There are scores of palaces dotted about in the vast landscape of Rajasthan. And some of them have become popular due to their magnificence, scale, and significance. It is really hard to imagine anything elegant in the arid landscape of Rajasthan. But most of the Rajput clans that have ruled here were great admirers of art and architecture. Their love for art and architecture is evident from the impressive and elegant palaces they built here. Here we give you the details of the finest and the most popular palaces of Rajasthan.
City Palace of Udaipur
City Palace of Udaipur is the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. It is, in fact, a collection of several palaces built between 16th and 20th centuries. This palace complex was the seat of Mewar rulers who were known for not accepting the sovereignty of Mughals. When you imagine an edifice built by the warrior clan, you expect a sturdy and intimidating structure. But City Palace is far from that; it is elegant, lavish, and artistic. City Palace stretches along the eastern shore of Lake Pichola. And its architecture is a beautiful amalgamation of Rajput and Mughal styles.
Travel Tips: A part of the palace complex has been opened for the visitors. This portion is called ‘City Palace Museum’. Fateh Prakash Palace, which is a part of the City Palace Complex, has a crystal gallery and a Durbar hall open for the visitors but with a separate entry ticket.
Location: The City Palace Complex is situated along the bank of Lake Pichola in the old city area of Udaipur.
Sajjangarh Palace (Udaipur)
If you are an admirer of hilltop forts and palaces, Udaipur wouldn’t disappoint you. Sajjangarh, a deserted palace, is perched on top of a hill called Bansdara. Situated amidst Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary, this palace is just a short drive out of the town. You can get commanding views of Udaipur from the upper storey of the palace. And the backyard has a terrace which looks out on the unending hills. Maharana Sajjan Singh had envisioned this palace as a summer retreat cum observatory. Maharana’s untimely death stalled the plan of building the observatory. However, his successor accomplished the construction of the palace. But eventually it was abandoned because of the inability of pumping water upwards. Read More
Travel Tips: This is the best place to enjoy sunset in Udaipur. If you don’t have a vehicle, you should book a cab for to and fro journey with a halt of one hour in the palace.
Location: Sajjangarh Palace is situated on a hill outside Udaipur. It is about 8 km east of the City Palace.
Jag Mandir Palace (Udaipur)
Jag Mandir Palace and its garden are nestled on an island in the Lake Pichola. Backdropped by the hillocks and surrounded by the waters of Pichola, Jag Mandir enjoys a picturesque setting. This palace is centred on a small but elegant courtyard. The impressive feature of Jag Mandir is its ‘Gol Mahal’ which is a domed pavilion with detailed stone inlay work. Some of the chambers inside exhibit the history of the island. Prince Khurram, who became the Mughal king Shah Jahan, had once taken refuge here after rebelling against his father. The terrace in front of Gol Mahal doubles up as an open-air cafe (the prices are quite steep). A walk to the garden behind will get you soothing vistas of lake, hills, and the city palace. Read More
Travel Tips: The only way to reach Jag Mandir Palace is by opting a ferry ride from the jetty at City Palace Complex. The rides in the afternoon are costlier, but are ideal for enjoying the place.
Location: Jag Mandir Palace is situated in Lake Pichola and can be reached by a ferry from the jetty at City Palace.
Umaid Bhawan Palace (Jodhpur)
Umaid Bhawan is a magnificent palace. Situated in the new part of the city, it is the best example of Indo-Deco style of architecture in India. Built of creamy-pink sandstone, this edifice is nothing short of an extravaganza. But the irony is that this palace was a famine relief project. Begun in 1929, it kept 3000 labourers employed until 1943 when the construction got accomplished. Situated in the middle of 26 acres of land, this palace has 347 rooms. When the palace was ready, the royals shifted here from the Mehrangarh Fort. Even today one-third of the building is occupied by the descendants of the royals. Rest of the palace houses a hotel and a museum. Read More
Travel Tips: Visitors can access the museum, but to visit the hotel, there is a cover charge (steep) for non-residents which can be settled against food and refreshments.
Location: Umaid Bhawan is 6 km southeast of Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur.
