One of India’s finest heritage destinations, the City Palace Museum in Udaipur, is unveiling a packed programme of events, festivals, celebrations and exhibitions for visitors.
The schedule taking place in the heart of regal Rajasthan includes a recital by world-renowned French cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton and lecture by Professor John S. Hawley.
Special exhibitions commemorating the bicentenary of the Mewar-British East India Company treaty, Eternal Mewar festivals, celebrations, guest lectures and youth events are all set to take place over the coming months in and around Udaipur’s spectacular 450-year-old palace complex, along the shores of Lake Pichola.
The 200,000 sq ft City Palace Museum is hailed as a jewel in India’s heritage crown and is Udaipur’s prime tourist attraction. In 2014 a record-breaking one million visitors passed through its gates. The museum houses exceptional collections of paintings, photography, silver, armoury and textiles.
The iconic Mardana Mahal and Zenana Mahal, comprising The City Palace Museum, are acknowledged as one of the finest articulations of various genres of architecture in the world, with its distinctive and mush photographed skyline.
The museum is a rich repository of treasures, rarely seen before in museums across India, and exhibited with the assistance of professional curators.
Living heritage of Mewar
“Our endeavour is to showcase the living heritage of Mewar which visitors from far and near can relate to. We want them to experience this living heritage and take home memories of Mewar,” said Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar, Chairman and Managing Trustee of the Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation (MMCF) spearheading the Museum’s all round development over the last five decades.
“The coming two years – 2018 and 2019 – are immensely significant for us as we pay our homage to pioneers of the past who have shaped the destiny of Mewar,” Shriji said.
2018 marks the bicentenary of the signing of the Mewar-British East India Company treaty with Maharana Bhim Singh and Col. James Tod being the signatories. Col Tod, (in Udaipur as Captain James Tod), later wrote his magnum opus Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan in two volumes which have since become immortal.
Maharana Sangram Singh I, remains a towering personality of the early 16th century. Our Foundation will be organising special celebrations in 2018 to pay collective homage to Rana Sangha,” Shriji said, explaining that in recent years achievements of warrior-leaders like Rana Sangha have often been overshadowed.
The forthcoming events in 2018 at The City Palace Museum will once again bring to centre-stage the historic feats of Rana Sangha for modern audiences.
Shriji described The City Palace Museum as the ‘heart and soul of Udaipur’ and has devoted himself to creating its visitor-friendly environment. This includes appropriate use of digital technology, mobile apps and audio guides which craft a memorable experience for the visitors. “To harness modern technology in these ancient environments and keeping with the best global conservation practices is a continuing challenge for us,” he said.
Bridging modernity and tradition
“Ms Sonia Weider-Atherton’s cello concert is a perfect example of how we bridge the modern with the traditional in our own unique way,” said Ms Vrinda Raje Singh, CEO-Joint Custodianship Initiatives of the MMCF, adding “the concert is also reinforcing our ongoing association with the Bonjour India programme.” The Embassy of France in India, Alliance Francaise have been actively involved in a host of MMCF initiatives since 2012.
The French connection is most visible in the gallery dedicated to royal costumes and textiles titled ‘Mewar Regalia’. “Though the gallery is still a work in progress,” said Ms Jyoti Jasol resource-person of the MMCF and coordinating the gallery’s development, “what takes the breath away are the exquisite range of French chiffons and brocades specially ordered for the members of the Mewar Family through the late 19th and 20th centuries.” These exhibits are displayed at the Zenana Mahal (the palace for the royal ladies).
John Hawley’s lecture is in line with a series of seminars, workshops and lectures being organized by the MMCF. “We interact regularly with global and Indian universities and are open to sharing our resources with academicians, researchers and intellectuals,” said Dr Mayank Gupta, Deputy Secretary-Development.
Over the years distinguished speakers, drawn from diverse disciplines, like Prof Adam Hardy of PRASADA centre of UK, Prof Kavil Ramachandran from Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, Dr. Ajay Khare and Dr. Rachna Khare, School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal and Dr Shikha Jain of Dronah Foundation, Gurgaon have shared their learnings from the MMCF stage.
