The collection represents an unbroken tradition of stone carving from the 7th to 20th century including fine specimens from the Gurjara-Pratihara period; predominantly of serpentine and marble with limited examples of limestone and sandstone. All of the 308 sculptures in the collection were once part of thriving temples in and around Shree Eklingnath ji Temple, Kailashpuri. Hinduism and Jainism being two faiths flourishing in Rajasthan and surrounding regions, the collection is composed of Brahmanical and Jain icons or sculptural motifs. It includes Gods, Goddesses, Surasundaris, animal motifs, architectural elements, narrative and decorative panels, and memorial stones. There are no Buddhist images in the collection. Each of the items provides an insight into the religious beliefs, faith and cultural traditions of the regions concerned. They made their way into the Museum over several preceding decades; in order to ensure the safekeeping of the sacred heritage from disuse, disarray and disrespect, village folk from adjoining villages brought these sculptures with them to The City Palace, Udaipur. 105 of these are on display in the Som Niwas Gallery.
The City Palace Museum, Udaipur, boasts of 28,000 + objects in the photographic Archive; also including old cameras, its equipment, glass plate negatives, etc. The photographs vary in size and technique; cartes-de-visite, card photographs, photomontages, painted photographs with the techniques including albumen prints, silver gelatin prints, platinum prints, and others, making for a vast repository of photographic material dating from the mid 19th to the early 20th centuries, capturing and featuring not just the Maharanas and their courts or royalties from other regions but also the local elements; persons involved in the nitty-gritty of the Palace, as also visitors. The oldest photograph in the collection dates to 1860 CE, from the period of Maharana Swarup Singh (r. 1842-1861 CE).
There are around 1800 paintings in the collection, the oldest of which dates to the late 1500’s. The paintings belong to the Mewar School and makes use of rich, vibrant colors. Gold and silver was also used to highlight important elements in the painting. Gouache on Vasli, water colour paintings and oil paintings are the types of paintings in the collection, existing in varied sizes.
Several aspects of the life in Mewar and the involvement of the local folk are captured in this medium of paint. The Maharanas at times commissioned portraits of themselves. They also patronized works which illustrated royal processions, celebrations and rituals, visit to religious places or shrines, extravagant hunting scenes, animal fights and wrestling scenes. They serve as excellent visual narratives of the past.
Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation has initiated the work of digitization of 788 old maps from its MMRI Archive. The maps are ranging from the 18th Century and 19th Century depicting Mewar, the topographic survey of state of Rajasthan (Rajputana) and Central India, household maps, Udaipur and nearby areas, Palace maps, Railways in India etc. These Maps were digitized by the Photographic Studio of Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation with Camera LINHOF KARDAN re – 4x5” and RENCAY archive Scanback —312 Mpixels (1,248 Mpixels with plus option), The universal model for fine art reproductions, newspapers, maps, plans, books etc. The digitization of Maps was part of preserving and conserving the heritage of Mewar and to showcased the present and future generation to understand the importance of past culture and how its evolution has incorporated and formed present day society.
The textiles in the collection range from garments worn by members of The Mewar family; including the Angrakha and Choga, the traditional outfits for men, Ghagra and Choli, intricately woven shawls and delicately embroidered sarees for women, apparel and caps of the royal children to rich embroidered carpets, door hangings, silk covers for chairs and much more.
Sixteen regal modes of transport used by the Mewar family are housed in the Museum and are on display at the Raj Niwas Gallery. Broadly, they are of two types; for the royal ladies and for the Maharanas. For the former, the hand-borne Mahajaans were used in which their privacy was ensured by way of provision of beautifully embroidered curtains and shutter doors. For the latter, carry chairs including Tam-Jaams and Takhat, and elephant borne, open litters such as Pharkies, used during the hunts and the Howdah, for grand ceremonial processions, were employed. Primarily of wood, they are embellished with polychrome designs, ivory work, glass inlay and mirror work.
The armoury collection comprises of a vast range of Swords, Daggers, old Guns, Rifles, Pistols, Revolvers, Ammunition etc. as also the Flags of the Erstwhile Mewar state and the Mewar State Forces.
Silver has been very popularly used in India, for multiple purposes. The City Palace Museum, Udaipur has a vast collection of silver items, previously under the custodianship of several generations of the Mewar family. Much of these are on display in the Silver Gallery; the first of its kind in all of Asia, some of the items being hitherto rarely glimpsed by even residents of the Palace or visitors to Udaipur, but is now open to the public.
Silver being a very precious metal, was used in items of ritual. They highlight for example the Mewar family's close affiliation with Shree Eklingnath ji and the temple in Kailashpuri. Being a Living Heritage, some of the items find their way out of the gallery during certain parts of the year for the purpose of ritual. The Ram Rewari, a portable shrine, is an example which transcends from a Museum object into a sacred one for the Jal-Zoolni Ekadashi festival.
‘Regal seating’ in the collection includes a jewel encrusted, lion motif throne, a Howdah to be mounted atop elephants, and a Tam-Jaam or a carry chair. The star amongst these is the buggy or horse-carriage from Bikaner, used during the wedding of Maharaj Kumar Bhagwat Singh with Princess Sushila Kumari of Bikaner in 1940.
Be it luxury or leisure, silver was carefully crafted to uttermost perfection; Huqqas, pen and ink stands, toys and even dressing cases. The Museum also houses an exquisite collection of horse and elephant jewellery, and trappings that were used in grand ceremonial processions.