Located 34 kms form Bharatpur
is the ancient town of Deeg. It finds mention in Skanda Purana as 'Dirgha'
or 'Dirghapura'. The place is now known for its famous palaces, gardens
and fountains. The famous old fortress of Deeg, which contributed
substantially in the making of the Jat principality, is now in shambles.
Its formidable cannons now lie abandoned in the forlorn fort.
Deeg was the first capital of the newly carved out Jat state, when Badan Singh was proclaimed its ruler in 1722 AD. The royal palace, built by Badan Singh, on the southern side of the garden is now called as Purana Mahal or the old palace. Deeg, because of its strategic location and proximity to Mathura and Agra was vulnerable to repeated attacks by invaders. In 1730 AD, the Crown Prince Surajmal is reported to have erected the strong fortress with towering walls, bastions, a deep moat and high ramparts about 20 feet wide, in the southern portion of the town.
Although Surajmal shifted his capital to Bharatpur, his liking for Deeg did not diminish. He built elegant Bhawans clustered around a garden complex, with fountains in the front and enormous water bodies in the rear. The entire complex of palaces and gardens is a marvel of engineering skill. The elegance of design and perfection of workmanship of these palaces is not seen elsewhere in India. The palaces form a quadrangle, in the centre of which is a garden, an oblong space of 145 metres by 107 metres, laid out with flower beds and fountains.
To the east and west are large masonry tanks, with another garden on the other side of the western tank beyond the buildings, forming the quadrangle. The building to the north is called the Nand Bhawan. The main building on the west is called Gopal Bhawan and is the largest of all palaces. On either side of the Gopal Bhawan are two smaller buildings, called the Sawan and Bhadon Bhawans. These building including the Gopal Bhawan, command a view of the western tank and gardens beyond it. These three palaces, although single storey in the front, have in addition two more floors at the back. One of the storeys of these places is either partially or wholly submerged in water throughout the year.
On the southern side of the quadrangle are two places facing north. One of them, Suraj Bhawan, is built entirely of marble and is tastefully ornamented with stones of different colours. The other palace, built of grey sandstone, is called the Kishan Bhawan. On the roof of this palace is a large water reservoir (41 mts x 32 mts. X 2 mts.), which feeds the fountains spread all over the garden. The reservoir was filled with water from two large wells. The engineering skill of this roof to hold such an enormous quantity of water has no parallel any where. James Fergussion in his book, 'History of Indian and Eastern Architecture' says that the Deeg palaces have been built on a perfectly level plan and laid out with a regularity that would satisfy the most fastidious renaissance architect. The palaces lack the massive character of the fortified places of Rajput State but in grandeur of conception and beauty of details, they surpass them all.
These bhawans are built along the four sides of a garden. The Jat rulers of Deeg and Bharatpur were influenced by the grandeur of the Mughal courts of Agra and Delhi. They were keen on making their palaces better or at least equal to them. They brought all items like gates, stone slabs, beams, etc from Mughal areas and used them in the construction or decoration of the places. A fine marble swing was brought here as a war trophy by Raja Surajmal from the Mughal court of Delhi. Similarly, the black marble throne installed in front of Gopal Bhawan is a trophy brought by Maharaja Jawahar Singh, who in 1764 AD, secured it on his victory over Delhi.