City Palace was built by Maharana Udai Mirza Singh, founder of the city of Udaipur, as the capital of the Sisodia Rajput clan in 1559. Sited on the east bank of Lake Pichola and consisting of several palaces, the City Palace is built in a flamboyant style, representing a fusion of Rajasthani and Mughal architectural styles. Being built on a hill top, the palace offers spectacular views of the city and the surroundings, including several historic monuments, like the Lake Palace in Lake Pichola, Jag Mandir on another island in the lake, Jagdish Temple nearby the palace, Monsoon Palace on top of an overlooking hillock close by, and Neemach Mata Temple. Since its establishment, this palace was continuously extended by successive Maharanas for next 300 years.
The City Palace has several entry gates - the main entry from the city is through the 'Bara Pol' (Great Gate) further leading to the 'Tripolia Pol', a triple arched gate built in 1725, which provides the northern entry. It was popularly said that the Maharana would weigh under this gate in gold and silver, which was later distributed to the general public. The palace comprises of several balconies, cupolas, and towers that provide wonderful views of the lake. Among these structures, Suraj Gokhada, or the balcony of the sun, is quite famous as the general site for Maharanas to greet public audiences and was even used to boost the morale of people in difficult times, at times. The Mor Chawk, or the peacock square, is an integral part of the palace, consisting of three peacocks sculptured in high relief and faced with colored glass mosaic. These peacocks have been crafted with an estimated 5000 pieces of glass, shining in green, gold, and blue colors.
The main part of City Palace, along with the 'Zenana Mahal' (Ladies Chamber), is now preserved as a museum and displays a large and diverse array of artifacts. An armory museum is also housed in the palace which can be reached climbing down a few steps from the entrance and displays a huge collection of protective gear and weapons, including the lethal two-pronged sword. This museum can be entered through the Ganesh Deori, meaning the 'Door of Lord Ganesha', which further leads to the Rajya Angan, the royal courtyard. This was the legendary spot where Maharana Udai Singh met the sage who suggested him to build a city here.
The luxurious rooms of the palace are finely decorated with mirror tiles and paintings. Manak Mahal, or the Ruby Palace, consists of a lovely collection of glass and mirror work, while Krishna Vilas holds a rich collection of miniature paintings of royal processions, festivals, and games of the Maharanas. Other important parts of City Palace include Moti Mahal, or the Pearl Palace, that has beautiful mirror works, and the Chini Mahal that carries ornamental tiles all over. Badi Mahal (Great Palace), also known as Garden Palace, is the exotic central garden palace located on a 27 meter high natural rock formation. This famous palace is used as a film location in many popular movies, including the 1983 James Bond film 'Octopussy'.
City Palace is open for public from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm.
Standing on the bank of Lake Pichola, City Palace of Udaipur is a royal treat to view. Check out more on this palace of Rajasthan.