Jai Mahal Palace
Construction of The Palace
The ground on which the Jai Mahal Palace stands has always been referred to as Natani ka Bagh or the Garden of Natani. Sawai Ishwari Singh's (1743-50) Military Commander and Prime Minister, Hargovind Natani, developed it around 1745. Natani was a prominent military figure but is also known to be something of a traitor. Unlike Rajput warriors he did not belong to the Kshatriya caste but came from the lower trading castes. In 1747 Natani led the Jaipur armies to victory at Rajmahal in Tonk, against Madho Singh's combined forces of Udaipur, Kota, Bundi, and the Marathas of Holkar states. He was honoured for this victory with a tower called Ishwar Lat built by Maharaja Sawai Ishwari Singh in 1749 that overlooked Natani's house in Chhoti Chopar. Ishwar Lat (c. 1751) is the highest tower dominating the skyline on the western side of the Tripolia baazar. It is an octagonal minaret of seven storeys topped by a canopy and has balconies on alternate floors. Locally it is called Swargasuli or a dart piercing the heavens.
Jai Mahal PalaceAfter accomplishing other such successful military campaigns Natani was awarded the position of Dewan or Prime Minister of Jaipur. However, after three years he betrayed Ishwari Singh to Madho Singh that resulted in the former's suicide. After Natani's death his property was reverted to the state as according to the state laws he had committed an act of disgrace. Thus Natani ka Bagh became a princely property since then. In the 1860s it was allotted as the Residency Surgeon's house. In 1881 during one of the occupant Dr Thomas Holbein Hendley's tenancy, a meteorological observatory was built beside the garden. It was later joined into the gardens of the palace of which only a dilapidated tower remains. When Sawai Man Singh II (1922-1947) took over Jaipur State, Natani ka Bagh became the official residence of the Prime Ministers of Jaipur and continued to be so till 1948. Sometime during his reign Man Singh II changed the name of the garden to Jai Mahal in honour either of his second son, Jai or his great ancestor, Sawai Jai Singh II or simply after the city itself. Jai Mahal Palace remained unoccupied from 1948 till 1955 when it was converted into one of India's earliest palace hotels.
The Palace Converted into Hotel
The Jaipur jeweller Laxmi Kumar Kasliwal Man Singh decided that the only available accommodation Khasa Kothi wasn't enough for the potential tourists of Jaipur. and thus retaining all the original staff of the Maharaja, architect Durga Lal Nandiwal and Maharaja Man Singh together made new architectural changes to transform the palace into a hotel. Alterations were done between 1952 and 1955 and finally in December 1955 it opened its doors and welcomed guests as a luxury hotel. The first guests were the entourage of Nikita Krushchev and Nikolai Bulganin. Jai Mahal Palace was Jaipur's leading hotel until 1957 when Ram Bagh Palace opened up as a heritage hotel. In 1984 the palace was turned over to the Taj Hotel Group and renovations on the palace started in 1985 and finished in 1986. 40 rooms were completed and within six months another 60 were added. It is probably the most authentic palace adaptation taken up by the Taj Group.
The Magnificent Waterways
The Jai Mahal garden has a tiered waterway that flows past stone pavilions into fountained pools. Red stone steps and walkways interlink these pools. It has been inspired and styled on the design of the traditional Mughal Gardens, more prominently from the text of Babur's Lotus Garden of Dholpur