The Water Palace of Jaipur, Jal Mahal, is a unique landmark of the city. The tranquil monument is located in the middle of Man Sagar Lake in the state capital of Rajasthan. The lake is located between the historic city of Amer and Jaipur and has a water spread area of 300 acres. Enclosed by the Aravalli hills, the lake is bordered by a promenade which is ideal for viewing Jal Mahal and taking memorable pictures. A Jaipur city tour is incomplete without striking a pose here with your loved ones. Visitors are not allowed to enter the palace or the lake.
A stunning view of the Man Sagar Lake and the Jal Mahal palace can be enjoyed from the Nahargarh Fort in the hills. The lake was created by constructing a dam across the Darbhawati River, between Khilagarh hills and the hilly areas of Nahargarh. During 1596 AD, when there was a severe famine in this region, the then ruler of Amer constructed a dam to store water and help the people of this region. The dam was later converted into a stone masonry structure in the 17th century. After this, the dam, the lake and the palace in its midst underwent several phases of restoration under various rulers of Rajasthan. The final restoration in the 18th century is credited to Jai Singh II of Amer.
Once a bird watcher’s paradise, the lake was the preferred ground for the Rajput kings of the region for royal duck shooting parties during picnics. It was a natural habitat for more than 150 species of local and migratory birds that included large flamingo, great crested grebe, pintail, kestrel, etc, but their numbers declined with the deterioration of the lake. Now, with restoration works undertaken, the birds have started visiting the lake again, though far lesser in comparison to the past. An initiative of holding an annual birding fair was started in 1997 to attract attention to the lake’s condition. This scenic water body was also home to a large species of the aquatic ecosystem such as fish, insects, microorganisms and aquatic vegetation.
An architectural masterpiece, the Jal Mahal palace was built in the Rajput style of architecture. A picturesque view of the lake can be enjoyed from the Man Sagar Dam and the surrounding Nahargarh hills. Built in red sandstone, the palace is a five-story building with four floors remaining under water when the lake is full. An interesting Bengali style Chhatri (elevated, dome-shaped pavilion) occupies the roof. These are on the four corners and are octagonal.
There is an elegant garden with arched passages on the terrace of the palace. Each corner of this palace features semi-octagonal towers with a beautiful cupola. The restoration works done in the palace in the past were found unsatisfactory hence a team of experts carefully examined the designs that could decipher the originally existing designs on the walls, after removing the recent plasterwork. Based on this finding, restoration works were redone with traditional materials for plastering.
Opposite the lake, at Gaitore, chhatris, and cenotaphs and erected over cremation platforms of some of the rulers of Jaipur. Built by Jai Singh II within landscaped gardens, the cenotaph monuments are in honor of Pratap Singh, Madho Singh II, and Jai Singh II, among others.
The year 2004 was a significant one as the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation took the initiative to restore the monument to its original glory. They signed an agreement with Jal Mahal Resorts, granting it a 99-year lease to develop 100 acres along the Man Sagar Lake (in the middle of which Jal Mahal stands) and the palace.
The Jal Mahal offers an incredibly serene sight away from the chaos of the city. The monument looks like it is effortlessly floating in the center of Sagar Lake. The place is located about 4 km to the north of the state capital. It is located on the main Amer-Jaipur road which sees a lot of travelers regularly. Many tourists who come to this majestic offering of Rajasthan holiday combine their visit with Amer fort as both attractions are on the same side of Jaipur.
The 18th century witnessed the construction of other religious and historical places like Amer Fort, Jaigarh Fort, Nahargarh Fort, Kanak Vrindavan Valley. These were built in the nearby areas of this lake and now are linked through a tourist corridor of the road network. It is one of the best examples of Rajput architectural beauty and technical excellence.
The Jal Mahal looks stunning in the evening as the entire complex is illuminated by floodlights. The sight of many migratory birds swimming in winters in the Man Sagar Lake is one of the most soothing sights one can ever imagine. This is one such place which no traveler to this city wants to miss out on seeing. A favorite even among the local residents of Jaipur, the Jal Mahal continues fascinating visitors with its repose as well as grandeur.