The Palaces of Deeg

The palace complex at Deeg was at the heart of the rise of the Jat kingdom in the early 18th century

By Live History India

Live History India

Mughal style gardens, Deeg by Team LHILive History India

The Rajputs and Marathas are known as warriors who carved out and ruled kingdoms along the western flank of India but 35 km from Bharatpur in Rajasthan is a palace complex that was at the heart of the rise of the Jat kingdom in the early 18th century CE. The Deeg Palace is a standout for its great style of architecture and its relevance in the rise of the Jat community.

Gopal Bhawan flanked by the two pavillions, Deeg by Team LHILive History India

In the declining years of the Mughals, the Jats who were hardy cultivators living in the area bordering Jaipur, rose in revolt against the central Mughal authority. In this time of turbulence, Badan Singh fought his way to establish power at Deeg in 1722 CE, and thus became the first Thakur of Deeg. Singh was a warrior and a smart ruler who aligned with various powers such as the Maharajas of Jaipur and the Nizam of Hyderabad, to build his kingdom. It was his son, Raja Suraj Mal (1707-1763) who expanded the Jat kingdom to its greatest heights.

Old palace, Deeg by Team LHILive History India

A lesser known aspect of Thakur Badan Singh was the fact that he was also a great aesthete. He built a large palace, now called Purana Mahal at Deeg. His successors kept adding palaces, pavilions and gardens to it and over time it became a part of a large palace complex. While the capital of the Jat kingdom was shifted from Deeg to Bharatpur by Raja Suraj Mal, the palaces at Deeg continued to be used as the summer retreat of the Bharatpur royal family, right up to 1947.

Front view of the Gopal Bhawan, Deeg by Team LHILive History India

The Deeg palace complex is flanked on both sides by large water tanks – Gopal Sagar and Rup Sagar – and the palaces, gardens and pavilions are in the centre. The palaces are cooled by an elaborate and smartly devised system that keeps the summer heat at bay. The most striking building in the complex is the palace called Gopal Bhawan and two pavilions, Sawan and Bhadon, after the two months of the monsoon.

Deeg palace Complex by Team LHILive History India

The
architecture of the Deeg palace is characterised by its bhawans or mansions, namely Gopal Bhawan, Suraj Bhawan, Kishan
Bhawan, Nand Bhawan, Keshav Bhawan and Hardev Bhawan. 

Gopal Bhawan

Sawan pavillion

Bhadon pavillion

The Deeg fort serves as a spectacular backdrop to the palace complex

Keshav Bhawan, Deeg by Team LHILive History India

Keshav Bhawan is the monsoon pavilion and is next to the Rup Sagar lake. It is said that bullocks were used to draw water to the tank using leather buckets. The walls of the tank are pierced with several water jets. During Holi, pouches with colours were inserted into the piercings of the reservoir wall. The water which flowed through them through a network of pipelines sprouted coloured water through the jets, resulting in a rainbow fountain-like effect!

Imperial Mughal Swing, Deeg by Team LHILive History India

At Deeg you will also find artefacts that were taken from Mughal palaces. A fine marble swing originally belonging to Emperor Jehangir was brought here as a war trophy from Agra by Raja Suraj Mal. Many of the marble fountains and tanks were dug out from the Agra Fort by Raja Jawahar Singh. In 1764, he also brought back a black marble throne believed to have belonged to Emperor Akbar or Jehangir, as war booty from Delhi, which can be seen in front of Gopal Bhawan today.

Marble fountains, Deeg by Team LHILive History India

Even now, on Holi, the palaces and fountains of Deeg come alive with festivities. Situated just 40 kms from Mathura, Deeg and its surrounding areas are famous for their Holi celebrations, that attract visitors from around the world. 

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