I’m back in Mumbai after a very memorable time in Udaipur, and thought I’d share with you some pictures of what captivated me so much there.
A great deal of the city’s beauty and attraction comes from the “city within a city” — the City Palace Complex, constructed over many years by the various Maharanas of Mewar.
The City Palace Complex is made up of four parts — City Palace Museum, Fateh Prakash Palace hotel, Shiv Niwas Palace hotel, and Shambu Niwas Palace (where the Mewar royal family lives). The current head of the House of Mewar, Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar, has put a remarkable amount of effort into restoring the buildings in the complex and developing it into an all encompassing tourist destination.
It really is possible to feel like you’re a part of Udaipur’s regal history there. If you stay at either of the palace hotels, you’ll be treated to renowned royal hospitality in an authentic environment, as well as be allowed to roam freely around the City Palace Complex (with the exception of going inside the royal residence). The best royal touch I experienced during my stay? Stationery with my name printed on it!
Most of the City Palace has been turned into the City Palace Museum, which is the largest part of the City Palace Complex. Explore it to discover fascinating insights into royal life and the history of Udaipur. There are many treasures inside, including old photos of the Mewar royal family, weapons from battles, and the original armour of Maharana Pratap and his horse. They’re displayed all through the magnificent City Palace building, which visitors can wander though.
The mirror work inside Mor Chowk (Peacock Chowk) was restored in 2005, and is stunning.
The Durbar Hall is one of the main features of the Fateh Prakash Palace hotel. Fateh Prakash Palace hotel was originally the exclusive venue for royal functions, with the Durbar Hall used for royal meetings. The hotel is filled with priceless antiques and other royal treasures, including a priceless made-to-order crystal collection. There’s even a crystal foot rest! You can stay in the hotel for 15,000 rupees per night for a double, with generous discounts often available depending on the time of year.
The royal residence is located in the City Palace Complex between the Shiv Niwas Palace hotel, and the Fateh Prakash Palace hotel and City Palace Museum. The fountain operates when the royal family is at home.
The Shiv Niwas Palace hotel was once reserved for visiting dignitaries and guests of the Mewar royal family. Its elegant and individually decorated rooms and suites border the swimming pool, and overlook Lake Pichola and the Lake Palace Hotel. Double rooms cost around 15,000 rupees per night but can be picked up for as low as 5,000 rupees during the monsoon season, until October 1. Terrace suites cost 36,000 rupees, or 15,000 rupees per night in the monsoon season.
Jag Mandir, also belonging to the House of Mewar, was the first palace to be constructed in the middle of Lake Pichola. It was build by Maharana Karan Singhji in 1622 AD as a “pleasure palace”. Today, the tradition continues, with Jag Mandir being used for weddings and other special events. Its restaurant and bar is a wonderful place for a romantic evening! There are seven suites and a beauty spa there as well.
The Sunset Terrace is THE PLACE to enjoy the sunset over Lake Pichola!
The Vintage Car Museum showcases the restored vintage cars collected by the Maharanas of Mewar. I’m a girl who’s not usually into cars, but there are some very impressive vehicles in that collection! They include the car that was used in the Octopussy movie, first Rolls Royce jeep, and a 1924 Rolls Royce car.
The Shri Eklingji Prabhu Temple is located in Kailashpuri (the modern name for Eklingji), around 20 kilometres from Udaipur. The original shrine was built by Bapa Rawal, the founder of the Mewar Dynasty. What makes the site so special is that it’s where Bapa Rawal received religious education from his guru, who advised him in establishing the dynasty. The current head of the Mewar royal family, Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar, continues to worship there every Monday. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple complex is made completely out of marble. It also contains large colourfully painted statues of Lord Shiva’s Nandi Bull.
The ancient 10th century Sas Bahu temples, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, are located just outside Kailashpuri. The temples are covered in intricate sculptures.
Some of the temple sculptures are erotic. As you can see from the one above, Indian men have been groping women’s breasts for centuries!
Note: Officially, royalty and royal titles no longer exist. However, the Mewar family continue to administer and have custody of their royal assets, which they are using for charitable purposes and to generate income. More information is available from their website: Eternal Mewar.
© 2009, Diary of a White Indian Housewife. All rights reserved. Do not copy and reproduce text or images without permission.
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