Udaipur: Among the world’s Top Cities
Udaipur has been labelled the City of Lakes and the Venice of the East thanks to its enviable location on the banks of Lake Pichola. Earlier this year it was named one of the world’s top 15 cities as part of Travel & Leisure magazine’s 2017 World’s Best Awards.
The City Palace opened its doors as a public museum in 1969 and is managed by the Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation (MMCF) under the leadership of Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar the 76th Custodian of the House of Mewar, the oldest-serving dynasty in the world. The Foundation is tasked with safeguarding and preserving the time-honoured traditions of the people of Mewar and its cultural heritage.
International relations have been strengthened thanks to recent collaborations between The City Palace Museum and leading global heritage institutions including The Getty Foundation in the US, Oxford University’s eResearch centre and France’s Domaine national de Chambord.
To attend any of the below events at the City Palace our operators and visitors can write to firstname.lastname@example.org
The museum is open daily between 09:00 and 17:30. Last entry is at 16:30.
Upcoming events at the City Palace Museum, Udaipur:
Cello recital by Sonia Wieder-Atherton
Saturday December 16, 2017
The Mor Chowk
Renowned French cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton will take to the stage at the City Palace Museum on Saturday evening as part of her L’Odyssée de l’Inde (The Odyssey in India) tour. Having drawn inspiration her recent travels across India, Sonia will use her talent and creativity to incorporate these experiences into her performance. The recital is a joint venture involving the Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation and Alliance Française, and will take place within the Mor Chowk, an elegant courtyard where mosaics of peacocks adorn the walls.
Lecture on Mewar paintings by Prof. John S. Hawley
16:00 – 18:00, Friday January 5, 2018
MMCF Conference Hall
In January The City Palace Museum welcomes Prof. John S. Hawley, Claire Tow Professor of Religion at Barnard College, Columbia University.
An author/editor of more than 20 books, Prof. Hawley will share his knowledge of the Sūrsāgar – a popular vernacular text devoted to the childhood antics of one of Hinduism’s most beloved gods, Krishna. In particular he’ll be speaking about illustrations to the Sūrsāgar created in Udaipur during the late seventeenth to early eighteenth century.
This is a non-ticketed event.
200 years of treaty between Mewar’s Maharana Bhim Singh and the British Political Agent, Lieutenant Colonel Tod
Saturday January 13, 2018
Zenana Mahal courtyard
On January 13, 1818 Mewar signed a treaty with Britain, brought to Udaipur by newly appointed British political agent Lieutenant Colonel James Tod. He went on to spend four years in Udaipur, helping to develop a fruitful relationship between the British East India Company and Mewar. Far more than a mere political resident, Lieutenant Colonel Tod became a geographer, historian, archaeologist and an author.
This special two-week exhibition will celebrate Tod’s love affair with Udaipur and Rajasthan, and his role in helping to reorganise and rejuvenate Mewar’s economy. Reproductions of paintings from the museum’s collection and other images related to Lieutenant Colonel Tod will be on display, alongside information boards highlighting the key role he played in shaping the history of Udaipur.
No special tickets will be required apart from museum entry.
Holika Dahan Ceremony
Thursday March 1, 2018
Udaipur’s City Palace will be filled with light, music and colour during the two-day festival of Holi. Also known as the festival of colours, it marks the end of winter and beginning of spring, signifying the victory of good over evil.
On the first day of the festival, Holika Dahan, visitors to the City Palace will have the opportunity to watch as Udaipur’s Mewar family marks the event in time-honoured fashion. A spectacular procession of horse-drawn carriages, musicians, liveried palace staff will travel to the Manek Chowk. A ceremony will culminate in the burning of an effigy of Holika, lighting up the night sky.
Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation (MMCF) Annual Awards Distribution Ceremony
Sunday March 11, 2018
Udaipur’s City Palace will become a hive of activity on March 11 as visitors from around the world gather to attend the MMCF Annual Awards Distribution Ceremony. Now in its 36th year, the event constitutes a major part of the foundation’s activities, recognising individuals who’ve excelled in their chosen field and made a notable contribution to society. An international award, the Colonel James Tod Award, honours a foreign national who has contributed through their work of permanent value an understanding of the spirit and values of Mewar. Past recipients include Oscar-winning British film director Richard Attenborough and former chairman of the British Library, Sir Colin Lucas.
The Manek Chowk, the palace grounds of the City Palace, will come alive with colour and excitement in time for the ceremony. More than 1,800 guests, many from overseas, will gather to applaud the achievements of awardees and soak up the unique atmosphere of this annual event.
Friday March 30, 2018
City Palace Museum
Celebrating the region’s rich cultural heritage and preserving it for future generations is central to the work of the MMCF. Rajasthan Diwas 2018 marks 69 years since the state’s formation in 1949, and a two-week exhibition will be held to mark the event. Reproductions of historical photographs from The City Palace Museum’s collection will be on display, alongside a timeline documenting the history of the formation of the state of Rajasthan.
No special tickets will be required apart from museum entry.
Maharana Sangram Singh Jayanti
Monday April 9, 2018
City Palace Museum
This April, the City Palace Museum will take the opportunity to celebrate Maharana Sangram Singh I (r. 1509 – 1527) and his role in helping to shape the heritage and culture of Mewar. Known as Mighty Sanga, he was a great warrior and the first ruler to bring 16 Rajas and Maharajas under one flag. His idea was to defeat Ibrahim Lodi and to stop the invasion of India by Mughal invader Babur. During his reign, Maharana Sangram Singh oversaw the largest territorial expansion since the beginning of the Mewar dynasty.
Visitors to The City Palace Museum will be presented souvenir lapel pins depicting Maharana Sangram Singh, and prasad, offerings, will be distributed. Information leaflets detailing the fascinating life story of the Maharana and his spectacular achievements will also be made available.
World Heritage Day
Wednesday April 18, 2018
Following on from successful events in recent years, The City Palace Museum will once again host a Guide Orientation Programme to coincide with the annual World Heritage Day. This global event, promoted by the International Council for Monuments and Sites, focuses on the importance of cultural heritage to people’s lives and the need to protect and conserve it.
A series of lectures will allow guides from The City Palace Museum an opportunity to develop their knowledge of the history of Mewar and learn new conservation skills. Lectures in previous years have covered a variety of topics ranging from the lives of specific Maharanas of Mewar to the geoheritage of the Udaipur region.
International Museum Day
Friday May 18, 2018
Celebrated annually by cultural institutions around the world since 1977, International Museum Day provides the perfect opportunity for Udaipur’s City Palace Museum to raise awareness of the importance of the Living Heritage of Mewar.
Students from across the city of Udaipur will have the chance to visit the museum and take part in a host of fun activities, all designed to help them look, think, imagine and discover.
House of Mewar, Udaipur background
- The House of Mewar is the oldest-serving dynasty in the world dating back to 734 CE.
In the 20th century, the House made one of the most successful transitions in modern India: from a Royal House to one that has clearly defined commercial and non-commercial enterprises, comprehensively preserving its values, legacies and heritage under the laws of India’s democratic republic.
- Spiritual precepts of the House of Mewar: Bappa Rawal is the founder of the dynasty’s supremacy. Bappa recognized Parmeshwaraji Maharaj Shree Eklingnath ji, an incarnation of Lord Shiva, as the Supreme Lord of Mewar. He received the State of Mewar in trust from his guru, Maharishi Harit Rashi. He thus set a tradition of pious humility and the concept of Custodianship or trusteeship as a form of governance begins with him. In April 1955, Maharana Bhupal Singh created the Shri Eklingji Trust to institutionalise the management of this ancient religious establishment.
