I know what you’re thinking, why would I want to watch a puppet show? I’m an adult! Well, if you’re doubting whether going to a puppet show in India is worth your time, you’re in luck! While you’re walking around the City Palace, one of the last things that you see is an opportunity to see a puppet show! This is great because it is a relatively short 3-5 minute event that is performed right in front of you by 2-3 people. It is an excellent way to get a taste of the cultural Indian Puppet Show with low risk! To see a puppet show elsewhere you would need to buy tickets and travel to a separate location. Sure those puppet shows are longer, but what if you don’t like Puppet Shows in India?
What is the Puppet Show like at City Palace?
When you first see the puppets, you might think you should continue walking, but no, it’s several steps before the exit of the city palace and while it is still outdoors, you’ll be in a small courtyard within the city palace for a private show. You first see the decorated area for the puppet show and you’ll be greeted by a puppeteer, who will ask you if you’d like to see the puppet show. They will ask you for a small fee, a very, very small fee. Then they will set up for the show which includes traditional Indian music with a number of well-crafted puppets that will interact with each other and dance on their makeshift stage, performing a simple story lasting 3-5 minutes.
Take a look at the clip below, which I call “The hips don’t lie”.
A Clip from the Puppet Show at City Palace
Those hips don’t lie!
How the Puppets Are Made
The artistry of the puppets is arguably the best part of the show and understanding how these puppets were created is amazing.
The body parts of the puppet are made out of mango tree wood and artists carve the wood and hollow out the puppet’s body parts to make the puppet lighter in weight and to enable them to create the joints. Joints are added to the shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees using a cloth, either a strong cotton or nylon. Then each puppet is painted before the clothes are attached to their bodies. Particular attention when painting is paid to the face and head. As you see below, the bulk of the body is hidden by clothes but the head stands out and your eye is naturally drawn to it. Finally, strings made again from strong cotton or nylon are attached to the puppets for the puppeteers to manipulate them.
What is this Music in the Puppet Shows?
Much like movies, a good puppet show wouldn’t be nearly as impactful without live music which adds depth and vibrancy to the performances. Traditionally the music is played using traditional Indian musical instruments such as the tabla, harmonium, and taal. The music sets the rhythm for the puppet show and often reflects the emotions of the various puppets being highlighted. Being there and listening to the music and the singing that goes along with it must be an experience that one can appreciate after hearing it many many times because, for me, the 3-5 minutes of that music was enough. While it had its charms, I also hated it even though it did add something special to the show.
Should you see the Puppet Show at City Palace?
Yes, I would 100% recommend seeing the puppet show at the city palace. Puppet shows are a traditional affair in the region of Jaipur and this is the best way to get a taste for it without investing too much time or money. If you like it and want to see more, you can arrange to see a larger show outside of the city palace. Plus, it is a cultural experience to see a puppet show in India! So enjoy the moment.