|Kapurthala palace, now a Sainik school. Punjab, India. pinrest. com|
|Maharajah Jagatjit Singh of kapurthala, Punjab, India. getty images.|
The Ahluwalia Sikh rulers of Kapurthala prior to India's freedom had been the rulers of the princely state of Kapurthala, now in East Punjab, India with a capital at Kapurthala. Their motto on the flag is: "pro rege et patria" (in Latin) meaning "For king and country." The capital city of by-gone era boasts of several impressive buildings and palaces whose links withe past history are quite well-known. Of them, the Sainik School (Formerly Jagatjit Palace), Shalimar Bagh (Gardens), District Courts buildings, Moorish Mosque, Panch Mandir ("Five Temples"), Clock Tower, State Gurudwara, Kanjli Wetlands, Guru Nanak Sports Stadium, Jagjit Club, and the NJSA Government college, no doubt, get the attention of the visitors to this small city. Here, I am concerned only with the old royal palace.
|Kapurthala palace, now a Sainil school. Punjab, India. sskapurthala.com|
What was once the majestic palace of the erstwhile Maharajah of Kapurthala state, Maharajah Jagatjit Singh was turned into the Sainik School 60 years ago. It is presently under the Ministry of Defence which in turn gave it to the Sainik School. The construction of this palace began in 1900 and was finished in 1908, coinciding with the arrivalof new wife of the Maharajah - Anita Delgado.The specialty about this palace is its eye-catching architecture, not native to India. But, it does have elements of Indian architecture nicely blended with the European style. Based on the model of the Palace of Versailles and Fontainebleau, France, the palace and the surroundings cover a total area of 200 acres (0.81 km2), indeed a huge spread. Being a great and innovative builder of govt. buildings and palaces, Maharajah employed a French architect M. Marcel to design it and had it built by a local builder Allah Ditta. It was constructed in a unique renaissance style with the sunken park in the front (Known as Baija). It is believed that its Durbar Hall (Diwan-E-Khas) where the ruler meets his subjects is a well-planned one and is one of the finest in India. Here, beautiful galleries that have been created on both sides of the upper deck are further enhanced by stylized domes, canopies, and beautiful lattice work executed in stone. The Indo-Saracenic elements are carefully blended here - ethos of Mogul style. It is known that a pillar is a free-standing upright member, which need not be cylindrical or plain rectangular or square and here pillars were handled effectively with fine decoration structurally giving firm support to the galleries, arches, wooden rafters or roofs, etc.
|Kapurthala palace, now a Sainil school. Punjab, India..kapurthalainfo.com|
Obviously, one can see the French influence as well as Italian style in the construction in the form of Plaster of Paris figures and painted ceilings, etc., and they bear testimony to the glorious past. The breath-taking interior decorations were done by expert European and Indian workmen specially brought from abroad. The palace is full of imported art work from France, Italy and Holland. The worth noting architectural features are pillars, piers, columns and pilasters, arches and vaults, roofs, domes and shikharas, verandahs and porticoes, platforms and plinths, and so on. In this palace pillars and pilasters are designed in a unique way. Unlike many palaces where the bases of pillars were built on square platforms that rose from a few inches to about two feet high. Simple moldings were provided for the designs under the shafts that were plain. The capitals were built with the inverted bases. Specifically, it is a weight-carrying feature.
The Indo-Saracenic styled feature here reflects the supremacy of the Indian rulers over their lands and subjects, an offshoot of imperialistic tendency and legitimacy as exhibited by the British and other colonists. The positive aspect is due importance is given to the ethics or the aesthetics of hard work that went in the creation and blending of Indo-Saracenic architecture.
Inaugurated on 8th July, 1961 by the then Defence Minister V.K.Krishna Menon, (during the time of PM. Jawaharlal Nehru) with the objective of preparing boys academically, physically and mentally to join NDA, the Sainik School, Kapurthala is doing a great service to the nation and its security especially close to Pakistan on the western border, a breeding ground of hardcore terrorists and on the NE side close to Arunachal Pradesh where China behaves like a bully, by way of producing more than 700 officers annually to be absorbed in the Indian military forces. http://www.madrasmusings.com/vol-28-no-6/rethinking-indo-saracenic-architecture/