The ‘city of lakes’ or Udaipur leaves you spoilt for choice with its myriad attractions and it seems that you can fill volumes singing praises of each and every corner of this magnificent destination. However, the ‘City Palace Complex’ holds a special fascination amongst countless visitors and after visiting the place, I found out why. Come, treat yourself to some delightful tidbits on this inescapable Udaipur tourist trap.
‘City within a city’ is the phrase that strikes you the moment you step inside the City Palace Complex. Built in successive stages by the mighty Maharanas of Mewar, this place oozes regal charm and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Udaipur. Rightfully known as the ‘City Palace Complex’, it is home to the four royal structures known as Shambu Niwas Palace, Shiv Niwas Palace hotel, Fateh Prakash Palace hotel, and City Palace Museum. Descendants of the royal family of Mewar still live at the Shambu Niwas Palace.
Checking into any of the hotels is like getting caught in a time warp and ending up in the reincarnated avatar of a yesteryears’ royal family member. Right from getting stationery printed with your name to being allowed a free run of the entire complex (except the private residence of the royal family) and getting limitlessly pampered in every possible way, the City Palace Complex sometimes makes you feel guiltily sinful.
For a quick stroll down the royal memory lane of this place, spend some time at the ‘City Palace Museum’ and come up close to priceless slices of noble heritage. Haunting displays such as the armour used by Maharana Pratap himself, weapons used in battles, and images of the Mewar royal family all leave you completely wonderstruck and feeling like an impostor. Similarly, the beautiful mirror work inside Mor Chowk (Peacock Chowk) is another stunning treat to the eye.
To discover the meaning of the term, ‘royal opulence’, check out the Durbar Hall of Fateh Prakash Palace Hotel. In fact, in the bygone era, the hotel was used for hosting royal functions, while the Durbar Hall served as the meeting ground of dignitaries. Amongst the countless antiques and valuables strewn about, the customised crystal collection complete with a crystal footrest, steals the honours.
No less mesmerising is the Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel. Once, the exclusive domain of visiting royal dignitaries and guests, today it is the privileged quarters for discerning tourists. Captivating rooms and suites situated around the swimming pool, overlook the Lake Palace Hotel and Lake Pichola.
As the day draws to a close, climb to the ‘Sunset Terrace’ of Fateh Prakash Hotel and watch the sun descending from the high heavens or cruise the placid waters of Lake Pichola for a cocktail or two at the Jag Mandir island hotel.
In short, the ‘City Palace Hotel’ is like a beautiful dream that you will hate to wake up from when the holiday is over.
About the Author
Pinak Shome is a member of the enthusiastic iXiGO fraternity and an avid traveller.