Surmounted by balconies, towers and cupolas towering over the lake, the imposing City Palace is Rajasthan’s largest palace, with a facade 244m long and 30.4m high. Construction was begun by Maharana Udai Singh II, the city’s founder, and it later became a conglomeration of structures (including 11 separate smaller palaces) built and extended by various maharanas, though it still manages to retain a surprising uniformity of design. There are fine views over the lake and the city from the palace’s upper terraces.
You can enter the complex at the Badi Pol (Great Gate; 1615) at the top of City Palace Rd at the palace’s north end, or at the Sheetla Mata Gate on Lake Palace Rd. Tickets for the City Palace Museum are sold at both entrances. At Badi Pol you can rent an audio guide in English, French, German or Spanish for ₹250, or hire a human guide for ₹150 for up to five people.
The complex also contains the Shiv Niwas Palace and Fateh Prakash Palace Hotels, and a jetty from which boat trips can be taken around the lake.
Inside the Badi Pol, eight arches on the left commemorate the eight times maharanas were weighed here and their weight in gold or silver distributed to the lucky locals. You then pass through the three-arched Tripolia Gate (1711) into a large courtyard, Manek Chowk , with a number of pricey handicraft shops and the main palace buildings towering on the right. Spot the large tiger-catching cage, which worked rather like an oversized mousetrap, and the smaller one for leopards.