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Jal Mahal: the mystery of Indian “floating palace”




Not far from the city of Jaipur, the capital of the state of Rajasthan, there is an amazingly beautiful valley. In this valley there is a man-made lake Man Sagar. In the center of this lake rises a magnificent palace. When you look at it, you get the impression that this man-made miracle has grown out of the water, and now it just hovers above it. This miracle is called the Jal Mahal Palace.

Jal Mahal

Photo: By Firoze Edassery (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The palace was built in the middle of the 18th century by the local ruler Madho Singh I as a summer residence where you can wait out the hot summer. The Indian nobility loved to hunt in these places. After all, there were a lot of birds in the valley. There are many of them today.

Jal Mahal

Photo: By Puja1984 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Jal Mahal

Photo: Kevin Jones, https://www.flickr.com/photos/kj-an/3109734618 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Jal Mahal

Photo: pushark lakhera, https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/34296153562/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

 

Surprisingly, but this mysterious palace… has no rooms. A small garden on the roof was used for relaxing after bird hunting. Four flooded floors can be found under the water.

Jal Mahal

Photo: By Ankit Tripathi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Jal Mahal

Photo: Brian Walter, https://www.flickr.com/photos/christopherlanephotography/33732659156/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Jal Mahal

Photo: Russ Bowling, https://www.flickr.com/photos/robphoto/2929587520/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Jal Mahal

Photo: Kevin Jones, https://www.flickr.com/photos/kj-an/3109814668/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

 

Its hard to find a palace which does not have at least a single legend about its creation. Has its own legend also Jal Mahal. According to it the palace was built in those days for the rest of the rulers. But one day a terrible drought began, as a result of which famine struck the local population. And then the ruler decided to block the nearest river with a dam. Gradually, the water from the river flooded the valley, the first four floors of the palace went under the water. The peasants began to take water from the new formed lake and water their fields. The hunger has receded. But since then the palace has stood in the middle of the lake.

Jal Mahal

Photo: Bryan Allison, https://www.flickr.com/photos/bryangeek/278846217/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

Jal Mahal

Photo: Varun Shiv Kapur, https://www.flickr.com/photos/varunshiv/3925751829/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Jal Mahal

Photo: VinceHuang, https://www.flickr.com/photos/s_y_s/372856841/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

 

For more than 200 years no one took care about the palace, and it completely lost its former grandeur. The lake has covered with mud and has overgrown with lush vegetation.

Jal Mahal

Photo: Dinesh Bareja, https://www.flickr.com/photos/dineshobareja/4913155295/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Jal Mahal

Photo: Varun Shiv Kapur, https://www.flickr.com/photos/varunshiv/3926533862/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Jal Mahal

Photo: wonker, https://www.flickr.com/photos/wonker/2374790160/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

 

But recently the building was restored, and the lake together with surrounding lands were cleared.

Jal Mahal

Photo: By Akinori Li (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Jal Mahal

Photo: By Debrup Majumdar (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

You can only get to Jal Mahal by boat, but tourists are not allowed inside the palace. The building can only be admired from the shores of the lake.

Jal Mahal

Photo: Dimitry B., https://www.flickr.com/photos/ru_boff/8153774502/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Jal Mahal
Jal Mahal. Photo: Pedro / flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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