Many times visited Bharatpur but unfortunately never happened to visit a close by, very historical and magnificent Deeg Fort and Palace. After visiting the Sariska Tiger Reserve we decided to visit Deeg on the way back this time. After celebrating the new year with the RBT, we stayed a night at Bharatpur TRH located at Saras Chowk. On 02.01.2014, after visiting the KNP for a handshake and wishing new year to the winter guests at the park, we headed for our debut destination Deeg. At or around 2 pm we reached Deeg through good-bad tar. The landscape was however, eye soothing with plenty of mustard plantation throughout the way.
Deeg is a small town as close as 30 km from Bharatpur however, with good connectivity with Delhi & Agra. Its pre-historic presence is inscribed in the Skanda Purana as Dirghapura. Also important because of it lies within the range of 32 km Parikrama path starting from Goverdhan in Mathura.
Not many visit the place, the entry through the village upto the Fort seemed neglected and no touristy infrastructure noted. With few enquiries, we reached the ruined fort and entered inside hesitantly as none others, other than us were available either outside or inside.
Historically, Deeg acclaims being the first head quarters of the Jat Kingdom when Maharaja Badan Singh was proclaimed its ruler in 1722. In 1730, Maharaja Suraj Mal erected the strong fortress of Deeg with deep moats filled with water and inhabited with predators to safeguard the palace and keep away the invaders at safer distance. Due to its proximity to Agra and Delhi the Mughal armies often attempted to invade the town which were however, bravely fought by the Jats and turned futile. To avoid the repeated attacks Suraj Mal moved the capital to Bharatpur and Deeg became the second capital of the rulers of Bharatpur. Deeg was even after very famous for its strong forts, architectural palaces, lush gardens and magnificent fountains.
Quite unbelievingly, the brave Jat Ruler Maharaja Suraj Mal in a legendary battle between the Jats and a combined Mughal and Maratha army of 80000, valiantly defeated the invaders. Subsequently in retaliation and for teaching lessons to the Mughals and other invaders the Jat King initiated intruding and invading other territories victoriously for more than eight years. Pertinently he also invaded the Mughals and captured Delhi and plundered the Red Fort too.
Inspired by the architectural expertise of the Mughals, Suraj Mal wanted to design his own palace with similar magnificence. After capturing the Red Fort, it was plundered to the extent that even the marble walls and concrete buildings and sculpted designs were dismantled orderly which were reassembled to construct the ambitious palace in Deeg. With enough booty of valuables and knowledge of artistry and impressions of gardens and fountains the Deeg Palace was constructed extravagantly.
The extra thick solidified rock boundary of the fort run parallel to a wide trench. The deep moat now filled with polluted water and town wastes however, still boasting its importance in the past. Safety was priority thus well planned and the engineering was emphasized keeping in mind its sustenance to the repeated ardent invasions.
A small temple was built inside the fortress and a government office was running in a portion of the fort. Nothing much to venture inside the ruins, we walked away when we saw a gang of local folks atop a bastion kind of pillar. Curiously we too headed towards them and after ascending a few broken steps through narrow stairs reached atop in an open space. A large canon was lying embedded in the middle of the roof top and a 360 degree view from that height was all to offer. The entire town, ruined fortress, the trench and the nearby palace was elaborately visible from the top. The palace in first instance seemed very impressive and well maintained therefore, without wasting time we descended to reach the nearby palace entry.
A wide open tiled space with a massive and sculpted entry gate was an eye catcher in the middle of the old & crumbled town establishment. A small window selling entry ticket of Rs. 5/- was open but none inside, only ran from around when we reached close to it. Week ends may attract some tourists I guess. Another man appeared claiming himself an official guide, later revealed they are working as temporary employees on a petty salary of Rs. 3000/- pm since past 10-15 years, only with a hope to get regularised some day. Best part was his expertise and humble keenness while performing his duty in bargain of voluntary tips received from tourists without any rigid demand. \
Guided with the guide we entered through the sculpted archway known as Singh Pol, probably named so because of the two real sized lion statues located welcoming at the entry.
Inside we could see the wide sprawling lush lawns in geometrical shapes and large water tanks at two ends with massive buildings, partly immersed in the water. Our guide briefed out the basic history prior to entering the palatial palaces. We were pretty excited to know that an Indian ruler was able enough to revolt against the mighty Mughals and not only captured the Red Fort but also plundered and brought back the booty alongwith the whole structural of the Mughal Courts as winning trophy.
