The Aina Mahal, which now serves as a
museum, was built during the rule of the
extravagant Rao Lakhpatji ((1741-1760). It now stands as a repository of
the culture and history of Kachchh. The building bears the influence of
its architect, Ramsang Malam, who was exposed to European style during his
long sojourn to Holland.
HALL OF MIRRORS
The real attraction here, though, is the Hall of Mirrors, created by the master artisan, Ram Singh Malam, under the patronage of his poet-ruler, Maharao Shri Lakhpatji around the middle of the 18th century.
A blend of Indian and European artistry (Ram Singh acquired, his skills in Europe), the walls of the great hall are of white marble covered by mirrors separated by gilded ornaments, lighting being provided by elaborate candelabra, with shades of Venetian glass. It has a platform above it surrounded by a series of fountains operated by an elaborated system of pumps below a Venetian chandelier.
Another remarkable feature is the pleasure pool, in the middle of which rises a square platform where the Maharao composed his poems and gave encouragement to the classical arts of dancing girls, bards and musicians.
Maharao Madansinhji Museum: The entrance to the palace houses the tourist office, and this is also the site of the museum, which has a varied collection of paintings, photos and embroideries. There is a 15m long scroll depicting the Royal Procession of Maharao Shri Pragmalji Bahadur (1838-75).
Prag Mahal (New Palace): Across the courtyard from the Aina Mahal is the new palace, an ornate Italianate marble and sandstone building, which was constructed in the latter part of the l9th century. Parts of it are now used for government quarters.
This palace is well worth half a day, and is open daily except Saturday from 9 am to 11.45 am and 3 pm to 5.45 pm. Entry fee is Rs 3 and photography is prohibited.
HOW TO GET THERE
Air: Various domestic airlines are available connecting Ahmedabad and Mumbai .
Rail: Direct trains between Bhuj-Ahmedabad on meter gauge line and Mumbai (Bombay) on the broad gauge line from Gandhidham.
Road: State transport buses and private luxury coaches connect various centres of Gujarat. Bhuj is connected by state highway upto Bhachau to Ahmedabad by National Highway # 8A (310 Kms).
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