Why Brighton’s Royal Pavilion appears closer home to India

The Royal Pavilion with all its domes and minarets looks like a Mughal era architectural marvel. Photos: Sajeda Momin

With its multiple domes, towers and minarets, the Royal Pavilion would look right at home in Delhi amongst the architectural marvels built during the Mughal era, but surprisingly it is located in the British seaside resort of Brighton. Easily one of the most exotically beautiful buildings in the UK, it has been home to three of the country’s monarchs and thousands of wounded Indian soldiers during World War I.

The palace was originally built for King George IV as an elegant place for him to entertain friends, royalty and high society by the sea. “George IV was unable to travel and yet he was fascinated by the East. So as the saying goes, as he couldn’t go to the East, it was brought to him. That is why the exterior of the palace is Indian-style and the interiors are inspired by China,” one of the tour guides in the palace told The Federal.

A side view of the Royal Pavilion. About 18 Indian soldiers died in the Royal Pavilion. While Sikh and Hindu soldiers were provided with a site for open air cremations in the nearby South Downs, the Muslim soldiers were buried in a cemetery near Britain’s first mosque — the Shah Jahan Mosque — in Woking.

On the advice of his physicians, George, then Prince of Wales, first went to Brighton in the mid-1780s to take in the therapeutic sea water remedies. Brighton, 76 kilometres south of London, was then developing from a decayed fishing town to an established seaside retreat for the rich and famous and it suited George who was able to rebel against his strict upbringing and indulge himself there in a life of drinking, womanising and gambling.

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