Once we entered into the premise, we were spellbound with the massive and magnificent view of the lush lawns, walkways, water tanks and the palaces, all in geometric patterns. A series of non-operating fountains in symmetry raised my brows but honestly I was not convinced with the guide’s boastful description about the effects of the fountains. Back home I browsed and did a little digging for its truth which surprised me and now I am bound to believe the uniqueness of the engineering.
Deeg palace is unique for its fountains and weather control technology of that era. The water tanks, lawns, garden and fountains were engineered in a way that may mesmerize yet impossibly true to believe, even today.
One of the biggest buildings is Gopal Bhawan, decorated with minute detailing on stone and wood and sculpted decorative is spontaneously impressive. Located amidst two large water tanks known as Rup Sagar (East) and Gopal Sagar (West) and sprawling greenery. The lower floors are so designed so as to keep the mercury stable even in extreme heat. The arcs, pillars, doors and domes are elaborately carved and easy to guess its magnificence in the past. To add to it, the furniture, artistries, the royal belongings are all well preserved and worth a look. The booty from the Mughal Courts is also lying as heritage of the royal wealth.
Either side has extensions with two pavilions commonly known as Sawan-Badho. These uniquely constructed buildings are weather proof or meant for summer refuge. Two third of the buildings remain immersed in water and upper floors are adorned with stone carved Jalidar Jharokhas (netted-windows) which allow the cool breeze blow inside even cooler. A three storied structure but only one floor is visible unless step down to its terrace or look at it from the lake side.
At a conspicuous place overlooking the grand wide lawn the very famous carved marble swing is embedded over a high platform. It is believed that the swing originally belonged to Noorjahan which was brought by the Jat invaders as a winning trophy to mark their remarkable victory over the Mughals.
The lawn and its greenery is well maintained and its curators deserve applaud. Looking around and walking through the walk-ways fills the heart with pride and enormous joy and respect for our rich heritage and time ahead technological expertise.
Inside the Gopal Bhawan, the remains of the royalty is still preserved. A pair of stuffed elephant feet is believed to have been preserved in honour of the beast that died while attempting in break opening the main gate of the Red Fort.
The only one of its type, ancient technology used in operating the multiple fountains in the premise is simply amazing and a proof of scientific excellence, time ahead. To operate the hundreds of fountains in synchronization a complex pulley system, network of pipes, regulatory valves and stoppers worked. Drawing water from the water tanks in large leather bags by bullocks the water was stored on a roof top water tank built atop the buildings. Once filled the outflow were regulated by opening different wooden stoppers one by one to maintain the thrust. The required pressures for showers from the fountains were regulated by adjusting other such stoppers fitted at the fountain beds. The complexity of the pulley system and intricate network of pipe lines starting from drawing the water to regulating the thrust may be simple today but imagine, it existed in the eighteenth century and still operating. Now the manual adjustments are mechanized and the fountains are still operative, during special occasions though.
Another special mention about the palace is its supreme technique of creating artificial thunder and rain. There are such buildings, commonly known as Baradari, were constructed with the aspiration of creating rain in the desert land as and when wished. A two layered hollow roofing with perforated walls, pillars and roof was constructed with a huge water tank over head. The stoppers once regulated, the porous walls and roofs start draining droplets of waters in showers. And to create the thunder effect stone balls kept inside the layers of roofs were agitated by streams of water thus the rolling stones created rumbling noise in the hollow ceilings, similar to thundering.
We were also informed that the colour festival, Holi was uniquely celebrated in Deeg Palace which is still commemorated every year. Cloths containing natural colours were inserted in different thrust valves and were regulated by experts thus allowing flowing out colourful showers from the numerous fountains. Now also this practice is performed during Holi every year. I am longing to witness the event and hopeful to reach the place coming Holi without a fail, sadly missed it this year.
All the other structures are equally impressive and worth a visit inside atleast once to experience the glorious lifestyle of the short lived but full of valour Jat rulers. Lavish garden, sculpted and carved mansions and the very symmetrical architectural planning outshines the fame of Deeg Palace.
The palace remains open from 9am to 5pm except on Fridays. I wish travelers who plan to visit Agra, Bharatpur or Mathura-Vrindavan should also add Deeg in their itinerary sparing 2-3 hours extra, plus travel time. It was a worth visit and I really enjoyed and enriched myself with some unique knowledge about our technological excellence and glorious history.