“if you didn’t see the City Palace Udaipur, you didn’t see half of Udaipur” This is exactly what our guide uttered as he took us inside the huge palace.
On the fourth and final day of our trip to Udaipur, the city of lakes, we decided to explore the old city. This included a trip to the City Palace,Jagdish Temple, Bagore ki Haveli museum, Lake Pichola and some time shopping. So, with this great plan we started off from our hotel in two rented cabs (since we were total of 5 people).
The initial chaos at City Palace Udaipur with two gates
Within 10 mins time we arrived at the City Palace Udaipur entrance, just near the Jagdish temple. There is a ticket counter besides the entrance. We thought it better that in lieu of time, we purchase our tickers before the rest of our family arrives. So, we merrily went to the counter and bought our tickets. Right besides the counter stand a few certified guides. One of them approached us with a decent rate for showing across the whole palace. And we happily struck the deal. There after we started waiting for the rest of our family.
We got a call from them almost 10 mins afterwards saying they have reached the gates. But we were standing right at the gates. And definitely we couldn’t see them. And they couldn’t spot us too. Thus, we asked the guards at the gate. That’s when they informed us there is one more gate to the palace and they might have landed there. With a relief, we decided to enter inside the campus and then wait for them.
Inside the palace grounds
We entered inside with our guide. Right across from the gate where we entered , there seemed to be another road, leading to another gate after a few lefts and rights. That must be the gate from where our family was going to enter. We decided to wait right in the middle of the campus so as not to miss sighting them by any chance. Meanwhile, we also started to explore the campus.
The city palace Udaipur has a sprawling huge campus. At one end is the main public gate. There is another gate at the other end of the campus, that leads to the private section where the royal family resides. A major portion of the palace, lying between these gates is open for the public visit, housing several museums and other pieces of interest. While another major portion is divided into 3 parts. In the central part resides the royal family. While, they have leased out the left and right wings to two five star hotel chains. (Now that’s a royal life indeed! The property doing all the earnings for them)
In the center of the grounds lies a well manicured garden. Across the garden, the boundary wall of the palace is lined with several shops and emporiums. While, near the gate that leads to private section, there is a nice restaurant. We got ample time before our family arrived. Thus, we snapped quiet a few beautiful pictures of the palace and the grounds amidst intermittent phone calls with our family in order to coordinate our latitudes 😀
Inside the City Palace Udaipur
1) The museum of City Palace Udaipur
Start your trip from the main entrance inside the city palace udaipur building. And as soon as you enter, a marble Ganesha welcomes you right on the staircase.
From here on, enter into the main museum. It is a vast museum displaying various weaponry , accessories and war paintings. All of these are from the era of the infamous kings that once resided in the kingdom of Udaipur. I found this one of particular interest. Looks like the kings wore a protective cover around his body (which was made of iron) while getting ready for the battle. No weapons, nothing could penetrate this solid protection. But what if the king got an itching inside? Well, this innovative tool was used to sooth his irritation in such scenarios!! It is a hand shaped tool made of marble to give the exact feeling (and stisfaction) of itching by nails!
2) The steep stairs & low height doors
From the museum, we headed to the main portions of the palace. The city palace Udaipur is a multi floor palace. Very steep stairs connect the floors. The door to access the stairs are so small and narrow that even a five foot something with a lean figure (like myself ofcourse) had to be careful while crossing them. Our guide informed us that it was done deliberately due to two reasons : (1) your head bends in respect as you pass through the palace (2) If you are an enemy, who got access to the palace somehow, these stairs will force you to slow down as you pass from chamber to chamber and floor to floor.
3) The Crowning hall
Nevertheless, after crossing the stairs, we arrived at a hall with a marble tub fitted in the ground. Seems the new Kings were crowned here. And, during the ceremony, this tub was filled with silver coins. After the ceremony, the coins were thrown to the people of the state from the jharokhas (windws), who stood in the courtyard below. The people then merrily came forward and collected the coins as a gift from the newly formed king.
4) The Garden
After passing this place, comes a huge courtyard. There is a sprawling garden in the middle of it. And the garden has tall trees as well. There are benches near here to sit. Once we arrived here, our guide quizzed us “can you guess which floor we are on right now?” Looking at the massive trees we guessed it will be ground floor or at max first floor. But, the correct answer was “fourth floor”!! Even while climbing the stairs we didn’t realize we had already climbed four floors…hats off to the architecture of the palace.
5) The beautiful rooms & Jharokhas
From here, we took another steep flight of stairs downwards and arrived at the floor below. There is a small courtyard on this floor. And, a tiny beverage and snacks shop is tugged in one corner of this courtyard. The left hand side of the shop consists of beautiful jharokhas decorated with colorful glass. And, some other beautiful chambers lined up. One of these is the king’s bedroom. This room was constructed in inspiration from the sheesh mahal in Amer. So, it’s floor, wall and ceiling are all mirrors.
Besides this are some other rooms setup as the meeting room, game room etc. to let us visitors know how the setup of the rooms in the palace used to be.
6) Divan – e – Aam
From here, we went further down to the next floor. This is the divan-e-aam area – the king’s administrative assembly place with his ministers to discuss the most important issues. The king sat in a decorated balcony on the first floor. The ministers would sit across him. On the next floor are balconies that were used by the ladies of the royal family to witness the proceedings. This is a part of the palace which has most intricate mirror works. You will see a beautiful peacock made of all small mirror pieces. And some other similar masterpieces. Even the balconies and chambers are painted in multiple colors. Overall I liked this part of the palace the most.
