This was one of the few places in Gwalior that wasn’t on my list. The magic word “Museum” was tempting, but we had lots more interesting places to visit. However, an unexpected local holiday changed our plans and we found ourselves with a few hours in our hand. We were staying at the MP Tourism hotel by then, and the staff were stunned that we hadn’t visited the Jai Vilas Palace Museum as yet. And so we succumbed, and found an auto to take us there.
At first glance, the palace was impressive. It appeared to be a combination of European styles, and soon, our guide confirmed that it indeed was a combination of Tuscan, Italian-Doric and Corinthian architecture. The guide also took great pleasure in telling us that the structure was built at the cost of one Crore, back in 1874!
Only a portion of the palace is used as the museum, and the rest is used by the Scindias, who still live here. Even the banquet halls which are part of the museum are used by the family for special occasions.
This museum is all about opulence, as it was clear right from the beginning. There are rooms and rooms of treasures, collected by generations of the family, including furniture (which have been beautifully restored and are lovely to look at) and clothes worn by members of the family on special occasions (which are, honestly, not that impressive). Here is a glimpse of part of the museum.
|This was probably the most interesting thing we saw in the museum. It is a bit of rope, dated to around 3000 B.C., from Egypt!|
|A 11th century Jain sculpture, found near Gwalior.,|
|One of the rooms. I absolutely loved that bed! and that tiny stool by it as well!|
|This was another room I liked - the puja room. The ornate swing for Krishna is beautiful!|
|One of the stained glasses in the palace.. love the pattern!|
|Old horse carriages|
|Vehicles for the children... I loved seeing these as well|
|The palace has some really ornate chandeliers, like this one..notice that the bars on the floor above are also crystal, like the chandelier.|
|The banquet hall, which is certainly impressive, and apparently still used for special occasions|
By the time we were out, I must admit that I was quite tired of listening about the greatness of the family, their achievements, and even their philanthropy. What I found really ironic is that among all the monuments we visited, this was also the most expensive. With tickets priced at Rs. 100, with additional charge for guides, it was the most I had paid through the trip. While I admit that maintenance is expensive, I would much rather pay such amounts for a museum which actually preserves our heritage, rather than one which only preserves personal collections of the privileged.
The one thing I appreciated about the museum is their Residency programme in art, and their library, which appears to have a good collection of books.