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Hey guys 😀 Hope you have thoroughly enjoyed my previous posts on the beautiful forts of Rajasthan. Today’s post is on one of the beautiful palaces of Rajasthan 😀

A magnificent piece of Rajasthan’s heritage, it is the last of India’s great palaces and one of the largest in the world… Jodhpur’s Umaid Bhavan Palace 😀

Known as “the Sun City” and “the Blue City”, Jodhpur – once the capital of the former princely state of Marwar – is the second largest city in the western Indian state of Rajasthan. The city’s royal past is represented through various palaces, forts, age-old traditions and culture… and amongst them, Umaid Bhavan Palace, one of the most popular attractions, stands out as a symbol of new Jodhpur.

Umaid Bhavan Palace is the home of the erstwhile Jodhpur royal family and currently the world’s sixth-largest private residence. The stately sandstone palace is named after Maharaja Umaid Singh (1918-1947), who commissioned its construction on Chittar Hill – the highest point in the city.

Maharaja Umaid Singh…

Image: https://www.museumsofindia.org/museum/170/umaid-bhawan-palace-museum

 

Built between 1929 and 1944, it is today the home of his grandson, Maharaja Gaj Singh II and, in part, a luxury hotel of immense grandeur. The palace has one thing in common with the world-famous Taj Mahal at Agra – the palm court marble used in its construction.

Built as a drought relief measure among many other public buildings, dams, roads and schools, the palace construction generated employment for over three thousand people for fifteen years at a total cost of 94,51, 565 rupees. There was criticism in some quarters for embarking on an expensive project but it had served the main purpose of helping the citizens of Jodhpur to face the famine situation.

The foundation stone of Umaid Bhavan was laid on 18 November 1929 by the Maharaja himself on the rocky Chittar Hill south-east of the city. The palace was originally called Chittar Palace. Three thousand men and women worked on Chittar Hill for 15 years. The Maharaja built a railway line to the quarry site to transport the building material. Pink-tinged, cream-coloured stone were used from quarries located 10 miles away, and marble from Makrana. A mini-city of skilled workers, descendants of stone dressers and sculptors who had worked for the Mughals in Fatehpur Sikhri and Agra, chiselled the massive blocks of stone into shape, for each piece had its assigned place in the drawings. Interestingly, the blocks were locked together rather than joined with mortar.

Umaid Bhavan Palace under construction…

Image: https://www.museumsofindia.org/museum/170/umaid-bhawan-palace-museum

 

Designed by Henry Vaughan Lanchester, a renowned Edwardian architect, the architecture of the palace is described as an amalgam of lndo-Saracenic, Classical Revival and Western Art Deco styles. The interior of the palace is in art deco design.

In 1942, the Maharaja commissioned a Polish artist, Stefan Norblin to design the interiors after the ship bringing interior designs from England was torpedoed in a German attack. Norblin designed new furniture, painted murals and paintings in oils, including portraits of the family.

The entire palace complex covers an area of 26 acres, which includes 15 acres of lush landscaped lawns. When completed, the palace had 347 rooms, several courtyards, and a large banquet hall which could accommodate 300 people. Umaid Singh stayed in his new palace for only four years. He died in 1947. Hanumant Singh who succeeded him also died at a young age; he had just won in the 1952 General Elections and was returning home after this win when his plane crashed, and he died. His son, Gaj Singh II, the present Maharaja, decided to convert a part of the palace into a hotel in 1971, when the ‘Privy Purse’ was abolished by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.  (The Privy Purse in India was a payment made to the ruling (royal or lower) families of erstwhile princely states as part of their agreements to first integrate with India in 1947, and later to merge their states in 1949 whereby they lost all ruling rights.)