7) The golden sun
Next comes the golden sun on display. It was believed to be an auspicious sun. The king , everyday, started the day with a view of this sun. It is now kept on display inside the palace. (There is a similar sun placed at the front wall of the city palace Udaipur. But that consists of bronze. This was placed for the auspicious views by the public of the kingdom.)
8) Kitchen and other rooms
From here, we crossed through the bathrooms, kitchens and other rooms of the ancient time. One of the kings, it seems, was handicapped. So, he had imported a special chair style toilet seat from London it seems. That is put at display now 🙂 The kitchen consist of earthen wares and other cooking equipment of the ancient times. Crossing all these, we arrived at the the exit gate of the main palace building. I spotted a beautiful bright wall painting near this gate.
9) The imported toilet
Apparantly, one of the kings was handicapped. He was not fit enough to use the typical Indian style toilets. So, a special toilet seat was imported for him all the way from London (Oh! the days of luxury). The seat did cost an enormous sum at that point of time. Now, it is one of the proud displays at the city palace Udaipur. To me, it looked more like a luxurious sofa than a toilet seat. However, now I pass the ball to you. You can judge and let me know what you think of it.
It is a luxurious leather chair with a detachable stool below. The stool is also made of leather. The king was short in height. So, the stool was custom made and attached into the original design of the chair to help him step up and sit on the chair comfortably. There is a pull out tray on the side where a water pot can be kept. Quiet stylish..huh!!
10) The false door
There is a lift installed in the palace. To have a lift installed in the days when the palace was built, is a great accomplishment. Besides the lift is a heavy door made of wood. Our guide challenged us to open or move the door. Obviously, we couldn’t. He was watching pleasantly with a conspicious grin on his face. Then after our futile efforts to move the door, he declared that actually the door is false, It is just a fitting into the wall to give an impression of the door. Intrigued, we asked why was it ever placed in the wall then. And the answer was even more funny. It was installed by the king to have some fun with his guests just the way the guide had fun with us !! Hats off to the king for his excellent sense of humor 😀
11) Silver Gallery
Just around the corner from here is the silver gallery. We decided to visit the silver gallery. This gallery has a lot of silver ware at display. These are the silver items that were actually used by the royal household. Overall, there is a huge collection of items big and small. You can see spoons, forks, other kitchen ware, toothpicks, models of airplane, footwear, big water vessels, a huge horse cart, a palki (Carrier) for God idol, a big crib for the royal newborns and numerous other items, all made of silver. Overall it takes around 30 minutes to have a good look all around the silver gallery.
However, the two things that particularly caught my attention were the silver rath and the crib. First being the Rath (chariot), which is placed just near the entrance to the silver gallery. It was created initially for sitting the idols of God when a procession was taken out during the festivals. It would be placed over an elephant and the God seated inside. While the crib can be seen just near the exit. Obviously the crib was made for the royal babies to have a taste of luxury right after they were born 🙂 But must say, both of these represent great work of art, with intricate carvings on them.
12) Crystal Gallery
We decided to skip the crystal gallery in lieu of time. We proceeded back to the main courtyard and the public entrance. Apart from the above mentioned, there are numerous paintings all over the palace that you will keep coming across while you pass through the rooms of city palace, Udaipur. Some of these are for aesthetic purpose, some others are paintings depicting war scenes or stories of valor from the kings. One painting that particularly intrigued me was the one depicting the complete life story of Maharana Pratap.
Outside the City Palace, Udaipur
It took us around 3.5 hours to complete our visit of the Udaipur city palace. Once we were out of the palace, we decided to exit through the public entrance. There is a government emporium near the main entrance. Before exiting, we visited here. The shop has a good collection of garments and home linen including lightweight quilts, dress materials, sarees etc. We bought some sarees which were made of organic bamboo trees. They are recyclable cloths. And the shop guarantees to take back the product after however days of use you want to. Also, they will refund you 70% of the cloth’s purchase value. And, the best part is, they do shipping all over the world. (You might like to read about our shopping spree in Rajasthan & get some insider tips on getting the best deals )
By the time, we left the city palace, it was afternoon. Thus, obviously hungry, we stopped at a café in the same street for lunch. The sandwiches and pasta at this shop are yummy. After having a nice lunch, we headed next to Bagore ki Haveli. We opted out of eating at the fancy restaurants inside the palace, as they are mostly unnecessarily expensive.
Tips on visiting the city palace Udaipur
- Good news is, mostly you will be exploring the interiors of the city palace Udaipur. So, for once you need not worry so much about the sun and heat in Rajasthan
- Keep ample time apart so that you can take your time to explore the palace
- We would recommend to take a guided tour so that you understand the significance of the places and things that you see. This adds to the interest and excitement.
- Wear comfortable cotton cloths and comfortable walking shoes. There will be a lot of walking to be done.
- You can take a cab or auto to the City Palace Udaipur and it will drop you right at the entrance.
- However, be aware that there are two entrances to the City Palace Udaipur – one is a public entrance and we would recommend it. The other one is private entrance that is used by the royal family. Public can enter from this side too but the ticket prices are little extra. Plus, there is a little more walking from this entrance to the main palace building
- Carry some water. Or else, you can purchase from the shops & restaurants inside the palace grounds.
- Crystal gallery tickets are additional, and you can purchase them inside the palace.
- Boating at lake pichola is accessible via the palace grounds. However, do note down the timings and plan accordingly if you are interested in boating. Again, the boat tickets will be additinal.