Jal Mahal: The Submerged Abandoned Palace in Jaipur City, India

Jal Mahal is an abandoned palace in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake in Jaipur City in India. The name Jal Mahal means “Water Palace” and was initially constructed in the late 1600s. Since then, the building has been renovated, abandoned, restored, and then abandoned again. But how does a building with such top-notch architecture end up in the middle of the lake? Who built it? Why was it abandoned? What is its current state? This article answers all these questions and more.

Location of Jal Mahal Palace

The Jal Mahal Palace is located in the middle of Man Sagar Lake, an artificial lake formed to collect water from the mountains and cushion the neighboring community from the effects of the drought that was rocking the area at the time.

While at the building, you have a picturesque view of Man Sagar Lake. However, given that it is secluded from the mainland, whether or not you see the surrounding Nahargarh (“tiger-abode”) hills depends on what part of the palace you are in.

Interestingly, the Jal Mahal palace was built in the middle of a lake to keep it cool. The king and queen loved to stay there, especially during special occasions.

How Jal Mahal Palace Was Built

Jal Mahal Palace adopted the Rajput architectural style, which is common in the larger Rajasthan region where it is located. While it was initially built in 1699, the palace underwent significant renovations in the mid-18th century under the directions of Maharaja of Amber Jai Singh II. He was the 29th Kachwaha Rajput ruler.

The building was built mainly of red sandstone. It is not clear how many stories the palace has (some sources say four, while others claim they are five). Either way, all sources agree that only the top floor is visible, with the rest submerged in water.

Octagonal cenotaphs cover all four corners of the Jal Mahal palace. There are also semi-octagonal towers with cupolas (small dome-like structures) in every corner of the building.

Why Was Jal Mahal Abandoned?

Unlike most abandoned buildings that have either been reclaimed by nature or considered unsafe for habitation, the Jal Mahal Palace was abandoned because of an impending court case. Surprisingly, the building had been operating normally since it was built over 300 years ago. It was not until 2003 that it was closed until all the legal battles were solved.

Jal Mahal Restoration Attempts

Given how long the structure has been in place, most of its parts have suffered significant damage. At the turn of the century, the restoration attempts that were set in place were not satisfactory, so they were halted. In 2004, Jamal Mahal Resorts granted the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation a 99-year lease to develop and restore the region.

Since 2005, the company has been working to clean the lake, revive its ecology, and restore the palace’s infrastructure. As slow as they are, the plans are still ongoing, with the responsible parties hoping to make the Jal Mahal an international landmark and a significant tourism destination.

The Jal Mahal restoration project is currently considered one of India’s largest and most unique projects– more than $18 million has been used so far.

Can We See the Inside of Jal Mahal?

The straight answer to this question is no, you cannot see the inside of Jal Mahal at the moment. However, there is hope that the public will be allowed to explore the building’s interior in future, with a massive restoration project underway. Below are some of the most recent pictures from the Jal Mahal Palace.

 

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