Palace named after monsoon in Rajasthan

The Deeg palace, also known as 'Jal Mahal' for its extensive water designs which mimic the clouds and rains, is a must visit.
Deeg Palace is known for its fountains which are run twice a year. Deeg Palace is known for its fountains which are run twice a year.

Forts and palaces of Rajasthan are well known for their water-based architecture, which sustained life and also kept out the extreme summer heat. Though mostly absent from travel itineraries, Deeg Palace in Bharatpur district scores over the big names when it comes to aquatic ingenunity. Historically referred to as Jal Mahal, it is also called 'Monsoon Palace' because of its sound and colour show which imitated the clouds and rain. Deeg, strategically located between Delhi and Agra, was the capital of the Jat rulers in the early 18th century before they shifted to Bharatpur.

The palace, which was turned into a summer resort for the royal family, has impressions of Rajput and Mughal architecture. Jat ruler Maharaja Suraj Mal was so impressed with Mughal palaces that on one of his conquests of Delhi, he got an entire marble building dismantled from the Red Fort and resinstalled at Deeg!  

 

Keshav Bhawan, the monsoon pavilion, stands next to Roop Sagar pond and is surrounded by a canal with large fountains on the floor while hundreds of minute water jets dot the walls of the canal. The fountains and jets created a monsoon-like ambience.

 

Hundreds of stone balls placed on a channel around this roof would move with the pressure of the water and produce thunderous sounds akin to the monsoon clouds. The roof has since been renovated leaving nothing behind of the engineering marvel. In his famous book 'Chasing the Monsoon', travel writer Alexander Frater dismissed this pavilion as "a preposterous folly erected by some showman who would today have been running theme parks."

 

A miniature replica of the network of fountains around the palace.

 

This overhead water tank with a capacity of 6 lakh gallons, supplies the fountains. Earlier, oxes would lift water from four wells to the tank every month. Now, pump sets do the same job in three days. On the occasion of Braj Holi, pouches of different organic colours are put inside outlets leading to the fountains spewing coloured water.

 

The chambers under the water tank which housed the army and horses, are naturally cool.

 

The ceiling of the Diwan-e-Khas (Hall of private audiences) has a gap of six feet and is filled with earthen pots to keep the temperature down in the summer.

 

The old fan which the servants would run manually, stands just above the two fountains. This arrangement can be equated with a modern-day water cooler that provides moisture and humidity in dry places.

 

An old dug well used by the erstwhile queens, now stands dry.

 

 The fountains are now operated only on special ceremonies like Holi and the arrival of the monsoon due to shortage of water, a reminder that a scant natural resource can't be squandered off for the pleasure that the royals indulged in.

 

The Gopal Sagar pond is flanked by two pavilions, Saawan and Bhado, named after the rainy months in the traditional Indian calendar. Gopal Sagar pond had a garden on the southern end, which is in shambles now.

 

The second pond on the north eastern end of the palace is now being used by washermen and tent owners, an indicator of public occupation over what was essentially royal property.

 

A city has grown around the palace but it is the favourite place of joggers, walkers, idlers, cricket players and those who want to reflect on the intricacies of life in silence.

 

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