Rajasthan’s tourism has clocked immense growth for the last couple of years without any break. The exploding tourism is witnessing an upward trend owing to the rich culture, picturesque forests, and resplendent architecture, and what not! Here in this article, we are going to explore one such beautiful place in Rajasthan called City Palace, Udaipur.
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The Rajasthan state has had a rich and interesting history that lures the visitors all the more. The buoyancy in Rajasthan’s tourism is by the dent of a myriad of tourist spots spread across Jaipur, Udaipur, Pushkar, and Jaisalmer among a horde of others.
We will embark upon our journey in Rajasthan by taking one place at a time. In our Rajasthan Diaries, we will visit all the important tourist places in Rajasthan in-depth so that you don’t miss the mesmerizing spots to satiate your hunger for this western wanderlust. We will begin with Udaipur in Rajasthan.
Nestled beautifully amidst the Aravallis, Udaipur is a city of beauty lashed by three interconnected lakes. The city takes pride in a number of attractions, especially its City Palace. The Palace is famous for its breathtaking Lake Pichola and the grand assemblage of artifacts belonging to the medieval and European eras.
The Palace boasts a rich architecture in the form of complex designs drawn on tough grounds and stands a testimony to the compassion of the brave rulers.
History of City Palace, Udaipur
The City Palace is a landmark tourist destination in Udaipur. It was built by Maharana Uday Singh during the construction of Udaipur as a city in 1559. The Palace which dates 400 years back was established for the purpose of administering the kingdom of the Maharanas. It is said that the Palace was built on the meditating spot of a hermit who had met Maharana Uday Singh on his hunting trails.
The hermit on the hills of Udaipur had suggested the Maharana build a palace at that very place and therefore the palace complex was constructed on the hill giving an amazing view of the Udaipur City. The Palace sits on the eastern bank of Lake Pichola and offers enchanting views to the tourists.
The Architecture of the Palace
The City Palace is famous for its archetypal architecture and is often touted as a magnum opus of marble and granite construction. Its white colour often said to resemble the Greek Islands of Mykonos.
The Palace was the property of the royal family of Mewar. It has different gateways, halls, palaces, and a museum. The Palace is home to a rich blend of European, Mughal, Rajasthani, Chinese, and Medieval designs.
It has intricate designs of mirror and marble works on its balconies, cupolas, and towers. Visitors will also come across beautiful wall paintings, leftovers of colourful glasses, silver works and other decorative works.
The Palace is thronged by hundreds of tourists to take a glance at the splendid views offered from the upper terraces of the palace. The grand courtyard of Rai Angan is the first structure that was built inside the complex.
There are different gateways to enter the palace complex. The main entrance to the City Palace is via ‘Bara Pol’ or Great gate that leads to ‘Tripolia Pol’ which is a triple curved gate.
What’s more? Visitors can explore its various shops and stalls of antiques, painters, bookbinders, etc. enroute to the road leading to the palace from this gate. You will see eight marble curves between Bara Pol and Tripolia Pol.
Also, you will find a big ground in front of the Toran Pol where elephant fights were held. There is a Tripolia Gate that takes you to the courtyard of Manek Chowk where you will see a tiger-catching cage.
What can You see Inside the City Palace, Udaipur?
Once you enter the City Palace through its several gateways you will have a myriad of awe-inspiring places to explore such as Krishna Vilas, Laxmi Vilas Chowk, Amar Vilas, Badi Mahal, Amar Vilas, Dilkhusha Mahal, Durbar Hall, Fateh Prakash Palace, Jagdish Mandir, Manak Mahal, Mor Chowk, Chini Chitrashala, Choti Chitrashali, Rang Bhawan, Sheesh Mahal, and a museum. Let us delve deeper into some of the most significant tourist spots of the City Palace.
The Crystal Gallery overlooks the Durbar Hall situated at the Fateh Prakash Palace Hotel. As the name suggests, this Crystal Gallery is home to the largest private collection of crystals in the World.
Visitors have other-worldly experience when they are awestruck by the glittering crystals hither-thither. The museum’s collection houses some incredible pieces which have unparalleled value.
One such piece is crystal footrest and the only crystal bed in the world. The Gallery remains open from 9 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. daily. The entry fee to the gallery is 700 Rs for adults and 450 for children. The tickets will also provide you entry to the Durbar Hall.
The gigantic Durbar Hall will immerse you in its grandeur like none other! This resplendent Durbar Hall is actually a part of the Fateh Prakash Palace Hotel which sits just across the City Palace Museum in the Udaipur City Palace Complex.
