Saturday, 29 February 2020

Kapurthala palace, now a Sainik school, Punjab, India.- a beautiful colonial structure

Kapurthala palace, now a Sainik school. Punjab, India. pinrest. com
Maharajah Jagatjit Singh of kapurthala, Punjab, India.  getty images.
.mapsofindia.com

 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. 
Tit-bits: 
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/
http://www.viewpunjab.com/jagatjit-palace-kapurthala/