City Palace, Udaipur, is a series of Palaces built on the east bank of Lake Pichola in the Indian state of Rajasthan. The majestic palace of granite and marble was originally built by Maharana Udai Singh of the Sisodia clan soon after he discovered the city of Udaipur. Subsequent Maharanas added their own structures within the palace complex later, but interestingly there is no sign of any inconsistency in the overall appearance.
City Palace is a breathtaking blend of Medieval, European and Chinese architecture and is considered the largest of its kind in Rajasthan. The Palace gives a panoramic view of the city and its surroundings including several historic monuments. The Palace complex is a marvelous assortment of courtyards, pavilions, terraces, corridors, rooms and hanging gardens, which add to the flavour of heritage site. City Palace has various remarkable buildings of immense beauty, towers, domes and arches, well planned and finely executed over the years.
The City Palace is entered through the Hati Pol or the Elephant Gate. The Bada Pol and the Tripoli Gate follow soon. Between these two gates there are eight carved marble arches or ‘Toranas’ where kings used to weigh themselves in gold and silver which was later distributed amongst the common people. Beyond the Tripolia there is an arena where elephant fights were staged. Within the palace complex there is Suraj Gokhada from where the king addressed a large number of his people, primarily during crisis.
City Palace comprises of 11 magnificent palaces built by different rulers still maintaining their uniformity. You will be fascinated by the unique paintings, antique furniture, and exquisite glass mirror and ornamental tiles work of these palaces. Bhim Vilas Palace has a fabulous collection of miniature paintings of Radha and Krishna adorning its walls. The Manak Mahal is yet another fantastic part of the City Palace complex which has crystal and porcelain figures.
The Krishna Vilas has an amazing collection of miniature paintings portraying royal processions, festivals and games of the Maharanas.
A beautiful palace, Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace) is celebrated for its lavish décor of exquisite mirror work. The name of the palace itself indicates the beauty that lies in store for the visitors. The Sheesh Mahal (Palace of mirrors) is known for its thousands of sparking pieces of mirrors.
The Chini Chitrashala exudes a classic beauty with its Chinese and Dutch ornamental tiles, the latter of which has depiction of Biblical scenes including the Flight to Egypt. Dilkusha Mahal (Palace of Joy) is known for the murals and wall paintings.
There is a Hawa Mahal and a Bari Mahal with an exotic garden build on a 90 feet high natural rock formation. Rang Bhawan is the place that used to contain all the treasures. Located on the right of the Rang Bhawan are the temples of Lord Shiva, Krishna and Meera Bai. Mor Chowk has unique glass mosaics of peacocks, set in the walls showing the three seasons: summer, winter and monsoon.
Zenana Mahal, the ladies chamber comprises of some magnificent paintings of that era. In 1974, a part of the City Palace and the Zenana Mahal were converted into a museum. The beautiful frescoes as well as the paintings on the walls make Zenana Mahal appear more attractive. Zenana Mahal further leads to Lakshmi Chowk, an art gallery housing a marvelous collection of Mewar paintings.
Amar Vilas is the highest point of this palace and one can have spectacular views of the Lake Pichola and the city of Udaipur. Amar Vilas has wonderful hanging gardens with fountains, towers and terraces that simply cannot be missed.
The biggest and the most beautiful temple of Udaipur, Jagdish Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu is situated here. You can also trace a Shrine of Dhuni Mata in the complex of the City Palace. This is the place where a sage passed his life meditating and is considered the oldest part of the City Palace.
The palace also has a Surya Chopar, the sun square, which displays a huge ornamental sun. Udaipur City Palace also houses a museum displaying a rich collection of armory ranging from protective gear to a number of weapons, including the two-pronged sword. The entry to the museum is through Ganesh Deori, the door of Lord Ganesh. Further ahead is Rajya Angan, the royal courtyard.
The old part of the palace complex today serves as a museum that stores the legacy of the Rajput rulers for the visitors. The Shiv Niwas Palace and the Fateh Prakash Palace have now been converted into luxury hotels.
The Crystal Gallery at the Fateh Prakash Palace Hotel houses a rare collection of Oslers crystal items. It was Maharaja Sajjan Singh’s dream to possess these exquisite pieces of work. He ordered these items from England; however he never lived to see his dreams come true. After, his death, the crystal items, for long, remained in a store till the time they were finally brought out and displayed in the Fateh Prakash Crystal Gallery.