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City Palace Udaipur
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe Udaipur City Palace is not a singular historical edifice, but it’s a complex of several palaces in the Udaipur City, which lies in the desert state of Rajasthan. According to historical records, this palace complex was built over a period of 400 years, with several kings of the Maharana Udai Singh's dynasty, who all contributed to the growth of these buildings.
The Udapiur City Palace which is located on the east bank of the famous Lake Pichola , was built on a flamboyant style and is considered as the largest of its type in the state of Rajasthan. The City Palace, was built on a hill top, provides a panoramic view of Udaipur City. It is surrounded by several other resplendent historic edifices like the Jag Mandir which is situated on another island in the Pichola Lake, the Lake Palace, the Monsoon Palace, which is located on an overlooking hillock, and also the Neemach Mata Temple.
A little bit of information for the visitors who are movie enthusiast, it may be mentioned that the Monsoon Palace and the Lake Palace of the Udaipur City Place complex was filmed in James Bond’s famous movie, Octopussy. Not to mention, Udaipur was also subsequently rated as the top city by Travel and Leisure Magazine in their World’s Best Awards section in 2009.
Although Rajasthani is the official native language of this place, people are also much aware of Hindi and English, especially those who works for the travel and tourism industry.
HistoryThe foundation stone of the City Palace was laid by Maharana (The Great Warrior) Udai Singh, of the Sisodia Rajput clan, when he moved his capital city, under the threat of the Mughal rulers, from Chittor to this city in 1559. The foundation and prosperity of the Udaipur City is also linked with the growth of this palace as the Maharanas not only lived but they also administered their kingdom from these palace buildings.
When Maharana Udai Singh II inherited the Mewar kingdom at Chittor, he was constantly in fear of losing the Chittorgarh Fort, as Mewar was constantly at a war with the Mughal rulers specially Emperor Akbar, who eventually captured Chittorgarh in 1568 AD.
The Maharana chose this location in Udaipur for his new palace since he found this place was well protected by all sides with natural boundaries like the Pichola Lake, the forests and the Aravalli hills. It is said much before Akbar ransacked Chittor, Maharana Udai Singh started building this Udaipur Place, upon the advice of a hermit whom he meet during one of this hunting expeditions in the same place where the palace stands today.
The earliest royal structure, or the primary construction which was built by Maharana Udai Singh II in this location is the “Rai Angan” or the Royal Courtyard, which was the beginning of this palatial building.
After Maharana Udai Singh’s death, his able son, Maharana Pratap, defeated Emperor Akbar in 1576, and so thereafter Udaipur remained peaceful for some years. During this time of peace, several palaces were built, both on the shore and upon the Pichola Lake which was also accompanied by the growth of art (particularly miniature paintings) and architecture in this land.
However after 1736, as the marauding Marathas started attacking Udaipur, the establishment of British rule in India helped the Mewar kings to sign a treaty with the British in the 19th century that helped them to restore peace, again to into this city. According to this treaty, though the British regiment in India was always present to protect the Mewar kingdom at a cost, the Englishmen were not allowed to replace the royalty. So the Mewar Kingdom remained as an independent princely state in Rajasthan, till it got merged with the Indian Democratic Republic two years after Indian Independence in 1949.
Still as of date, the Maharanas of Udaipur retains the ownership of the Udaipur City Palace, which operates with the income generated by the Mewar Trust. With the funds that this trust receives from tourism and heritage hotels that they have established in certain parts of the palace, the Mahranas not only takes care and maintains this splendid historic edifice but also runs several charitable hospitals and educational institutes within their beloved city.
Architectural StyleThe Udaipur City Palace is a unique conglomeration of Rajasthani, Medieval, European, Mughal and also Chinese structural forms. As a matter of fact, the Udaipur City Palace complex consists of 11 individual separate palaces which are all built with eye catching granite and marble architectural works.
What to SeeViewed from the Lake Place, the Udaipur City Palace looks like a fort which has been built on a ridge, on the eastern borders of the Pichola Lake.
The interior of all these palaces within the palace complex consist of towers, balconies, murals, cupolas exhibiting delicate mirror works, silver-works, wall paintings and inlay-works of colored glass.
The palaces inside this palatial complex are interconnected through a number of zigzag corridors and quadrangles (Chowk). After entering the Udaipur City Palace through its main Tripolia (triple main gate), lies the public address facade or the Suraj Gokhda.
The Peacock Courtyard or the Mor-Chowk, the Dilkhush Mahal, the Sheesh Mahal, the Surya Chopar, the Bhim Vilas, the Amar Vilas, the Badi Mahal, and the Krishna Vilas are some of the major attractions for all the tourists who visits this exquisitely beautiful place.
The Sambhu Niwas Palace is presently used as the royal residency within this palace complex. The Shiv Niwas Palace and the Fateprakash Place, which were the last additions to the Udaipur City Palace complex, has of late been converted to impeccably decorated heritage hotels, which attracts several notable dignitaries and celebrities as tourists from all across the globe.
The Udaipur City Palace looks more like a city within a city.
In 1974, the Zenana Mahal or the Ladies' Chamber, which is a part of the City Palace, was converted into a museum, which is also another must-see location while visiting this place.
There shrine dedicated to Dhuni Mata is another notable landmark which one should visit while exploring this place.
Another beautiful place inside this palace complex is the Chini Chitrashala or the Chinese art Place which depicts several beautiful and priceless Chinese and Dutch ornamental tiles.
How to Reach Udaipur
AirThe Maharana Pratap Airport or the Dabok Airport is only 15 miles from the heart of the city and there are daily flights that connects Udaipur with Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Mumbai and Aurangabad .
RoadUdaipur falls midway between Mumbai and Delhi National Highway (NH8). It also falls on the East West Corridor that starts from Porbandar in Gujrat and ends at Silchar. So one can reach Udaipur both by bus or car from any direction within the country.
RailwayUdaipur City can be reached from Delhi, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Kota, Mathura, and Kolkata by Indian Railway. In recent years, new trains has also been introduced so that Udaipur can be reached from Mumbai, Vadodra, Chittorgarh and even Ratnam.
How to reach Udaipur City PalaceThere are several transport facilities such as Tongas, unmetered taxis and city bus services that are available for traveling from the airport, railway station, and the bus terminus to this palace.
Best Time to VisitThe best time to visit Udaipur and the City Palace is during the Indian winter months, which falls in October and ends in the latter half of February.
As Udaipur is very close to the Thar Desert, summers are really hot in these parts of the country, where the mercury often records temperatures greater than 109 °F during the dry and hot summer months.
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Author: SubhasishMitra. Last updated: Dec 13, 2014