Meandering through dusty and nondescript lanes of erstwhile Baghelkhand, our motley group stumbled upon a time-capsule from another era. The guard at the entrance of the palace was amused by our appearance, given that very few tourists stray this far. After some convincing and assurances, he allowed us into a long driveway flanked by wild growth on either side. As evidenced by a rundown chariot wedged in between one of the three main gates of the palace, the driveway must've seen thousands of vintage cars and fancy chariots in its century-long run. These days, it's only the silent footfalls of an occasional visitor that echoes in these dilapidated premises. We had arrived at Govindgarh reluctantly in the harsh afternoon sun, paying a cursory visit only as part of work, but what a find it turned out to be! The local boys had to literally come in search of each one of us lost in different corners and drag us out of the ruins of the palace by the end.
Fading reds, mouldy floors, flaky walls, overgrown bushes, fallen ceilings, broken windows, musty smell and a tantalising longing for the lost stories – this is all that awaits at Govindgarh Palace. Having arrived here with zero knowledge of the royalty of Rewa or Baghelkhand's palpable splendour, the entertaining caretaker came to our aid in sealing the fascination further. Commissioned by Raghuraj Singh in 1857, right on the banks of Raghuraj Sagar lake, Govindgarh palace must've been quite the sight until 1984 after which it was abandoned by the royal family for good. Rumour has it that Madhya Pradesh tourism department has leased the palace to a company from Delhi to renovate and ready the palace as a heritage stay in the coming years.
In it's heydays, Govindgarh Palace was the cynosure of many eyes given Mohan, the famous white tiger captured in the wild was bred and housed here. It was here that Mohan lived along with its progeny and helped create a long lineage of white tigers that continues till date. (Look at this fascinating Getty image collection of White Tigers at Govindgarh and read my story on Mohan, A princely state with an unfortunate legacy of white tigers) Govindgarh Palace was beautifully constructed as a summer refuge for the royalty of Rewa. The palace was designed in Rajput style of architecture with victorian influences. However, only ghosts of the past haunt the corridors today, until the renovation gets underway.
There isn't much else to tell about this palace, the stories are gone along with the rulers of Rewa into their chest of treasures in their new residence. What you and I are left with are these images of haunting ruins where imagination runs wild!
Join me on this virtual tour, will you?