor Gate
Mor Gate or the Peacock Gate, Prtiam Niwas Chowk, Jaipur City Palace
Close up of the Mor Gate
The 3D art with the peacocks
The gorgeous 3D models of peacocks made this a popular photography spot – so much that we were not able to get one devoid of crowds. 🙁 Nonetheless, I managed to get a zoom-in of the peacocks on this gate. 😀 The gate is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
Lotus Gate at City Palace Jaipur
Lotus Gate (Summer Gate) of Pritam Niwas Chowk, Jaipur City Palace
The lotus petals on the gate of Jaipur City Palace
The next one is the Lotus gate representative of the Summer season. The repetitive pattern of the Lotus petals is suggestive of the same. It faces the south-east and is dedicated to the heavenly couple – Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
Leheriya Gate of Jaipur City Palace
Green Gate (Spring Gate) at Pritam Niwas Chowk, City Palace, Jaipur
Leheriya Gate - the Spring gate of City Palace
Dedicated to Lord Ganesha, this one has waves of green. The green gate or the Leheriya gate was done to showcase the greens of the Spring season.
Rose Gate of City Palace Jaipur
The image of the Goddess at the center of the Winter Gate
The Rose Gate (Winter Gate) of Pritam Niwas Chowk
The winter gate or the Rose Gate was a soft pastel shade with delicate blooms to indicate this season. This gate appealed to my feminine nature and is dedicated to a Goddess. Loved the soft pastel shades on it.
For me, the uniqueness of this courtyard is what I will always remember City Palace Jaipur for. It is not every day that you get such instagrammable spots all in one place.

4) Gangajelies & Chandeliers of Diwan-I Khas

Diwan-I Khaas, City Palace Jaipur

Right opposite the Chandra Mahal, is a huge hall that is full of impressive crystal Chandeliers. This is the hall of private audience with the king. In fact, this is the first thing that you will see when you enter the royal area from Mubarak Mahal. Diwan-i-aam is more of a Mughal term. In the Jaipur City palace, this is called Sarvato Bhadra. The grand hall with its high ceilings, sparkling chandeliers and marble floors is quite an architectural gem. The whole structure might seem like an open one but there are four closed rooms at each corner. The open area was covered with curtains in its heydays. . This was the actual court of the king, the stronghold of his power.

Chandeliers of Diwan-I Khas, City Palace Jaipur

The main hall was not just important back then. It is quite symbolic and important in today’s world too. This is the hall where major religious rituals and festivals take place. During Dusshera, Gangaur and Teej, the hall has a statue of the Goddess, who is decked and taken out in a procession through the city of Jaipur. It turns into an exhibition of kites used by the Maharaja himself during the festival of Makar Sankranti. However, the thing that will make you go WOW is yet to come!

Gangajelie at Jaipur City Palace

The most interesting artifact here are the Gangajelies or the water urns that carry Ganga water. 2 huge silver urns that are 5 feet high and weigh around 340 kgs are on display. Our guide told us that they are officially the biggest sterling silver urns in the world. as per the Guinness Book of Records. These urns were made for Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II for his visit to London. The Maharaja would only drink Ganga Water and hence, 2 large silver urns with 4000 l of water were packed for his visit to Britain. 🙂 The large size and the story is what had me go WOW.

5) The Golden Throne at Diwan-I Aam

Diwan-I Aam or the Hall of Public Audience is another place within the palace, where photography is not permitted. Hence, devoid of pictures, I am hoping you can visualize this. Imagine a huge hall of red and gold, with a painted ceiling and an ornate carpet, ending at a golden throne.

It is this Golden throne or the Takhat E Rawal that had me going WOW. Ornate as a throne should be, this was used not just as seating in the Public Hall but also, doubled up as a howdah on an elephant. Well, multi-purpose utility existed back then too, and that too, in the most royal manner as possible! Passages at City Palace, Jaipur

Passages at City Palace, JaipurThe Diwan-i-Aam is called the Sabha Niwas in the City Palace Jaipur. While the King presided on the main throne, the women of the palace oversaw the proceedings behind the jhalis or curtains of the first floor. This was also, the place where family ceremonies like coronations were held.

Besides these highlights, you are bound to spot several other interesting things within the palace-like these gorgeous hallways. Like the miniature paintings exhibited in the gallery. Keep an eye out for the rare Bhagwat Geeta in these exhibits. It is handwritten and small enough to be hidden from the eyes of the invaders.

While these are just the five most important things to see at the City Palace Jaipur, they aren’t the only ones. There is a Baggi Khana with its various chariots and buggies. Also, pay a visit to the Royal Govind Devji Temple. And yes, you cannot miss the old Clock tower just behind the Diwan-i- Aam. The clock was added to the tower later on to an existing tower. It is an 1873 one and still works.
The clock tower of City Palace Jaipur

I am sure you will find your own gems that make you go WOW at the City Palace. Why don’t you pin this to your board as a reminder to share what are your WOW factors at the Jaipur City Palace? I sure would love to know.

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How to reach City Palace Jaipur?

  • The City Palace is right in the middle of Jaipur city and one can visit it using any of the local transport options – Autos, Electric Autos, Buses or Private Taxis.
  • Jaipur City is the capital city of Rajasthan and has a well-connected airport, railway station as well as bus station. There are daily flights and trains from all the major cities of India to this city.

Travel Tips:

  • This is the official website of the City Palace, Jaipur. All information on the ticket charges, the audio guides and visiting hours are documented on it. Remember to check it before heading here to ensure that your visit is not timed with a Palace holiday or special event.
  • The tickets to the City Palace, Jaipur is also, a part of the composite ticket option that allows you to visit several other attractions within a span of 3 days. Remember to check this option out before buying an individual ticket.
  • The audio guides are available in 4 languages – English, Hindi, French and German. The regular guides here are well trained and can speak other languages as well. Hence, do enquire about the same at the entrance of the palace.
  • Flat shoes are recommended for the sheer amount of walking to be done.
  • Food is available at the Palace Cafe. There are restroom facilities as well.
  • As you exit the palace, there are plenty of handloom and handicraft shops. The prices at the same are fairly competitive and the articles seem genuine. You can choose to browse through and buy some of them for yourself and friends. Check out the Jaipur bedsheets and bedspreads, Pashmina shawls and the Jaipuri home decor while here.

Booking Resources:

Here are some booking resources to help you make the best of your visit to Jaipur City Palace. Booking through these links will not cost you anything additional. However, they will help me earn a commission to keep this website going.

  • Book your tour of the three popular attractions of Jaipur – The City Palace Jaipur, Hawa Mahal and Jantar Mantar through GetyourGuide. The 5-hour tour includes a free pick up from your hotel and a guide along with a car. 
  • This Getyourguide tour allows you to customize your own Jaipur itinerary. You will be picked up and dropped anywhere in Jaipur and will have the services of a guide. The 8-hour tour allows you to cover 5 – 6 different attractions of Jaipur.
  • Klook.com can be used to book your 3 days 2 nights tour of the Golden Triangle from Jaipur. The tour includes a car and a guide.
  • Klook.com also, offers you private car charters. There are quite a few options on the website. You can book your airport transfers and even inter-city transport through the same link. 
  • In case you are looking for hotel stays in Jaipur, you can use Booking.com. 
  • I also, have aTripadvisor link for those who prefer booking their Jaipur stay through that website. 
Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, I will receive a small commission if you purchase through my link. Thank you for supporting me with this.
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