Karauli City Palace – Oldest City Palace in Rajasthan

Seven centuries ago, in 1348, a brave warrior king came to the forested, verdant valley through which the Bhadrawati flows. He was part of a lineage that had ruled for centuries over this region but had been exiled two hundred years ago after losing the ancient fort of Timangarh. However, this brave scion of an illustrious lineage tracing descent from Lord Krishna had returned, with a small army, determined to win back his ancestral kingdom and had already conquered forts in the region.

While hunting, he came to the river Bhadrawati where he beheld a tiger and a lamb drinking water from the river, side-by-side without bloodlust on the tiger’s part or fear on the lamb’s. Later on the same expedition, he also saw a cow defend its calf so valiantly against a hungry tiger that the tiger itself beat a hasty retreat. With these auspicious omens, symbolizing both tolerance and courage, he laid the foundations of the oldest city palace in Rajasthan, one of the famous Rajasthan ancient palaces and forts, the Karauli city palace in 1348 AD.

Successive rulers each added their wings and own architectural flourishes and exquisite miniature, making this ancient palace in Rajasthan such a fascinating historical record of aesthetics ranging from the early Medieval to Mughal and British architecture. It is truly Among the Top 10 Beautiful Places to Visit in Rajasthan and Top Most Beautiful Palaces in Rajasthan, thanks to the unprecedented extent of Rajasthani miniature paintings and murals covering almost every inch of this unique ancient palace in Rajasthan.

Chief among tourist attractions in Rajasthan, a visit to the state or a tour of the Golden triangle is incomplete without a visit to the Karauli City Palace. Today, the palace is a unique museum and is a must-visit for understanding the history of Rajasthan and medieval Indian history. The palace stands tall amidst an imposing citadel, surrounded by impenetrable fort walls built by Maharaja Gopal Singh ji of Karauli in the 1700s. As you enter the citadel, you walk through the old city, along quaint shops selling lacquer work bangles and handicrafts and beautifully carved temple facades, making this area the top tourist attraction in Karauli. Further in, you see vast stone cages, cages that once served as homes for the pet tigers of the Maharajas of Karauli, a truly unique feature amongst Rajasthan’s ancient forts and palaces. Then, walking through the nagara dwar, that once held huge ceremonial drums, you are faced with the vastness of this ancient palace of Rajasthan, which is even older than the Jaipur city palace and the Udaipur city palace, with the looming grandeur of the carved stone gates and Medieval cannons that lead to the famed Madan Mohan ji temple on one side, and one the other side the exquisitely painted gates of the Tripoliya dwar that is completely covered in exquisitely rendered miniatures of Radha-Krishna, a nod to the ruler’s descent from the great-grandson of Lord Krishna. A lineage and a history that places this palace among the Top 10 places to visit in Rajasthan.

As you walk through the exquisitely painted gates of the Tripoliya Dwar, you step into the immense courtyard that served as the Diwan-e-aam or the public court where the Karauli State subjects brought their issues administrative and legal issues to be adjudicated by the Maharaja. The courtyard faces the Diwan e Khaas where the nobles and Maharaja were seated and is painted. An elaborate frieze of tromp e loil windows, detailed with shutters and railings dating from about the 18th century, is a special feature that makes this palace unique amongst Rajasthan’s beautiful ancient palaces and forts, even among later palaces like the Jaipur city palace and the Udaipur City Palace.

The rooms jutting out just above on the right features an intricately carved jaali or lattice, which served to caste kaleidoscopic patterns on the upper floors when the light filtered through. The lower portion of the left wall prominently features a painting of Lord Ganesha, with his consorts Riddhi and Siddhi, who represent prosperity and spiritual enlightenment, respectively. Lord Ganesha is a highly promising choice for this particular area as he blesses beginnings and removes obstacles from the path of good work.