- Shriji Arvind Singh Mewaras the 76th Custodian of the House has demonstrated his commitment, upholding the spiritual precepts as the living heritage of the House. The ambit of the Shri Eklingji Trust has grown and the Temple is now one of the most important pilgrimages of Rajasthan. In honour of Maharishi Harit Rashi, an annual award has been instituted for scholars of Vedic culture and ancient learning by the Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation since 1980-81.
- On account of its illustrious history and adherence to values, Mewar was considered the foremost amongst all Princely States of India.Mewar was neither the richest nor the largest of the 565 Princely States of India. In terms of sheer wealth and power, Hyderabad, Mysore, Gwalior, Bikaner and Kashmir were far greater. Yet Mewar was acknowledged as the ‘most respected’ among all Princely States. The respect for Mewar, over the centuries, was the respect for the values and principles it stood for: Honour, independence, self-reliance and a respect for Mankind. The values go back to Vedic times: these are not ‘Indian’ values, as we understand the word ‘Indian’ today. These are ancient values and principles.
At the time of India’s Independence in 1947, the State of Mewar was the first to amalgamate with the Indian Union. Maharana Bhupal Singh, the Maharana of Mewar in 1947 said, “India’s Independence brings to fulfilment the 1400 years’ struggle and endeavour of my forefathers.”
With the accession to India, Mewar ceased to exist as a sovereign State. Its economy, polity, administration, judiciary, lands and resources were now merged with, or handed over to, the Government of India. Members of the former Royal families were now citizens of the free democratic Republic of India.
- In the mid-15th century CE, Rana Kumbha (r. 1433-1468 AD) emerged as a Renaissance figure whose Vedic knowledge and military leadership took Mewar to unparalleled heights. He was proficient in the arts, a scholar of scriptures and a man of letters.
Kumbha is credited with building 32 fortresses including Kumbhalgarh Fort now a World Heritage Site included in Hill Forts of Rajasthan. Kumbhalgarh Fort has an unbroken wall, 36 km long and is called the Great Wall of India, second only to the Great Wall of China. It is a major tourist spot, just 3 hours’ drive from Udaipur.
In honour of Rana Kumbha, an annual award has been instituted for scholars of history and literature by the Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation since 1980-81.
Maharana Kumbha Sangeet Kala Trust, established in 1984 and developed by Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar, promotes and encourages Indian classical music, dances, arts, drama, and other activities of cultural importance as part of the living heritage of Mewar.http://www.eternalmewar.in/collaboration/charities/trusts/mkskt/index.aspx
- Maharana Pratap (r. 1572-1597 AD) is one of India’s iconic historical figures. He fought for the independence of Mewar against the might of the Mughal Empire and Emperor Akbar. His determination, self-sacrifice and military strategy puts him in a pantheon of mythical, legendary heroes. Four hundred years after his death, Rana Pratap’s life and deeds are recounted in folk stories, songs, popular films and television serials besides works of history and literature.
In popular lexicon, Rana Pratap’s name has become a pre-fix to the words: honour, valour, bravery, sacrifice and freedom. The closest equivalent would be Mahatma Gandhi of the 20th century.
In Udaipur today, the international airport, railway station and bus station are named after Maharana Pratap. In 2009, at Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar’s behest the President of India Smt Pratibha Patil unveiled a 15-foot high statue of Rana Pratap at the airport complex. It is probably the biggest statue of the Rana in India today.
- The future King Edward VII, when Prince of Wales, visited India in 1875. The Prince was given a dazzling sarpech (turban ornament) made of three large emeralds and bordered by bands of bright red enamel and diamonds by Maharana Sajjan Singh (r. 1874-1884) and will appear in the Royal Collection exhibition ‘Splendours of the Subcontinent: A Prince’s Tour of India 1875–76’ being held later in 2017 in Bradford and Leicester. See:https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/11286/turban-ornament
- Maharana Fateh Singh(r. 1884-1930) considered King George V ‘an equal at best’. The story most often recounted is that of the Maharana who ‘refused’ to be a part of the Delhi Durbar of 1903 and 1911. In his own quiet and unassuming way, he made the British realize that Mewar could not, and would not, be equated with any of the other ‘subservient’ Princely States. He knew how to make his point of independence and honour without creating a conflict or controversy.
