cover image

Jai Vilas Mahal

Building in Gwalior, India / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Jai Vilas Mahal, also known as the Jai Vilas Palace, is a nineteenth century palace in Gwalior, India. It was built in 1874 by Jayajirao Scindia, the Maharaja of Gwalior in the British Raj.[1] While the major part of the palace is now the "Jiwajirao Scindia Museum" which opened to the public in 1964, a part of it is still the residence of some of his descendants.

Quick facts: Jai Vilas Palace, General information, Archit...
Jai Vilas Palace
Jai Vilas Palace in Gwalior
Jai Vilas Mahal is located in India
Jai Vilas Mahal
Location within India
General information
Architectural styleItalian, Corinthian and Tuscan architecture
Town or cityGwalior
Coordinates26.2047°N 78.1686°E / 26.2047; 78.1686
Completed1874; 149 years ago (1874)
Cost1 crore in 1874
(now about ₹4,000 crores)
ClientJayajirao Scindia
Technical details
Size124,771 square feet
Design and construction
Architect(s)Sir Michael Filose
Jai Vilas Palace

Jai Vilas Palace is a fine example of European architecture. It was designed and built by Sir Michael Filose.[2] It is a combination of architectural styles, the first storey is Tuscan, the second Italian-Doric and the third Corinthian. The area of the Palace is 124,771 square feet and it is known for its large Durbar Hall. The interior of the Durbar Hall is decorated with gilt and gold furnishings and adorned with a huge carpet and gigantic chandeliers. It is 30 metres (100 ft) long, 15 metres (50 ft) wide and 12 metres (41 ft) in height.

The palace was described by Sir William Howard Russell in 1877[3]

The Palace covers an area of 124,771 square feet, exclusive of the inner square, which is 321 by 321% feet. The building is double-storied, and the wings and turrets are three- and five-storied. Its total length is 106 feet. The first story is Tuscan, second Italian Doric, and the third Corinthian order of architecture. The interior of the Reception-room is 97 feet 8 inches long by 50 feet broad, and it is 41 feet in height. The roof is arched with stone slabs 21 feet long, which enabled the architect to make the ribs prominent. They rest at each end on double Corinthian columns, which form a colonnade round the interior. The interior and exterior of the Palace form a combination of arcades and colonnades. Upwards of 300,000 leaves of gold were‘used to decorate the Reception-hall. The Grand Staircase-room is roofed with stone slabs 30 feet long; the room opposite to it is roofed in the same way. This room was used for dancing. The length of each of these rooms is 50 feet. The Grand Drawing-room, one of the finest saloons in the world, is hung with wonderful chandeliers, and decorated with enormous mirrors. The Prince's bedstead, washing service, and bath were of solid silver. The cost of the Palace was a little above 1,100,000 rupees. But the garden-walls, iron railings, gardens, furniture, glass, grand staircase, chandeliers, etc, cost about 500,000 rupees more. The area of the garden is about one square mile; there are several waterfalls and a number of fountains in it.[3]

A large room preserves the desk and photographs of Madhavrao Scindia, who served as the Railway Minister of India. Many of the rooms, including drawing rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms, have been preserved just as they were lavishly decorated for the royal family.[4] The royal kitchen, with its furnaces, pots, china and other items have also been preserved.

Supposedly, eight elephants were suspended from the durbar (royal court) hall ceiling to check it could cope with two 12.5 metres (41 ft)-high, 3.5-tonne chandeliers with 250 light bulbs, said to be the largest pair in the world.

H. H. Maharaja Jayaji Rao Scindia (Shinde), the Maratha Maharaja of Gwalior, who built the Jai Vilas Palace

Unusual items fill many rooms: cut glass furniture, stuffed tigers and a ladies-only swimming pool with its own boat. The cavernous dining room displays the pièce de résistance, a model silver train that carried after-dinner brandy and cigars around the table.[5][6] In contrast to the western style dining room, a completely Indian style dining room is also preserved, which was used when the Maratha nobles were invited.

The museum preserves the memory of the humble origin of Scindia (spelled in Hindi/Marathi Shinde) from the Kanherkhed village in Maharashtra. The family left its ancestral village in 1726, however it has continued to preserve its Maratha heritage. On special occasions, the Scindia family members still wear the Maratha style (Shineshahi pagdi) turban which uses 60 metres (200 ft) of Chanderi silk, with pointed ends. An exhibit at the museum explains the intricate steps involved in wrapping the special turban.[7]

Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II's planquin. Shah Alam lived under the protection of the Scindias.

A notable historical item is the palanquin gifted by Mughal emperor Shah Alam II, who was restored to the throne by Mahadaji Scindia in 1787. A Rohilla courtier, Ghulam Qadir, had acquired control of Delhi. He humiliated the Mughal royal family and blinded the emperor Shah Alam II. The tragic event is described by a poem of Allama Iqbal.[8] Mahadaji Scindia came to the Mughal family's rescue and captured Ghulam Qadir and became the de facto ruler of Delhi.[9][10] It attests to the power of Mahadji Shinde ( Scindia ) who is regarded by historians as among the important personality in history of Maratha Empire.