The Rajput Maharajas of India were known to place their honour and courage in the forefront and loyalty to their country and subjects at the peak. Many Rajput rulers, as well as Maratha kings undertook many battles as well as constructive projects to safeguard the dignity and survival of their people. One such distinctive example is the construction of Umaid Bhavan Palace under the orders of Maharaja Umaid Singh to provide employment of survival to his people. Built between 1929 AD to 1943 AD, the purpose of this lavish and unnecessary palace by spending millions of rupees was to just provide employment to the famine and draught stricken people. Though rebuked for draining such a tremendous amount, Maharaja Umaid Singh was successful in his purpose.
A curse by a saint links the history of building the Umaid Bhawan Palace, who had said that a period of drought will follow the good rule of the Rathore Dynasty. Thus, after the end of about 50-year glorious reign of Pratap Singh, Jodhpur faced a extreme drought and famine conditions in the 1920s for a period of three consecutive years. It was during this time that the farmers of the area sought the help of the then king Umaid Singh, who was the 37th Rathore ruler of Marwar at Jodhpur, to provide them with some employment so that they could survive the famine conditions. And thus the Umaid Bhavan was a result of a social cause by the king.
Spread across 26 acres of lush gardens, the palace which was built as a larger residence for the then ruling family, whose numbers had outstripped the Mehrangarh Fort, is living testimony to India’s royal ethos. Designed by well known Edwardian architect, Henry Vaughan Lanchester, the palace showcases a blend of western and eastern design, the stately, golden sandstone monument featuring a 32m-high cupola inspired by the European Renaissance and Art Deco influences, while rows of columns and towers are reminiscent of the Rajput heritage. It took more than 3000 workers 15 years to complete, at a cost of around 11 million rupees. The building is mortarless, and incorporates 100 wagon loads of Makrana marble and Burmese teak in the interior. Another special feature of the palace is the use of a special type of sandstone, called Chittar sandstone, giving it a special appearance. Hence the palace was once called Chittar Palace. Umaid Bhavan palace of Jodhpur is a fine example of Indo-Saracenic architecture.
The palace Maharaja Umaid Singh sowed for the benefit of his people, today reaps his successors not just good capital, but also worldwide fame. The palace turned hotel, now run by the Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces group, won itself the top spot in TripAdvisor’s 2016 Travelers’ Choice Awards, receiving glowing reviews from guests who gave it top marks and were effusive with their praise. The opulence is enough to make even the most jaded and affluent guests nod their approval, with its shiny marble flooring, grand staircases, live peacocks, lavish furnishings and lush palace gardens. Umaid Bhawan Palace specializes in the luxury of a bygone era that is rare to find today. And that is the secret of this place. Guests pay so much that their expectations has to be met. Hence, Umaid Bhavan Palace hotel doesn’t just boast of itself, but actually provides the royal treatment, services and attention.
What once could have been stripped of it’s glory had been provided with the cloak of greatness by Maharaja Gaj Singh, now called Bapji lovingly. When Indian government was taking away the rights of owning palaces from the Maharajas, palaces their ancestors had built, Maharaja Gaj Singh took the bold step of converting a part of his palace into a hotel, not just to keep the right but also for it’s maintenance. And today it has worldwide recognition and is one of the best luxury palace hotels in the world.