jal-mahal

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Jal Mahal is a palace located in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake in Jaipur city, the capital of the state of Rajasthan, India. The palace and the lake around it were renovated and enlarged in the 18th century by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Amber. “The Jal Mahal palace has got an eye-popping makeover. Traditional boat-makers from Vrindavan have crafted the Rajput style wooden boats. A gentle splashing of oars on the clear lake waters takes you to Jal Mahal. You move past decorated hallways and chambers on the first floor to climb all the way up to the fragrant Chameli Bagh. Across the lake, you can view the hills, dotted with temples and ancient forts, and on the other side, bustling Jaipur. The most remarkable change is in the lake itself. The drains were diverted, two million tonnes of toxic silt were dredged from the bottom, increasing its depth by over a metre, a water treatment system was developed, local vegetation and fish reintroduced, the surrounding wetlands regenerated and five nesting islands created to attract migratory birds.

In the past, at the location of the lake, there was a natural depression where water used to accumulate. During 1596 AD, when there was a severe famine in this region there was consequent acute shortage of water. The then ruler of Amer was, therefore, motivated to build a dam to store water to overcome the severe hardships caused by the famine to the people inhabiting the region. A dam was constructed, initially using earth and quartzite, across the eastern valley between Amer hills and Amagarh hills. The dam was later converted into a stone masonry structure in the 17th century. The dam, as existing now (see picture), is about 300 metres (980 ft) long and 28.5–34.5 metres (94–113 ft) in width. It is provided with three sluice gates for release of water for irrigation of agricultural land in the down streamarea. Since then, the dam, the lake and the palace in its midst have undergone several rounds of restoration under various rulers of Rajasthan but the final restoration in the 18th century is credited to Jai Singh II of Amer. During this period, a number of other historical and religious places, such as the Amer Fort, Jaigarh Fort, Nahargarh Fort, Khilangarh Fort, and Kanak Vrindavan Valley were also built in the vicinity. All of these places are now linked by a tourist corridor of roadworks.

During the rainy seasons, the city lake gets filled up with water. The water palace is open only through boats that take the tourist from the land to the palace in the center of the lake. Even while crossing the palace for the road, the whole view looks very charming that it attracts people of all ages. The lake used to be a bird watcher’s paradise in the past and was a favorite ground for the Rajput kings of Jaipur for royal duck shooting parties during picnics. The lake was home to more than 150 species of local and migratory birds that included Large Flamingo, Great Crested Grebe, Pintail, Pochards, Kestrel, Coot, Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Ruff, Herring Gull, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Grey Wagtail, but their numbers declined with the worsening of the lake.

Literally meaning as ‘Water Palace’, Jal Mahal is located amidst the Man Sagar Lake and was constructed by Sawai Pratap Singh in the year 1799. The beauty of the palace lies in its location as the palace cum hotel is standing in the centre of the lake.The palace architecture boasts of a typical Rajput and Mughal style which is quite similar to that of Amer Fort. Made in red sandstone, the palace is actually five-storeyed where only the top story is visible . At the top, there is a garden which has semi-octagonal towers in every corner. Although any time is a good time to visit Jal Mahal but it is during the monsoon season (when the water level rises up) when the views from this palatial hotel are more captivating.