A palace that welcomes monsoon to Lake City
Those who have been to Udaipur and would have gone out in the evening for a stroll along any of its lakes, they would have certainly noticed an illuminated castle looking like almost hanging in thin air towards the west of the city. Well, in daylight you can locate it very clearly, unless it is too misty. It’s Sajjan Garh.
In comparison to other historical structures related to Mewar, Sajjan Garh Palace is comparatively recent one, still it is 135 years old. More interestingly, the construction of this palace took place when India had already become a British colony officially. Palace was built by Maharana Sajjan Singh who was at helm for ten years from 1874 to 1884. Hence, it got its name- Sajjan Garh. A king with a vision, he died at very young age.
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Indeed the fort is built on a hill which is probably the tallest in and around Udaipur, but still it was less of a strategic and more of a recreational fort. As we said, the fort is slightly bit away from the walled city and is surrounded by smaller hills covered with dense forest. Although city has now expanded a lot, almost till the foothills of the Sajjan Garh, but still it is relatively dense here. Hence it can be safely assumed, how it would have been more than hundred years ago.
As the word goes, this fort or palace was built specially to watch the monsoon clouds. Surely, with its height, low hanging clouds would have always looked very close here and made a fascinating sight. That certainly was the reason for this fort being known as the Monsoon Palace. Besides, this place also commands panoramic view of Udaipur, its lakes, city and surrounding Aravali hills. It is said that Maharana Sajjan Singh was also fond of astronomy and it was also one of the reasons for him constructing this palace. And, as it was surrounded by dense forest, it would have also been used as the hunting lodge by the royal family.
In 1956, Maharana Bhagwat Singh of Mewar, handed over the charge of this particular palace to the government. For many decades, it remained unaccessible for the people as due to its height and secludedness, it was used as a transmitter base by the government agencies. Later, the area around the Sajjan Garh was converted into Wildlife Sanctuary in 1987 and the control over the area went under the forest department. The forest on the hill was always a haven for beautiful birds as well as host of wildlife including a good number of leopards, wild boars, jackals, hyenas, deer, blue bulls, reptiles and much more. You can still have a chance encounter with some wildlife while going up from the ground entrance of the sanctuary to top at the fort. Sanctuary isn’t very big and entire area is fenced. Few years back a portion of the sanctuary was converted into a zoo and many animals from Udaipur’s historical zoo located inside the Gulab Bagh were shifted to the new residence inside the Sajjan Garh zoo.
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Zoo might not be getting as many visitors as it used to get when it was located inside the city, but Sajjan Garh Palace do gets a steady stream of tourists. As I said this place commands some majestic views of the city. Besides, this place is also popular for its sunset views. Every evening hundreds of people will gather here to watch the sun setting behind the Aravali hills. It’s a view to behold. And, as I told in the start, the Palace is illuminated in the evenings, giving a glow of golden orange.
Albeit very small to be referred as a fort, it still has different portions- Mardana Mahal (men’s quarters), Zanana Mahal (ladies quarters), Diwan-e-aam (court for public audience) and Diwan-e-Khaas (court for private audience). Its many parts are now not open for public. There is a central court with rooms and staircases, which actually showcases the history of this place as well as the wildlife of the region. This place has just got an uplift very recently and forest department has opened up new galleries and exhibits, including pictures, paintings, glow-boards, maps, statues and others.
Rain water harvesting in 19th century
It is also told that construction of this Monsoon Palace was also an excellent example of rain-water harvesting. It says a lot about masonry of those times. Every single drop of water falling in the open areas of the palace was collected firstly on the tanks on every floor. Then, from these tanks, water was taken through drains built alongside the walls of the palace to a huge underground tanks. Thus almost 195,500 litres of water was stored which was then used for all water needs of the Sajjangarh. Such was the quality of that construction that it is still intact without any repairs even after 135 years.
- Sajjangarh is at an altitude of 933 metres and is almost 5 kms from the Old City of Udaipur towards the Badi/Seesarma road.
- The Palace is open from morning 9 am to sunset. Being a wildlife sanctuary area, nobody is allowed to stay here overnight. As soon as the sun sets, you are asked to leave the premises. Its always better to reach here an hour before the sunset, see the palace and surroundings, enjoy the sunset and return to the city.
- There is entry ticket to the sanctuary and the palace. You can take your vehicles inside to the top but there are different tickets for individual entry as well as two wheelers and four wheeler vehicles. Professional movie cameras are also charged with a hefty fees but not your phones, DSLRs or handycams.
- There is a restaurant at the palace where you can enjoy hot and cold beverages and light snacks. You can carry food with you but the sanctuary is a no-plastics zone. Don’t litter as it is a sanctuary area and be sensitive to the environment.
You can watch a time-lapse video of panoramic city view as well as the sunset on my YouTube channel by clicking on the link below-
So, next time you visit the city of lakes, make an evening trip to Sajjan Garh. It’s worth spending some time here.
Have you ever been to Sajjan Garh during the monsoon? How was the experience? Share with us in the comments section below.
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