Sheesh Mahal or the Mirror Palace in the Amber Fort in Jaipur as it is known is an outstanding example of innovation, illusion, craftsmanship, detailing, architecture, art and construction technique so progressive for the 16th century that it leaves one gasping with awe and shock on first glimpse.
Locals and history books say that this palace was built by the accomplished Raja Man Singh for his queen as in those days women were not allowed to sleep in the open air and the queen desired to see the stars while sleeping. So the resourceful king came up with the novel idea of building the entire palace with glass so that the room will be a visually spectacular illusion of stars if two candles are lit and placed at two ends of the room. The other reason mentioned is the use of this palace in the winter season.
The detailing on the walls and ceilings with flowers and paintings made of glass and precious stones is stunning and the placement of the glass in the ceiling creates a mesmerizing effect especially in the nights.
However, what struck me the most was the simplicity of it all – to create an illusion of stars in the night using just mirrors and a candle! Golly! What an imagination! The king, the craftsmen and others who were involved in this magnificent specimen of invention and grandeur need to be commended.
Each panel is so well-detailed that you can stare at it for hours marvelling at the techinque involved in creating these unique masterpieces. The delicate mirrored mosaics and coloured glass and stones are literally like a glittering jewellery box!
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
Photos by Lakshmi Subramanian