|Romance fills the air in Kishangarh. It is this city that gave birth to the Bani Thani style of painting, a beautiful depiction of a courtesan with a romantic story behind it. It is said that in the 18th century, Kishangarh was ruled by a poet-king Raja Samant Singh who feel deeply in love with a courtesan Bani Thani. The court painter Nihal Chand immortalized their love by painting on it even after the king gave up his throne for a life with his beloved at the forests of Vrindavan. Thus the Kishangarh style of painting or Bani Thani locally called the “Mona Lisa of Rajasthan” was born. A characteristic feature of this style is a subtle reference to Radha and Krishna as lovers with elongated faces.
Kishangarh is a city in Ajmer district in Rajasthan. It is located about 27 kms from Ajmer. It was founded in 1609 by the Jodhpur prince Kishan Singh. Originally a tiny Rathore fiefdom, it was a loyal part of the Mughal and British empires. Apart from its miniature paintings, it has the distinction of being the largest marble and granite-cutting centre in India thus winning the title the Marble City of India.
The Kishangarh Fort is a huge attraction situated about 25 kms away. It rises on the bank of Lake Gandalan where a reflection of the structure can be seen. It was raised in 1653 by a Rathore King, Maharaja Roop Singh. This heavily fortified Fort is enclosed by a moat with many striking palaces and museums within its complex. It has the distinction of being one of the few forts that withstood repeated attacks. History has it that the Maharaja chose the spot for this Fort after he saw a sheep defending her lambs from a pack of wolves. The interiors are decorated with striking murals and beautiful frescoes. Entry is through a pointed arched gateway painted with elephants and guards while the lush gardens and spacious courtyard add to the beauty. Apart from the great architectural features, it was also one of the prominent centres of the Kishangarh School of miniature paintings.
Another delight is the Phool Mahal (Palace of Flowers). It is located near the Kishangarh Fort. Built in 1870 by Maharaja Prithee Singh it served as his monsoon palace. Today, it has been converted into a heritage hotel by its present owner Maharaja Kishan Singh. The Palace is set amidst lush gardens offering a majestic view of the Fort. Close by is the placid Gundalo Lake, a breeding ground for numerous rare and exotic birds such as herons, peacocks, flamingoes, pelicans, wild duck and the sarus crane.