Lonely Planet review
The main part of the palace is open as the City Palace Museum, with rooms extravagantly decorated with mirrors, tiles and paintings and housing a large, varied collection of artefacts. It gives a good sense of Mewar history and the aristocratic lifestyle of its rulers. It’s entered from Ganesh Chowk , which you reach from Manek Chowk through an entrance hall displaying the very lengthy Mewar royal family tree (to the right is an armoury section sporting old weapons, including a lethal two-pronged sword). Ganesh Chowk also contains the Chhota Darikhana , with sculptures from the temple ruins at the early Mewar capital of Nagda (21km north of Udaipur) and the entrance to the Government Museum.
The City Palace Museum begins with the Rai Angan (Royal Courtyard), the very spot where Udai Singh met the sage who told him to build a city here. Rooms along one side contain historical paintings including several of the Battle of Haldighati. As you move through the palace, highlight spots include the Baadi Mahal (1699) where a pretty central garden gives fine views over the city. Kishan (Krishna) Vilas has a remarkable collection of miniatures (no photography permitted) from the time of Maharana Bhim Singh (r 1778–1828). The story goes that Bhim Singh’s daughter Krishna Kumari drank a fatal cup of poison here to solve the dilemma of rival princely suitors from Jaipur and Jodhpur who were both threatening to invade Mewar if she didn’t marry them. The Moti Mahal (Palace of Pearls) has beautiful 19th-century mirror work. The 18th-century Pritam Niwas served as the private apartment of Maharana Bhupal Singh, who signed the Instrument of Accession joining Mewar to the Indian Union in 1948. Exhibits include this disabled maharana’s wheeled armchair. The Surya Choupad boasts a huge, ornamental sun – the symbol of the sun-descended Mewar dynasty – and opens into Mor Chowk (Peacock Courtyard) with its lovely mosaics of peacocks, the favourite Rajasthani bird. The Manek Mahal (Ruby Palace) at the far end of Mor Chowk contains exquisite 19th-century glass and mirror work. The south end of the museum comprises the Zenana Mahal , the royal ladies’ quarters built in the 17th century. It now contains a long picture gallery with lots of royal hunting scenes, showing far more dead tigers than Rajasthan now has live ones. The Zenana Mahal’s central courtyard, Laxmi Chowk , contains a beautiful white pavilion and a stable of howdahs, palanquins and other people carriers.