Gwalior Palace is also known as Jai Vilas Mahal or Jai Vilas Palace, established in 1874 by Jayajirao Scindia, the Maharaja of Gwalior and is still the residence of his descendants the former royal Maratha Scindia dynasty. The European architecture of the palace was designed and built by Sir Michael Filose under the guidance of Jayajirao to welcome Edward VII.
Only 40 rooms and halls of the 400-room palace have been converted into the museum while the Scindia royal family retains the rest of the palace and still uses that portion.
In the Durbar hall adorning the roof, hangs two crystal chandeliers ordered from Vienna, which have a combined weight of seven tonnes (7,000 kg) and are said to be one of the biggest ones in the world. To test whether the roof would withstand the weight of chandeliers, ten elephants were made to climb on the roof by making a special ramp for them to climb up. Larger chandelier holds up to 248 lamps and when lit, seems to look spectacular with all the reflections coming from the wall paintings.
In the dining hall a toy train runs over a track laid on the long table, including seven crystal bowls spelling 'SCINDIA'. The mechanical, silver train has been in operation since the early 20th century and whenever someone lifts any of the crystal bowl, train stops and then starts running again once bowl is put back in . Durbar hall is still being used to host top dignitaries and the dining hall are used by the royal family even now. A host of VVIPs, including presidents and prime ministers have been hosted here in recent years.
Spread across a sprawling area, the museum is divided into different sections, each with its unique heritage touch and collection. For instance, there are Drawing Rooms, Reading Rooms, Royal Bed Rooms, Bath Rooms, Breakfast Room, which offers interesting insights about lifestyle of the royals.
My favourite was the Persian carpet spread with pictures of world's greatest rulers, kings, spiritual & religious figures including Jesus Christ, Prithviraj Chauhan, Razia Sultan, Maharana Pratap and others. Considered to be Asia's largest single carpet and is supposed to be made by the convicts taking them 12 years.
Museum houses several antiques and on display including a crystal jhoola (swing), rare painting of Ravi Verma in which Lord Shiva is shown with moustache. There is a dragon antique piece, which is used as room freshener and also on display is a plate, which changes its colour to red from green in case of presence of poison in food. Also on display is a vintage 3 wheeled BMW mini car.
As part of Incredible India series, I had earlier shared blog posts on Karnataka Road Trip, Qutub Minar, Golconda Fort, Humayun's Tomb, Temples in Delhi, Bird Watching & Gwalior Fort.