History of Sheesh Mahal
Sheesh Mahal was established in the year 1847. The then Maharaja of Patiala, Narendra Singh is credited with the establishment of this Mahal. The aesthetic sense which Maharaja Narendra Singh possessed was admired and appreciated, and is reflected in the design and decoration of this Mahal to a considerable extent. The Sheesh Mahal is therefore considered to be a tribute to the Maharajas taste, who was a promoter of literature, music and fine arts.
Architectural Design of Sheesh Mahal
Sheesh Mahal is a fine representation of the European as well as the Mughal style of architecture. It is a three-storied building and is considered to be modeled on the Lahore's Shalimar Bagh. It has been laid amidst landscaped gardens. Beauty to the palace is added by its backdrop, which comprises of fountains, terraces, an artificial lake located near the Banasar Ghar (a repository for stuffed animals), verdant lawns and flowerbeds. Also, there are two watchtowers at both ends of the Sheesh Mahal.
As far as the interior of the Sheesh Mahal is concerned, it is bedecked by a plethora of skilled painters, who were invited by Maharaja Narendra Singh from two regions namely, Rajasthan and Kangra. The interior comprises of murals, exquisite mirror-works and floral designs on the walls, which may remind one of the Mughal pietra dura. It is marked with kaleidoscope of images and multi-colored lights. The paintings in the Mahal are based on subjects like mythology, legends, Raga-Ragni, Nayak-Nayika and Bara-masa in Rajasthani style. They also illustrate some of the northern India's best classical poetry, written by master poets such as Surdas, Keshav Das and Bihari Lal.
Museum of Sheesh Mahal
Sheesh Mahal also comprises of a museum. The museum is the repository of various types of objects of historical significance. These objects are displayed in various galleries. Fine objects of Tibetan art are stored in this museum, which is inclusive of the sculpture of different kinds of metals. Miniature paintings are also preserved in the museum, along with the huge portraits of the rulers of Patiala. These portraits will be visible to the visitors on the walls of the museum hall. Other objects of great antiquity are the ivory carvings of Punjab, royal wooden carved furniture and a large number of Burmese and Kashmiri carved objects. Some of the rare manuscripts are housed in the museum. Two noteworthy examples of the manuscripts are the Janamsakhi and Jain manuscripts. The museum is also adorned with the Gulistan-Bostan by Sheikh Sadi of Shiraz. History highlights that Gulistan-Bostan was acquired by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan to house it in his personal library. A series of Kangra-style miniatures which is based on the Geet Govind, the epic poem by Jaidev is amongst the Sheesh Mahal's most highly recommended displays.
A further discovery in the Sheesh Mahal collection surfaced the "New Zealand Cross", which was awarded to Assistant-Surgeon Samuel Walker for service during the Maori Wars. Only 23 crosses were awarded. An Order of Council, Wellington, New Zealand in the year 1869, instigated the "New Zealand Cross" in order to reward the local volunteer forces to which the Victoria Cross was ineligible.
Medal Gallery of Sheesh Mahal
The Medal Gallery of Sheesh Mahal is considered to be the foremost among the galleries of the museum. It serves as a storehouse of more than 3,000 medals and coins from across the world, belonging to period between the 12th and the 20th century. It is important to note that the Medal Gallery has on display the largest number of medals and decorations in the world. These medals are known to have been collected by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh from all over the world. His illustrious son Maharaja Yadvindra Singh had gifted the entire priceless collection to the Punjab Government Museum. The collection contains medals from England, Austria, Russia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Thailand, China, Japan and a host of other countries of Asia and Africa. The names of some of the noteworthy medals are the Order of the Garter (England) founded in 1348 A.D., the Order of the Golden Fleece (Austria) founded in 1430 A.D., the Order of St. Andrews (Russia) founded in 1688 by Peter the Great; the Order of the Rising Sun (Japan), the Order of the Double Dragon (China) and the Order of the White Elephant (Thailand).
Medals studded with precious stones were also issued by Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Maharaja Dalip Singh, following the advice of the Europeans. Some of them display miniature paintings of the Maharaja in profile in the centre. Maharaja Bhupinder Singh had instituted Orders and Decorations which carry portraits of Guru Gobind Singh, Radha Krishan etc. These medals are a source of information about the religion, culture and art prevalent in many countries at a time.
The rare collection of coins in the museum ranges from the punch-marked coins to those issued by the princely states in the 19th century. These coins form a part of the numismatic history and provide information about a country's trade, commerce, science and metallurgy.
The nearest transport to Sheesh Mahal is Chandigarh Air Force Base Airport in Chandigarh.This airport is located at a distance of about 9 km from the south of Chandigarh. The nearest railway station to this Mahal is Rajpura Railway Station. This Railway Station is located at a distance of about 27 km from the Sheesh Mahal.
Monuments of Punjab
Indian Regional Monuments
Museums of Punjab
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