Right from 1857 when the Gwalior fortress was used to house the prisoners and revolters against the British empire in India. The British did not hand over the Gwalior fort to the Scindias completely which obviously made their life miserable in seeking a comfortable and stable residence. Jayaji Rao Scindia ensured that a fine palace with European architecture was built in 1874. The chief architect was Sir Michael Filose who combined Italian, Tuscan and Cornithan styles of architecture.
The palace consists of a rectangular premises with building on all four sides and a landscaped garden along with fountain in the middle. The total area covered by the palace is over 1.25 lakh square feet. The highlights of the palace are huge Darbar Hall with two huge chandeliers fitted with 250 bulbs which is supposed to largest pair in the world. It weighed almost 3.5 tons.
A number of bedrooms which are inter-connected from Kings to queen chamber is also another highlight of the palace. A separate indoor swimming pool with jumping pedestal too is found inside the palace. A fine dining hall which could probably seat 60 persons in one row is another highlight and there are 3 rows of seating arrangement inside the hall.
There are plenty of collections of arms in the form of guns in different shapes, cutleries, tableware, palanquins, horse carriages, trophies etc. Also one can find stuffed dummies of leopard, elephant and deers. There are plenty of photographs of the last incumbent Madhav Rao Scindia with his cricketing gear photographs etc. A library stacked with plenty of books too is attached.
A model of the train made out of silver transporting wine and cigarettes during party is also a highlight. Another naked women statue made out in marble with a swan over her is another highlight of the collections.
One portion of the palace is used as an exhibition hall selling various handicrafts and artefacts. Another palace Usha Kiran is leased out to Taj group of hotels. This is a 40 bedroom property laid out on a 9 acre landscaped land. It still carries the rich tradition of hosting visitors and it is supposed to have been built in 1880 and later expanded to accommodate Prince of Wales and his Ent rouge in 1902.
A replica of the spa at Man mandir palace is found in this star property. Since it is maintained by Taj Group a high standard of royalty and it s luxurious feel is maintained. It has served as host to myriad dignitaries who have visited India.
Overall a visit to Jai Vilas Mahal gives visitor an idea of the grandeur of Palace and one has to imagine whether Gwalior fort too displayed such a magnificent atmosphere. This is a ticketed monument and one has to shell out Rs 100 each for entry and Rs 100 for photography. One has to deposit extra mobile and purses at the locker room before making an entry. Even mobile phones are ticketed. One can easily spend more than hour at this palace browsing at the lavish style of living of the Scindias.