The City Palace complex

Walk out of the Observatory and go straight ahead. The building across the road on your left is the City Palace. The entrance, Gainda ki Deorhi, is on your left and the ticket window to the right of this gate.

The plan of the City Palace is similar to the plan of the city. In a way, it is a city within a city. It has a high wall or the sarhad that surrounds it on all sides and several gates leading to the main palace. Gainda ki Deorhi will take you into a large courtyard in the middle of which sits the white marble and pink sand stone Mubarak Mahal (Palace of Welcome).

Quite a bit of information is printed on the ticket itself but if you want a more interesting and animated commentary then you should take a guide. These approved City Palace guides can give you authentic information.

Mubarak Mahal. Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob designed this two-storied building in 1890 as a rest house for Maharaja Madho Singh II (1880-1922). It was later used as the Mahakma Khas (Royal Secretariat) and is now the Tosha Khana (royal wardrobe) of the museum. The museum offices are located on the ground floor.

The first floor houses fine muslins, silks, local hand printed cottons and embroidered coats from north India. Do not miss the atamsukh (long quilted robe) of Madho Singh I (r. 1750-67). Made from gold-encrusted pink silk, it covered his huge frame (6 1/2 feet and 250 kilos). Also on display here is the gold embroidered lehanga-choli worn by one of the Jaipur maharanis at her wedding.

Walk out of the Mubarak Mahal and head towards the east side to the Arms and Armoury Museum (Sileh Khana) in the Anand Mahal. It houses a fine collection of Indian antique weaponry - pistols, blunderbusses, flintlocks, swords, rifles and daggers. The weapon collection also includes the massive sword of Maharaja Man Singh I that weighs at least eleven pounds, a turban shaped helmet belonging to Mirza Raja Jai Singh I and the unique dagger that has two miniature pistols built into its handle. This was once the common room of the harem, and has a beautiful view of the Chandra Mahal from its first floor windows.

Right outside the Mubarak Mahal stands the Rajendra Pol flanked by two elephants, each of them carved from a single block of marble. In 1931, they were brought here from the zenana (women's quarters) to mark the birth of Maharaja Bhawani Singh who was the first direct male heir to the Jaipur throne in two generations. It follows the typical Hindu gatehouse architecture lavishly decorated with carved marble. It has ornate brackets, carved balconies, and brass studded doors. This is one of the most photographed areas of City Palace and visitors cannot seem to resist photographing the impressive guards here with their spotless white uniforms, red turbans and big moustaches.

The Rajendra Pol takes you to a huge courtyard and into the central building, the Sarvatobhadra or the Diwan-i-Khas. This courtyard reflects the influence of Mughal architecture with a few Hindu features added to give an Indian touch. The Diwan-i-Khas is a large marble pillared hall set in a deep pink courtyard. There are several arches that support its decorated pavilion roof. This courtyard is very popular with Hindi film producers and numerous song sequences have been shot here.

You cannot miss the "piece de resistance" here - the huge silver urns used by Sawai Madho Singh to carry water to England. These urns, better known as Gangajali, measure five feet in height and are listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest single silver objects in the world.

When you have your back towards Rajendra Pol, on your left is the double storied Ridhisidhi Pol that leads to the Pritam Niwas Chowk, with its four beautiful gates. The Peacock Gate is the most famous of the gates depicting seasons and has painted stucco peacocks. Towards the north of Pritam Niwas Chowk lies the original palace building Chandra Mahal (Moon Palace), the Zenana (Queen's Palace) on its northwest and the Anand Mahal on its south. To the west of the Chandra Mahal just beyond a small courtyard is Madho Niwas built by Madho Singh I that was later extended by his successor.

Chandra Mahal. The Chandra Mahal is the earliest building of the palace complex and dominates the Pritam Niwas Chowk. The present maharaja and his family still continue to live here and most of it is not open to visitors.

Originally, Chandra Mahal was a single storied palace and the later kings added more floors. The building now has seven storeys and each floor is a luxurious, opulent palace by itself.

The main sections are the Sukh Niwas, or the House of Pleasure, the Rang Mandir and the Sobha Niwas. The Shri Niwas popularly called the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors) is a huge room whose walls and ceilings are coated with coloured glass inlay, floral designs in gilt and also has elaborate stucco patterns on its pillars and ceiling. Chhavi Niwas presents a calm and serene picture in turquoise, indigo and white. The topmost floor is a smaller open pavilion called Mukut Mahal, or the crown palace. It has a beautiful curvilinear Bengal styled roof.

When you come out of Pritam Niwas Chowk and with your back towards the Sarvatobhadra, the high eastern wall of the courtyard has two smaller gates, which lead to the Sabha Niwas or the Diwan-i-Am, the Art Gallery and the Transport Gallery.

Diwan-i-Am. Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh (1778-1803) built the Diwan-i-Am (Diwan Khana) or the Hall of Public Audience, at the end of the eighteenth century. The ceiling was painted in the 1870s and is highly decorated with floral motifs in gilt, green and red. This hall was designed for durbars and banquets and has jaali screens behind which ladies in purdah could watch ceremonies. It has a picture gallery with an exquisite collection of Persian and Indian miniatures, royal carpets and an extensive collection of manuscripts. The Diwan-i-Am also houses one of India's largest chandeliers.

The other gate on the far right leads to the newly constructed Transport Gallery with its palanquins, chariots and buggies on display. On your north is Ganesh Pol that leads you out to the Jaleb Chowk.

How long you wish to spend here is entirely up to you.

The City Palace complex: Mubarak Mahal (Palace of Welcome)

One of the buildings from the City Palace complex near Jantar Mantar

the plan of the city palace 1. Chandra Mahal (and Shish Mahal).
2. Pritam Niwas Chowk (Peacock Courtyard).
3. Ridhi Sidhi Pol.
4. Diwan-e-Khas.
5. Sileh Khana.
6. Sarhad ki Deorhi.
7. Photograph Collection.
8. Mubarak Mahal.
9. Chandni Chowk.
10. Iswari Minar Swarga Sal.
11. Atish Pol.
12. Hawa Mahal.
13. Tripolia Gate.
14. Gainda ka Deorhi.
15. Diwan-e-Am.
16. Jaleb Chowk.
17. Naqqar Khana.
18. Sire Deorhi Gate.