The City Palace of Udaipur is one of the architectural marvels of Rajasthan and is the most-visited tourist attraction in the city. Located on the banks of Lake Pichola, this towering structure is often distinguished as the largest palace complex in Rajasthan.
City Palace was built with a wonderful blend of medieval, European, and Chinese architecture. The complex contains a mixture of palaces, courtyards, pavilions, terraces, corridors, rooms, and hanging gardens. The best places to visit here include the Badi Mahal and the City Palace Museum.
- The City Palace is the largest palace complex in Rajasthan.
- The Badi Mahal, also known as the Garden Palace, contains 104 intricately carved marble pillars.
- The Shiv Niwas Palace and Fateh Prakash Palace are the two authentic palace hotels located in the City Palace complex.
- The Amar Vilas is an elevated garden area built on the highest level of the complex.
The Largest Palace in Rajasthan
Covering an area of 2 hectares (5 acres), the City Palace is the largest palace in Rajasthan and is a complex containing several palaces. The City Palace was continually built or added to by 22 different Maharanas (kings of Udaipur) between the 16th and 20th centuries. Much of the palace complex is now a museum, and parts of it are also luxury hotels.
The construction of this magnificent structure was started by Maharana Udai Singh II and was carried on by his successors. Each king added a touch of his vision to the structure by incorporating different architectural influences and elements from different parts of the world.
Udaipur City Palace Architecture
The intricate architecture of the City Palace is a subtle mix of medieval, European, and Chinese influences. The main façade has a height of about 244 meters (800 feet) and a width of 30 meters (98 feet). The palace was built entirely out of marble and granite.
The interiors of the palace are lavishly decorated with intricate mirror work, marble work, murals, silverwork, inlay, and colored glass.
There are also elegant balconies, tall towers, and cupolas that add another layer to the structure of the palaces and make for the perfect places to take in a breathtaking view of the city.
Inside, the palaces are built like a maze with labyrinths of long corridors designed to avoid surprise attacks by enemies.
Udaipur City Palace History
The history of the palace is tied to that of the Mewar Kingdom. The kingdom's founder was Guhil, who established the Maharana dominance in the year 568 and was an ancestor of Maharana Uday Singh II who began the construction of the City Palace.
Due to threats to the security of the kingdom from the nearby Mughal Empire, Uday Singh II decided to move the capital of Mewar to a region near Lake Pichola. The city of Udaipur was chosen as the new capital because it was surrounded by forests, lakes, and the Aravalli Hills.
The construction of the City Palace began in the year 1559 and the first structure to be built in the complex was the Rai Angan or the ‘King’s Porch’. Many changes were made to the palace complex by following rulers over a period of 400 years.
After the independence of India in 1949, the Mewar Kingdom merged into the newly formed democratic nation. The Mewar Kings subsequently lost their special royal privileges and titles. The successive Maharanas, however, retained their ownership of the palaces in Udaipur and converted parts of the palace complex into heritage hotels.
6 Must-see Spots in the Udaipur Palace Complex
City Palace is a marvelous assortment of courtyards, pavilions, terraces, corridors, rooms, and hanging gardens. It is home to many attractions including the City Palace Museum, Tripolia Gate, Ganesh Deori Gate, Badi Mahal, Shiv Niwas Palace, and Fateh Prakash Palace.
1. The Gateways and Torans
City Palace has several gates that are known as ‘Pols’. The main entrance to the complex is the Badi Pol which leads to the first courtyard. This is the place where the Maharanas used to weigh gold and silver that was then distributed among the poor.
On the east wall of the courtyard, there are eight ornamental stone arches known as ‘torans’. They were constructed by Rana Jagat Singh I between 1628 and 1652. These torans mark the spot where the city rulers gave their weight in gold or silver to the local people on special occasions.
On passing Badi Pol, visitors will come across a triple-arched gate built in 1725 known as Tripolia. After Tripolia, you can also explore the Elephant Gate or the Hathi Pol.
2. Badi Mahal
The Badi Mahal, also known as the Garden Palace, is a large structure located on a natural rock formation which is 27 meters (88 feet) tall. It was built during the reign of Rana Amar Singh II in 1699. Here, guests can take in the 104 intricately carved pillars made out of local marble.
Previously, the Badi Mahal was used for royal banquets that took place on special occasions such as Holi, Diwali, Dussehra, and the birthdays of royal family members. A hall housing the miniature paintings and murals of Jag Mandir and Vishnu are also located here.
The courtyard of the Badi Mahal is full of large shady trees and is a peaceful place to relax and take in the palace surroundings. Due to its height, the palace provides a great vantage point for viewing the city below and nearby Lake Pichola.
