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Jal Mahal

Jal Mahal (meaning "Water Palace") is a palace in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake in Jaipur city, the capital of the state of Rajasthan, India. The palace and the lake around it were renovated and enlarged in the 18th century by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Amber. The Jal Mahal palace is an architectural showcase of the Rajput style of architecture (common in Rajasthan) on a grand scale. The building has a picturesque view of the lake itself but owing to its seclusion from land is equally the focus of a viewpoint from the Man Sagar Dam on the eastern side of the lake in front of the backdrop of the surrounding Nahargarh ("tiger-abode") hills. The palace, built in red sandstone, is a five storied building, of which four floors remain underwater when the lake is full and the top floor is exposed. One rectangular Chhatri on the roof is of the Bengal type. The chhatris on the four corners are octagonal. The palace had suffered subsidence in the past and also partial seepage (plasterwork and wall damage equivalent to rising damp) because of waterlogging, which have been repaired under a restoration project of the Government of Rajasthan. The hills surrounding the lake area, towards the north east of Jaipur, have quartzite rock formations (with a thin layer of soil cover), which is part of Aravalli hills range. Rock exposures on the surface in some parts of the project area have also been used for constructing buildings. From the northeast, the Kanak Vrindavan valley, where a temple complex sits, the hills slope gently towards the lake edge. Within the lake area, the ground area is made up of a thick mantle of soil, blown sand, and alluvium. Forest denudation, particularly in the hilly areas, has caused soil erosion, compounded by wind and water action. As a result, silt built up in the lake incrementally raises the lake bed. On the terrace of the palace, a garden was built with arched passages. At each corner of this palace semi-octagonal towers were built with an elegant cupola. The restoration works of the early 2000s were not satisfactory and an expert in the field of similar architectural restoration works of Rajasthan palaces carefully examined the designs that could decipher the originally existing designs on the walls, after removing the recent plasterwork. Based on this finding, restoration works were re-done with traditional materials for plastering – the plaster consists of partly organic material: a mortar mix of lime, sand and surkhi mixed with jaggery, guggal and methi powder. It was also noticed that there was hardly any water seepage, except for a little dampness, on the floors below the water level. But the original garden, which existed on the terrace had been lost. Now, a new terrace is being created based on a similar roof garden of the Amer Palace. The building is located near the shoreline of a lake with a maximum depth of 15 ft. Though 4 stories of the building are under the surface of the water, they would be built into the bed of the lake. At Gaitore opposite the lake are chhatris and cenotaphs erected over cremation platforms of some of the Kachwaha rulers of Jaipur. They were built by Jai Singh II within landscaped gardens. The cenotaphs are in honor of Pratap Singh, Madho Singh II and Jai Singh II among others. Jai Singh II's cenotaph is made of marble and has impressive intricate carvings. It has a dome with 20 carved pillars. In 2004, the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation took matters in its hands and decided to try and restore the monument to its original glory. They signed an agreement with Jal Mahal Resorts, granting it a 99-year lease to develop 100 acres along the Man Sagar Lake (in the middle of which Jal Mahal stands) and the palace. The 99-year lease was given out to a business tycoon, Navratan Kothari. For the past 9 years, he has worked on the cleaning of the lake and restoration of the Palace. Now there are many inhabitants of the area and it has created a great job opportunity for the people of Jaipur and Rajasthan. For the future, Navratan plans to build a few hotels around Jal Mahal and make it a very popular tourist destination. The Jal Mahal palace within the Maan Sagar Lake is accessible from the Jaipur-Delhi National Highway No 8, over a road distance of 4 kilometres (2.5 mi)) from Jaipur. Delhi is a further 273 kilometres (170 mi)) away. Jaipur city being centrally located in Rajasthan, the National Highway No.8 not only links to Delhi but also to Mumbai. NH No.11 is a road link of 366 kilometres (227 mi)) from Bikaner to Agra via Jaipur. Flights are available into the Jaipur International Airport. The lake is 8 kilometres (5.0 mi)) from Amer palace on the Amber – Man Sagar Dam road to the north. The Jal Mahal palace is not open to visitors.

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