Patiala is a city in southeastern Punjab, in northern India. It is the fourth largest city in the state and is the administrative capital of Patiala district. Patiala state was established in 1763 by Baba Ala Singh, a Jat Sikh chieftain, who laid the foundation of the Patiala fort known as Qila Mubarak, around 'which the present city of Patiala is built. After the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761 in which the Marathas were defeated by the Afghans, the writ of the Afghans prevailed throughout Punjab. It is at this stage that the rulers of Patiala began to acquire ensigns of royalty.
The city of Patiala was designed and developed according to a plan akin to that of temple architecture, the first settlers of Patiala were the Hindus of Sirhind, who opened their business establishments outside the Darshani Gate. Maharaja Karam Singh who ruled from 1813 to 1845 joined the British East India Company and helped the British during the First Anglo Sikh wars against the Sikh Empire of Maharajah Ranjit Singh of Punjab which was larger and extended from Tibet Kashmir, plains of Punjab to Peshawar near the Afghan borders.
A fine specimen of the Sikh architecture, the Quila Mubarak served as the residence for the Royal Palace of Patiala. The palace complex is spread across an area of 10 acres and is located in the center of the city. The palace contains a museum and an art gallery which features the Patiala paintings that depict various scenes from the Hindu mythology.
Located at the old Moti Bag palace, the Sheesh mahal or the palace of mirrors was constructed in the 19th century. The Sheesh mahal is adorned with a huge number of frescoes. The construction of the Sheesh Mahal was done under the Maharaja Narinder Singh. The lake located by the palace and the bridge called the Lakshamana Jhula is one of the most famous attractions in Patiala.
The name Baradari refers to the 12 doors that serve as an entrance to this historic garden. The garden is a fine specimen of Mughal era architecture that blends the Indian, Persian and Turkic architecture. The garden was built near the palatial residence of Maharaja Rajinder Singh called the Baradari Palace or the Rajinder Kothi which is now a heritage hotel. The City of Patiala was a home to the medieval state of Patiala, and owing to the rich cultural heritage imparted by the Jat kings of Patiala.
The Moti Bagh Palace and Museum is now the National Institute of Sports. This complex has a large artificial lake (unfortunately drained) crossed by a hanging bridge modelled on Rishikesh’s Lakshman Jhoola. The Sheesh Mahal museum here is an extremely unusual repository of art showcasing the distinctive Patiala school of the early 20th century. It contains paintings done in both Kangra and Rajput style with themes drawn from Hindu, Sikh and Jain folklore. Several are massive works covering entire walls. There are also many sculptures and artefacts dating back to the 9th-10th centuries. There is an interesting collection of thousands of medals as well, collected by, or awarded to, the Maharajas of Patiala.
Across the small Lake in front of Sheesh Mahal is a magnificent suspension bridge which being a replica of theamous Lakshman Jhoola at Rishikesh, is also named as Lachman Jhoola. It links the Sheesh Mahal with the Banasar Ghar on the other side of the lake. The Banasar Ghar now houses the North Zone Cultural Center and a hall for setting up exhibitions.
The Samadhan, where Maharaja Rajinder Singh once built a garden, now holds cenotaphs of erstwhile rulers, looked after by a mahant.