Location of Amar Mahal Palace
Amar Mahal Palace is situated on the right bank of the Tawi River, along a bend of the river, in Jammu, once a princely city famous for its forts, palaces and temples. The Sivalik hill ranges to the north of the palace along the left banks of the river provide a spectacular panoramic view, with the Tawi flowing in between, draining the valley. The palace is well located adjoining the heritage hotel, Hari Niwas Palace Hotel, in the heart of the city, on the road to Kashmir.
History of Amar Mahal Palace
The Amar Mahal Palace was planned and designed by a French architect in 1862, but was not completed until the 1890s. Maharani Tara Devi, wife of the late Maharaja Hari Singh who was the son of Raja Amar Singh, lived in the palace till her death in 1967. Subsequently, her son Karan Singh and his wife Yasho Rajya Lakshmi converted the palace into a museum to house rare books and works of art, with the objective of “Encouraging artistic talent, to establish fine arts centre and to collaborate with other like minded institutions for promotion of Indian arts”. For the purpose, they transferred the palace property to Hari-Tara Charitable Trust, named in memory of Karan Singh’s parents, administering the museum today. Karan Singh voluntarily surrendered the Privy Purse paid to him by the Government of India, as a former ruler of the princely state of Jammu, and used the funds to set up the museum.
The museum was inaugurated by Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India on April 13, 1975.
Architecture of Amar Mahal Palace
Amar Mahal Palace is built using red sandstone and red bricks. The palace offers an absolute picturesque setting, standing on a hillock overlooking the Tawi River valley. The structure of the palace has sloping roofs with towering turrets. It was the tallest structure in Jammu at Raja Amar Singh’s time. Its architecture encompasses long passages on three sides supported by wooden columns and covered by sloping corrugated tin roofs. While the first floor has French windows with connected balconies, the top floor of the palace has a bay window. The windows depict triangular projections in classical Greek architectural style, fitted over ornate false columns. The clasping Sivalik ranges and the Tawi River further add to the scenic beauty. The palace overall offers the appeal of European castles.
Exhibits inside Amar Mahal Palace
The Amar Mahal Palace Museum houses a vivid collection of art and royal artefacts. Only four rooms in the palace are open depicting miniature Pahari paintings of Mahabharata epic scenes and royal memorabilia. A golden sofa of the Dogra rulers, weighing 120 kg in pure gold and embedded with golden lions at the edges, is housed in a hexagonal room in the museum, viewed only through glass covered window panes, the main door being kept locked for security reasons. The art works of some of the renowned Indian artists, the likes of M. F. Hussain, J. Swaminathan, G. R. Santosh, Bikash Bhattacharjee, Ram Kumar, Laxman Pai are also on display in the museum. In one of the galleries, paintings of Hindu epic stories, such as of Nala-Damayanti (a set of 47 miniature paintings), are depicted. Modern versions of the Dashavatara (10 avatars of Hindu god Vishnu) paintings are also displayed in a separate ante-chamber inside the museum. These are an unusual modern art set of paintings. The family portraits of the royal Dogra rulers are exhibited in the Durbar Hall at the entrance gallery. On the first and second floors, a few chambers house a library that has a collection of about 25,000 rare antique books in genres ranging from religion and philosophy to political science and fiction.
An exclusive chamber in the museum, once the living quarters of the Maharani (later referred to as the Maharajmata) Tara Devi is preserved and exhibited in its original state, encompassing a silver bedspread, period furniture, photographs, the decoration of the Crown of India which was presented to her in 1945, her personal items of clothing and the unique Victorian bath room. To promote the defined objectives, the trust operating the museum organises guided tours, book readings, lectures, film shows, hobby classes amongst other visitor-friendly activities in the museum, while also conducting scholarly exchanges, workshops and exhibitions on a regular basis. The Amar Mahal Palace and its housed museum, thus, is one of the popular go to tourist destinations in Jammu.
Palaces of Jammu and Kashmir
Monuments of Jammu and Kashmir
Monuments in Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu, Jammu & Kashmir
Dogras, Hindu Community
Privy Purse in India
Tourism in Jammu