The sunlight filters through the sandstone arches, creating some gorgeous shadows in the deserted corridors of the forgotten palace of Deeg in Rajasthan.
Through the arches I see splendid gardens,perfectly symmetrical and a host of intricately designed fountains in a perpendicular line.
In the land of royal palaces and majestic forts, lies a lesser known beauty. Spectacular but in ruins, the Deeg palace is an architectural beauty. And for lovers of art and history, the place doesn’t disappoint at all.
Beautiful gardens, alluring passages,symmetrical arches, intricate sandstone and marble fountains and charming tanks flank the various bhawans of the Deeg Palace.
For the locals it is just another evening retreat. A group of ladies with saris covering their faces, sit in the sprawling lawns and sing devotional songs.
A few yards away, near the fountains, the men of the town,huddle together, conversing and reading newspapers.
32 kms from Bharatpur, Deeg is almost on the border of Western Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The Deeg palace has an intriguing history. Built by the Jat rulers in 1730 AD as their summer palace,Deeg is historically associated as their eighteenth century strong hold. Badan Singh, the founder of the Jat house at Bharatpur, selected Deeg as the headquarters of the Jat kingdom. The architecture is heavily inspired by the culture of the Jat tribes. Even though there is a resemblance to Mughal architecture, their architecture is heavily influenced by the kings love for Lord Krishna.The credit of building the palace is shared by Badan Singh, his son Surajmal, Rup Singh the brother of Surajmal and Jawahar Singh, the son of Surajmal.
The palace consists of the following Bhawans:
1. Gopal Bhawan
2. Suraj Bhawan
3. Kishan Bhawan
4. Keshav Bhawan
5. Hardev Bhawan
6. Nand Bhawan
Apart from these, there are two water tanks Rup Sagar and Gopal Sagar in the complex.
There a very few tourists. The local kids eye my camera as they shy away behind the pillars.College students loll about the premises. I choose to explore the compound starting with the deserted and lesser crowded Bhawans.
I approach Keshav Bhawan which overlooks the Rup Sagar. It is an open pavilion and the building is placed on a platform surrounded by Mughal inspired pillars, very artistically done.
There are arches all around which serve as vertical passages for light. It is believed that the structure was planned in a way to generate a panorama of the rainy season. There are very beautifully crafted fountains inside the Keshav Bhawan and this double roofed structure bears uncanny similarities with the architectural ruins of Braj Bhoomi ( Lord Krishna’s birth land).
Almost 300 metros perpendicularly opposite to Keshav Bhawan is the Nand Bhawan.
Beautiful, massive windows adorn the walls of the Nand Bhawan. This Bhawan overlooks the Gopal Sagar. If you wish to click from inside, its best if you reach the compound before 5 pm.
The Nand Bhawan is a rectangular pavilion which consists of a hall divided into two segments. The interiors of this Bhawan are decorated with gemstones and the ceilings are made of wood. The floors are ornamented too.
As I start clicking pictures, the guard informs photography being prohibited, which is strange as the locals tell me otherwise.
The windows of this Bhawan are simply stellar and take you back into a lost, bygone era.
A gorgeous structure in marble, Suraj Bhawan is every photographer’s delight. There are arches in arches and windows in windows.
Beautiful marble ceilings provide the perfect frames.
The passages are almost empty and all I can hear is the sound of bats in the deserted corridors. Two boys choose to exercise in the vacant passageways. Lush green gardens surround this pavilion adding to its beauty.
The sandstone verandah in this bhawan was believed to be built for the Ladies recreative activities.
The structure of the Purana Mahal is heavily influenced by the Rajput style of architecture.
By far this has been my favorite amongst all the Bhawans in Deeg. Rich sandstone pillars and artistic arches speak oodles about the royal lifestyle of the rulers.
Its almost dusk and I decide to head back, pondering about how proud are we about our heritage. This beauty is in ruins and is no more than a public park for some. It pains to see the tanks unclean and moss clad and it is nothing short of a heart break to see names of lovers scribbled on the sandstone walls.
Nevertheless, Deeg is a beautiful getaway for history and art lovers. A forgotten palace that stands as a magnificent reminder of the lifestyle of the Jat kings and a perfect melange of Hindu and Mughal architecture. Is not very overhyped but definitely deserves a visit.
How to get there:
Deeg is 18 kms from Goverdhan, 32 kms from Bharatpur , 33 Kms from Mathura, 54 kms from Agra and 219 Kms from Delhi by road.
Nearest Rail head is Bharatpur
Best season: August to February.
Timings: 9 am to 5 pm.