Prag Mahal Bhuj

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1. View of Prag Mahal against the setting sun. Pic taken from Hamirsar Talao. In Bhuj see Prag and Aina Mahals, Royal Chhatirs, Kutch Museum and Ram Kund step-well. All within a 2 km radius. Best time to visit is Nov to February.

2. Bhuj was the capital of the Jadeja dynasty and established in 1510. Board inside Aina Mahal. Last line - people of Bhuj believe the constant movement of the snake causes earthquakes in the region. The last major one was in 2001, before that 1809.

3. Early morning view of Prag Mahal. It was commissioned by King Pragmalji in the 1860`s and is designed in the Italian Gothic style. On right is 150 feet high big bang clock tower from where you get a great view of Bhuj. Album covers Prag & Aina Mahals.

4. The walled city of Bhuj was the administrative and commercial headquarter of the princely state of Kutch. Darbagarh was built by Rao Shri Khengarji in 1540 and developed into a palace complex over the next 300 years. Prag Mahal is part of this complex.

5. There are 2 such towers in India, in Bhuj and Mumbai. Tower built in 1865 and mechanism of Tower Clock installed in 1877. If visiting Kutch buy Kutch Tourist Guide by Pramod Jethi - super.

6. These steps lead you to the Durbar Hall. It is nice to see the palace being maintained well. Prag Mahal took over 10 years to build and cost over Rs 20 lakhs. Palace was built with intent to showcase various marbles of Kutch. Pale-red brick coloured use also came from Kutch.

7. Side view of Prag Mahal. On this side is the Durbar Hall. Ground floor was used for administrative purpose. Second floor was Durbar Hall. Third floor for residency. More than 50 rooms were used for indoor games.

8.First view of Durbar Hall. Nicely maintained, original furniture still intact. Note chandelier on top. Nothing to beat the ones at Jai Vilas Palace Gwalior which are huge.

9. There is a corridor on the first floor all along the hall.

10. Close up view.

11. View of the durbar hall in the mirror. Hotels in Bhuj. I stayed at Swagat. Nice, clean, functional with excellent location Rs 750/ per day non a/c. Call Chintan B 91 81414 74999. Others Hotel Raj Mahal Rs 1200/. Call 02832 223000, Navkar Residency Rs 1700/ for a/c room. These rates were in February 2018.

12. Side view of durbar hall. Notice the stain glass. Best part of staying at Swagat is you get super poha, chai below. Cross the road to have wow pav bhaji. Regular restaurants within walking distance. Missed having Saifee ice-cream though.

13. Vertical pic that shows entrance door, staircase below and first floor.

14. Another mirror view. Note the porcelain vases.

15. Early morning pic shows three of the four towers and 150 feet watch tower.

16.I walked up the staircase inside to get a great view of the city. Hill in background is Bhujiya hill. Fort walls were built by Rao Deshalji in 1723 and exists till today. There is a Shiv temple on hill that I missed visiting. In front are ruins of Roha Fort that got damaged during 2001 earthquake.

17. Pic inside palace museum of hill, note fort walls. For a senior & super Kutch guide call Pramod Jethi 91 93742 35379. For car hire call Narendra Bhai 91 9925440072 or Meet Bhai 91 88661 94748 or 87803 77140. Used them. Both very good and trustworthy.

18. Pic of Royal Chhatris very close to Prag Mahal. The reddish stone structure at end of the pic had a cover, as you will see in the next pic, before getting damaged during 2001 earthquake. Bhuj City album is separate.

19. Pic in palace. You see structure covered with a dome. The city wall is 35 feet high & 4 feet thick with towers at irregular intervals. It was formerly armed with 51 guns. Walls on east and west were demolished for town`s expansion.

20. This is Sharad Baugh Palace. The last ruler of Kutch Maharao Madansinhji Saheb lived here till he died in 1991. Many priceless artefacts are housed here. Do see.

