Speaking of palaces, Udaipur is home to one of the most beautiful palaces in India, built more than 4 centuries ago! The City Palace has a huge complex and is known as the largest palace in Rajasthan. On my visit here, I was swept away by the history , architectural beauty , artistic details and stories of the palace.
But remember, its no cheap affair! To be able to see the city palace museum (interiors ) and take you camera along , the ticket costs Rs. 330 per person , at the privileged entrance. The view is breathtaking! The palace in itself is very huge, and a part of it has been opened for public viewing and turned into a museum by the very kind royal family. The second half, is still home to the Mewars.
Once you enter the palace, I would suggest you take an audio guide. It costs Rs.200 per person , but it provides you with exactly enough and legit information. Plus, with those headphones on , listening to the audio stories, one can get lost in this royal world!
The palace has a lot of interesting places ans stories and the following are my favorites.
Mor Chowk (Peacock Square)
Mor Chowk or Peacock square is integral to the inner courts of the palace. The elaborate design of this chamber consists of three peacocks (representing the three seasons of summer, winter and monsoon) modeled in high relief and faced with coloured glass mosaic, built into successive niches in the wall area or jharoka, These were built during Maharana Sajjan Singh’s reign, 200 years after the palace was established. The peacocks have been crafted with 5000 pieces of glass, which shine in green, gold and blue colours.
Chini Chitrashala (Chinese art place)
This is a small courtyard decorated with beautiful chinese and dutch ornamental tiles.
The dark blue tiles come from China , the pale blue tiles from Holland and the stained glass from Belgium. This courtyard is a beautiful amalgamation of all the western inputs that form this Indian beauty. Most of the glasswork in the palace has been influenced by the Persians in the 18th century.
Krishna Vilas – Sacrifice of the daughter.
Every day, lights were lit in the Krishna vilas of the Udaipur palace. As Rana Bhim Singh performed the aarti (prayer) each day in the memory of his daughter, he often wished she had been a plain girl instead of a renowned beauty.
Rana Bhim Singh was the ruler of Mewar in the early ninteenth century. The state had lost all its power and was beset by enemies from all sides. The Marathas from the southwest had overrun parts of it and extorted levies from his subjects, while the states of Jaipur and Marwar were poised to attack him.
Jaipur and Marwar threatened war, not to increase their kingdoms but for another reason. Both the princes, Jagat Singh of Jaipur and the Raja Man of Marwar wanted to marry the Sisodia princess, Krishna Kumari, daughter of Bhim Singh. Bhim Singh dared not refuse either. He knew that whoever lost the hand of his daughter would join his enemies and attack his state.
Krishna Kumari, the young, sixteen-year beauty, was told of her father’s predicament. Young as she was, she was determined to maintain the heroic tradition of her race and die rather than plunge her country into war. Poison made of the Kasumba blossom was prepared for her. When the fatal cup was presented to her she received it with a smile, at the same time addressing words of comfort to her frantic mother; “Why afflict yourself, my mother, at this shortening of the sorrows of life? I fear not to die. We are marked out for sacrifice from our birth ; let me thank my father that I have lived so long.” Three times the nauseating draught failed in its object. A fourth, a powerful opiate, was prepared and administered, and ” the desires of barbarity were accomplished. She slept.” Died in Krishna Vilas of the Udaipur palace, in a room that is still preserved exactly as it was when the brave Krishna Kumari gave her life to save the state of Mewar from war.
Her mother, heartbroken at her daughter’s fate, died soon after her. And Rana Bhim Singh, too weak to have prevented the sacrifice, consoled himself through the lonely years of his remaining life by turning his daughter’s room into shrine of beauty and splendor.
This beautiful palace is filled with hundreds of such stories and beautiful corners and courtyards. But that’s all about the City Palace for now.
In my next post about the Udaipur Diaries, I will talk about the two great loves in my life- Food and art.