Located at the City Palace near Bada Bazar, the Jhalawar Government Museum in the City Palace is an absolute gem. Raj Rana Bhawani Singh started collecting works of art from the Jhalawar State and from his travels abroad and opened a museum outside the Palace gate in 1915. The City Palace itself was built by the first Raj Rana of the new Jhalawar State, Madan Singh, between 1838 and1845 when the area was called Umedpura Chaoni (military cantonment). The walled city of Jhalrapatan nearby was the capital at that time. Raj Rana Bhawani Singh renamed Umedpura Chaoni as Brijnagar after his wife Brij Kanwar, and it later became Jhalawar.
At independence, Raj Rana Harischand Singh leased the City Palace to the Government for administrative offices so that Jhalawar could become a district with political representation. When the Palace was finally vacated in 2008 by the district collectorate and the police, it enabled the Rajasthan Archaeological and Museums Department to take over the mardana or eastern wing of the palace for an enlarged museum which opened in 2012. Recent conservation and restoration work of the Palace was awarded to the Delhi based firm Studio Pratap and Partners under the supervision of the Amber Development and Management Authority. There are now 32 galleries displaying the spectacular collection to international standards. A notable sculpture displayed at the museum dates from the 8th Century and comes from Chandrabhaga and Jhalrapatan. The wall paintings of Indian royalty and Nathwada leaders are exceptional.
Jhalawar used to be a cultural hub in the 1920s and Raj Rana Bhawani Singh built the Bhawani Natyashala or Opera House, within the Palace compound, which is being restored for its centenary in 2021. The world-famous sitar maestro Ravi Shankar and his dancer brother Udai grew up in Jhalawar where their father was in charge of the Opera House. The last music festival there was in 1991 when Ravi Shankar himself played. The building had also been used as a cinema and a badminton hall over the years.
This content has been created as part of a project partnered with Royal Rajasthan Foundation, the social impact arm of Rajasthan Royals, to document the cultural heritage of the state of Rajasthan.