21. Swami Narayan Mandir Bhuj. Like elsewhere the temple is nicely made and the complex super. There was a special puja that day so got prasad. Very nice except that it was served in thermacol plates.

22. Ram Kund is minutes away from the museum. Caption details from Gujarat Tourism book and Kutch Tour Guide book by Pramod Jethi.

23. Minutes away from Prag Mahal is Aina Mahal. Front is chariot pulled by bullock-cart. Was told palace was badly damaged during 2001 earthquake. This is as you enter, represents the `Naagpanchami Ashwaari` ie described in the next pic. Simply put it displays the items that formed part of the procession.

24. Board tells you about `Naagpanchami Ashwaari`.

25. First is Hodha used for sitting on elephant. Saw similar hodha in Mysore Palace.

26. Last Naagpanchami procession. Pic in Prag Mahal.

27. Fuvarna Mahal was an entertainment room. King sat in centre on marble throne with musicians next to him. The small island was surrounded by a water filled moat and fountains to keep place cool. Lamps would be filled up with coloured water, with a layer of oil and wick on top. Imagine the atmosphere.

28. An old pic of Fuvarna Mahal. It was built in 1740 by Lakhpatji who had a great passion for music, art, architecture and literature. Ramsingh devised ingenious pumps and siphons to raise water, to fill the pleasure pool & operate fountains which cast a spray in an intricate variety of patterns, charming the eye and cooling the air.

29. Fuvarna Mahal today still amazing even without the grandeur. Antique musical instruments kept in the moat area today.

30. Antique harmonium correct. Next Aina Mahal has specimens of intricately embroidered panels, lithographs, 18th century paintings, clocks etc.

31. Aina Mahal main hall is covered with mirrors. It was created by artists Ramsinh & Gaidhar Devshi during period Maharao Lakhpatji (1752-1761). Walls are white marble covered with mirrors, which are separated by gilded ornaments.

32. The Hall of Mirrors was built in 1750. For this a glass factory was established at Mandvi, forged canons in an iron foundry and manufactured China tiles at a factory in Bhuj. Chandelier made of Venetian glass was imported from Belgium.

33. View of Aina Mahal. On left is Hira Mahal or State Bedroom where king bed lies.

34. Rear side of Hira Mahal. Coloured glasses prevent excessive light from coming in whilst windows allow breeze to flow.

35. Entire corridor around Hira Mahal has pictures like these and a diya (lamp holder). In days when there was no electricity, the diyas were lit. What a lovely sight.

36. Ceiling of Aina Mahal. Inside Mataji chamber. The wooden murthis are of Shiva, Parvati, Krishna, Laxmi and Ganesh.

37. About Hira Mahal. Has Maharao Lakhpati bed. Its 4 legs are of pure gold. Bedroom has a diamond studded sword which was presented by the Mughal King Alamgir II in the 18th century. It is decorated with 27 full size mirrors. Walls decorated with semi-precious stones.

38. Hira Mahal, left is bed, right are mirrors, precious decorative pieces on all sides.

39. Mirrors and sword presented to king by Mughal king Alamgir II in the 18th century.

40. Board says it all.

41. A example of reverse glass painting. In the 18th and 19th century Kutch businessmen brought back these paintings from China to present to the Maharao.

42. Even though damaged by the earthquake of 2001 Aina Mahal is still worth a visit.

43. All IVORY Door. Made in 1708 during the rule of Maharao Godji by the skilled carpenter Madho. It is an amalgamation of fine carving and inlaid ivory. The fees for making this masterpiece was 1Kori. Kori was the currency of Kutch till 1948. It was replaced by the rupee at the rate of 1 rupee=3.5 kori.

44. View of Roha Fort, still looks artistic.

45. About ten minutes away is Bharatiya Sanskriti Darshan Museum founded by Shri Ramsinhji Rathod. Must visit. Time is 10.30 am to 6pm. Phone 091 02832 224580. Get to see Rural Architecture, Sahitya Chitra, Archaeology, Ethnological Art and Handicraft.