The Jai Vilas Palace is one of India’s most grandiose and eccentric nineteenth-century relics, although the lack of labelling and information can make for a frustrating visit. It was built in 1875 during the reign of Maharaja Jayaji Rao Scindia, who dispatched his friend Colonel Michael Filose on a grand tour of Europe to seek inspiration; Filose returned with a vast shipment of furniture, fabric, paintings, tapestries and cut glass, together with the blueprints for a building that borrowed heavily from Buckingham Palace, Versailles, Greek ruins and Italian-Baroque stately homes. The result is a shamelessly over-the-top blend of Doric, Tuscan and Corinthian architecture.
The Scindias, who still occupy part of the palace, have opened two wings to the public. The first wing, a museum, includes countless Mughal paintings, Persian rugs, gold and silver ornaments and antique furniture that belonged to the estate of Louis XVI before the French Revolution, while a still more extravagant wing lies across the courtyard from the museum.