Udaipur, the city of lakes is not only a prominent tourist destination in the country but is also the most romantic place in India. In other words, it is one of the most prominent honeymoon destinations in India, hence is also known as Venice of the East. Sitting on the edge of Lake Pichola and enjoying a fine served dinner, sitting next to Ganghor Ghat and enjoying the sunset, staying in some heritage hotel in the city Palace complex are some of the lifetime experiences. It is located in the foot of Aravali range, the flora and fauna of the area is much different from the rest of the region. The city has 5 beautiful lakes and is surrounded by green hills, along with the palaces, Havelis, ghats, temples, museums, shilpigram and markets depicting the colourful heritage of the region.
The story of Udaipur city and the city palace goes back to 1553 when in order to find a better and safer place for capital city Maharana Udai Singh II shifted his capital from Chittorgarh to Udaipur and started the construction of the City palace adjacent to Lake Pichola. By 1559 people started settling around the palace. With the passage of time, the city started growing, and finally, the beautiful city of Udaipur came into existence. It served as the capital of Mewar for centuries, until in 1818 Mewar state was merged in British India as a princely state. After Independence in 1947, it became a part of India. Today it is not only a prominent spot in the tourism map of India but is also a major cultural center for Rajasthani food, culture, tradition, and handicraft.
It is a magnificent multi-story building located on a hilltop next to the Lake Pichola. The palace was completed in about 400 years, from time to time various Maharanas of Mewar contributed in the construction and hence finally city palace came into existence. It is not a single gigantic structure but is a cluster of about 11 magnificent palaces. They are made of granite and marble and each of them has a unique style, which depicts the finest architectural skills of ancient India. The interior of these palaces are decorated with mirror work, marble carvings, wall paintings, silverwork, and decorative coloured glass, whereas the balconies, towers, and poles amplifies the external beauty of the complex.
The construction of the City Palace complex took multiple centuries. Hence, It is a blend of many popular architectural styles of India during the era. It is spread over a vast area, its about 244 meter long and about 30 meter high. It comprises of many huge gateways (known as pols), palaces, temples and much more. The palaces are interconnected through zigzag corridors and chowks. The topmost floor of the palace offers mesmerizing view of the lake surrounded by lash green hills on one side and beautiful Udaipur city on other. In addition to this Bagor ki haweli, Jagdish temple, Ghangour Ghat are located next to the complex.
Must visit spots of City palace Complex
The city place complex is a multi-dimensional tourist spot, it offers boating in Lake Pichola, lunch or dinner at Jag mandir, a journey to the glorious past of Mewar through magnificent palaces and museums and stay in the places as a royal guest and all that in the most luxurious and finest way. It houses some of the world’s best heritage hotels, staying here makes you feel that colorful past of the palace has come alive.
The complex comprises of some spots those depicts culture and traditional designs of Rajasthan. Some of them are prompted here.
- Tripola pol is the main entrance of the complex, it is a triple-arched gate and leads to the main building. It leads to the Manak chawk.
- Manak chawk is lies in the middle of Suraj pol and Toran pol, there is another gate next to Toran pol name darikhana ki pol. It is located adjacent to the main building and provides the magnificent views of the main building. It houses gardens, souvenir shops adjacent to Suraj pol and cafe.
- Toran Pol is the entrance to the main block. It is a tall gate, well decorated with a metal and multi-coloured paintings in Rajasthani style. The doors are made of wood and the area is also well decorated. While passing through the gate don’t forget to watch the painting on the ceiling of the pol.
- Amar vilas is an elevated garden designed in Mughal style. The garden is decorated with fountains in the middle and is surrounded by corridor and hall. It provides an elevated view of the lake.
- Badi Mahal is also known as great palace or garden palace. It is located on an elevated natural rock in the middle of the complex. The windows are decorated with stone carved jalis. The balconies offers magnificent view and are well decorated with colourful glass fixed in jalis.
- Bhim Vilas is collection of the paintings depicting life of Radha Krishna.
- Chini Chitrashala is decorated with well-designed chines and dutch ornamental tiles. The blue colour tiles are all over the walls, floor, and ceiling of the rooms. It has a huge balcony in the middle of the palace, that offers a magnificent view of the city.
- Choti Chitrashali is decorated with beautiful 18-century paintings.
- Mor Chowk is one of the most decorated part of the complex. It is decorated with colorful glass. It has three peacocks made from 5000 pieces of glass, each depicting a season i.e. summer, winter and autumn. Over it, there is a balcony decorated with colourful glass. It is the entry to the Manak Mahal.
- Manak Mahal is well decorated with glass and brass.
- Sheesh Mahal is decorated with mirror pieces. It was built in 1716 by Maharana Partap for his wife Maharani Ajabde.
- Fateh Prakash Palace is one of the most ornamented and decorated palaces of the complex. It has been converted into a heritage hotel.
- Darbar Hall as the name depicts it is a huge hall used as courtroom by the Maharana. This beautiful hall is decorated with huge chandeliers. It was built in 1909 as a part of Fatehprakash palace. Nowadays, it exhibits a crystal gallery.
- Crystal Gallery of Fatehprakash Palace displays one of the largest collection of items made of crystal. There are about 600 unique items made of crystal, that includes crystal chairs and tables, tabletops, lamps, footstools, dresses, dressing table, sofa, table, chairs, beds, bottles, paperweights, crockery, table fountains, perfume bottles and much more. There is a jewel-studded carpet covering the floor of the hall.
- There is an instructing story behind the crystal gallery. The items of the crystal gallery are unused. I was told that by the guide that in 1877 Maharana Sajjan Singh ordered this crystal collection to some Brigham based firm but unfortunately the supply was delayed and Sajjan Singh Ji passed away before it was delivered. The collection remained in boxes for the next 110 years. Unless when in 1994 the crystal gallery was set up.
The lake is surrounded by palaces, temples, ghats, hotels, restaurants, and markets. All these are the most desirable destinations in Udaipur. Lake offers boating, a meal on the lakeside or in jag mandir, sitting on the stairs of ghats and enjoying the beauty, viewing the sunset, lightning of palace in the evening, and much more. Spread over the length of about 3 miles and 2 miles in width, it houses two island palaces i.e. lake palace and jag mandir both heritage hotels.
It is an artificial lake built-in 1326 in order to protect the palace from enemies and facilitate the water supply. The name has been driven from the village Picholi. There are four islands in the lake, one of them has Lake Palace, which is one of the finest heritage hotels of the world. It is managed by the Taj Group of hotels, it is known as Taj lake palace. Located in the middle of the lake, the only way to reach the hotel is through the boat. The palace was constructed in 1740’s by Maharana Jagat Singh II, it was known as Jag Niwas. It is private property and it is not open for public. Only the guests of the hotel are allowed to visit the palace.
Another island houses Jag Mandir has gardens, Palace, restaurants, hotels, and much more. It is also a popular spot for destination weddings, it was a royal summer retreat of the royal family, constructed somewhere in the 1500’s by Maharana Amar Singh. Near the entrance, a line of sweeping white elephant stone figurines greets the visitors. Sitting next to a large window with a cup of tea and enjoying the view of the city palace, sunset in the garden are some of the unique experiences it offers. A part of it is also converted into a heritage hotel. Mohan Niwas is located in the northeastern side of the lake near Ghangaur ghat, the king himself used to enjoy the Ghangaur festival from the palace and Arsi Vilas was used by the royal family to enjoy the sunset.
In addition to this, there are some other tourist destinations in Udaipur. So, whenever you are going to visit Udaipur keep a day aside in your plan to enjoy the city palace complex exclusively.