Weather :

Time Required : 1-2 hours

Entry Fee : Aaina Mahal: INR 10,
Photography: INR 30

Timings : 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM, 3:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Aina Mahal, Bhuj Overview

The Aaina Mahal palace, or 'Hall of Mirrors' was built during the flamboyant rule of Lakhpatji in the middle of the 18th century. The responsibility of engineering, architecture and embellishment was entitled to Ram Singh Malam - a genius of an artist who took his training in Europe for 17 years but came back to India seeking name and fame. He was asked by the king to create this palace of dreams for him, and thus the Aina Mahal came into existence. However, what once stood proudly with glittering glasses, antique clocks and exotic tile works, was shaken and dishevelled in the 2001 earthquake that hit Bhuj. The loss was tragic, but it has now been recovered and renovated for people to visit safely again. The Aina Mahal is at the northeast corner of Hamirsar lake, easily walkable from most of Bhuj. Be sure to explore the rest of the compound outside the palace, with its beautiful carved doorways, elaborate window boxes and balconies. 

Inside, Aina Mahal is now a vivid collection of art and archaic pieces which is a treasure trove for anyone remotely interested in the history or art or both. The Hall of Mirrors in the palace is the main attraction for the visitors. This is where it has got the most number of glass exhibits, on the walls, ceilings, pillars and even windows, adding to the overall charm of the glittering room.

Other than that, you can visit the Museum which houses royal possessions and weapons, local crafts and international paintings; and the Darbar Hall with the great ivory throne in it. All the furnishing and embellishments of the Aina Mahal are locally made under Malam’s supervision but are inspired by international styles. The ownership of Aina Mahal might not have a great historical significance or a very big name attached to it, but it sure is a one-of-a-kind palace enriched with the best of artistic styles and designs.

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History of Aaina Mahal

Aina Mahal was the royal palace of Rao Lakhpatji, popularly known as Lakhaji, the ruler from the Jadeja Rajput dynasty who ruled over the princely state of Kutch from 1741 to 1752 as a regent and then till 1760 as the monarch till his death. He was passionate about artistic beauty, and it was his dream to build a palace unlike any other. This is where the architect of Aina Mahal, Ram Singh Malam comes in. He was a master craftsman who was highly skilled in the art of tiling, enamelling, glasswork, clock making and many such delicate creative architecture and engineering. Ram Singh had mastered expertise in all these from the Netherlands and thus was a level apart from any of the indigenous artists.

Inevitably, he was accredited with the task of building the royal palace and thus Aina Mahal came into being. Unlike other builders, he made everything from scratch. Ram Singh embellished the palace putting everything he learnt into it. From the Venetian-style chandeliers and tinted glasses to authentic forged cannons, everything was manufactured in the factories and iron foundries in Mandvi, Bhuj and a few other places under his supervision.

Architecture of Aaina Mahal

Aina Mahal is one of the finest specimens of Indo-Saracenic architectures in India. Ram Singh Malam built the two-storeyed structure with care and creativity. It consists of a Darbar Hall or court, residential suits for the royal family and a Hall of Mirrors. The palace compound is highlighted with majestic archways, exquisitely designed balconies dotted with pillars, grand chandeliers hanging from the high ceiling, art pieces like Hogarth's "The Rake's Progress" and a portrait of "Catherine the Great cheek" by Jowl, ornate fountains and elaborate windows with stained glasses – everything designed by Malam himself and made under his direct supervision.

The walls and pillars of the palace are adorned with numerous mirrors and glassworks in various sizes and designs - doing justice to its name. The top floor and some other parts of the palace have been demolished because of the tragic 2001 Bhuj earthquake. However, the Hall of Mirrors and certain sight-worthy portions have been restored and turned into a museum for the tourists to visit and see for themselves the brilliant artistry of Ram Singh Malam.

Main Attractions of Aaina Mahal

Hall of Mirrors
The Hall of Mirrors is a unique room in the palace that you will hardly ever find anywhere else. It is a vast room with stark white marble walls covered with mirrors of different shapes and sizes and other gilded ornaments. The whole place looks hypnotising once you step inside with so many glasses shimmering and reflecting off each other. The floor of this hall is laid with tiles, European in style but local in make.

Museum
The museum displays an impressive collection of weapons, glass paintings, canvas paintings, photographs, royal furniture and possessions, classic embroidery work and many more things. Among the most exquisite collections, one is the 15 metres long scroll that depicts the royal procession of Maharao Shri Pagmalji Bahadur. There is also a pendulum clock synced with the Hindu calendar which was built by Ram Singh himself, with precious gold and ivory work.

Darbar Hall
The magnificent courtroom has the royal throne made of ivory on an elevated platform at the end, along with a small moat around it. The cavity used to be filled with water to keep the area cool since Bhuj is very much of a dry and arid region. The courtroom has the best kind of Chinese tiling, Venetian-style chandeliers and glasswork all around the place.

How To Reach Aina Mahal

Within Bhuj, you can reach the Aina Mahal easily by state transport buses which is the common form of conveyance or by hiring a local vehicle - whatever suits you better.

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