The City Palace Museum, Udaipur is housed within the very iconic, 450 year old Palace, the former abode of the rulers of Mewar. It was formally declared as a Museum open to the public in 1969 through the efforts of Maharana Bhagwat Singh Mewar of Udaipur (r. 1955-1984 CE). The purpose was to ensure the safekeeping of the rich heritage of the land, and honour of its people, in a post-Independence scenario.
The Mardana Mahal and Zenana Mahal of The City Palace, Udaipur was bequeathed to the Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation (MMCF), a trust established by the Maharana himself. With it, he also provided a major endowment for the cause. Thus, The City Palace Museum, Udaipur came into being. Fifty years hence; The City Palace Museum has grown significantly and continues to draw visitors in increasing numbers from all across the globe.
It is home to a remarkable collection of objects, including paintings on cloth and paper, historic photographs, sculptures, textiles, silver, and arms and armour; created between the sixth century and the present day, with the extraordinary collection shedding light on the living heritage of Mewar as also the local, regional, and international exchanges in the realms of art, architecture, religion, and culture.
One enters the City Palace through the Badi Pol and Tripolia Pol. After crossing the Manek Chowk, the visitor is greeted with paintings recounting the Battle of Haldighati. A highlight of the collection is the armour worn by Maharana Pratap during battles.
Visitors then proceed to the Mardana section where several rooms are adorned with Mewar paintings and display special artwork such as opaque glasses in the Moti Mahal, peacock shaped glasswork and tiles in the Mor chowk and blue tiles in the Chini Chitrashala. Installations in the Mardana provide a glimpse of the lifestyle of the rulers as they resided in the palace apartments.
One then proceeds to the Zenana complex which houses the museum’s artefacts. The sculpture gallery displays temple slabs and figures of gods and goddesses from the 7th to the 17th century. The Symphony of Mewar shows musical instruments from the collection of the House of Mewar. The Jas Prakash gallery details the various phases of the development of the city palace through models and videos. The paintings made by the artists of the Mewar school are found in the Bhagwat Prakash gallery.
Flanking the courtyards are the textile and palanquin galleries showcasing traditional royal garments such as Ghagra-Choli, Angarakha and Choga as well as wooden palakis used by the rulers; covered with embroidered curtains for women and open carry-chairs such as Tam-Jaams and Takhats for men. One ends in the silver gallery which showcases the silver collection of the Mewar rulers.
The Museum attempts to make each visit memorable for everybody. It has provisions for enhanced accessibility such as wheelchair facility, accessible toilet, and lift, ramps, side-railings, child-care room, drinking water, seating etc. For queries, there are Information desks. Several workshops, seminars, talks, tours, walkthroughs, trails etc. are organized in the physical and digital space. Library service is available at a nominal fee. The Museum also has well-equipped Conservation Laboratories that is occasionally used as a learning resource by students.