Udaipur’s City Palace is one of the largest palaces in Rajasthan. The construction of the palace was started by Maharana Uday Singh. All the structures that we see today were built over a period of 400 years and 22 Maharanas have contributed and brought in their different tastes and likes.
There are many narrow passages and staircases inside the palace. As a wheelchair user, I was not able to go to every nook and corner. However, I was able to view the important sections that were/ have been made accessible.
Check out my photoblog below.
We entered the palace campus through the Shambhu Pol (i.e. Gate). This entrance is primarily used by guests staying at the Shiv Nivas or Fateh Prakash Palace hotel. We chose this route because we had plans of having lunch at the poolside restaurant in Shiv Nivas after our tour of the City Palace Museum.
The city palace campus includes the following
1] City Palace Museum, Palki Khana restaurant and Mewar sound & light show
2] Fateh Prakash Palace hotel, Crystal Gallery and Sunset Terrace restaurant
3] Durbar hall and Surya Darshan bar
4] Shiv Nivas Palace, Paantya restaurant and swimming pool.
**This pool-side restaurant is wheelchair accessible.
The inside pathway is broad and made of black tiles. The route was steep so my family and our guide took turns pushing my wheelchair around.
As we made our way towards the city palace museum, we crossed the heritage hotels and also a part of the palace where the current royalty lives. Interestingly, the fountain outside their palace gives an indication if the family is inside or away.
This is the main facade of the palace that is open to visitors. Udaipur’s City Palace is a popular destination among Indian as well as foreign tourists.
This line of shops is right opposite the palace. It used to be a stable for horses and is now converted into a shopping area. You can purchase handicrafts and local memorabilia here. The shops are congested and stocked heavily. There is also one big step in the entrance, making it difficult for a wheelchair to go inside. You can ‘window-shop’ here.
Accessibility at city palace
The Toran Pol (aka Toran gate) i.e. the main entrance of the City Palace and leads to the Mardana Mahal (aka King’s palace) and Zenana Mahal (aka Queen’s palace). The word Toran means a decorative door hanging and it represents the first thing that welcomes guests as they step into the home.
Toran Pol has a ramp on the right-hand side. This ramp leads to an elevator that wheelchair users can use to go to the first floor of Mardana Mahal. This ramp was inaugurated in November 2016.
This is the only lift/ elevator in the city palace. The lift is very old and can accommodate two people only. The elevator opens up to the Mor Chowk on the first floor of Mardana Mahal.
Mor Chowk (aka Peacock Courtyard) is the most beautiful part of the palace that I could visit in my wheelchair. All four walls of this courtyard are designed intricately with glass murals. Designs that have a Peacock are more prominent, hence the name of the courtyard.
There is one small step to enter this courtyard after you come out of the elevator. Thankfully there is a ramp for wheelchair users.
It is said that the Maharanas would entertain guests here. Artists would perform in the center and the King, Queens and the guests would watch over from the viewing galleries on three sides of the courtyard.
There was an information board here which showed a picture of a dilapidated Mor Chowk. It’s regained beauty is all thanks to the work of skilled restoration artists.
The Maharanas surely loved colors. The above picture is of their dining area and when you look closely it will be very difficult to identify a missing color. This place was too vibrant for my taste when it comes to designing a dining area. You can view this after crossing the Mor Chowk using their ramp.
Zenana Mahal (aka Queen’s Palace) is made up of two floors. The 1st floor is under renovation and is being converted into a museum. The ground floor has a courtyard, which can be now hired for weddings. The ground floor also has a museum that displays clothes, armor, photographs, palkis and other items that give a glimpse of the royal lifestyle.
You can easily go around the ground floor in a wheelchair. The museum, however, has one big step which requires the wheelchair to be lifted. There are guards throughout the palace who can help with the lifting.
Food options at city palace
The day was warm and after the tour, all of us desperately needed to sit at some place and cool down. The Palki Khana restaurant is located right opposite Toran Pol so we decided to take a quick bite here and then proceed. Its menu comprises of mostly western café food. They have an air-conditioned sitting area inside but we choose a table outside that gave us a view of the palace.
My wheelchair had to be lifted over four steps at the entrance and their staff obliged. There are accessible restaurants in the palace campus, but for that, you will have to go to the areas which have been converted into a hotel.
Overall, It was good to see that efforts have been taken to make the city palace accessible. Audio guides are also available that give you a description of different places inside the palace. We had a certified guide who had the knowledge about turned out to be a great companion.
P.s. In case you’re wondering about accessible restrooms. They are available and located in left-hand side of the Palki Khana restaurant.