The Jaipur House near the India Gate has an incredible history. It houses the National Gallery of Modern Art and is a beautiful building.
But today, we aren’t going to understand the architecture of the Jaipur House. Nor are we going to talk about its wonderful art collection. Rather, we will revisit the year of the change of the Indian capital from Calcutta to Delhi.
Nearly 100 years ago, the British government declared the shifting of the Indian capital from Calcutta to Delhi.
After the announcement of this decision, the British started acquiring plots of land in Central Delhi. Raisina Hills and Jaisinghpura were the prime targets.
But there was a problem. Most of the land in these areas was owned by the King of Jaipur. Please remember that until 1947, a large part of India was owned by the princely states.
To solve this problem, the British approached the then king of Jaipur, Sawai Madho Singh. They wanted him to voluntarily give up the two villages.
When the Brits went up to Madho Singh, he laid out a condition. Or perhaps two conditions.
One, the Brits will not occupy his ancestral property in Delhi.
Two, Madho Singh be allowed to build a palace very near the Viceroy House or the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Madho Singh of Jaipur House
Madho Singh was the father of Sawai Man Singh, the last ruler of Jaipur. If you are a follower of my blog, then you would know that Man Singh was the husband of one of the most beautiful women of those times, Gayatri Devi.
Interestingly, Madho Singh had sired more than 65 children during his lifetime.
After much back and forth, the British agreed and that is how the butterfly-shaped building called Jaipur House came up.
But we were talking about the incredible history behind the maker of Jaipur House.
So, Singh built his mansion very near to the Viceroy House but he was pained to see one thing.
He could see that from the gates of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, India kind of rolled under the Viceroy House. In fact, the then Viceroy derived a lot of pleasure from this scenery. He used to famously say, ‘India is under my feet!’
And this pained Sawai Madho Singh a lot.
One day, while the construction of the Viceroy House was on, the Viceroy made an offer to the king.
He asked Madho Singh to make a substantial contribution to the House. Singh was free add anything that he wanted to the Viceroy House.
After making this offer, the Viceroy left for England.
The Jaipur Column
The King of Jaipur was indeed a clever man. He realized that this was his golden moment to do away the insult.
So, Singh ordered his laborers to erect a tall tower that would obstruct the view of the rest of Delhi from the eyes of the Viceroy.
Basically, the idea was to stop the Viceroy from seeing India under his feet.
Over the next few months, the laborers erected a splendid tower. It rose more than 100 feet high and was installed just right in front of the forecourt of the Viceroy House.
What happened next?
When the Viceroy returned from England, he was astonished to see this tower. He was disappointed that he could no longer watch India under his feet from his mansion.
But the Viceroy could do nothing because he had already given his word to the Maharaja.
And that is how the Jaipur Column and the Jaipur House came into being.