Saturday, March 25, 2023

Udaipur City Palace

Famous internationally because of the James Bond Film Octopussy (1983), Udaipur City Palace is the largest Palace COmplex in Rajasthan.

Rajasthan, Land of Kings, is a western state of India. The state has many clans and families that ruled the area for last 2000 years. City of Udaipur was established by Maharaja Uday Singh II in 1553 AD.

After Udai Singh’s death in 1572, his son Maharana Pratap took the reins of power at Udaipur. However, he was defeated by the Mughal emperor Akbar at the Battle of Haldighati in 1576 and Udaipur fell under the Mughal rule.

The City palace is now a bunch of constructions that went for over 400 years. You will see an influence of Mughal, Indian and British styles in various buildings.

The palace is situated by Lake Pichola. Overlooking Lake Pichola, several historic monuments like the Lake Palace, Jag Mandir, Jagdish Temple, Monsoon Palace, and  Neemach Mata temple, are all in the vicinity of the palace  complex. The white structure you see here is the lake Palace, a heritage hotel managed by the Taj Group.

PArt of the Palace is converted to heritage hotel. rather it was the Maharaja of Udaipur who started the concept of a heritage hotel and successfully implemented it in India. A series of palaces in the city palace complex, behind an exquisite facade of 244 metres (801 ft) length and 30.4 metres (100 ft) height, were built on a ridge on the east of lake Pichola. 

The courtyard gives you a glimpse of what lies ahead....

Mewar Kingdom was established by Maharana Guhil in 568 AD at a place called Nagda , some 30 Km away from present day Udaipur. Later on the capital was shifted to Fort Chittor where the Sisodiya family ruled for nearly 800 years.

This is Gold emblem depicting Sun as the Sisodiya clan claimed to have originated from The Sun God (Surya wanshi).

Grand entrance at City Palace. You can get a dedicated tour guide at official booth for tourists. You can also get audio guide (15+ languages supported) at a regulated cost. Camera and handy cam are allowed at an extra charge. Its better to take help of a guide if your homework is not proper.

In 1537, Maharaja Udaysingh inherited the throne but the state was in war with Mughals and about to lose control of Chittor Fort. Udaysingh Chose a site surrounded for lakes, Aravali ranges and forests as a protection.

Ceiling at Entry Gate.

Inner side of Entry Gate

As you enter the palace building you can see the art and belief. Peacocks, swans, parrots, elephants, lotus flowers.... all pious symbols as per Hindu Traditions.

Famous medieval period devotee "Saint Meerabai" was married to King Bhojdeva from Sisodiya clan.

Garden Palace....a place to enjoy the beautiful garden, small fountains and streams..

Situated at a higher grounds the palace provides panoramic view of the city.

Lake Palace view from the City Palace

Chini Chitrashala .......a gallery of chinese and dutch tiles from 16th century mesmerises the tourists...

Glass work is one thing peculiarly observed in palaces. The purpose was to make things opulent but also to keep an eye on the servants and spies. This one is called Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Hall).

Manek Mahal...but I am not sure about the name. .....riot of colours..

Famous Blue rooms..

Famous Mor Chowk - Peacock Square. The are has beautifully decorated peacocks in glass work. Also view the gallery.

Gallery on the right hand side.

Mor Chowk or Peacock square is integral to the inner courts of the palace. The elaborate design of this chamber consists of three peacocks (representing the three seasons of summer, winter and monsoon) modeled in high relief and faced with coloured glass mosaic, built into successive niches in the wall area or jharoka, These were built during Maharana Sajjan Singh’s reign, 200 years after the palace was established. The peacocks have been crafted with 5000 pieces of glass, which shine in green, gold and blue colours. 

King's Dining Room. Use of glass to watch if any servant tries to poison the food.

Water containers for the King....

Sharbati Vilas Mahal....probably the lounge for drinks and dance.

Zenana Mahal ....Women's residence now rented for parties. It has a huge courtyard with fountains making it perfect for pool side parties. Various Hollywood celebs and film stars have celebrated marriages and birthdays here.

A gallery is created to display ancient sculptures, musical instruments etc. A small but interesting museum.

From a nearby hill, you can watch the entire complex . There is a ropeway available to reach this point.

Udaipur is a marvellous city. If you plan to travel, avoid summer. Winters are perfect. A number of places to visit and's truly a King's abode.

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