''Prag Mahal'', a fascinating 19th century palace of Gujarat damaged in the 2001 earthquake

Prag Mahal, Bhuj, GJ upload.wikimedia.org

Durbar Hall, Prag Mahal, GJupload.wikimedia.org

Among the palaces of Rajasthan with a striking and stunning architecture, Prag Mahal in Bhuj city, Gujarat  cab be marked as one of the best.   The largest of the three palaces within the Darbargadh walled complex,  the Aina Mahal, it was severely damaged during a severe earth quake on 26 January 2001( magnitude: 7.7 on Richter scale, 20000 died and more than 140000 people were injured)   Named after Rao Pragmalji II, who commissioned it, its architect was  Colonel Henry  St Clair Wilkins of the Royal Engineers. The construction work began in 1865  and the architect followed the  Italian Gothic style with a typical English styled  clock tower.  However, architects describe it as Romanesque architecture incorporated on the Indo-Saracenic style of design followed famous brutish architects like  Robert Chisholm, Irwin Jacob and others. It is worth visiting  this fine palace its  inspiring European style of design, majestic  Durbar Hall, with its glittering chandeliers,

Prag Mahal, Bhuj, Gujarat.  flickr.com

Above image:  The grandeur and  beauty of this amazing palace that housed the government museum  partly reduced to rubble and broken fragment  due to 2001 severe earthquake in this area. The epicenter of the quake lay near the town. ....................

The construction  cost of the palace,  was  a whooping sum rich people of the past period  could ever think  of - 3.1 million rupees. Surprisingly, the maharajah, it, is mentioned, paid the wages of  palace artisans'  in gold coins in  1879 during the regency of Khengarji III (Pragmalji II's son) following Pragmalji II's death in 1875. The local Kutchi builder  community (Mistris of Kutch) were employed  in  the construction work  of Prag Mahal and they were of great  help to Colonel Wilkins. The palace is made of  rich Italian marble and sandstone  mined in  Rajasthan.

Prag mahal, Bhuj, GJ.gujaratexpert.com

Above image: Damaged walls, broken banisters, broken  European statues, big chandeliers and the mounds of dust and fragment around the site  bear  testimony to the intensity of the powerful earthquake ever struck in this part of Gujarat. Many visitors to this site say it a poignant experience to see the rubble littered around the once opulent palace and it shows the transient nature of life.

Within the palace the impressive one  is Main Hall  decorated with  taxidermied  animal - stuffed hunting trophies collected by the maharajah after hunting.. The  Durbar hall  with many huge arched windows with fine columns and cornice  has fine flooring.  The big   chandeliers and classical statues are broken because of earthquake. The ceiling is very high  with fine ventilation for free air circulation and to cut down radiation from above.  

location map, Bhuj, Gujarat, weatherforecast.com

The  45 foot high tower with a clock,  enhances the grandeur of the palace at the fa├žade. From the top of the city one can view a fine vista of Bhuj town  all around.  There is a Hindu temple behind the palace in the courtyard  as it was wont among the rulers to pray in the temple before going on a war campaign or facing the raids  from outside. The temple has  many well carved stone work. 

 Known for beautiful craftsmanship  flawless and absorbing European style design with a strong influence of Gothic and Romanesque architectural elements (like Corinthian  ornamental columns), lots of tourists come here.