One of the largest private residences in the world and the finest example of luxury in present times, the Umaid Bhawan Palace stands high looking at clear blue skies of the Sun City Jodhpur. The Umaid Bhawan is the residence of the present Maharaja of Jodhpur, His Highness Maharaja Gaj Singh II. Part of the palace is a museum which showcases the life of Maharaja Umaid Singh ji and the present Royal family and their preoccupations. Most of the palace is now a heritage hotel, presently managed and maintained by Taj Hotels & Resorts. The Umaid Bhawan palace was designed by Henry Vaughan Lanchester, who owned an architectural firm Lanchester & Lodge in London.
This palace was the idea of visionary Maharaja Umaid Singh ji as a drought relief measure in 1929, which provided occupation to around 3,000 men and women for 15 years. This palace is built on Chittar Hill, hence it was formerly known as Chittar Palace. The entry fee to the museum is Rs 25 per person. The museum has various sections dedicated to various interests of Maharaja Umaid Singh ji, such as polo, glassware, tableware and antique clocks.
The less known fact is that during the reign of Maharaja Umaid Singh ji, the Jodhpur polo team emerged the strongest, beating every other team in London, including the US army. Jodhpur boasted of 6 polo fields once, more than that in Kolkata.
There is a fine collection of antique clocks to which one whole room is dedicated and you will find pretty amazing clocks over there, brought from Germany, Scotland, Ireland, etc. He was also an avid aircraft pilot. When Delhi did not even have an airport, Jodhpur had an international-level airport built by the Maharaja himself.
There are very beautiful murals on the walls of the palace, designed by a Polish interior designer, Stefan Norblin. The museum has various pictures from the life of Maharaja Umaid Singh ji, like his picture when he was awarded honorary degree from the Oxford University, etc. The pink-tinged stones of this palace were brought from a quarry ten miles from here, while the marbles came from Makrana.
This palace has 347 rooms and is one of the world’s largest private residences. It measures 26 acres, of which 15 acres are covered by gardens. This total cost of this palace was Rs. 94,51,565. Part of this palace was converted into a hotel in 1978.
The Umaid Bhawan palace also has a collection of vintage cars like Rolls Royce Phantom 1927 model, Overland 1906 model, Cadillac 1947 model, Morris Minor, etc. This palace is visible from many places in Jodhpur, and shows us the true luxury of the erstwhile Marwar state.