Lal Bagh Palace, Indore: A Royal Marvel of Architectural Grandeur


Blog :: Heritage

Lal Bagh Palace, Indore

Situated on the left bank of the river Saraswati, Lal Bagh Palace is class and grandeur personified. Resided by one of the most powerful Maratha rulers of India, the Holkar dynasty, Lal Bagh Palace grew in the reigns of three princes. Tukojirao Holkar II (1844-1886) started the construction; Shivaji Rao (1886-1903) continued it; Tukojirao Holkar III (1903-1926) loved the palace so much that, even though he abdicated in 1926, he stayed on till his death in 1978. The property, then with the Princess Usha Trust, was shifted to the Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar Educational Trust. In 1987, the palace was acquired by the government of Madhya Pradesh and now serves as a museum. 

Designed by Bernard Triggs, Lal Bagh Palace is a blend of renaissance, paladin and baroque elements in architecture, and rococo and neo-classical in furniture. It almost seems as if every extravagant style, every new whim of European architects, was incorporated into the palace. The manicured gardens surrounding the palace are a blend of French, and English concepts of landscaping. The liberal mix of styles adds an indigenous element to an otherwise European structure. 

There are 45 halls and rooms in this palace. Some are in the basement like the store room, kitchen, boiler room, etc. The rest of the rooms are on the ground and first floor. They are named based on their utility. Darbar Hall, Billiard Hall, Crown Hall, Council Hall, Dance Hall, Office and Library, etc. 

Reading all the specifics, it might sound like this palace is a site of interest only for artists and architects. But actually, to the visitors who are not into technicalities, it all seems like a dazzling Bollywood set awaiting the director's call for 'Lights! Camera! Action!'. 

Adding more beauty to the lavishness of the palace, there are Belgium stained glass windows, grand chandeliers, rich Persian carpets and Greek mythological reliefs. Also on display are sporting trophies (including stuffed tigers), contemporary Indian artworks and a spectacular coin collection. One of its most unique features is a wooden ballroom floor constructed on springs to give dancers the extra bounce.

On either side of the lounge are large doors of tinted glass. Holkar insignia of Sun and Nandi are inscribed on the glass panes. Oil portraits of stalwarts of the Holar dynasty like Malhar Rao Holkar, Ahilya Bai Holkar, and many more can be seen in the lounge area. The seating arrangement of the royal banquet hall is 'T' shaped based on the initials of Maharaja Tukoji Rao. An upward glance at the ceiling of the hall gives a glimpse of Greek gods and mythology. 

The main kitchen of the palace is in the basement. So to ship the food and other materials up and down, there was an electrically operated food lift. The imposing gates of the palace are the replica of the gates of Buckingham Palace, London; only it is twice as large. The gates were moulded in cast iron and were shipped from England. They also carry the Holkar state emblem, "He who tries will succeed". On either side of the main gate are two lions made of Ashtadhatu, an alloy made of eight metals. 

So whenever you are planning a trip to Indore, do visit the iconic Lal Bagh Palace, and fall in love with its wonderful architecture. The palace is open from 10 am to 5 pm every day except Mondays and public holidays. The entry fee is just Rs. 20 for Indians and Rs. 400 for international tourists. Photography inside the palace is prohibited. Even to click pictures from the outside, you will have to pay a charge of Rs. 270 and Rs. 420 if you want to shoot a video. 

*Interesting Trivia- Due to its real royal feel, Lal Bagh Palace has been among the favourite Bollywood locations. Many movies like Kalank, Singh Saab the Great and Mahal (Tamil Movie) have been shot in the palace.