Udaipur was founded by Mewar ruler Maharana Udai Singh II in 1559 and many of the city's museums are dedicated to showcasing the region's regal heritage. There are also several interesting museums in Udaipur focused on local culture and handicrafts like a vintage car museum and a living museum showcasing the lives of tribespeople in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Goa. Read on for the city's top museums.
City Palace Museum
The City Palace Museum is Udaipur's number one attraction, and rightly so. It provides a remarkable opportunity to learn about the lifestyle of the Mewar royal family and see inside their palace. The family still lives in a small part of the palace but much of the palace has been converted into this museum with priceless personal photos, artwork, and galleries—such as the world's first silver gallery and a gallery of royal musical instruments.
Many of the museum's rooms and courtyards are features in themselves. Highlights include the exquisite mosaics in Mor Chowk (Peacock Courtyard), colorful tiles and wall murals in Badi Chitrashali Chowk, shimmering glass and mirror inlay work lining Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace) and the dome of Kanch ki Burj, and the widely-photographed blue room of the Zenana Mahal (Queen's Palace).
Take a look inside the museum and plan your visit with our comprehensive City Palace Museum guide.
Another part of the Udaipur City Palace Complex houses the royal family's crystal collection. It sits above the Durbal Hall (which was used for audiences with the king) and is said to be the largest private collection of crystal in the world. Undoubtedly, it's the most exclusive. Maharana Sajjan Singh ordered the collection from an English-based maker in 1877, and it was customized accordingly with the Crest of Mewar etched on each piece. Sadly, the king never got to see any of it because he died before the collection was delivered. As is to be expected, there are many incredible items including a showstopping crystal bed. Separate tickets are required to enter the Crystal Gallery and Durbar Hall.
Vintage and Classic Car Museum
Rolls-Royce motor cars were preferred by Indian royalty from 1907 to 1947, and the recent Maharanas of Mewar have amassed an enviable collection of vintage and classic cars. About 20 are on display at this museum, housed in the former royal garage downhill from the City Palace Complex. The oldest is a Rolls-Royce 20 HP dating back to 1924. The most famous—a black 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II—appears in the James Bond movie "Octopussy." There's also a pair of massive 1938 Cadillacs still used by the royal family on special occasions. However, it's the bright red 1946 MG-TC convertible that really stands out! All the cars have been immaculately restored and are in working order. Even the original Shell petrol pump at the garage is functional.
Bagore ki Haveli
Bagore ki Haveli is a sprawling 18th-century mansion that sits alongside Lake Pichola at Gangaur Ghat. It was occupied at different times by Nath Singh of Bagore, son of Maharana Sangram Singh II, and Mewar's great Prime Minister Amarchand Badwa. After accommodating staff of the Indian government post-Independence from the British, the mansion was finally restored in the late 1980s and opened as a museum and cultural center. The exhibits are spread across two floors and focus on preserving vanishing arts and crafts of the Mewar region and its surrounding states. There are puppets, royal paintings, costumes of kings, kitchen implements, and a turban collection with what's touted as the world's biggest turban. With more than 100 rooms, courtyards, and terraces adorned with frescoes and fine mirror work, the mansion is an atmospheric building to wander through on its own.
The evening puppet show and Dharohar folk dance performance, held straight after closing, is very popular. It takes place from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Neem Courtyard. Separate tickets costing 90 rupees for Indians and 150 rupees for foreigners are required. There's an additional 150 rupee camera fee. Ideally, arrive by 6.15 p.m. to get your tickets for the show, or buy them online. Otherwise, be prepared to join the crowd and wait.
Bharatiya Lok Kala Museum
Head to the modest but informative Bharatiya Lok Kala Museum to delve deeper into the culture and traditions of Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh. This remarkable private museum was founded by late music and dance teacher Devi Lal Samar in 1952 to promote folk and local art forms. He aimed to provide performers with a platform to showcase their talent in order to earn a livelihood and respect. The Indian government presented him with a Padma Shri award in 1968, in recognition of his outstanding work in the field of art and culture. The museum's exhibits include puppets, masks, traditional costumes, tribal jewelry, musical instruments, deities, and paintings. One-hour puppet and dance shows are held at noon and 6 p.m. in a separate theater. Shorter puppet shows also take place at regular intervals throughout the day.
On the outskirts of Udaipur, this complex is a living ethnographic museum that depicts the lifestyles of village folk and tribes from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Goa. It has a collection of 26 traditional huts themed around occupations such as weaving, pottery, embroidery, woodwork, painting, farming, and fishing. Inside are daily-use household items and tools. Another attraction is a crafts market where artisans sell their wares. Rajasthani cultural shows are held throughout the day. Visit during the last week of December to catch the annual Shilpgram Festival.
Ahar Museum and Cenotaphs
If you're interested in history, it's worthwhile stopping by the small but recently renovated Ahar Archeological Museum adjacent to the Ahar cenotaphs (commemorating deceased members of the royal family). It's dedicated to the ancient inhabitants of the region and displays the remains of settlements from the Paleolithic Old Stone Age onward. Another section of the museum has a collection of weapons, paintings, and sculptures from much later periods. Highlights include rare copper and earthen pottery items that are more than 3,300 years old, a 10th century metal Buddha statue, and sculptures from Hindu and Jain religions dating to 8th to 16th centuries.
Kids will enjoy visiting Udaipur's wax museum, which was inspired by Madame Tussauds in London. It has wax statues of famous people from both India and across the world like Mahatma Gandhi and former President Barack Obama. Plus, a Mirror Maze, Horror House, and 9D Cinema.
Maharana Pratap Museum
Just over an hour north of Udaipur, Maharana Pratap Museum can be visited along with Kumbhalgarh on a day trip from Udaipur for more of the region's royal history. There you'll find out about the 13th king of Mewar and the dynasty's most celebrated warrior, Maharana Pratap, who ruled in the 16th century. He's best known for the Battle of Haldighati, in which he fought courageously and strategically, with his horse Chetak, against invading members of Mughal emperor Akbar's army. The museum features a short but evocative movie about Maharana Pratap, a sound and light show, weapons, and other objects associated with Rajasthan's bygone era.