Kapurthala, the royal seat of the Ahluwalias, has justifiably earned itself the sobriquet ‘Paris of Punjab’. Largely due to the buildings commissioned by Maharaja Jagatjit Singh, a resolute Francophile, during his reign. The palace bearing his name is the most emblematic of his architectural flourishes. Designed in 1906 by a French architect, the palace is clearly inspired by Versailles and Fontainebleau; its reception hall named after King Louis XIV, the most well known resident of the Palace of Versailles.
The interiors of Jagatjit Palace incorporate a fascinating amalgamation of styles; the painted ceilings representing the finest aspects of French aesthetics while the Durbar Hall, which was used for ceremonial occasions, is entirely Indian in décor. Many of the roofs of the palace were made in the beaux-art style of the 19th century; the most striking is the Mansard roof, with a double slope and small, oval windows that recall those at the Louvre. Other parts of the palace feature pillars and fireplaces in Italian lapis lazuli and marble.
Besides its intrinsic grandeur, the Jagatjit Palace houses the Maharaja’s collection of artefacts from across Europe. This includes the famous mechanical clock which shows planetary positions, the weather and time in 12 countries of Europe and Asia. Spread over 200 acres, the palace sits amidst a fabulous garden dotted with statues and fountains. The palace now houses the prestigious Sainik School which was established here in 1961.