Jai Vilas Place of Gwalior captures a traveller’s heart. Everything about the city is so grand and majestic and the Jai Vilas Place is no exception. Located in the heart of the city, this gigantic structure symbolises lavish and luxurious lifestyle of the royal family of the region. It was the royal residence of the rulers of Gwalior, even today it serves as the residence of the Scindia family. It is famous for it’s magnificent Darbar Hall. It also houses a museum, a reception and a cafe. In addition to this, there is a heritage hotel named Usha Kiran Palace adjacent to the main complex.
The story of Maratha glory in the region started way back in 1730 when Maratha Sardar Ranoji Shinde captured Gwalior and nearby areas and founded Scindia dynasty, the dynasty rose to it’s zenith during the era of Mahadji Shinde. Even during British rule, the region was still a princely state ruled Scindias until the country achieved freedom.
The palace was built in 1874 by Jayajirao Scindia. It was designed by Sir Michael Filose in the European style of architecture. In 1902 when the Prince of Wales visited India, a guest palace named Usha Kiran Palace was built adjacent to the main complex. It was also used by Jivajirao Scindia as his guest palace and later it was converted into a 5-star heritage hotel managed by Taj Hotels.
It is a colossal building, spread over the area of 12,40,770 sq.Ft. The main entrance is elephantic, next to it is the reception and locker area. The main campus has a huge circular park in the middle with beautiful fountains, which beautifies the aura. It is surrounded by four wings of the palace one on each side. The three of them are two storey buildings and the fourth wing which is opposite to the main entrance houses darbar hall. It has three floors with two storey minarets over the top. Palace has about 400 rooms in all four wings.
Sir Michael Filose, the architect has blended many European styles during the construction of the palace, the first floor was designed in Tuscan, second in Italian- Daric and the third in Doric style.
Darbar Hall is located on the first floor, the ground floor has a huge dinning hall with a long dinning table in the middle, and a silver train running over the table serves the food. Adjacent to this room there is a small dinning hall on one side and a room with multiple pool tables on other.
Darbar Hall is a magnificent hall which is about 100 feet long, 50 feet wide and 41 feet high. It is well decorated with huge mirrors, gold furnishing over the wall and ceiling, a huge carpet on the floor and in order to magnify the beauty of the hall, two expansive chandeliers each of 12.5 meter. high and 3.5 tonnes in weight with 250 bulbs have been hanged in the hall. During the construction of the darbar hall before hanging the huge chandeliers of 3.5 tonnes each next to the ceiling, eight elephants were suspended with it, in order to test the strength of the ceiling.
The major part of the palace was converted into Jiwajirao Scindia Museum, opened for the public by Rajmata Vijaya Raje Scindia in 1964, the inauguration was done by then President of India, Dr. Sarvpalli Radhakrishan. It has occupied about 35 rooms.
The entrance of the museum leads to a corridor displaying the statues Lord Ganesha, Nandi and others, another corridor next to it has a statue of Maharaja Jiwajirao Scindia and pictures of the royal family. There is another hall displaying 60 meters long Scindia pagri, sherwani, sari and many other dresses of royal family members. The room next to it displays the royal throne and other furniture of the courtroom. There is an audiovisual room displaying the court of Tansen. Other rooms displaying the pictures of the king with other kings and high rank British officers. There is a room displaying silver carts, colorful palanquin (palki) and many other things. There is a separate room that has an indoor swimming pool. The separate room displays statues, furniture dinning table. There is a separate room for prayer. There is a hall with colourful desiginer glass, it is a magnificent piece of art. The collection also has three tyres BMW. In addition to above, dinning hall, pool table room and darbar hall are also an extended part of the museum.
How to reach:-
By air:- The city has airport.
By railways:- Gwalior is an important junction between Delhi and Mumbai and is directly connected with all the parts of the country.
By road:- Gwalior is the well connected with all the major cities of the region, it is 120 km away from both Agra and Jhansi (about 2 Hrs drive). Bus and taxi are also available.
Places to visit in Gwalior:- The Gwalior fort, Gurudwara Data Bandi Chhod Sahib, Sun Temple, Sas Bahu Temple, Teli ka Mandir, Man Singh Palace, Gujari Mahal, Jhangir Mahal, Karan Mahal, Jai Vilas Palace, Tomb of Tansen, Gopachal Parvatand.
Palaces to visit outside or nearby:- Agra ( about 120 Kms), Dattia (about 75 Kms), Orchha (about 120 Kms).
Minimum Duration of visit:- It will take about 2 days and 1 night to explore the city and beauty of the city.