Jal Mahal, Jaipur: Unmissable Adventures around the Lake Palace

Jal Mahal - the name oozes tranquility and calm. Standing elegantly between calm waters of Man Sagar Lake, in the beautiful city of Jaipur, the Jal Mahal translates to ‘water palace’. A marvelous combination of Mughal and Rajput architecture, Jal Mahal is a well-known landmark of the city and one of the most beautiful spots to see. The palace atop the lake looks like floating on the waters, however, very few know that it is a 5- storied building, of which four stories remain submerged in the water when the lake is full.
 
In contrast to the pink-themed architecture across the city, the Jal Mahal was made in yellow sandstone. It falls on the way to the Amber Fort and can be seen from the roadside. The ruler of the 18th century Jaipur – Sawai Pratap Singh got the palace constructed. The palace presents a serene picture situated in the middle of calm waters and enveloped in green hillocks in the background. After sunset, when the floodlights come alive, the palace transforms from this serene demure beauty into a dazzling damsel.

History of Jal Mahal:

We lack historical evidence about the exact period when the Jal Mahal Palace originated, the folklore says it was built by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799. The lush green woods were the Maharaja’s favorite hunting grounds and thus this palace was originally meant to be a hunting lodge for the king. The lake was formed due to the construction of a dam between the Aravalli hills. However, another lore attributes this palace to Maharaja Madho Singh in the 1750s to be used as a hunting lodge.

The interiors were later upgraded in the 18th century, by his son Madho Singh II. 18th century saw another enhancement from Maharaja Jai Singh II of Amer. Recent years have seen pollution taking over and the quality of water deteriorating, which led the government to undertake massive restoration activities. The palace has now been converted to a hotel and the entry to the public has been restricted. Earlier the boating activities were open for the public, they are stopped now.

The palace is not too high and has four dome-shaped pillars at four corners with a big one in the center.

Jal Mahal
Jal Mahal was Constructed right in the middle of the Lake

The Architecture of Jal Mahal:

The Jal Mahal’s architecture is a mélange of Mughal and Rajput styles and is very interesting representing these two as prominent reigns in India in those times. Constructed right in the middle of the Lake Man Sagar, the palace has five stories out of which four remain submerged in the water. The lake is 15 feet deep and its banks are around 4.9 feet deep. The palace is built in yellow sandstone, with four octagonal domes (Chatris) on four corners and a Bengali-styled large rectangular Chatri at the center of the terrace.

The construction was of superior quality as it has withstood two centuries and still stands bold. The secret lies in its plastering material which was completely organic and different from the modern-day plastering technique. The organic plaster was made of powder of fenugreek (methi), jaggery, guggul, surkhi, and sand mixed in lime to form the mortar.

Things to Do at Jal Mahal Palace:

The Jal Mahal Jaipur is inaccessible to the public and can only be seen from outside. Earlier times saw the romantic gondola ferries ferrying visitors to the palace. Sadly, not available now. The only option left now is to enjoy looking at it from the lake-banks. There are many other activities though, that you can engage in and enjoy here in the serene atmosphere.

Photography:

Take some amazing pictures on the bank with the Jal Mahal palace and laden hills in the background. The Mahal is a perfect muse in the night when it is lit with thousands of bulbs all reflecting on slightly rippling waters. If you are the enthusiastic types, then you can rent local outfits, get dressed in and click pictures with a Rajasthani swagger. There are many photographers ready to click your pictures for some money.


Enjoy the Serenity:

There are seating arrangements on the boundary wall between the lake and the road, so you can soak in the picturesque palace and the surroundings. Usually, the people outnumber the seats, but if you are lucky to get one, hang on to it and enjoy the view. Monsoons are a good time to enjoy the lake with dark, laden clouds and verdant hills, providing a picturesque backdrop to the magnificence in pink stone. This is a photographers’ favorite place.

Take Pictures on the bank of Jal Mahal
Take Pictures on the bank of Jal Mahal
The Picturesque Palace
Enjoy the Picturesque Palace


Street shop:

There is nothing like street shopping on the banks of such a beautiful lake. Right from Rajasthani mojris, jewelry, bandhani cloths, and traditional handicraft items, the hawkers sell everything. Your bargaining skills will come handy to get the best deals.


Bird-watching:

The lake and the lush green hills surrounding it attracts thousands of migratory birds. For bird watchers, it is a time well spent watching and photographing the avian visitors. Sunset and sunrise are the best time to indulge in this place. Various migratory birds like flamingos, pilchards, pintail, great crested grebe, grey heron, common moorhen, blue-tailed bee-eaters, white-browed wagtail, kestrel, and many more varieties can be seen here. However, the numbers have gone down drastically over time as the waters are increasingly becoming unsuitable for them. An annual bird fair is being organized to spread awareness and educate people about keeping the lake clean and conserving the ecosystem.


Fish Feeding:

There is a lot of fish in the lake. Feeding them and seeing them rush for food is a good sight. Kids would especially love doing this. Fish food is available at street shops and stalls. However, do not put stale food and unfit things in the water that can harm fish or ecology.


Camel Rides:

You can take camel rides here and get your pictures clicked. Many food stalls sell Jaipur street food on the pavillion here. Also, there are balloons and other trinkets vendors for the kids to rejoice.


Statues near Jal Mahal:

Close to Jal Mahal along the road, there is a tableau of a king’s procession, with the king sitting on an elephant and following which are dancers and musicians. These are made in bronze, reminiscing India’s glorious past.


Jal Mahal Timings and Entry Fees:

Entry to the palace is restricted by the government, the only way is to see from outside. There is no entry fee. The lake can be visited at any time. At night the ambiance looks beautiful. However, during sunrise one can skip the vendors and see the Jal Mahal in its unadulterated beauty.

Jal Mahal, Jaipur
Wonderful Night View of Jal Mahal

Location of Jal Mahal:

On the Jaipur-Amer road, the Jal Mahal is 4 km (2.5 mi) north from the main city. The spot is only a few kilometers away from the famous Amer fort, and on the same route further, are Nahargarh Fort and Jaigarh Fort. Jaipur is just 273 km (170 mi) from Delhi and all are on the same road. Jaipur is well connected to all the cities and countries. The city has its International Airport and flights from all over the world.

How to Reach Jal Mahal:

The palace can be accessed on the way to Amber Fort, Nahargarh Fort, and Jaigarh Fort, by bus, auto, cabs or private cars, Jal Mahal Bus.