The upper portion depicts an officer probably from the East India Company doffing his hat before the seated Maharaja. The painting above uses a common motif in Indian art, that of the dwarpals or gatekeepers, but in a hybrid Indo-European Style known as the company school of art. The dwarpals are clad in British style uniforms. The Company School of art blended Rajput and Mughal art with Western motifs instead of the earlier gulkari and miniature paintings that adorn the rest of this ancient palace in Rajasthan. The layering of the later Company style over the early Medieval stone fortress and the late Medieval/Mughal era parish is truly unique, making this palace at the pinnacle of Top ten beautiful places to visit Rajasthan. In the center, is a square pool, with a carved decorative pavilion jutting just above it. This played a large role during Holi celebrations where the Maharaja could interact with the people in a more informal and personal setting. The beauty of this space is one of the many reasons why the Karauli city palace is one of India’s most beautiful ancient palaces.

From here, one enters the Darbar Hall, which has often been described as one of the most spectacular courts of any ancient palace in India. Its vast expanse is covered in fine gulkari or floral motifs on aaraish. Enormous gilded mirrors surround the durbar, with painted doors that hid the mirrors when the durbar was not in session. The Darbar Hall is one of the most photographed spots in Rajasthan’s royal palaces and regularly features as one of India’s most-visit beautiful places.

On either side of the upper levels of the durbar, carved lattices are the only indication of the zenana balconies, where the ladies of the royal family could watch court proceedings without being seen. However, when one climbs the staircase into those little rooms themselves, one is faced with one of the unique paintings seen anywhere; the entire floor is carpeted with painted aaraish. These painted jewel-boxes certainly made a befitting background for equally bejeweled wives of the Maharaja and their attendants as they gossiped over court scandals among themselves or eschewed the drier affairs of state for playing chaupad or Parcheesi on the exquisite little board painted onto the floor. A startlingly beautiful glimpse into the royal lifestyle and Rajput architecture.

The oldest paintings of flowers and vases are very interesting in that they depict exquisitely fine outlines of different forts and palaces of Karauli within the vases. In addition, the hereditary artists or chapters often claimed to have visions and visitations from the gods in their dreams in which the gods displayed the divine images that they wished to be shown to the world through these paintings. A descendant of these chateras continues to work at the palace, though he now participates in the restoration process.

The later paintings, dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, display the influence of the Company school of art with larger murals depicting soldiers in the uniform of the British-Indian army, carrying muskets, and a unique mural of a railway train. The sheer extent and variety of paintings at the Karauli city palace make it one of the most beautiful places in India and one of the prime examples of Rajput art and architecture.

One of the most remarkable features of the palace is the underground sauna or bathhouse. An intricately painted corridor, with a frieze of grapevines covering the ceiling, leads one to an underground room with a two-level bath. Hot water was pumped by a complex mechanism into the lower level of the bath and rose to heat the larger pool. An underground sauna is one of the most inimitable highlights of the Karauli city palace, placing it high up in the topmost beautiful places in India.

Also, part of the Karauli city palace complex is an area dedicated to the favorite sport of the rulers of Karauli, wrestling. The royal akhada or wrestling arena was not only where the royals themselves indulged in wrestling; it was also a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman. The paintings here feature pahalwans displaying varying aspects of wrestling and a portrait of Maharaja Gopal Singh ji. The painted akhada is a highlight for anyone exploring the most beautiful places in Rajasthan and wanting to know more about traditional Rajput architecture.

Today the palace is subject to careful cleaning and restoration of the priceless miniatures covering its vast expanse. The restoration process is highly acclaimed for its rigorous focus on authenticity, preservation, and conservation of the original paintings instead of wholesale repainting to ensure that the centuries-old miniatures that make this palace an art-lovers dream. The restoration process is part of the museum experience for visitors looking for an experiential look at traditional artwork and how it was created and preserved over centuries. The restoration process is one of the very few in India that is open to visitors to explore and has made the Karauli city palace one of India’s top 10 palace museums.

Even as you walk within through the looming, vividly hued halls, and bewildering maze of staircases and narrow corridors of the Karauli City palace, you get a sense of what it was in its heyday, in the not very distant past when retainers, on various shifts went about their duties, and thousands of tinted glass chandeliers gleamed and shimmered against the smooth gloss of the painted aaraish-, of one of the most incredible examples of Rajput architecture in Rajasthan.

