Near the armoury of the City Palace of Jaipur is a composed building that stands a little away from the rest of its neighbours. This building, also known as the Diwan-I-Khas or Diwan-E-Khas, is said to have served as an audience hall of the city’s rulers, the Kachwaha Rajputs. To this day, however, quite a bit of uncertainty remains regarding the precise purpose of the structure, especially due to the curiosity of certain architectural elements witnessed within it.
Like many other structures within the city palace, the Diwan-I-Khas draws its architectural inspiration from a blend of both Mughal and Hindu sources, especially as the maharajas occupying the City Palace made changes over time to most of the edifices in the complex. Something about which people (scholars included) typically wonder, though, is the central pillar of the interior of the structure. This exquisitely hewn pillar ramifies to several brackets at the top and the whole area has the appearance of a ceremonial location. What ceremonies might have been held there or had been intended when it was designed, however, are still up for debate.
This little mystery aside, the Diwan-I-Khas is certainly a place worth seeing in the complex. For one thing, it on one edge of the courtyard many visitors love to see in the City Palace, which is claimed to have been the giant ludo board of the maharajas in the past. It is also a great place from which to see several other buildings, including the Chandra Mahal or Palace of the Moon, where the maharajas’ descendants continue to live. Furthermore, the Diwan-I-Khas itself is a gorgeous edifice, an open audience hall of the most exquisite marble flooring and unexpectedly high ceilings (it looks to have two storeys from without, but actually boasts only a single floor, whose ceilings take up the entirety of the “false” second storey).
The place also has its share of near-legendary artefacts. For instance, hardly a local in Jaipur shall be unaware of the famed Gangajelies in the structure, which have a most intriguing tale associated with them. According to the official account, these were commissioned by the third Maharajah Sawai Madho Singh, who lived in the time of King Edward the Seventh’s ascension to the English throne. The maharajah apparently went to England in order to attend the coronation of the English king, but feared in his piety that any consumption of the waters of England would be considered sinful according to his faith.
The maharajah’s solution was to have these enormous jugs made. Each weighing 340 kg and standing over a metre and a half in height, the vessels were fashioned out of the purest sterling silver—and were made in a process that did not even admit of them being soldered together. Each of the jugs can hold an amazing 4,000 litres of fluid, and have in fact been acknowledged by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest vessels of sterling silver in the world. Maharajah Sawa Madho Singh the Third apparently filled them with water from the Ganges River (hence their name), then brought them with him to England during his trip to keep his soul pure. Today, the two jugs may be seen in all their silvery glory in the Diwan-I-Khas.