Umaid Bhavan Palace

Umaid Bhawan Palace, located at Jodhpur in Rajasthan, India, is one of the world's largest private residences. A part of the palace is managed by Taj Hotels. Named after Maharaja Umaid Singh, grandfather of the present owners of the palace, this monument has 347 rooms and serves as the principal residence of the erstwhile Jodhpur royal family.

Umaid Bhawan Palace was called Chittar Palace during its construction due to its location on Chittar Hill, the highest point in Jodhpur. Ground for the foundations of the building was broken on 18 November 1929 by Maharaja Umaid Singh and the construction work was completed in 1943.


Built on the Chittar Hill in southeastern area of the Jodhpur, construction employed more than 5000 men for fifteen years. The building does not use mortar or cement to bind stones together; all of its pieces are carved stones joined together by a system of carved, interlocking positive and negative pieces. A specially constructed train line was used to transport these large blocks of stone. Umaid Bhavan is designed in such a manner that it always maintains the temperature at approximately 23 degrees Celsius.

The palace grounds cover 26 acres (10.5 ha), out of which the constructed area covers 3.5 acres (1.4 ha) while 15 acres (6.1 ha) are devoted to the lawns.

Designed by renowned Edwardian architect Henry Vaughan Lanchester and Indian architect Budhmal Rai, the palace is a blend of Indian and European architectural influences. The building's prominent central dome, a majestic 105-foot (32 m) high cupola, is influenced by the Renaissance, while the towers draw inspiration from Rajput tradition. The project was to cost the Maharaja Rs 94,51,565. The resident engineer for this project was Hiranand U. Bhatia. The interiors for the palace were designed by Maples of London, however, in 1942 the ship transporting them was sunk by the Germans. As a result, the Maharaja employed the services of a Polish interior designer Stefan Norblin. The lavish interiors with gilt furniture and elegant artwork follow the Art Deco style, complemented by the exotic murals of the self-exiled Polish artist Stefan Norblin. The new Chittar Palace was a fitting tribute to its ancestor, the imposing and majestic Meherangarh Fort, which was built by Rao Jodha and has never been conquered by force of arms.

History of the Palace

The lead project that would usher Jodhpur into the twentieth century was to be the new palace. It had to be large enough, grand enough, breathtaking enough to deserve taking the place of Mehrangarh Fort as the symbol of Jodhpur. In 1924, the Maharaja met with Henry Vaughn Lanchester. He had spent decades travelling the world as architect and town planner, and was no stranger to the traditions of Hindu architecture. While discussing his vision for the palace, Lanchester outlined his strong stand against the Mughal aesthetic, arguing that the States of Rajasthan came under Muslim domination only to a limited extent, and their traditions very rarely made use of Mughal features. Umaid Singh knew he had found his man.

Determined to incorporate the traditions and unique world view of the land in his concept, Lanchester looked to the Hindu mountain temples for his inspiration behind Umaid Bhawan Palace. While his palace may have been inspired by tradition, it was, at the insistence of the forward-thinking monarch, built on the cutting edge of progress.

The eclectic blend of art deco and millennia-old Hindu architectural traditions is still a powerful symbol of the Rathore clan's identity. While Mehrangarh was, in the words of Kipling, “the work of Angels, Fairies and Giants”, Umaid Bhawan is, in the words of an anonymous poet, “a majestic, handsome warrior, his arms spread wide for a loving embrace.”

Present status

The present owner of the Palace is Gaj Singh. The Palace is divided into three functional parts - a luxury Taj Palace Hotel (in existence since 1972), the residence of the erstwhile royal family, and a Museum focusing on the 20th century history of the Jodhpur Royal Family. The opening hours of this museum are 9 am to 5 pm.

Building Activity

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