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5 June 2015 / leggypeggy

Umaid Bhawan Palace—Jodphur’s other jewel

Umaid Palace and Hotel Umaid Palace

Recently I posted our visit to Jodphur’s spectacular Mehrangarh Fort, and now it’s time to check out the city’s other jewel—the Umaid Bhawan Palace.

Poor John and I are equal-opportunity tourists so we spent half a day at the fort and the other half at the palace. Confession—a half-day at the palace was enough but we should have spent a day at the fort.

That said, the palace, like the fort, is breathtaking and important in Indian history.

In 1923, His Royal Highness Maharaja Umaid Singh Ji (grandfather of Jodhpur’s current Maharaja) commissioned the building of this enormous palace. It was going to be his 347-room residence, but it was also his way of providing employment for his people during a lengthy period of droughts and famines.

The employment plan worked a treat. Along with several other community projects, it kept 3000 labourers busy for 15 years—from 1928 to 1943. I wonder if it took so long because they used an interlocking system that required no mortar.

Interestingly, the structure was originally known as Chittar Palace, after the local yellow-gold sandstone used in its construction. But ultimately, the art-deco structure was renamed after its instigator. That said, I don’t know how the word Bhawan fits into the name.

Today the palace has three roles—it’s part museum, part residence for Jodhpur’s current royal family, and part luxurious hotel for tourists. I’ve read that rooms go for about $500 a night. Yikes!

Obviously Poor John and I didn’t stay there. We stayed in the Zostel Hostel. That’s where our travelling companion, Gary, had his hiking boots stolen in the first 15 minutes we were there. Traveller’s tip: Don’t leave your shoes in the hallway outside a hostel—even if a sign tells you to do so. Take them off, pick them up, take them inside with you and put them in your locker.

But back to the palace, which was designed by Henry Vaughan Lanchester, a renowned Edwardian architect. His designs combined eastern, western and art deco influences.

There’s a sad story about the original furniture and fittings. They were of an art deco design by Maples of London, but were lost in 1942 when the ship carrying them was sunk by the Germans.

Luckily, artist Stephan Norblin came to the rescue. A Polish refugee, Norblin was an accomplished artist, an amateur interior designer and familiar with art deco styles. Sadly, almost all of his palace work (especially some elaborate murals) appears in areas that are not for public viewing. I saw some photos of them and was sorry we couldn’t see them in person.

But two museum collections caught my eye—a whole lot of ancient clocks, and porcelain washbowl and pitcher sets.

Oh and there was a collection of old cars that were impossible to photograph. The best I could do was get a reflection of the palace/hotel on the front of one of the cars.

reflected palace

The palace reflected in a museum Cadillac

18 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. suchled / Jun 6 2015 7:07 am

    What amazes me about India is the fantastic riches and the amazing poverty all going hand in hand.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jun 6 2015 5:26 pm

      It’s really shocking to see the extremes. I’m glad we travel simply and patronise the smaller businesses that benefit from our custom.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dorothy / Jun 6 2015 7:20 am

    Wow 347 rooms for his residence, he must have had many wives and children plus servants. Bit excessive otherwise but at least it is getting put to better use nowadays. Very impressive building with the dome and towers. If he had enough money to pay the workers to build that it would have been kinder if he had built lots of smaller houses for the workers to live in and a smaller palace for himself. But I guess these great men have to have a symbol of their importance, what egos. Pity you didn’t get to see the art works. Hope you are keeping clear of the riots and natural disasters prevalent in India. Dorothy

    dorothysstories.wordpress.com

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jun 6 2015 5:28 pm

      Building homes for the workers would have been infinitely more practical and beneficial. Thanks for worrying about us. We always manage to stay out of the problem areas.

      Like

  3. thegreyeye / Jun 7 2015 6:30 pm

    It is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing:)

    But I wonder about some people who did not visit India or may be here once in a lifetime,keep commenting about prevalence of Riot and Disaster ! As far as I know, USA is not far behind in terms of natural disaster and shooting in schools . But should I conclude from that, I should not visit US?

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jun 7 2015 8:35 pm

      If we listened to the news, we wouldn’t go anywhere. The world is out there waiting for us. There are only a few really risky places. Sadly one of them is Syria which, in the past, was one of my favourite places in the world. I’d better start posting about some of Syria’s amazing sights/sites.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thegreyeye / Jun 7 2015 9:08 pm

        Please do that .. it is painful what people there are going through

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jun 7 2015 9:55 pm

        One of our daughters was born in Syria and I so hope that one day she’ll be able to revisit the land of her birth.

        Like

  4. Jane / Jun 8 2015 11:14 am

    Magnificent architecture. I love museums too. It certainly is a country of contrasts! I read the above comments. It’s true that we would never travel to few places if we only believed the negative news reports! There is beauty and interest to be discovered in most places in the world. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Curious to the Max / Jun 10 2015 3:50 am

    Great tour, thanks! Curious: Why couldn’t you photograph the cars? You have captured so many “wild beasts” in unimaginable places . . .!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jun 10 2015 7:43 am

      Good question. When you visit the car museum building, you walk down a glass corridor. Glass on your left and cars behind glass on your right. You can see the cars pretty much okay, but the reflections caused by the sun, shiny cars and all that glass mean photography is nigh on impossible. So I went for a reflection shot. 🙂

      Like

  6. Redazione / Jun 13 2015 1:55 am

    LIKE LIKE LIKE YOUR PHOTOS!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. thehutownerblog / Jul 9 2015 11:04 pm

    i like to shop in India!… those copper and brass wares…!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 9 2015 11:14 pm

      There’s great shopping in India. I had to try hard not to buy too much.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thehutownerblog / Jul 9 2015 11:19 pm

        if i go shopping, i’d like someone with me to carry all the stuffs bought…! it’s tempting really to buy what you like…

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jul 10 2015 8:38 am

        The thing about travel and shopping is that you need to be able to fit everything into your backpack or suitcase.

        Like

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