A Glimpse Of Royalty At City Palace, Udaipur

With whatever time we could squeeze out to visit Udaipur, in our long road trip from Rajasthan to Tamilnadu spread over a period of six days, we were left wanting for more….

Though old Udaipur is a maze of meandering narrow alleys teeming with people, cows, stray dogs, trash thrown carelessly, vehicles and tourists but it is also where one finds restaurants catering authentic Rajasthani cuisine, shops selling ornate antique metal and wood work, traditional clothes and turbans and also the entrance to 5 star palace hotel ‘The Leela’ which is why it is best to park your car and hire an auto-rickshaw for the day(around 800 Rs to 900 Rs) or for a specific destination.

We chose to visit the City Palace first and not pack all tourist destinations in the few hours we had. The foundation of City Palace was laid by Maharana Uday Singh II in 1559. The complex overlooking beautiful Lake Pichola is the largest of its kind in Rajasthan and is a conglomeration of 11 separate palaces added by each descendent over a period of 400 years.

The entrance gate ‘Badi Pol’ has the entry ticket counter and is surrounded by shops,  shops and more shops.

Entrance to the City Palace

Entrance to the City Palace

I was drawn to a particular shop selling block-printing wood stencils. Being an amateur artist I tend to pick up lot of such stuff and obviously could not resist buying these blocks specially when the shopkeeper was ready to bargain!

Wood blocks for block-printing on fabric

Wood blocks for block-printing on fabric

My shopping done we entered the gate to find another most imposing huge gate”Tripolia Gate” manned by uniformed guards, that led to the palace courtyard. The neat array of electric lamps brings a modernised feel to this centuries old magnificent entrance.

Tripolia Gate with electric lamps and guards

Tripolia Gate with electric lamps and guards

Beyond the gate is the courtyard of the palace where once upon a time the royal elephants and horses stood. The courtyard though tiled with stone, housing a beautiful garden now still shows off the heavy chains and poles where the elephants were once chained. The yesteryear stables are now high-end shops selling cloth made from banana silk, antiques, gems and precious stones etc.

The other end of courtyard houses a small but expensive cafe now. And as much I wanted to have a nice hot coffee or a scoop of frozen coffee ice cream, I still could not bring myself to splurge in the cafe…

Stables of earlier days now house shops

Stables of earlier days now house shops

The Cafe

The Cafe

The entrance to royal quarters is through a humble small door known as ‘Ganesh Dyodhi’ where a idol of Hindu God Lord Ganesh is installed so that every time one enters or leaves the palace, they can seek blessings of the God. The visitors were let in by the thick moustached Ram Singh, the guard at the door.

Guard at Ganesh Dyodhi

Guard at Ganesh Dyodhi

Steeped in the historic stories of brave Ranas and Maharanas of Mewar, the palace showcases silver ware, clothes, guns, swords and family photographs in various rooms. I was searching for tell tale signs of famous stories of love and war but the guide did not divulge any gossip relating to the royal family…..

Silver palaquin

Silver palaquin

Precious stone Chess Pieces

Precious stone Chess Pieces

Filigree silver aircraft

Filigree silver aircraft

Udaipur is also known as ‘White City’ and a view from an ornate jharokha (window) proved how white it really looks…

View of the white city from the palace window

View of the white city from the palace window

The palace built on a hill with each level made in such way that it sat on the natural contour of the hill. Moving through rooms and corridors of the palace along with the guide gave us a glimpse of royal life and I was transported to bygone era.

My imagination took vivid form and I became the princess floating down the pillared passage ways decorated with finest silk curtains overlooking the central courtyards….covertly sending messages to my prince of far off lands by the royal pigeon-post…

Pillared corridors

Pillared corridors

Royal pigeon mail

Royal pigeon mail

This is one palace where care has been taken to preserve the centuries old paintings on wall by encasing them in glass. The amount of labour, time, patience and craftsmanship that must have gone in each of these paintings is beyond comprehension in these quick-fix lifestyle of today.

Painted Ceiling

Painted Ceiling

painted ceiling with natural colors

painted ceiling with natural colors

Wall paintings protected by glass panels

Wall paintings protected by glass panels

Renovated courtyard which once was the meeting place for kings and nobles

Renovated courtyard which once was the meeting place for kings and nobles

As I walked past, marvelling at the displays in various rooms, the guide asked us to peep through another jharokha to see the current residence of the royal family. Rana Sriji Arvind Singh Mewar is the 76th custodian of Mewar Dynasty.

Current residence of the royal family with royal insignia on the wall

Current residence of the royal family within the city palace with royal insignia on wall

With an astute business sense, the current royal family has converted all their family palaces and havelis into heritage hotels which helps in perfect upkeep of the historic buildings along with generating income. Even the city palace is leased for large scale events like marriage ceremonies for few lakhs as the venue fee. The family also runs a school in the palace complex in the rooms which were once barracks for soldiers of royal army.

For the whole hour or so that we took the tour , we saw only a small portion of the huge palace. All other areas were not accessible for tourists.

The grand palace

The grand palace

At evenings City Palace comes alive swathed in bright lights and reverberating with the sound of horse hooves, battle cries, celebrations, music and retelling of history in a light and sound show. Due to misinformation of the timings, we however reached quite late and the show was already half way through.

View of palace from lake Pichola

View of palace from lake Pichola

Though disappointed for missing out the light and sound show we welcomed the silence of the night in our resort room because it was going to be a long drive till Surat, the next day….

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About shoma abhyankar

I like to believe that I am a creative person. I read, write, paint, sketch, rustle up some quick and some elaborate meals for friends and family, love chess, su-doku and scrabble, can hum an old Hindi song tentatively, always stand up for women rights, hate fake people, bugs, roaches, spiders and cigarette smokers!! I graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Architecture in 1998. Soon after, I married an officer in Indian Air Force and have been on move since then. For a brief time of two years when we were posted in Pune, I worked as a junior architect in a firm. Being aware of frequent movement that we would have to live with, I chose to be a homemaker and concentrated on creating a warm and welcoming home for my family. But sitting at home without any creative activity was not my cup of tea. I learnt candle making and soon put up an exhibition at Poona Club when my daughter was barely a year old. I also enjoyed a short stint as a home-based entrepreneur, supplying chocolates and cakes on demand, while we were posted in Bareilly. With an inclination towards writing, I completed a diploma in ‘Creative Writing in English’ from Symbiosis College of Distance Learning, Pune. Then I discovered the blogosphere. Now I hope to not only travel and share my experiences with the world but also to pen a book someday....
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30 Responses to A Glimpse Of Royalty At City Palace, Udaipur

  1. N. E. White says:

    Wow – what an incredible place.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reyna H says:

    Wow, beautiful photos!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. arunprasadhm says:

    That’s a beautiful palace.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What beautiful pictures here, esp. the chess and the plane…..

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reeanna Lynn says:

    Oh my goodness! I love the architecture. You captured everything so beautifully. I’ve never been to a place like this. So jealous!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. walawalkarleena says:

    Such lovely photos! Nice post.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wonderful Palace….
    Reminds me of my Trip to the Mysore palace and the Kochin Palace…

    Palaces have this wonderful power to take you to a totally different Time….

    Loved Your Pictures as well…

    Keep Blogging…

    Like

  8. Upen Reddy says:

    Lovely pics:) I love the plane pic:) Planning to visit jaipur literature festival in jan… Will try to visit Udaipur too:)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Mrs. Cat says:

    Love all the photos.. very interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Fast-tracking through Udaipur, The Venice of East | Astonishing India

  11. Pingback: The Land Of Royals, Jaisalmer | Astonishing India

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