AMAR MAHAL - An Indian Chateau
The Amar Mahal Museum was planned in 1862 by a French architect, based on the lines of a French Chateau. The building is heavily influenced by the Queen Anne style. While the handiwork of Indian artisans is quite clear, yet one cant deny the overwhelmingly European "feel" of the place. This palace was the residence of the Royal Family. Situated atop a hill at the northern end of the city, the site offers a commanding view of the river Tawi and the Shivalik ranges towards the north. Approached by a shaded driveway that winds itself among mango groves, this palace is known for its commanding presence amid well-laid grounds. The building is well oriented climatologically with the longitudinal axis of the building about 20 degrees to 30 degrees South of East. This affords North-South ventilation and accounts for airy, cool rooms even in the hot summer of Jammu. Stones have been used extensively to decorate the walls as it stands out against the red bricks. The ground floor is marked by a polygonal protrusion from the front facade. The first floor has French windows and a small balcony while the top floor has a bay window. Except the eastern part of the building, the other three sides of the building have a long corridor around it. The corridor is covered by a sloping corrugated tin roof resting on a wooden framework. The coupled columns supporting the wooden framework stand on a simplified brick pedestal emulating the Greco-Roman style. The columns themselves are slender ones of the composite order. The capital on the top has a patera (flattened flowers) and acanthus growing out of a basket. The middle of each column has a convex bulge called Torus around it. One can even find tympanum (triangular projections typical of classical Greek architecture and later Roman architecture) supported by ornate false columns over some of the windows. Windows modify the character of the palace. There are a few Oriel windows on the front facade with casements in the front and Lancet windows on the sides and even a few wheel windows. More traces of Indian architecture can be found on the same facade with Oriel windows giving way to windows that are very similar to Jharokhas. There is even a distinct resemblance to the Jalli in some of the woodwork.The English bond type brick work has stone used at quite a few places. Vermiculation and rustication has been carried out on the stone. The mouldings on the walls are an interesting study with typically occidental styles, found along side some Indian motifs like the lotus. The rooms are panelled with wood and the frieze is ornate juxtaposed to bring out the dual character of the palaces with its very European ivy, helix and with the lotus and bird motifs. Tiled fireplaces create cosy looking corners in every room. One of the large rooms has a barrel vaulted ceiling. It is the Indian element, despite being only a small part that modifies that European feel of the palace.
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