|So grand and majestic is the Umaid Bhawan Palace that it unseated Mehrangarh Fort as the new symbol of Jodhpur from 1944. The idea for building the Palace came to Maharaja Umaid Singh who employed the services of Henry Vaughn Lanchester, a renowned Edwardian architect in 1929 and Indian architect Budhmal Rai. The palace is a blend of eastern and western architectural influences as Lanchester was adamant on not including any Mughal elements in it.
Umaid Bhawan PalaceUmaid Bhawan Palace stands high atop Chittar Hill in southeastern area of Jodhpur in the midst of lush 26 acres of garden and is one of the largest residences in the world today having 347 rooms. Today, the colossal palace is divided into three functional sections: the luxury Taj Palace Hotel, the residence of the erstwhile royal family, and a Museum.
It took 15 years and the efforts of 5000 men to complete this golden-yellow sandstone Palace. No a single piece of mortar or cement was used to bind the stones together. The marvel of this grand edifice is that it was designed to maintain temperature at approximately 23 degrees Celsius.
Another striking feature of the Palace is the majestic 105 foot high cupola or central dome a unique feature of the Renaissance era. The four towers of the palace are taken from Rajput architectural style. The opulent interior was designed by Maples of London but the real furnishing was completed by Polish interior designer Stefan Norblin. Based on the Art Deco style, the palace is furnished with gilt furniture and elegant artwork complemented by exotic murals. This exotic mix of art deco and millennia-old Hindu architectural traditions is a unique characteristic of the Rathore dynasty.
The present owner of the Palace is Maharaja Gaj Singh II, the head of the present royal family of Jodhpur. The hotel section was opened in 1972 and it runs today under the flagship of Heritage Chain, a premier hotel chain that runs luxurious hotels across the state. Classified as a 5 Star Deluxe, the hotel offers the best services in the form of hospitable staff and opulent furnishings with period furniture, priceless antiques and artefacts adorning the public areas. From the Pillar, the view of the sprawling lawn is indeed spectacular while the highly private Zodiac Swimming Pool, concealed in the basement, makes a relaxing retreat.
The Museum, though small, is an exhibit of elite lifestyle from the private collection of Maharajas of Jodhpur having an exquisite display of arms, furniture, antique clocks and China vases.