Resting in a nest-shaped valley on the left bank of the
Satluj River is Rampur's Padam
Palace, 125-km from Shimla
. The township came up because of its strategic location on the old
Hindustan-Tibet trade route, which was accessible and not snowbound. From
the humble origins of being a trading point to becoming the winter capital
of the powerful erstwhile Bushair state is the background under which the
palace was built.
Raja Padam Singh, a builder of stature in his own principality, assigned the task of building the palace to his chief engineer, Bir Chand Shukla. It took six years (1919-1925) for the building to take shape. Named after the Raja, the building witnessed the merger of Bushair State with the Indian union.
Reflecting the glorious past of the princely state, the palace is an outstanding example of the taste, style and architecture of the erstwhile hill states, and a tribute to local craftsmen who toiled to carve out its beauty.
The two-storey building is done in wood and stone, with a slanting tin roof with spiral projections. There is a big lawn, which was used for festivities and public functions. At one end of the lawn is Macchkandi, a masterpiece in woodwork, which was used for seating the royal family during the festivities. The Macchkandi was designed by Gurjit Singh Fishta and the woodwork done by the father-and-son team of Gurmail Singh and Gurdev Singh.
Stones for the building were quarried at Khaneri and the wood was brought down from the jungles of Munish and Dhamreda. Black gram paste was used for cementing the stone blocks. The stone arches of the lower floor and woodwork of the upper storey mark a striking contrast. The tipper storey wooden screen has floral and figurine designs so as to partially admit light without exposing those inside.
The building houses halls where royal functions were held. Apartments of the royal family members were located in the building as well as in the palace complex. Portraits of the royal lineage adorn the walls of the hall and the ceiling has some exquisite woodcarvings, which are tastefully painted and polished.
The building is a silent spectator of bygone days, has been well maintained and continues to be a private property. The heritage of Himachal Pradesh is stamped on it.