Chandra Mahal, Jaipur

25 Jul

Chandra Mahal or Chandra Niwas is the most commanding building in the City Palace complex, on its west end. It is a seven-storeyed building and each floor has been given a specific name such as the Sukh-Niwas, Ranga-Mandir, Pitam-Niwas, Chabi-Niwas, Shri-Niwas and Mukut-Mandir or Mukut Mahal. It contains many unique paintings, mirror work on walls and floral decorations. At present, most of this palace is the residence of the descendents of the former rulers of Jaipur. Only the ground floor is allowed for visitors where a museum is located that displays carpets, manuscripts and other items that belonged to the royal family. There is beautiful peacock gate at the entry to the Mahal. It has screened balconies and a pavilion at the roof from where a panoramic view of the city can been seen. It is set amidst well laid out gardens and a decorative lake in the foreground.

Also seen at the top of the Chandra Mahal is the flag of the royal family, which is seen unfurled when the Maharaja is in the palace. It is a one and quarter sized flag. However, when the king is away, the queen’s flag is hoisted on the building.

There is an interesting anecdote narrated about the ‘one and quarter flag’, which is the insignia flag of the Maharajas of Jaipur. Emperor Aurangzeb who attended the wedding of Jai Singh, shook hands with the young groom and wished him well on his marriage. On this occasion, Jai Singh made an irreverent remark to the Emperor stating that the way he had shaken hands with him made it incumbent on the Emperor to protect him (Jai Singh) and his kingdom. Aurangzeb, instead of responding in indignation at the quip, felt pleased and conferred on the young Jai Singh the title of ‘Sawai’, which means “one and a quarter”. Since then the Maharajas have pre-fixed their names with this title. During residence there, they also fly a one and a quarter size flag atop their buildings and palaces.

There is also a tragic story linked to this palace. Ishawri Singh, son of Jai Singh who was unwilling to face the advancing army of Marathas, ended his life humiliatingly by getting bitten by a snake. Following this, his 21 wives and paramours also committed the then accepted ritual of sati or jauhar (self immolation on the funeral pyre of their husband).

 

 

 

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