Growing up in a small place like Jammu used to make me sigh in despair for my cousins in Delhi seemed to be having it all – the cafes, markets and best of the places one could go for recreation – we were treated to them whenever we visited my relatives. Appu Ghar, India gate, Science museum, Wimpy’s and many more – all had me in an enthral and I would bemoan the lack of such places in my humble hometown.
It’s not as if Jammu didn’t have places to go to; I guess what was really needed is the eye to see them as precious. Now that I am all grown up, I can remember with vivid details all the picnic fun in some of the most beautiful and scenic places in India. I am also in awe of this gem of a place where once can get together for a cosy cup of coffee with friends, sprawled out in the lawn chairs in the wide green expanse that overlooks the Tawi river on one side and the famous Vaishno Devi shrine located on the Trikuta hills on the other.
The beauty of this spot is not just in its secludedness from the hustle bustle of the city, or the scenic views, or the cosy outdoors but the fairy tale castle/palace housed in this complex. I am talking about the Hari Niwas Palace which was the official residence of the last king – Maharaja Hari Singh who built this palace in 1895-1961 and the fairy tale castle is called the Amar Mahal palace.
Hari Niwas palace is built in the much favoured Art-Deco style of that era and is housed in 50 acres of beautifully landscaped green compound which boasts of a huge mango tree orchard in its midst. The descendants of the Maharaja converted it into a Heritage hotel in 1990 and have continued to run it since then.
It’s the Amar Mahal palace that has held my fantasy as a child and I have never been able to stop myself from visualizing what living in it would have been like. One can wander within this miniature castle and marvel at the wallpaper, the gorgeous flooring and some of the paintings/portraits stun you into silence with their regal beauty.
This palace was designed by a French architect who conceptualised it on the lines of a French chateau. After his parent’s death, Dr. Karan Singh dedicated it to their memory and converted it into a museum to house books, paintings and other artefacts. The most notable item displayed here is the massive gold throne weighing approx. 120 kgs. This museum is now being run under a trust created in the name of Maharaja Hari Singh and his wife Tara Devi
The red sandstone used to build this palace is complimented by coral painted corrugated roofs which line up over the open balconies. The Palace has French windows, bay windows, sloping roofs, towers and turrets- all set to give it a surreal fairy tale look. It’s the romantic in me that falls into a waking dream while meandering through this palace, imagining its grandeur and luxury in it’s hey days.
If you are ever in Jammu, don’t miss out on visiting this iconic spot for a treat to the eye.
⇐⇐ Guest Post by Shalzmojo ⇒⇒
An interior designer by profession, writing is a passion which coupled with travel love blossomed into this blog where I love to just “do my thing”! Be it recipes, food events, travel jaunts, fiction dreaming or even meditative musings; all of it’s taken up quite passionately on my blog. I am a serious wine guzzler and love to chase butterflies in my free time.
Check out the Kangra Fort in the Himachal valley
This post is written for the December bloghop #mymojo with Shalzmojo
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