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Udaipur’s City Palace Museum sees visitor numbers hit million for first time

May 10, 2017 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

The City Palace museum in Udaipur, India is reporting that 2016 saw a million visitors pass through its 450-year-old gates for the first time,with Britons forming one of the largest groups of overseas visitors.

The spectacular 200,000 sq ft museum is rated as one of the world’s most significant heritage sites and is one of the finest examples of the living heritage of India. Sitting on the banks of Lake Pichola, the museum houses exceptional collections of paintings, photography, silver, armoury, textiles, besides vintage cars and crystal. 

The City Palace Museum, which is still owned and curated by the former royal family of Mewar, said visitor numbers had also doubled in the last ten years with consistently high numbers of heritage tourists from the UK as well as Europe, Australia and North America. Domestic tourists made up the largest number of visitors.

Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur is the 76th Custodian of the House of Mewar and the Chairman and Managing Trustee of Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation (MMCF) and has managed the Museum since 1969. He said the growth in popularity is the result of a careful campaign of curation of the priceless 1400-year heritage of the former Princely State of Mewar.

“Visitors are coming for an authentic heritage experience, that is the key to understanding our present success and future plans,” he said.  “My family has for centuries seen it as our moral responsibility to serve the people of Udaipur and preserve their heritage and create sustainable income for our city. It has not been easy.”

“We recognised after Independence in 1947 we would have to find new ways to support our city and heritage tourism was the route chosen by my father, High late Highness Maharana Bhagwat Singh. Udaipur is now one of the prime tourism cities in India and the magnet for visitors remains the City Palace Museum as these new figures show.

Shriji said the challenge is to keep improving the museum to global standards while staying true to his family’s ancient values of selfless service to the people of Mewar and Rajasthan.

“We are custodians of our heritage, the living heritage of Mewar,” he said.  “We have always put the interests of the people before ourselves. It is the reason why we are attracting huge number of visitors. We have continuously reinvested our resources into revitalizing the museum.”

The City Palace Museum is collaborating with some of the leading global and Indian heritage agencies to maintain and improve itself including The Getty Foundation, USA, Oxford University’s eResearch centre the Domaine national de Chambord, the Ministry of Culture of the Government of India and UNESCO’s India Office. Investment in information technology, the services of professional consultants and heritage management experts have also given the museum its distinctive growth trajectory.

MMCF CEO Vrinda Raje Singh said the big push in 2017 will be to raise awareness of the City Palace Museum with cultural tourists in Europe and America.

Udaipur, also known as the “Venice of the East” and was voted the world’s best city for travellers in 2009 in an online poll by Travel + Leisure magazine.

The City Palace has hosted the World Living Heritage Festival thrice since 2012. Instituted by MMCF and jointly organized with UNESCO India Office, the Festival explores the concept of ‘living heritage’ to support the development of heritage-cities like Udaipur covering the natural environment, historical spaces, traditional skills and knowledge of its people.

Galleries within the City Palace include:

  • Bhagwat Prakash Gallery: Mewar Miniature Painting Exhibition – The museum holds a unique collection of more than 200 Mewar court paintings that depict the art, architecture and culture of Mewar from 18th century to the early 20th century. 
  • Fateh Niwas Gallery: Long Exposure – The Camera at Udaipur 1857–1957 – The museum’s photographic gallery has a collection of 30,000 photographs and glass negatives dating from late 19th to the early 20th century. 
  • Amar Mahal Gallery: Splendour of Silver – Reflecting the Finest of Silversmithy, home to a fascinating collection of silverware.

Holi painting Mewar

The gallery contains everything from utilitarian silver pots used to store and cook food, through to religious vessels, incense holders and items of jewellery. The gallery includes a 1939 custom-made silver buggy manufactured in Birmingham, UK part of the current monarch’s late mother Rani Shilakumariji’s dowry. 

  • Saraswati Vilas Gallery: Symphony of Mewar – A Royal Collection of Musical Instruments – A collection of musical instruments are on public display within the museum. All belonged to members of the Mewar Family and some are more than 100 years old. 
  • Som Niwas Gallery: Divine Gesture – The Magnificence of Mewar Spirituality – The City Palace Museum’s sculpture gallery is home to some of the oldest pieces within the entire collection. There are more than 300 sculptures in total, some of which date back to the 6th century. 
  • Salehkhana Gallery: Arms and Armoury Exhibition – The museum’s armoury is home to a fascinating collection of weapons and armour. Ammunition, pistols and rifles.

shriji-arvind-singh-mewar

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