Maharana Fateh Singhji remains an inspiration for all Rajputs till date.
Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar, his great-grandson, recounted this story during several events in 2011, commemorating the 100 years of Delhi Durbar of 1911. It struck a chord with many 21st century Indians and foreigners who realized what a demonstration it was of Mewar’s inherent strength and sense of nationalism. In every way, he was an honourable Custodian, upholding the flame of freedom just as his forefathers had done. “For me, Maharana Fateh Singhji remains a quintessential up-holder of India’s dignity and autonomy,” said Shriji.
- Udaipur was visited during Prince of Wales 1921 tourwith the future King Edward VIII saying: “There is nothing between Madras and the Northern Passes like Udaipur.”
- Udaipur and the House of Mewar have played host to royal guests and celebrities from all over the world. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in 1961, Lord and Lady Mountbatten of Burma in 1948, the Duchess and Duke of Kent in 1986have enjoyed the warmth and hospitality of the Maharanas of Udaipur. http://www.britishpathe.com/
Jacqueline Kennedy’s visit in 1962 is being recalled in the global press even today. http://www.britishpathe.com/
The historian Brian Master recounted in his book, Maharana, “Queen Elizabeth II was received as a guest at Shivniwas by Maharana Bhagwat Singh. When he naturally offered the Queen precedence, she demurred, saying ‘Please lead the way. You come from a much older family than I do!’”
- The City Palace and Udaipur were the setting for the James Bond film Octopussy in 1983. Maharana Bhagwat Singh took the lead in inviting the famous producers Albert R. Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson to Udaipur, the Lake Palace Hotel and threw open the doors of the new hotel, Shiv Niwas Palace, ahead of time to house the stars. The Indian press recognised the huge multiplier effect which the Bond film was having in Udaipur and Rajasthan.
http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/octopussy-james-bond-comes-to-udaipur/1/392211.html Till date, 33 years after Octopussy release, the film is screened, talked about and often marketed by restaurants claiming ‘the best Octopussy show in town’. http://iwandered.net/2012/03/11/udaipur/
- The Durbar Hall, built during the reign of Maharana Fateh Singhji in 1909-10, was called ‘Minto Durbar Hall’, to honour the visit of Lord Minto, the Viceroy of India. It took 22 years for The Durbar Hall to be completed, it’s an engineering marvel of its times. Today, it’s a glittering exclusive venue for corporate events and celebrations, an integral part of the Fateh Prakash Palace Convention Centre.
- Crystal Galleryis housed in Fateh Prakash Palace. It is the single largest, private collection of crystal anywhere in the world. In 1877, Maharana Sajjan Singh ordered the crystal from the Birmingham-based F & C Osler Company, including objets d’art, furniture, washing bowls, dinner sets, perfume bottles; the Crystal Gallery also houses the only crystal bed in the world. The crystal collection, carrying the crest of the House of Mewar, lay unpacked in cartons for almost 60 years before the present Custodian, Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar curated and developed the Crystal Gallery.
Udaipur’s climate: Mild summers (30 degrees C to 40 degrees C); mild winters (11 degrees C to 28 degrees C). Clothing required: Light tropical in summer, carry hats and anti-sun lotions; Light woolen in winter. Accessories: Come armed with cameras and shoot to heart’s content in photographers’ paradise. Languages spoken: English, Hindi, Mewari. Best time to be there: September to April.
How to get there:
Nearest international airports: Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Delhi and Mumbai.
Flights: Daily flights from New Delhi (flight time: 1 hr. 10 mts.), Mumbai (1 hr. 30 mts), Ahmedabad (45 mts.), Jaipur (45 mts.).
Rail: Convenient daily trains from New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Jaipur.
Bus: Air-conditioned coaches to and from New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Jaipur.
Road: 637 km from Mumbai, 250 km from Ahmedabad, 405 km from Jaipur, 664 km from Delhi