Udaipur Palace Wedding – All You Need To Know

When your romance is the stuff of legend, and your match is made in heaven, your wedding must take place in the closest thing to paradise—Bhanwar Vilas Palace, Karauli!  The modern-day bride and groom are prince and princess of their own slice of heaven and what better way to celebrate their union than a royal destination wedding at a palace in Rajasthan. Udaipur palace weddings and Udaipur wedding venues are becoming all the rage as Rajasthan’s magnificent forts and palaces become the royal wedding destination of choice for everyone from movie A-listers to the glitterati. We present one of Rajasthan’s most exciting royal palace wedding venues, a hidden gem tucked away amidst the greenery, the perfect palace resort for your nuptials.

Picture this—the wedding party entering from both sides of our sweeping driveway to greet the bride awaiting at the steps of our charming Colonial palace, massive gardens and gazebos all over our 50-acre grounds to ensure that you can actually conduct each of the many events of your dream royal wedding in a different, incredibly charming spot. Pick one of our verdant gardens for your mehendi, our gracious royal dining hall for an elegant sit-down dinner, one of our many courtyards for your sangeet or dance and one of our sprawling terraces for your sundowner or cocktail party! All of this at a highly competitive price point compared to the Udaipur palace wedding cost or the Udaipur royal wedding venue cost!

If you like the effect of the city palace in Udaipur, a royal wedding at Bhanwar Vilas Palace in Karauli offers both the grandeur of a royal palace wedding and the cozy intimacy of a quiet, family wedding! Your guests can be comfortably accommodated in our fifty rooms, ensuring that one of life’s most special days is celebrated as it should be, surrounding by family, friends and the people you love at a stunning palace wedding destination in Rajasthan!

One of the best parts of a wedding is stunning photographs to serve as special souvenirs that you can treasure for the rest of your life, and great photography needs a great royal wedding venue! Bhanwar Vilas Palace offers not fabulous spots both for your grand formal portraits (care to pose on a majestic silver chair like a true queen of hearts?) and tons of Instagram-friendly spots for your guests to livestream their presence at the royal wedding of your dreams!

Would you like a fairytale shoot with one of the Palomino Marwari horses from our stables as part of your repertoire of wedding memories? Or would you prefer a dash of retro glamour in one of our vintage cars for that perfect  black and white shot! Your poolside cocktail photos will look even more spectacular with our enormous and very unique 1930s swimming pool as the backdrop!

At Bhanwar Vilas Palace’s royal wedding destination you’ll be recording memories for eternity far beyond anything at an Udaipur palace wedding or Udaipur wedding resort destination!

For couples who want their nuptials to be solemnized in the backdrop of  traditional Rajput architecture, amidst the glory of beautiful jaalis, towering fort walls and fine paintings, Bhanwar Vilas Palace’s associate concern, the Karauli City Palace is merely ten minutes away! For people who want to incorporate the feel of a completely different destination in one wedding package, we offer the option to conduct some events at the stunning 14th century City Palace! Your palace pre-wedding shoot can be rendered even more dramatic with the towering gates of the palace in the background and religious ceremonies and musical events will have an added depth of solemnity conducted amidst the beautiful traditional miniature paintings and detailed stone carvings of the City palace! The incomparable experience of a glorious palace resort wedding or a wedding destination in Udaipur, at a very accessible location. Karauli offers one of the finest palace destination wedding facilities at just three hours from Agra and three hours from Jaipur, along the famed Golden Triangle. Your guests can actually incorporate a tour of the world’s most famous monument to everlasting love—the Taj Mahal and continue to Karauli to celebrate YOUR journey of love at the Bhanwar Vilas Palace!

