Maharao Lakhpatji's old palace, built in traditional Kutchi style, is in a small fortified courtyard in the old part of the city. It's a beautifully presented museum and is one of the highlights of a visit to Bhuj. The entrance to the palace houses the tourist office, and this is also the site of the Maharao Madansinhji Museum, which has a varied collection of paintings, photos and embroideries. There's a 15m long scroll depicting the Royal Procession of Maharao Shri Pragmalji Bahadur (1838-75). Check out the expression on the last blue-turbaned figure in this epic painting he looks quite peeved at having to ignobly bring up the up the of the procession! The real attraction here, though, is the Hall of Mirrors, created by the master artisan, Ram Singh Malam, under the patronage of his poet-ruler, Maharao Shri Lakhpatji around the middle of the 18th century. A blend of Indian and European artistry (Ram Singh acquired, his skills in Europe), the walls of the great hall are of white marble covered by mirrors separated by gilded ornaments, lighting being provided by elaborate candelabra, with shades of Venetian glass. Another remarkable feature is the pleasure pool, in the middle of which rises a square platform where the maharao composed his poems and gave encouragement to the classical arts of dancing girls, bards and musicians. INSIDE AINA MAHAL 1.The Nagpanchami Ashwari Scroll This 47 foot long scroll vividly depicts the royal procession of Maharao Sri PragmaljiÂ IIÂ (1838-76 AD) held annually on Nagpanchmi. It was drawn in the year 1876 by Juma Ebrahim, a Kamagar artist on paper using natural dyes. The procession started from the Aina Mahal Chowk, winding its way through the market before terminating at the foot of Bhujia hill. 2.Fuvara Mahal Built in 1740 by Lakhpatji who had a passion for music, art, architecture, and literature.Â This was an entertainment room, decorated by fine pieces of art, Belgium chandeliers and lamps filled with coloured water. 3.Aina Mahal Also known as the Hall of Mirrors, it was built during the flamboyant rule of Lakhpatji in 1750. Aina Mahal was a royal dream that had eventually been converted into reality by an extremely fine craftsman named Ramsinh Malam. He designed it in a mixed Indo-European style and set about creating the materials for the palace locally 4.Ivory Door Made in 1708 during the rule of Maharao Godji II by the skilled carpenter Madho, this exquisite piece of work is an amalgamation of fine carving and inlaid ivory. It is said that labor charges for creating this masterpiece was 400Kori (The kori was the currency of Kutch until 1948, When it was replaced by the Indian rupee at a rate of 1 rupee = 3Â˝ kori.) 5.Hira Mahal The Kings bedroom is a work of art in itself . 27 Roccoco style intricately carved, gold plated mirror frames adorn the the room , each design distinctive. Semi precious stones were engraved into marble panels with fine Minakari work. These panels were then screwed into the walls. Small windows for ventilation were made, earlier a three foot long zardozi emmbroidered fan hung from the ceiling. It is said that a single source of light is all it took to light up the whole room The Maharaoâ€™s bed is displayed in the Hira Mahal, its four legs made of pure gold.Among the many other opulent and luxurious objects displayed in the room are a diamond studded sword and shield which were presented by the Mughal Emperor Alamgir II in the 18th century, an interestingly designed pair of slippers which sprayed perfume each time the knob on the heel was pressed Two intricate silver and enamel work tree of the late eighteenth/early nineteenth century manufacture 6. Marriage Ceremony A Mandap is a temporary structure made for the marriage ceremony where the holy rites are performed. This particular Mandap was created in 1884 for Maharao Khegarji III. Some articles displayed were used traditionally in The Royal wedding of the Jadeja Rajputs. 7. Darbar Hall Darbar is a Persian term for a court in Urdu. It was here that the King held meetings. The seating arrangement in the Darbar Hall is such that the King sat facing his many noblemen. The seats were arranged according to rank. Each was reserved for a particular Jagirdar (even in his absence the seat was not used by anyone else). The current arrangement of the Darbar hall is that of the British style, earlier Gaddi-Takiya (cotton diwan/bed and round pillow) was used. The royal throne is made in pure silver with the zardozi embroidered silk pillows placed on top. It is flanked by a suite of nineteenth century gilt wood chairs. 8. Maharao's Â Horoscope Each ruler had a keen interest in astrology. Maharao Each had his own Jyotish (astrologer) who drew artistic and beautiful Janma Kundalis (horoscopes) for his master. This particular Horoscope( parts of which are displayed) is that of Maharao Pragmalji II made in 1839. It is 127 feets in length and is believed to be one of the longest in the world.
