The Sheesh Mahal, Patiala
It was built in the reign of Maharaja Narinder Singh (1845-1862) in a forest with terraces, gardens, fountains and an artificial lake. With two watching towers in the north and the south the lake is connected to
Banasar Ghar, where all type of stuffed animals are kept and Sheesh Mahal, the residential palace with a suspension bridge which is a copy of the
Lakhsman Jhula at Rishikesh.
Part of the three storied building is inset with pieces of reflecting mirrors and a large number of wall paintings depicting scenes from Bhagwat Puran and portraits of the Sikh Gurus. The palace has galleries displaying antique paintings, bronzes, sculptures and portraits of the Maharajas of Patiala. The highlight is the gallery which displays the world's largest collection of medals, decoration and orders of various countries.
Punjab state, the smiling spirit of India has been
appropriately nicknamed the city of gardens and palaces. The majestic
palaces of Punjab accentuate the beauty of the tedious farmlands and
majestic temples. Sheesh Mahal is one such beautiful palace in
Patiala that flaunts the colorful splendor of the erstwhile
Sheesh Mahal built under the kind patronage of the former
Maharaja of Patiala, Narendra Singh, a devotee of beauty, in the
year 1847; the rambling three-storied Sheesh Mahal is a fine merge of
the modern Occidental and the customary Mughal architecture.
The Sheesh Mahal palace boasts of stylish and lavishly adorned
interiors. Ornate mirror works and attractive floral motifs adorn the
vibrantly painted walls. Fine murals portray scenes from Indian
mythology, religious teaches or even show works from the celebrated
Indian literature like the masterpieces of Surdas, Keshav Das
and Bihari Lal. Skillful and handy craftsmen from Rajasthan and
Himachal's Kangra Valley were liable for the artistic ambience of the
Patiala city is a modern city with a domestic airport, a railway station
and numerous good roads. The city has numerous relaxed and reasonable
priced hotels that are mostly frequented by numberless of tourists who
flock to see the Sheesh Mahal, splendid in its royal grandeur, in the
pleasant North Indian winters.
Medal Gallery set up in the Sheesh Mahal has on display the largest number of medals and decorations in the world, numbering 3,200. Collected by Maharaja
Bhupinder Singh from all over the world, his illustrious son Maharaja
Yadvindra Singh gifted the entire priceless collection to the Punjab Government Museum. Among the most important, one may mention The Order of the Garter ( England) of 1348 A.D., The Order of the Golden Fleece ( Austria) founded in 1430 A.D. The Order of St. Andrews (
Russia) founded in 1688 by Peter the Great; The Order of the Rising Sun ( Japan) and Order of the Double Dragon (
China ) and The Order of the White Elephant ( Thailand). The collection contains medals from Belgium, Denmark, Finland and host of other countries of Africa and Asia.
On the advice of the Europeans, Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Maharaja Dalip Singh also issued medals which are studded with precious stones. Some of them display miniature paintings of the Maharaja in profile in the centre. Inspired by his hobby, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh instituted Orders and Decorations which carry portraits of
Guru Gobind Singh, Radha Krishan etc. These medals reflect religion, culture and art of many countries in metal and are great sources of history.
Besides medals, there is a rare collection of coins. This numismatic collection presents a vast range from the punch-marked coins to those issued by the princely states in the 19th century. It is a total numismatic history reflecting upon country's trade, commerce, science and metallurgy.