3. The Shiv Niwas Palace and Fateh Prakash Palace
The Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel is one of two authentic palace hotels in the City Palace complex. Built in the early 20th century during the reign of Maharana Fateh Singh, the palace served as his residence for a while and was then used to accommodate royal guests.
The Fateh Prakash Palace Hotel is the smaller of the two authentic palace hotels in the City Palace complex. This hotel was also built in the early 20th century and was named after Maharana Fateh Prakash who reined over Udaipur during its construction.
Originally, the palace served as an exclusive venue for royal functions, where the Maharanas of Mewar held court. It has now been converted into a hotel with rare items such as authentic crystal chairs, dressing tables, table fountains, and a jewel-studded carpet.
4. Zenana Mahal
An impressive part of the Zenana Mahal or ‘Queen's Palace’ is the open pavilion called Chowmukha. This is where the Queen used to hold audiences with other royal ladies and ladies-in-waiting of the royal court during special occasions and festivals. Presently, banquets and other celebrations are still held there.
The Chowmukha Pavilion was built by Rana Sangram Singhji II during his reign between 1710 and 1734. The dome on top of the pavilion was added to celebrate the year 2000 and is known as the Millennium Dome.
5. The City Palace Museum
The City Palace Museum has a remarkable collection of ancient sculptures, curios, antiques, and inscriptions of the bygone era.
The museum is divided into a series of palaces, which were built from the 17th to the 20th century. Among the palaces, the Mardana Mahal (palace for the royal men) and the Zenana Mahal (palace for the royal ladies) hold the most significance.
The armory museum displays a vast collection of protective gear and weapons including the fatal two-pronged sword.
The Pratap Gallery is devoted to the legendary warrior Maharana Pratap and his horse Chetak. It displays the original armor and weapons used by the warrior during the great battle of Haldi Ghati in 1576.
The Sculpture Gallery holds 308 sculptures in its collection that were once part of the thriving temples in and around Shree Eklingnath Ji Temple in Kailashpuri.
The Silver Gallery holds a vast collection of silver items previously used by the many generations of the Mewar ruling family. The items here include a crib for newborn babies, a chariot to carry religious idols, and a horse cart.
6. Amar Vilas
The Amar Vilas is an elevated area that contains a wonderful hanging garden decorated with fountains, towers, terraces, and a square marble pool. Built on the highest level of the palace, this was the place where the royals spent their leisure time.
3 Famous Attractions Around Udaipur Palace
Aside from the structures inside the complex, there are other beautiful attractions located near and around the City Palace area. Here are some of the best nearby attractions.
1. Lake Pichola
Lake Pichola is one of the largest man-made freshwater lakes in India. Surrounded by lofty hills and heritage buildings, it is often visited for its tranquility and beauty. The lake was built by Pichhu Banjara during the reign of Maharana Lakha in 1362.
A visit to the Lake Pichola is incomplete without taking a boat ride across the calm waters, especially in the early evening. During this experience, you can watch as the waters and surrounding palaces appear to have been dipped in gold with the reflection of the setting sun.
2. Taj Lake Palace
The Jag Niwas Palace, currently known as the Taj Lake Palace, is a palace hotel located in the center of Lake Pichola. It was built in 1746 by Maharana Jagat Singh II as a summer residence for the royals of the Mewar dynasty.
The place has now been transformed into a luxurious hotel that is well-known as one of the most romantic hotels in India. The palace hotel contains a great combination of old regal charm along with modern comfort.
To reach the palace travelers can take one of the many boats for hire that are available near the lake.
3. Lake Garden Palace
Jag Mandir Palace or ‘The Lake Garden Palace’, is a floating palace located on the southern island of Lake Pichola. The construction of this three-story palace was started in 1551 by Maharana Amar Singh and was completed in the early 17th century by Maharana Jagat Singh.
This palace was used by the royal family as a summer resort and also as an extravagant location for holding parties. This palace was also used to house refugees and asylum seekers on two separate occasions.
Tips for Visiting the City Palace
- Visit early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
- It takes around 3 or more hours to explore the grounds of the City Palace.
- When visiting the palace, travelers can purchase an audio guide for 200 rupees which is very informative and allows you to explore at your own pace.
FAQ about the City Palace
Who built the City Palace in Udaipur?
The first structure of the City Palace complex was built by Maharana Udai Singh II. Then his successors continued the construction over a period of 400 years. Ever since its construction, the Maharanas lived and administered their kingdom from this palace.
When was City Palace Udaipur built?
The first structure to be built in the palace complex was the Rai Angan or the ‘king’s porch’, which was completed in the year 1559.
How can I go to Udaipur’s City Palace?
The nearest airport to the City Palace is Maharana Pratap Airport in Udaipur. From there, travelers can easily take a taxi to the palace.
If you are going by train, get off at the Udaipur City railway station. You can then take a taxi or bus to the palace.
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