City Palace of Jaipur
Jaipur city came into existence in the early 18th century when the capital was shifted from ‘Amber’ to here. This city became the first well-planned city of India; the City Palace occupies the heart of the walled-city. This sprawling palace complex is a wonderful blend of Rajput and Mughal architecture. The construction of this complex of pavilions, courtyards, and chambers was begun by Sawai Jai Singh II in 1727. The subsequent kings did the additions. The highlights of this complex are Mubarak Mahal, armoury, Diwan-i-Khas (hall of private audience), Diwan-i-Am (hall of public audience), and Pritam chowk (courtyard). Read More
Travel Tips: Hawa Mahal and Jantar Mantar are in the vicinity of the City Palace. While Jantar Mantar is just opposite the entrance of City Palace, Hawa Mahal is less than a km from here.
Location: The City Palace of Jaipur is situated in the old city area of Jaipur.
Hawa Mahal (Jaipur)
Hawa Mahal is popular for its unique and eccentric facade. This pink-coloured facade has scores of balconies and numerous niches jutting out of the surface. Its shape resembles that of Lord Krishna’s crown. While most of the travellers admire it only from the outside, it is worth exploring it from inside. This five-storeyed structure was constructed for the women of the harem. From here they could watch the processions on the streets without being seen. Climbing to the rooftop terrace can award you with the views of the city and the adjoining hills. Read More
Travel Tips: Most of the tour operators suggest travellers to check out the palace from outside; according to them there is nothing worth watching inside. But if you aren’t pressed for time, going inside the palace is worth your while.
Location: Hawa Mahal is less than one km from the City Palace of Jaipur.
Garh Palace (Bundi)
Garh Palace, situated in Bundi, is a massive edifice. It is in fact a conglomeration of several palaces built over a period of time. All the buildings are strangely spread across a steep slope. Along with the architecture, this palace is also significant for its magnificent murals. The palace must have lain unattended for a long time which is apparent from the erosion of the paintings; albeit many paintings have still maintained their sharpness. Travellers are allowed to explore certain parts of the palace. If you are interested in murals, you should check out chambers on all the floors. After coming out of the palace, don’t miss to ascend on the ramp to reach ‘Chitrashala’. It is, in fact, a part of the same palace and has a courtyard surrounded by the mural-covered walls. Read More
Travel Tips: To reach Garh Palace, you need to undertake a short but strenuous climb from the base. Garh Palace isn’t amongst the well-maintained palaces of Rajasthan, hence you can’t expect any kind of facility or services here.
Location: The entry gate of Garh Palace is near the popular Nawal Sagar Lake in Bundi.
The Fort Palace (Jaisalmer)
The Fort Palace of Jaisalmer is a seven-storeyed palace. As compared to the other popular palaces of Rajasthan, it is unpretentious except for its ornamental façade. This palace complex comprises of several interconnected palaces built over a long period of time (16th to 19thcenturies). While Rang Mahal is adorned with murals and mirror decoration, Sarvottam Vilas features blue tiles and glass mosaics. Gaj Vilas, standing on a high plinth, and Moti Mahal, with its floral decoration and carved doors, are also remarkable. The square outside the palace museum is called Dussehra Chowk; it was the place for royal performances.
Travel Tips: The Fort Palace is situated within the precincts of Jaisalmer Fort. There are a few temples near the palace. Also don’t miss to pay a visit to at least one of the bastions of the fort.
Location: The Fort Palace stands overlooking the main courtyard of Jaisalmer Fort.
Jal Mahal (Jaipur)
This is the lake palace that you see on your right while driving from Jaipur to Amer. Sawai Pratap Singh – a ruler of Jaipur – got this palace built around the end of the 18th century. Situated amidst the waters of Man Sagar Lake, and surrounded by the shrub-covered hillocks, this palace enjoys an enviable setting. The building is five-storeyed and when the lake is running full, four floors remain submerged. This was a pleasure palace and a hunting lodge for the royals. It wears a striking appearance past the sunset when its lights come alive.
Travel Tips: This palace is situated amidst the waters of the lake, and is now out of bounds for the tourists. So, you can only gaze at it from the promenade of the lake.
Location: Jal Mahal is situated on Jaipur-Amer road and is about 6 km from Amer.
Lalgarh Palace (Bikaner)
This red-sandstone palace is an Indo-Saracenic structure. This building was commissioned in 1902 by the British for Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner. The palace has received its name from Maharaja Lall Singh – Ganga Singh’s Father. Along with an impressive facade, the building also sports intricate stone-work. The elegant interiors of the palace and the well-tended gardens in the campus offer a striking contrast with the bleak and arid landscape of Bikaner. West wing of the palace has been turned into a museum and is open to the visitors. A portion of the palace has been transformed into a heritage hotel. The descendants of the Bikaner royals live here.
Travel Tips: The museum is open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM everyday (except Sundays).