The Splendid Datia Palace in Madhya Pradesh || A Secluded, Desolate, yet Beautiful Building that has Stood Strong Against the Tides of Time

Datia in Madhya Pradesh was another location that we covered on our very productive drive back from Khajuraho to Noida. Upon reaching Datia, the state of the roads and the feel of the colony was such that we almost turned back. However a very enticing view of the Datia Palace, which is visible from quite a distance, kept us going.


Datia in Madhya Pradesh was another location that we covered on our very productive drive back from Khajuraho to Noida. Upon reaching Datia, the state of the roads and the feel of the colony was such that we almost turned back. However a very enticing view of the Datia Palace, which is visible from quite a distance, kept us going. 

Datia Palace is also known as Bir Singh Palace or Bir Singh Dev Palace after the King who commissioned its construction. Datia is about 75 km from Gwalior City and is easily reachable if you happen to visit either Gwalior or Jhansi.

Datia Palace is also known as Bir Singh Palace or Bir Singh Dev Palace after the King who commissioned its construction. Datia is about 75 km from Gwalior City and is easily reachable if you happen to visit either Gwalior or Jhansi.

 

The reason this palace is visible from such a distance is because it is 7-storey high. Even though two of these floors are in the basement, the structure is quite tall. Moreover it also gives a sense of majesty with its high ceilings, wide pillars, and stone structure.

The reason this palace is visible from such a distance is because it is 7-storey high. Even though two of these floors are in the basement, the structure is quite tall. Moreover it also gives a sense of majesty with its high ceilings, wide pillars, and stone structure. 


Despite the majesty of this palace, it has always been rather forlorn. Major reason behind this is because no member of any royal family ever lived in this palace. The founder of the Datia State in Bundelkhand - Maharaj Birsingh Deo Build many such 52 monuments all around the country.

Despite the majesty of this palace, it has always been rather forlorn. Major reason behind this is because no member of any royal family ever lived in this palace. The founder of the Datia State in Bundelkhand - Maharaj Birsingh Deo Build many such 52 monuments all around the country.


Bir Singh Deo had been a friend of Emperor Jahangir in his tough times and Emperor Jahangir returned the favor by declaring him the Raja of Orchha. Datia Palace, along with the significantly more operational Orchha Palace, were built for Emperor Jahangir, by Bir Singh Deo, in the 17th century.

Bir Singh Deo had been a friend of Emperor Jahangir in his tough times and Emperor Jahangir returned the favor by declaring him the Raja of Orchha. Datia Palace, along with the significantly more operational Orchha Palace, were built for Emperor Jahangir, by Bir Singh Deo, in the 17th century. 


The King then gifted the Datia Palace to his son Bhagwan Rao, who became the first King of Datia. But Bhagwan Rao too never lived here. Locals believe that no king was great enough to derserve the grandeur of Datia Palace and it is because of this reason that the Palace has stayed uninhabited.

The King then gifted the Datia Palace to his son Bhagwan Rao, who became the first King of Datia. But Bhagwan Rao too never lived here. Locals believe that no king was great enough to derserve the grandeur of Datia Palace and it is because of this reason that the Palace has stayed uninhabited. 


The Palace is constructed using stone and bricks, with a mixture of lentils, jaggery, and oil used to hold them in place, instead of cement. You will not find wood or iron used anywhere here. The structure has withstood the test of time and even when you are exploring its many corridors, rooms, and staircases, the structure's visible sturdiness inspires confidence.

The Palace is constructed using stone and bricks, with a mixture of lentils, jaggery, and oil used to hold them in place, instead of cement. You will not find wood or iron used anywhere here. The structure has withstood the test of time and even when you are exploring its many corridors, rooms, and staircases, the structure's visible sturdiness inspires confidence. 


When we visited the Datia Palace, VJ and I were the only two humans in this gigantic building and we had a gala time find our way from one floor to the other. Only a couple of staircases have been left open from each floor and these staircases aren't grand central structures. Instead they are hidden in chambers and corners and if you lose the sense of direction, you may find it difficult to find your way back.


When we visited the Datia Palace, VJ and I were the only two humans in this gigantic building and we had a gala time find our way from one floor to the other. Only a couple of staircases have been left open from each floor and these staircases aren't grand central structures. Instead they are hidden in chambers and corners and if you lose the sense of direction, you may find it difficult to find your way back. 


Being alone in such a huge and sprawling structure with many passages and corridors can also be quite daunting. One doesn't need too wild an imagination to start perceiving movements at peripheries. It isn't too difficult to start conjuring ghosts in a place like this.

Being alone in such a huge and sprawling structure with many passages and corridors can also be quite daunting. One doesn't need too wild an imagination to start perceiving movements at peripheries. It isn't too difficult to start conjuring ghosts in a place like this. 


On the top floor there is a square domed building tower-like structure that in itself is 5 story tall. The architecture is Indo-Islamic and you can probably make out a vague resemblance to the temples of this region. Also, the tower is connected on all sides to domed chambers.

