Monday, 6 June 2016

Udaipur Diaries: City Palace

The City Palace, located along the banks of Pichola Lake is a magnus opus of art in Rajasthan. It displays the amalgamation of tradition and royal glory. Built in flamboyant style on the top of a hill giving a panaramic view of the city and its surrounding is one of the largest palaces in Rajasthan, is architectural fusion of Rajasthani, Mughal, Chineese and European styles. Built over a period of 400 long years, contributed by different kings and dynasties, firstly undertook by Mahrana Udai Singh II in 1553 as the capital of Sisodia Rajput clan.

Towering on the eastern banks of Pichola Lake, in the picturesque of rugged mountains in the background, City Palace is truly a feast to the eyes. City Palace is a marvelous assortment of courtyards, pavilions, terraces, corridors, rooms, towers, balconies and hanging gardens which exhibit delicate mirror works, silver work, inlay work and marble work. Encircled by fortifications, this imposing Palace is wholly built in granite and marble.

The palace comprises of a number of gates which are basicaly called 'Pols'. One among them called tthe 'Bara Pol' is the main gate to the palace which takes us towards the first courtyard and on passing this gate we come across a tripe arched gate called the 'Tripolia'. Between these gates there are marble arches or torans which are eight in number, where the majesties used to weigh themselves with gold and silver. There is also an arena where stages were prepared for elephant fights. The main block of the city can be approached through the Ganesh Deodhi terrace, a modest door which has whitewashed walls with vibrant paintings displaying the traditional Rajput styles.

These palace comprises of eleven other palaces which were built by different rulers during there reign. Each palace comprises of its own beauty and elegance depicting various characteristics and traditions of their ages.  Amar Vilas is the uppermost court, built in Mughal styles,raised by high gardens providing entrance into the Badi Mahal which is an exotic garden palace that stands on a 90 feet high rock formation. Amar Vilas is the highest point in the city palace with exotic gardens, fountains and terraces.

Bhim Vilas has an huge gallery consisting of miniature paintings depicting the real life stories of Radha and Krishna in all its might. Manak Mahal also known as Ruby Palace showcase figures of procelain and valubale crystals. Moti Mahal also described as Pearl palace due to its lavish decor and The majestic Sheesh Mahal also described as Palace of Mirrors is famous for its exotic mirror work. Sheesh Mahal was built in 1716 by Maharana Pratap for his beloved wife Maharani Ajabde. 'Chini Chitrashala' is renowned for its beautifully decorated Chineese and Dutch ornamental tiles. 'Dilkush Mahal' also called as Palace of Joy is well knoen for its murals and wall paintings.

'Laxmi Vilas Chowk' is an art gallery with distinctive collection of Mewar paintings. 'Mor Chowk' is well known for its exceptional and beautiful glass mosaics of peacocks set in the walls representing the three seasons of summer, winters and monsoons. Rang Bhawan is a palace which is used to contain royal treasures which also has temples dedicated  to Lord Krishna, Meera Bai and Lord Shiva.There is a shrine of Dhuni Mata in the temple complex which is considered the oldest part of the city palace. Jagdish Temple one of the biggest and most beautiful temple of Udaipur is situated in the premises of city palace, appeals to the aesthetic sense of the people.

The palace has been shown in many blockbuster movies like it was used as a hotel in 1985 James Bond movie Octopussy, where Bond stayed as he began his quest to apphrehand the villian Kamal Khan. Bollywood movie 'Golliyon ki Raasleela: Ram-Leela', directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali has this palace shown in many parts. Dev Anand's 'Guide' was also shot in this palace.

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