Aina Mahal

Top choice in Kachchh (Kutch)

This beautiful palace, built in 1752 and part of the Darbargadh palace complex, lost its top storey in the 2001 earthquake, but the lower floor is open, with a fantastic 15.2m scroll showing a Kachchh state procession. The 18th-century, elaborately mirrored interior is a demonstration of the fascination with all things European – an inversion of European Orientalism – with blue-and-white Delft-style tiling, a candelabra with Venetian-glass shades, and the Hogarth lithograph series The Rake’s Progress. There are lofty views of Rani Mahal from atop the tower.

The palace was built for Maharao Lakhpatji by Ramsingh Malam, a sailor from Dwarka who had learnt European arts and crafts on his travels. In the bedroom is a bed with solid-gold legs (the king apparently auctioned his bed annually). In the Fuvara Mahal room, fountains played around the ruler while he sat watching dancers or composing poems.

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