City Palace

The City Palace, Jaipur was established at the same time as the city of Jaipur, by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, who moved his court to Jaipur from Amber, in 1727. Jaipur is the present-day capital of the state of Rajasthan, and until 1949 the City Palace was the ceremonial and administrative seat of the Maharaja of Jaipur. The Palace was also the location of religious and cultural events, as well as a patron of arts, commerce, and industry. It now houses the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum, and continues to be the home of the Jaipur royal family. The royal family of Jaipur is said to be the descendants of Lord Rama. The palace complex has several buildings, various courtyards, galleries, restaurants, and offices of the Museum Trust. The Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum Trust looks after the Museum, and the royal cenotaphs (known as chhatris).
The MSMS II Museum Trust is headed by chairperson Rajamata Padmini Devi of Jaipur (from Sirmour in Himachal Pradesh). Princess Diya Kumari runs the Museum Trust, as its secretary and trustee. She also manages The Palace School and Maharaja Sawai Bhawani Singh School in Jaipur. She founded and runs the Princess Diya Kumari Foundation to empower underprivileged and underemployed women of Rajasthan. She is also an entrepreneur. In 2013, she was elected as Member of the Legislative Assembly of Rajasthan from the constituency of Sawai Madhopur. The Trust was founded by Brig Sawai Bhawani Singh, the last titular Maharaja.
The palace complex lies in the heart of Jaipur city, to the northeast of the very centre, located at 26.9255°N 75.8236°E. The site for the palace was located on the site of a royal hunting lodge on a plain land encircled by a rocky hill range, five miles south of Amber (city). The history of the city palace is closely linked with the history of Jaipur city and its rulers, starting with Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II who ruled from 1699 to 1744. He is credited with initiating construction of the city complex by building the outer wall of the complex spreading over many acres. Initially, he ruled from his capital at Amber, which lies at a distance of 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) from Jaipur. He shifted his capital from Amber to Jaipur in 1727 because of an increase in population and increasing water shortage. He planned Jaipur city in six blocks separated by broad avenues, on the classical basis of principals of Vastushastra and another similar classical treatise under the architectural guidance of Vidyadar Bhattacharya, a Bengali architect from Naihati of present-day West Bengal who was initially an accounts-clerk in the Amber treasury and later promoted to the office of Chief Architect by the King.

Following Jai Singh’s death in 1857, there were internecine wars among the Rajput kings of the region but cordial relations were maintained with the British Raj. Maharaja Ram Singh sided with the British in the Sepoy Mutiny or Uprising of 1857 and established himself with the Imperial rulers. It is to his credit that the city of Jaipur including all of its monuments (including the City Palace) are stucco painted ‘Pink’ and since then the city has been called the “Pink City”. The change in colour scheme was as an honour of hospitality extended to the Prince of Wales (who later became King Edward VII) on his visit. This colour scheme has since then become a trademark of the Jaipur city.

Man Singh II, the adopted son of Maharaja Madho Singh II, was the last Maharaja of Jaipur to rule from the Chandra Mahal palace, in Jaipur. This palace, however, continued to be a residence of the royal family even after the Jaipur kingdom merged with the Indian Union in 1949 (after Indian independence in August 1947) along with other Rajput states of Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Bikaner. Jaipur became the capital of the Indian state of Rajasthan and Man Singh II had the distinction of becoming the Rajapramukh (present-day Governor of the state) for a time and later was the Ambassador of India to Spain.

While the Jaipur maharanis observed pardah, they enjoyed considerable power and agency. Queens – often the senior-most (Pat-Rani) had a say in the governance of the kingdom or estate in the absence of the ruler. Two queens wielding full authority were Raja Man Singh of Dhoondhar’s Bhati clan wife, and Maharaja Rai Singh of Bikaner’s wife, Rani Ganga Bai. Wives and mothers of Rajput kings and chiefs also took upon themselves the role of counselling the men over issues they felt transgressed warrior codes of behaviour and action.

Women from ruling groups or warrior castes held property in their own names, with full rights over those lands. Many warrior clan women got lands for their maintenance as personal jagirs and haath-kharch ki jagir (personal spending from the province) from both, their natal families, and the families they married into, and administered such lands through personal administrative agents (kamdars, amils, and dewans). From within zenanas, these women remained fully informed about their individual jagirs. Details about crops, law, and order, social problems, appeals from the peasantry, came to them through their stewards or agents, who took instructions directly from the women and were answerable only to them. The women used the revenues from their estates solely as they wished.

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