Décor, of course is what makes every royal wedding destination really come to life! At Bhanwar Vilas Palace the existing royal aesthetic will be enhanced for your special day! Our team will work closely with your planners to create the most magnificent setting to get married in, where each flower and each glimmering candle is a testimony to your love. For couples who enjoy the elegance of traditional Indian décor, and the sleek simplicity of an intimate quiet wedding, our team can consult with you for in-house décor options as well. This is a wonderful option for visitors from other countries looking to celebrate their special day with the beauty of traditional Indian rituals. Our in-house team can put together a delightful, intimate and quiet ceremony as per the rituals of your choice, in this wedding destination in Rajasthan! A wedding is definitely the most unique souvenir of a trip to India, especially one held in a stunning palace destination! Incorporate the exhilaration and extravagance of a glorious palace resort wedding or a wedding destination in Udaipur, at an accessible price point.

Traditional Rajasthani delicacies are a widely-beloved culinary choice and ideal for a royal palace wedding. Our kitchen can cater traditional meals for upto a hundred people. We also provide kitchen space and support for outside caterers so you can add an even more elaborate gastronomic flourish to your palace wedding!

With the global situation of the past few years necessitating a wedding venue that is away from crowded cities and in regions with low population density, the secluded charm of our palace destination is ideal for safety and hygiene to ensure a seamless, safe and healthy wedding experience. Our rooms and  public spaces are huge, and well-ventilated and the sheer size and space of our grounds ensure that there is adequate social distancing at all times. After all if you’re commencing your married life with a grand palace wedding it should begin with a joyful ceremony in a  royal wedding venue that guarantees the health and safety of you and your loved ones!

Best Heritage Hotel In Rajasthan For A Great Family Vacation

The ancient city of Karauli, set amidst an area with a history dating back to the Mahabharata, today is one of the most special destinations in Rajasthan, with two of the most extraordinary palaces in India. Bhanwar Vilas Palace Hotel offers a vivid glimpse into the lifestyle of the Maharajas. It is the perfect and (very Insta-friendly!) retreat for the discerning traveller who likes their luxury served with a side of historical authenticity. Merely 10 minutes away, standing proud amidst the walled city, is The Karauli City Palace, the oldest of Rajasthan’s city palaces dating from 1348, is today not just one of the most magnificent palace-forts in Rajasthan, it hosts a unique museum experience.

Where you stay -

The heritage destination of Karauli stands out for being home to some of the most unique historical and cultural experiences, with one of the best heritage hotels in Rajasthan, Bhanwar Vilas Palace and the oldest city palace in Rajasthan -the Karauli City Palace located there. Moreover, for family vacations and photography, Karauli is one of the best destinations in Rajasthan’s Golden Triangle, between Agra and Jaipur.

A Colonial palace dating from 1938, Bhanwar Vilas Palace seeks to turn a heritage-hotel experience into an immersive rendezvous through history and culture with the charm of an intimate, personalized welcome.

Your hosts are the royal family of Karauli, headed by Maharaja Krishna Chandra Pal. He is the 181st of a distinguished lineage that traces descent from Lord Krishna and is the chief of the Yaduvanshi Rajputs.

Bhanwar Vilas is especially unique among Rajasthan palace hotels and heritage hotels for its emphasis on originality and authenticity—īn preserving the exquisite architecture, design and above all the lifestyle of the Golden Age of the Maharajas and bringing that essence of hospitality and luxury to the discerning 21st-century traveller who values unique royal stays with a twist.

The antique furniture—a thrillingly eclectic mix of Mughal era artefacts, Colonial furniture, Art Nouveau and Deco lamps and intricate tapestries truly make each step a step back in time to an era that valued intricacy, quality and whimsicality in its aesthetic. This authentic heritage hotel in Karauli offers a superb royal stay that encapsulates the finest experience of heritage palace hotels in Rajasthan.

Our spacious 45-acre grounds are filled with surprises and discoveries at every step. The fields, organic vegetable gardens, and organic dairy supply the hotel kitchen and epitomize the farm-to-table experience. The vintage cars and 19th-century palanquins are a must-see in this charming hotel in Karauli!

Stroll through the verdant gardens amidst the flutter of peacocks and the chirping of various birds rarely seen in urban areas, or sunbathe after a dip in the massive Art Deco pool—one of the unique features of the Bhanwar Vilas palace hotel. Built-in the 1930s and hidden away in a walled garden for privacy, it is a unique feature, something rarely seen in Rajasthan’s palace hotels.

