Umaid Bhawan Palace, viewed form the extensive lawns.
Nothing prepares the Grand Tourist for his or her arrival at the Umaid Bhawan Palace. It is quite simply the most fairytale of fairytale palaces, and the most GRAND of Grand Hotels I have had the chance to stay at in these past 7 years of Grand Tour-ing.
The Palace was named after Maharaja Umaid Singh, and it was built between 1928 and 1943, in an exuberant and self-conscious Art Deco style. It is so big, and so beautiful and stupendous, that it rivals the Taj Mahal itself, and recalls the ancient temple-mountain of Angkor.
The architects were British – Henry Vaughan Lanchester – and Indian – Budhmal Raj. The entire building blends elements of European (Neo-classical, Art Deco and Indo-Saracenic) as well as Hindu architecture, and is a work of art in its own right.
Speaking of art, the Umaid Bhawan Palace is also known for another, unique collection of murals. I refer to the work of Polish artist, Stefan Norblin, who painted the splendiferous murals of scenes from the Mahabharata in the Umaid Bhawan Palace’s thoroughly modern Throne Room.
But I’m gushing.
The Palace continues to be the Royal Residence today, though part of it is managed by the Taj Group as a luxury heritage hotel. It was, without any overstatement whatsoever, the most wonderful dream of an experience I’ve had. =)
Front view of Umaid Bhawan Palace.
The almost-Gothic ante-lobby of the Hotel.
The gorgeous Rotunda.
The underside of the Dome.
Corridors en route to the Suite.
Again… an almost-creepy hint of Gothic.
The luxuriously appointed Historical Suite.
View from the balcony of the Suite to the Palace Gardens, and Mehrangarh Fort in the distance.
Marble baradari on the grounds.
View of the Palace from the grounds…
The palace from the pool…
Close-up of the central core of the palace, with its stupa-like dome.
The Rotunda aisle, where High Tea is served every afternoon…
…accompanied by a performance.
The Royal Throne Room, with murals by Stefan Norblin.
The Triumphant Return of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanoman to Ayodhya from Lanka. Stefan Norblin. Royal Throne Room.
Lord Shiva. Stefan Norblin. Royal Throne Room.
The Gentleman’s Lounge.
Umaid Bhawan Palace and its baradari.
The side towers
Window and balcony…
Animal motifs at Umaid Bhawan – a peacock.
The kite is the symbol of the Marwar’s guardian spirit.
The sweeping view up the stairs to the ground floor patio restaurant, Pillars, where breakfast and dinner are served.
Dinner at Pillars is one of the most romantic experiences in the world. Pity I was alone.
Gates to the Grounds.
Goodbye Umaid Bhawan Palace! Goodbye Jodhpur! Goodbye Rajasthan! Goodbye India!
- REFERENCE: Jodhpur’s Umaid Bhawan – The Maharaja of Palaces. By Aman Nath, Fred R Holmes and Newton Holmes.