Built in the 1860's and 70s in a Venetian-Gothic style, Pragmalji's Palace has pointed Gothic arches, classical colonnades and European truss timber roofs. The massive staircases and deep passages are floored with colorful Minton tiles and lined with handrails on classical balusters. The highlight is the Darbar Hall, which has Corinthian pillars, molded ceilings, huge Venetian chandeliers, Greco-Roman statutory, classical balustrade galleries and ceiling murals of Shakespearean characters. The furnishing is in the Victorian-Edwardian and art deco style. The Hall, which has a collection of hunting trophies, has now been converted into a museum.
Like most Swaminarayan temples, this one has the typical brightly colored woodcarvings around the building, mostly depicting Lord Krishna and Radha. Located just down the road from the Ramkund Stepwell and the Alfred High school, the temple marks the spot where Swaminarayan sat with local holy men when he came through Bhuj. Swarminarayan Temple is one of the most famous places of Bhuj. Local Sightseeing Tour of Bhuj run by Rann Utsav also.
The Kutch Museum was established in the year 1877 by the British Governor of Mumbai known as Sir James Fergusson. It was because of the name of its founder that Kachchh Museum, Bhuj was initially named as Fergusson Museum. DESCRIPTION OF KUTCH MUSEUM, BHUJ The Kachchh Museum, Bhuj boasts of exhibiting a wide range of rare artifacts which include: Archaeological finds Pictures Textiles Weapons Musical Instruments Stuffed Beasts All these specimens are systematically located in the in various sections of the Bhuj Kachchh Museum which include: Archaeological section Picture gallery Anthropological section Shipping section All the items that are displayed in the Kachchh Museum, Bhuj have been meticulously showcased with adequate explanations alongside each item. The labeling and explanations have been provided in the English and Gujarati languages.
Across from the Kutch Museum and behind the Ram Dhun Temple, the Ramkund well is a square stepwell, 56 feet on a side, with sculptures portraying characters from the Ramayana, such as Lord Ram, Devi Sita, Lakshman and Lord Hanuman, as well as the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu along the walls. On your walk down to the water you experience a sudden calm and coolness not to be found on the road above and in the quiet, you can pause for a while to reflect on your experiences. The Ram Dhun Temple, just in front of the well, is also worth a quick visit.
About a 20-minute walk southwest of Hamirsar lake, through open areas that no longer seem like you're in the city, are the royal cenotaphs (memorials to those not actually buried there and, in this case, not buried at all but cremated). Many of the monuments are in ruins due to earthquakes, but those of Lakhpatji, Raydhanji II and Desarji are still quite intact. The site is very quiet, out in the middle of a field, not surrounded by buildings, and is very peaceful in morning or evening, though in the middle of the day it can be quite hot under bright sun.
A Kutchi cultural center, located further south along College Road (which leads away from the lake past Alfred High School, the Ramkund stepwell and the Swaminarayan temple), the B.S.D. contains an excellent collection of Kutchi folk art and crafts, especially from the more remote regions of the district, collected by a forest service official as he traveled around doing government work. There are also exhibits of rural architecture, paintings, textile arts and archaeological specimens.
The last maharao died in the UK in 1991 and his palace to the east of the lake has been turned into a small museum. A retreat of the Maharaos of Kutch, this museum displays a collection of silver caskets, stuffed tigers, elephant tusks and even Maharao Madan Sinhji's tennis trophies! The folk museum has a re-created Kutchi village in the forecourt and an outstanding collection of beadwork, embroidery, leather articles, woodcarvings, pottery, and historic relics. This graceful 1867 Italianate palace, set among shade trees full of crows and bats, was the abode of the last Maharao of Kachchh, Madansingh, until his death in 1991. It lost most of its 3rd floor in the 2001 earthquake, and the remaining lower floors are closed. However, the adjacent former dining hall now houses the palaceâ€™s eclectic museum collection. Standout exhibits are two huge stuffed tigers that the erstwhile maharao shot, and his coffin.
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