Explore the grounds of this Rajasthan heritage hotel on one of their superbly-trained Marwari horses!

Relax with a calming massage after a day of exploring or walk into our handicraft shop and emerge dressed in traditional Rajasthani attire for an alfresco meal with the stars above. Bhanwar Vilas Palace Hotel also organizes culinary classes if you want to cook some traditional dishes when you’re home and want to feel like you’re back in a heritage hotel in Rajasthan, soaking in the very quintessence of a royal stay.

Your destination -

The annals of India’s glorious history tell us of the year 1348 when Raja Arjun Deo ji, the head of the Yaduvanshi Rajputs was crossed the hills around the Chambal while hunting and came to the spot that came be called Karauli, a green valley cradled by hills and ravines, with the Bhadrawati river meandering through it. He saw a sheep and a tiger drinking water on the river Bhadrawati. Struck by this auspicious sight signifying peace and tolerance, he decided to build his capital on this spot. He built the original stone fortress of the Karauli City Palace at that very point in 1348. Karauli was to go on to be a powerful martial kingdom at this border of Brajbhoomi and Rajputana and was a Princely State. Its glorious past, evidenced by the exquisite architecture and rolling hills, makes it the finest destination for the best heritage hotel in Rajasthan.

Seven centuries later, Karauli city palace, locally known as Rawal, stands in the middle of the ancient citadel with its winding lanes and handicraft shops. The Palace, as the oldest city palace in Rajasthan, strikes the eye immediately as you walk through each of its massive stone gates. A veritable behemoth of architectural majesty, the exquisite and detailed finesse of the miniature paintings belonging to the Karauli school of art, and the detailed stone lattices make the Karauli City Palace the highlight of any royal stay in Rajasthan.

The careful and thorough restoration and conservation work, with an emphasis on preserving the authenticity of the Palace, is also wonderful to see, as you observe a team of professional restorers clean centuries of oxidation to reveal the paintings intact underneath.

The Madan Mohan ji temple on the palace premises is a must-visit with its beautiful evening aarti, reverberating with melodious bhajans and incandescent with diyas and the devotion of pilgrims.

The City palace is one of the best destinations for palace fashion shoots, wedding and pre-wedding shoots in Rajasthan. This unique symmetry of Instagram-friendly locations, culture and the luxury of a palatial resort retreat make Bhanwar Vilas Palace one of the best and most sought after heritage palace hotels in Rajasthan.

What else to do -

The destinations around the palace hotel at Karauli are unparalleled in variety. The Karauli City Palace and the forts of Bhadarpur, Devgir and Utgir that date from the 11th century are a must-visit for connoisseurs of history and medieval art. The Kailadevi Temple, 21 km away is thronged by millions of devotees annually. It is alive with colour and devotion especially during the Chaitra fair around March. It is one of the most-popular religious and pilgrimage locations in Rajasthan. The Kailadevi Sanctuary with its impressive terrain is a haven for those who truly find peace within the cradle of nature. At only twenty minutes from this hotel in Karauli is the beautiful Maamchari Lake, perfect for picnics and watching migratory birds! Your royal stay in Rajasthan also offers you the feel of a wildlife resort! Bhanwar Vilas Palace offers a truly complete package for anyone wanting to experience something beyond a royal stay in a Rajasthan palace hotel.

When to visit

This Rajasthan palace hotel in Karauli welcomes guests year-round for royal stays, destination weddings, photoshoots and religious pilgrimages at the Kailadevi temple! The weather is especially lovely between September and April!

Why it’s a great weekend trip

This heritage palace hotel in Rajasthan is situated right along the Golden Triangle, three hours from Agra and Jaipur.

At five and a half-hour drive from Delhi you, get to experience both the royal hospitality of one of the best heritage hotels in Rajasthan and the distinctive culture of Brajbhoomi. Visit Bhanwar Vilas Palace for the ultimate heritage vacation experience in Rajasthan.

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      Bhanwar Vilas Palace Karauli, 322241 Rajasthan



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