A major attraction of Umaid Bhavan Palace is its interior central dome. The palace, magnificent in its lavish proportions, also comprises of a throne chamber, an exclusive private meeting hall, a Durbar Hall for public audience, a vaulted banquet hall, private dining halls, a ballroom, a library, an indoor swimming pool and spa, a billiards room, four tennis courts, two unique marble squash courts and long passages. Outside there’s the marble baradari pavilion, a nursery and a garage with more than a dozen vintage motorcars of the Maharajas.

View of Umaid Bhavan Palace from the garage…

Counted among the most opulent homes ever built, this magnificent edifice is divided into three parts – the residence of the royal family, a fascinating royal family museum and the Taj Umaid Bhavan Palace Hotel, run by the Taj Group of Hotels.

The royal residence…

The resplendent Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel…

Watch my video: Welcome ceremony for the hotel guests

Umaid Bhawan Palace was voted as the ‘Best Hotel in the World’, the ‘Best Hotel in Asia’ and the ‘Best Hotel in India’ at the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2016. The luxury five-star Taj heritage hotel offers 64 breath-taking Art Deco- style rooms and suites, where one can have a royal stay with all modern comforts. It is the most expensive hotel in Jodhpur, where one can experience luxury like the royals – and perfect for those who have always envisioned a fairy tale wedding. The banquet hall of the palace is now the hotel’s large, main restaurant.

Watch my video: Umaid Bhavan Palace

The museum is housed (entrance through the single door wing, to the left side in the above photo) between the royal residence and the hotel. Inside, there are photographs showing the elegant art-deco design of the palace interior. The interior below the central dome…

The fabulous ‘Maharaja’ and ‘Maharani’ suites…

Both the art-deco style rooms are decorated with murals and fitted with a bath tub carved from a single block of pink marble, said to be the only one of its type in India.

The Maharani suite (top two images in the photograph) also has parquet flooring and has a terrace which provides scenic views of the garden. The bed room has an attached kitchen and the furnishing here is in pink and peach colour. The bed is also fitted with an art feature of a woman sitting on a lion.

The Maharaja Suite (bottom two images) has furnishings in leopard skin, and with black marble flooring and a curved mirrored dome.

 

The private museum contains a special exhibition on Maharaja Umaid Singh and the making of Umaid Bhavan Palace…

The Darbar Hall, which is part of the museum, has elegant murals and also substantial number of miniature paintings, armour and an unusual collection of household paraphernalia that was in vogue in the 1930s, which were costly and then not found in India.

Painting inside Umaid Bhavan Palace depicting a Rajput War (probably with the Mughals) with the Mehrangarh fort in the backdrop…

The beautifully designed paintings and furnishings done by Polish artist and interior decorator Stefan Norblin, are still well-preserved here. His frescoes in the Throne Room, include paintings from the Ramayana…

‘The Life Style Gallery’ recalls life in the palace in the 40s and 50s with displays of Art Deco furniture, dining and writing sets and a special Sporting section.

Fascinating crockery – silverware, glassware, porcelain wares, etc…

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Furniture…

Aircrafts flown by the Maharaja…

Lamps…

3D paintings…

Ceiling fan…

Exhibits also include stuffed leopards, a large symbolic flag gifted to Maharaja Jaswant Singh by Queen Victoria in 1877…

And an impressive collection of clocks….

‘The Legacy Continues’ Gallery is dedicated to the present royal family and their interests and preoccupations.

Interior of the palace…

Souvenir shop…

The vintage car collection of the Maharajas is on display in front of the museum, by the entrance gate…

At the end of their museum tour, visitors can dine at the exclusive restaurants of the palace hotel. But, it could be a bit expensive, if you are a budget traveller. If not, bon appetit 😀

The visiting hours for Umaid Bhavan Palace are 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The museum is closed on Sundays and gazetted holidays. There is a small entry fee for the palace and the museum.

The best time to visit Rajasthan is during winter, from November to March. So, on your next holiday in Jodhpur, let the beautiful Umaid Bhavan Palace cast its magical spell on you 😀

 

Coming next # Regal Rajasthan : City Palace of Udaipur

 

 

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