With its unique setting in the middle of a lake and the attractive backdrop of the temple-dotted Aravalli hills, Jal Mahal is particularly photogenic. Visitors on the way to the nearby Amber Fort stop here to take photos of the palace from the lake’s edge. Time your trip for dusk when the scene is at its most beautiful, as the setting sun casts an amber glow on the glistening water and on the palace’s stone walls.
The fortress, or Water Palace as it’s also known, was constructed in the 18th century by Jaipur ruler Sawai Pratap Singh. It was built in the style of a pavilion and features no chambers, indicating that it was never used as a residence but rather as a pleasure retreat for royal duck-hunting parties. After years of neglect and environmental deterioration on the surrounding lake, the palace has recently been restored to its former glory. Many of its elegant original features have been reinstated.
As you look across to the palace from the water’s edge, try to count the number of stories. There are five in total, but during monsoon season, it often looks like the palace has only a single story, as the lower four levels are submerged beneath the water’s surface. Look for birds flying overhead or wading in the lake. Among the more eye-catching bird species that can be seen here are bright flamingos and great white pelicans.
The palace is not open to the general public, but you may be able to secure an appointment to see the interior by arranging in advance. Inside, exhibits showcase the life and times of the old royal inhabitants, while rooftop terrace gardens, complete with fragrant flowers and elegant pavilions, give a sense of how it might have felt to be here during its regal heyday. Contact the palace authorities before departing to find out if it’s possible to arrange a tour.
Jal Mahal is located about 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) north of Jaipur. Many visitors combine a trip here with a visit to the nearby Amber Fort. Arrange to come here on guided tour or get a ride here on an auto-rickshaw. Bus connections are also available from Jaipur.