The credit for establishing the imposing Durbar Hall goes to the then Viceroy of India, Lord Minto who laid the foundation stone in 1909.
It was earlier used for royal audiences only, but now is available as site for hosting banquets and special functions. You will come across large portraits of Maharanas of Mewar and other historical artefacts.
Located at the highest point of the City Palace, Amar Vilas is an elevated garden that serves as the topmost court within the complex. Built-in Mughal style, Amar Vilas is built in Mughal style architecture and the entry point to another beautiful structure within the complex called Badi Mahal.
You will find beautiful hanging gardens, fountains, towers, and terraces there in Amar Vilas and it was a leisure home for the Maharanas.
Vintage Car Collection
Visitors who have a penchant for cars, especially vintage cars, will have a feast for their eyes at the Vintage Car Collection. This extensive range of vintage car’s collection was opened for the public in 2000 and it is situated inside the royal garage. You will explore cars as old as seventy years and restored in working condition.
You will also find an antique petrol pump besides the vintage assemblage. These cars were actually imported by the grandfather of the present day Maharana.
The best part of the collection is the 1947 Chevrolet bus used for transporting children to the Maharana’s school, a 1924 Rolls Royce, 1946 Buick, the first Rolls Royce jeep, a 1938 Cadillac, and the car shown in the James Bond Octopussy movie.
The Vintage Car Gallery is at a stone’s throw distance from the City Palace Complex. It is located at the Garden Hotel on Gulab Bagh Road, just a 10 minute-walk far via Lake Palace Road. The fee is 350 Rs for adults and 200 Rs for children. It’s open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Badi Mahal is also known as the Grand Palace/Palace Gardens which is the main palace in the complex that stands majestically atop an 89-foot-tall rock formation.
There is a swimming pool in Badi Mahal used for Holi celebrations in the past, and a hall that exhibits 18th and 19th-century miniature paintings. Beautiful wall paintings of elephant fighting scenes, Lord Vishnu from Jagdish Temple are some of the other attractions here.
The City Palace Museum
This museum is said to be the most beautiful part of the City Palace complex. The museum lets you relive the history of Maharanas and their regal life. Once you enter the museum, you will be overwhelmed by the historical richness of Mewar and its cult culture.
The museum was built over four and half centuries somewhere in 1559. The museum’s premises subsumes both the Mardana Mahal (King’s Palace) and Zenana Mahal (Queen’s Palace), which together form the City Palace. The architecture as well as numerous galleries are home to personal items of the Maharanas apart from its humongous assemblage.
Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel
The Shiv Niwas Palace hotel is one of two authentic palace hotels in the Udaipur City Palace Complex. This was built in the early 20th century during the reign of Maharana Fateh Singh.
At that point of time, the hotel served as the residence of the Maharana and later on was used to lodge royal guests. The hotel was shot in the movie of James Bond called Octopussy.
The Sunset Terrace is the best vantage point to enjoy the sights of azure Lake Pichola and Lake Palace hotel shining in the scarlet of sunset. If you want to spend some peaceful evenings and bathe in the crimson of sky, you cannot miss this spot.
The Sunset Terrace is a part of the Fateh Prakash Palace hotel and beautifully angled at the right bank of Lake Pichola. It is open from 7 a.m. to 10.30 p.m. for the tourists.
Jag Mandir Island Palace
Illuminated Jag Mandir at night is a sight to behold! After you have enjoyed the setting sun at the Sunset Terrace, a romantic dinner at Jag Mandir should be your next halt.
Jag Mandir is said to be first place to be built in the midst of Lake Pichola in the 17 century. It was used for leisurely purposes by the Maharanas of Mewar.
However, lately, the palace was reconstructed into a fine restaurant and bar overlooking the City Palace complex. The palace is beautifully lit up in the night and also serves wedding venue in Udaipur.
Fateh Prakash Palace Hotel
The Fateh Prakash Palace hotel is the smaller of the two authentic palace hotels in the Udaipur City Palace Complex and it is named after Maharana Fateh Prakash.
This was also built in the early 20th century during the reign of Maharana Fateh Prakash. When the palace was built, it served as a venue for royal functions, wherein the court of Maharanas of Mewar were held. Though the palace is not as famous as Shiv Niwas Palace hotel, the inside of the hotel is quite mesmerizing.
Based on the splendid architecture and incredible sights of the city palace in Udaipur, it is a must-visit place for all enthusiastic tourists and architects.
Given the fact that it is the most attractive feature of the city of lakes, the beautiful and grand complex has attracted visitors for years. Mewar’s history and culture can be easily understood by visiting the city palace, Udaipur.