The ancient city of Jodhpur is known for its beautiful temples, monuments and palaces, and one of the most impressive ones is the Umaid Bhawan Palace. If you were to visit just one attraction in this mystifying Indian city, it has to be this building. Below are a few distinguishing features that make Umaid Bhawan Palace irresistible to tourists.
When you reach this palace, the first thing that will surprise you is that it is actually a private residence owned by a family of royal Maharaja lineage. The second thing that will delightfully surprise you is that you can own part of the palace for a few nights since a portion has been converted into a five-star hotel.
And then a third surprise: it is also a museum.
The hotel’s greatest come-on is, of course, the fact that you will reside, dine and sleep in India’s last great palace and one of the most beautiful private residences in the world. But other than the prestige, the hotel does offer modern comfort and a stunning view since the palace stands on Chittar Hill, the highest elevation in Jodhpur. Some of the amenities include tennis courts, squash courts and an underground swimming pool.
Those who stayed here will argue that Umaid Bhawan is more stunning and more ornate than London’s Buckingham Palace. Hotel rooms, however, are much smaller than you would expect. You may not fully experience how it is living as royalty but you at least get a good sampling, especially with the many hotel servants who are always ready to attend to your needs.
This is an expensive luxury hotel, needless to say. Even the price of food is quite high. Yet, the palace hotel is almost always fully booked as more and more tourists and international visitors are making their way to Jodhpur.
The city of Jodhpur is the second leading city in the state of Rajasthan, India, next only to the capital city of Jaipur. Jodhpur is accessible from several points in the country including Delhi, Mumbai and Jaipur. Several airline, bus and train companies make their way to Jodhpur.
If the palace hotel is too expensive for you (it is too expensive for many people), there are several surrounding hotels that allow you to enjoy the view of the palace and of the city below. One such hotel is Madho Vilas Hotel. This quiet Art Deco style hotel is near Umaid Bhawan and also not very far from the airport.
Meanwhile, Umaid Bhawan Palace (also spelled as “Umaid Bhavan Palace”) also serves as a museum. On display are items from the private collection of the royal family. In addition to several antique items, the highlights include stuffed leopards, an old banner that was given by Queen Victoria herself, and a collection of interesting clocks, weapons, armors, and trophies.
Compared to the grand scale of the palace, the museum is relatively very small and unimpressive. It takes up a hall and few rooms at the center portion of Umaid Bhawan. The displays are also limited to what the royal family owns and is willing to put on display.
So, where else in the world can you find a palace-hotel-and-museum-in-one? Although the museum is not the best that India has to offer, the palace is definitely India’s largest and one of the most lavish in the world. The palace hotel, on the other hand, is definitely the best accommodation in South Asia.