Situated smack in the middle of Man Sagar Lake, on the road that runs between Jaipur and Amber Fort (Amer Fort), the 18th-century Jal Mahal (Water Palace) is a gorgeous red sandstone palace that’s accessible only by boat. Though currently closed to visitors, the dreamlike structure is still an incredible sight to behold from shore.
This 5-story palace was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, who integrated Rajput and Mughal stylistic features into its architecture. After centuries of disrepair, a refurbishment project began in the early 21st century, though it’s still not open for the public to explore. However, many tours of Jaipur stop at the lake’s shores (usually en route to nearby Amber Fort) for photographs, particularly in the monsoon season when the lake is at its fullest.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Peering across the water at the Jal Mahal is a must-do for all first-time Jaipur visitors.
- The Jal Mahal is not open to the public; most Jaipur sightseeing tours just stop in front of it.
- Sometimes dignitaries are allowed to visit the palace, so you may see boats on the water.
- The Jal Mahal is at its most photogenic in August and September, when monsoon rains cause the lake’s water level to rise.
How to Get There
The Jal Mahal is located between Jaipur and Amber Fort, just before the turnoff to the Jaigarh Fort road. It’s a 10-minute drive from both Amber Fort’s parking lot and Jaipur’s top attractions such as the Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar observatory, and the City Palace.
When to Get There
While the Jal Mahal is viewable year-round, it is most attractive and photogenic during and immediately after the monsoon season (July and August), when the lake’s water level is high. Visit earlier in the year and you’ll see some of the lower floors, which are submerged when the lake is full.
The Palace: Past and Future
Not much is known about the palace’s original intents, though many believe it was intended to be used as a summer getaway and duck hunting lodge for the royal family. After much neglect, it was restored as part of a public-private partnership, but has remained in a state of flux for years. There’s much speculation about the palace’s future fate, but for now the building remains closed to the public.