On the top floor there is a square domed building tower-like structure that in itself is 5 story tall. The architecture is Indo-Islamic and you can probably make out a vague resemblance to the temples of this region. Also, the tower is connected on all sides to domed chambers. 


As is usual for the structures of those times, the reason for this was supposedly polygamy. Kings of those times would have multiple queens and they would need to visit them from time to time without letting the others know about the visit. Things in those days must have been so much more complicated.


As is usual for the structures of those times, the reason for this was supposedly polygamy. Kings of those times would have multiple queens and they would need to visit them from time to time without letting the others know about the visit. Things in those days must have been so much more complicated. 


As observed by none other than Sir Edward Landseer Lutyens. not only does the structure demonstrate a fusion of Indian, Islamic, and Persian Architecture, you can also find elements from Gothic architecture, for example the pointed arches.

As observed by none other than Sir Edward Landseer Lutyens. not only does the structure demonstrate a fusion of Indian, Islamic, and Persian Architecture, you can also find elements from Gothic architecture, for example the pointed arches. 


Apart from the intricate carvings and also the pretty latticework on the windows, the ceilings and the gates are adorned with beautiful paintings that have miraculously survived the ravages of time. You can make out the beautiful Mandana paintings and some religious and mythological motifs.

Apart from the intricate carvings and also the pretty latticework on the windows, the ceilings and the gates are adorned with beautiful paintings that have miraculously survived the ravages of time. You can make out the beautiful Mandana paintings and some religious and mythological motifs. 


There are balconies and windows that offer spectacular views of the Datia town and also the nearby Karna Sagar Lake. These views are available from all floors except the two basement ones, which are completely dark.

There are balconies and windows that offer spectacular views of the Datia town and also the nearby Karna Sagar Lake. These views are available from all floors except the two basement ones, which are completely dark. 


We had an amazing time roaming around the corridors and exploring the various secret passages. We almost got lost at a couple of places. There were beautiful patterns being cast on walls and floor by the sun shining brightly. Lighting, in general, was pretty good here.

We had an amazing time roaming around the corridors and exploring the various secret passages. We almost got lost at a couple of places. There were beautiful patterns being cast on walls and floor by the sun shining brightly. Lighting, in general, was pretty good here. 


Another interesting detail about the exquisite art at Datia Palace is that while the interiors of the central tower are adorned with stucco are, which is a mixture of lime, mud, acrylic fibers, the exteriors boast of Cuerda Seca Tiles.

Another interesting detail about the exquisite art at Datia Palace is that while the interiors of the central tower are adorned with stucco are, which is a mixture of lime, mud, acrylic fibers, the exteriors boast of Cuerda Seca Tiles. 
 
Cuerda Seca is a technique of applying a waxy layer to ceramic tiles to prevent the colors from bleeding into each other especially during firing. The technique originated in Central Asia and allows for more vibrant colors and complex patterns.

Cuerda Seca is a technique of applying a waxy layer to ceramic tiles to prevent the colors from bleeding into each other especially during firing. The technique originated in Central Asia and allows for more vibrant colors and complex patterns. 

Raja Bir Singh Deo probably accompanied Jahangir on his trips to Central Asia and Persia and later either had artists from these regions travel to Datia or sent local artists abroad to learn the techniques.

Raja Bir Singh Deo probably accompanied Jahangir on his trips to Central Asia and Persia and later either had artists from these regions travel to Datia or sent local artists abroad to learn the techniques. 

Datia Palace was also the building that inspired Lutyens when he was designing the Lutyens' Delhi. However the town that has grown around the palace is quite a contrast to the grandeur and great planning of the palace. Narrow Streets and open drains can discourage tourists. However if you brave through it for a few minutes, the reward is worth it.

Datia Palace was also the building that inspired Lutyens when he was designing the Lutyens' Delhi. However the town that has grown around the palace is quite a contrast to the grandeur and great planning of the palace. Narrow Streets and open drains can discourage tourists. However if you brave through it for a few minutes, the reward is worth it. 

Despite the fact that some accounts on the Internet talk about the dilapidated state of this palace, we actually did not really find it in that bad a state. True, it looked desolate and lonely, but that kind of added to the charm of the place. It was clean and tidy and a beautiful building to explore.

Despite the fact that some accounts on the Internet talk about the dilapidated state of this palace, we actually did not really find it in that bad a state. True, it looked desolate and lonely, but that kind of added to the charm of the place. It was clean and tidy and a beautiful building to explore. 

If you liked this post and found it helpful, I would request you to follow these things when traveling -
  1. Manage your waste well and don’t litter
  2. Use dustbins. Tell us if you went to a place and found it hard to locate a dustbin.
  3. Avoid bottle waters in hills. Usually you get clean water in hills and water bottles create lot of mess in our ecosystem.
  4. Say big no to plastic and avoid those unhealthy snacks packed in plastic bags. Rather buy fruits.
  5. Don't play loud blaring music in forests of jungle camps. You are a guest in that ecosystem and disturbing the locals (humans and animals) is not polite

Comments

The Untourists said…
What an amazing palace. I had never heard of it earlier. Looks like a must visit on my trip to Madhya Pradesh...

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