During our abbreviated stay at the Taj Lake Palace we took a quick trip to shore to visit City Palace before it got closed down for the aforementioned Ambani wedding. Trying to ignore the banging of the carpenters and other non-local workers, I wondered why it was so important to take over this magnificently architected Palace and instead of highlighting its inherent beauty build garish incongruous structures. Fortunately we got to take a good look at the wonders of the Palace before they were taken over.
City Palace, the largest palace complex (it is actually composed of 11 different palaces built by different rulers) in Rajasthan, combines influences from Medieval, European and Chinese architecture. Eye candy abounds, with towers, arches, courtyards, arches, latticed windows, pavilions, hanging gardens and more all within marble and granite fortifications that contrast against the gentle beauty of Lake Pichola.
Inside, there are unique miniature paintings, stained glass, mosaics, crystal, mirrors, ornamental tiles and other works of art.
And in true Indian style, it is all awash in color, so of course I was entranced.
Badi Chatrashali Chowk Courtyard
MINIATURE PAINTINGS – Contrary to their name, these paintings aren’t diminutive. Rather they are paintings with exquisite detailing of figures within that give them this title. These paintings were extremely popular during the Mughal Empire of the 16th-19th Centuries and often portrayed tales of rulers, romances as well as religious themes of Buddhism, Hinduism and Jain. Artists who were skilled in this form of painting put such strain on their eyes in the creation of these detailed artwork that they often went blind. Still, there are a few men and women who carry on the tradition of these paintings today.
LATTICED WINDOWS – While my photos below were taken in the courtyard of the Mardana Mahal Palace part of the City Palace complex, they are found all over. Every window seems to have a different intricate and delicate pattern, allowing light and air to pass through and although those inside can peek out, none can see inside.
STAINED GLASS AND MIRRORS
The above was my favorite room for obvious reasons.
The Palace of Mirrors is known as the Sheesh Mahal – it Is definitely not what the English colloquialism “sheesh” implies – rather it holds some eye-popping and breathtaking works of art.
There is also this interesting item – I leave it to you to decide its use:
PEACOCK MOSAICS AND TILE WORK
Peacocks are often found outside palace compounds as they serve as beautiful watch birds. They are also a recurring motif in artworks. Mor Chowk, originally built in 1620 has an elaborate display of peacocks which represent the “three seasons of India” = summer, winter and monsoon. Thousands of pieces of colored glass shine from within in these stunning mosaics::
I also was fortunate to literally run into live peacocks later in this journey –
will talk about them in more detail but here is a sneak peek:
Marcus Aurelius once said:
The soul becomes dyed with the colors of it thoughts.
If that is the case than mine is a rainbow – and I am glad for it!