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The Deeg Palace of Bharatpur and its Jal Mahal

The Deeg Palace of Rajasthan is the reminiscent of Jat power in Rajasthan, being the last palace of the State’s royal clan in the district of Bharatpur of Rajasthan. The palace is beautifully carved alongwith a huge water body and equally big landscaped gardens allaround.

Deeg Palace

Located at about 32 kilometers from Bharatpur city, Deeg used to be the capital of Jat rulers. It was the king Badan Singh, who constructed the beautiful palace in the year 1721. Since Deeg was located strategically near to Agra, Bharatpur and Mathura, it became prey to the attacks of invaders, who wanted to capture it. Later, Raja Suraj Mal, the son of Badan singh constructed a fort around the palace with big, deep and sturdy boundary walls around it.

Deeg Palace
The Deeg Palace of Jat rulers (Pic: cpreecenvis.nic.in)

Deeg’s main attraction is the palace which comprises a number of things but mainly Deeg Bhawan or Jal Mahal or ‘water palace’,. It is not just a set of  water bodies, but it is based scientifically on the premise of supplying water to the needy places. A lot of water flow through it, forming pools, channels, mazes, sheets, and fountains etc, all for the benefits of the people in and around Deeg Palace. Though it was the imagination of Raja Badan singh, two consecutive Jat rulers, the son of Badan Singh, who is known as legendary Maharaja Suraj Mal and his successor Jawahar Singh, built the Jal Mahal as well as Deeg Bhawan complex over a period of about twelve years, starting in 1756 CE. The complex spreads out over several acres, across which are located beautiful eight palaces.

Entrance to the Deeg Bhawan complex is through an ornately carved sandstone gate. Parking is just outside and will not cost you anything.

Deeg was a site of a legendary battle between the Jats and a combined Mughal and Maratha army of 80,000 men. Emboldened by his victory, Suraj Mal began making forays into enemy territory. It is said that after eight years of success in his forays, Suraj Mal captured Delhi and plundered the Red Fort carrying away masses of valuables including an entire marble building, which was dismantled and numbered. The palace was then reconstructed at Deeg.

Deeg Palace
A different perspective of Deeg Palce with landscaping (Pic: footlost.com)

The Jat rulers were influenced by the magnificence of the Mughal courts of Agra and Delhi. The design of the gardens has been inspired by the Mughal Charbagh. The palace forms a quadrangle with a garden and walkways at its centre. Decorative flowerbeds, shrubs, trees and fountains cool the place considerably during summer. Two huge water tanks, Gopal Sagar and Rup Sagar, on either side also helped to bring down the temperature.

Elaborately carved gates, stone slabs, ornate beams, and marble jaalis from Mughal constructions have been used in the palace. A fine marble swing, rumoured to have belonged to Nur Jahan, was brought as a war trophy from the Mughal court. The swing overlooks the gardens.

All the palaces are arranged around a set of central gardens, consisting of lawns, flower beds, paths, and trees. If you enter through Singh Pol, visit these in sequential order, beginning from the right and following an anti-clockwise direction. Therefore, the sequence in which one visits the palaces, from the beginning, i.e. entry is–

Singh Pol 

This is the main entrance to the palace complex. It is an unfinished structure having a central projection on north. Architecturally, it appears to be a work of relatively later period. The gate is named after two lions sculptured in front of the archway.

Gopal Bhawan

This is the largest and most admirable of all the buildings. Its reflection into surrounding sheet of water imparts a unique charm to ambiance. The Bhawan has a central hall flanked by wings of two low storeyed annexes on either side. On its water front, two oblong basement storeys were constructed as summer resorts. The central projection is carved with majestic arches and imposing pillars. A room in the northern wing contains a black marble throne-platform believed to be spoils of war brought by Jawahar Singh from the imperial palaces of Delhi.

The Gopal Bhawan is flanked by two small pavilions known as Sawan and Bhadon Bhawans to its north and south respectively. Each pavilion is a two storeyed structure of which only the upper one is visible from front and has a fascinating palanquin-shaped roof crowned by a row of elegant spikes.

Suraj Bhawan 

This is the most extensive and splendid building in marble inside the palace complex. It was built by Surajmal. This is a single storey flat roofed building. The Bhawan consists of a verandah all around with five arched openings and rooms flanking at the corners. The Bhawan was originally built of buff sandstone to which white marble was encased subsequently. The dados of the central apartment are bordered with excellent pietra dura work.

Kishan Bhawan

The Kishan Bhawan is situated towards the southern fringe of the complex. This building has well-decorated and extensive panelled façade broken by five large central archways and a huge fountain feeding tank on its terrace. The spandrels of middle and front arches are adorned with intricately carved arabesques. Interiorly, the back wall has an alcoved balcony with carved façade and false curved roof representing a foliaged hut.

Hardev Bhawan

The Hardev Bhawan is situated behind Suraj Bhawan, having a vast garden in front laid out in charbagh pattern. The mansion subsequently underwent certain additions and alterations during the time of Surajmal. The building on the south is double storeyed. The ground floor consists of a projecting central hall, faced with arches springing from a row of double pillars. Behind is an arcaded colonnade running along three sides. The rear part is crowned by a chhatri bearing a spiked curved roof. A narrow gallery screened with obliquely-cut jails runs at the back of the upper floor.

Keshav Bhawan

Commonly known as baradari, Keshav Bhawan is a square single storeyed open pavilion situated along Rup-Sagar. Centrally, the bhawan is diversified by an arched running on all sides and forming an inner square. The bhawan originally included an elaborate device to reproduce the effects of monsoon. There were stone balls in the ceiling which could be agitated by piped running water to create the noise of thunder and the water was released through spouts above the arches to fall as rain in sheets around the open hall. A broad canal is running round the edge of the pavilion.

Nand Bhawan

The Nand Bhawan is situated towards the north of the central garden. It is a spacious oblong hall raised on a terrace and enclosed by grand arcade of seven openings. The ceiling of the central portion of the hall is made of wood. Like other buildings it is also having a tank in front and well finished exterior.

Purana Mahal

Built by Badan Singh, Purana Mahal is planned as a spacious rectangle with an interior consisting of two separate courts. It continues the tradition of a typical palace. It has impressive exterior. The arches are both of engrailed and pointed types.

The royal abodes are planned along the periphery of the central garden and flanked by two reservoirs i.e. the Rup Sagar on the east and the Gopal Sagar on the west.

Deeg Palace

Entry Ticket and Timings

You can buy entrance tickets to the palace complex (Rs 15 per Indian for adults) just outside Singh Pol, and go in. Hold on to the tickets carefully, because you will need them at three of the palaces (Gopal Bhawan, Kishan Bhawan and Nand Bhawan) which are under the charge of caretakers. Foreigners are given access on the charge of Rs 200 per head.

Children below the age of 15 years are allowed free entry.

Entry is restricted to 9 AM to 5 PM. The palace is closed on Friday.

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About Raj Gopal Singh Verma

A blogger and photographer by interests, interested in worldwide travel related information, travelogues and visuals. Love different types of cuisines, try hand on Indian and Mughlai dishes, when time permits. Writes in Hindi too. Expresses inner feelings through poetry, at times.

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