The earliest reference to the Camera in Mewar was found in the work of Col. James Tod, the British Political Agent in Udaipur. In his interactions with the then heir of Mewar, Kanwar Amar Singh, son of Maharana Bheem Singh (r. 1778-1828 CE), the Camera Obscura, a device that Col. James Tod had brought along with him, was explored. Expeditiously the Camera and Photography gained immense popularity across India and within the Mewar family. It subsequently reached out to include not only the nobility but also a large group of diverse local communities. This transient journey of Photography in Mewar, including the evolution in its techniques, can be traced through this display. The exhibition features 60 reproductions of archival photographs from the collection of The City Palace Museum, Udaipur. A separate section is dedicated to painted photographs, a technique that involved hand-painting photographs, and which emerged because of the growing popularity of photography, causing the royal miniature artists to apply their skill to a new task.
Successive generations of the Maharanas of Mewar commissioned and patronized several artists at their courts who went on to produce wonderful works, known across the world as belonging to the Mewar school of paintings with use of rich, vibrant colours, and which are on display at the Bhagwat Prakash Gallery. They capture several aspects of the lives of the Maharanas; the themes include royal processions, celebrations and rituals, visit to religious places or shrines, extravagant hunting scenes, animal fights and wrestling scenes. The oldest painting in the collection dates to 1715-1718 CE
Textiles vary from region to region. Mewar family, has over the years preserved this cultural heritage; passing it down through the ages, with occasional experimentations in design, color, etc. The textiles housed within this gallery are remarkable for their design, use of the finest fabrics and embellishments, and bold workmanship, all of which are quintessential qualities of the arts of Mewar.
Several types of textile works are on display. Garments worn by members of the Mewar family includes 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. The Gallery also showcases rich embroidered carpets, door hangings, silk covers for chairs and much more. One must definitely not miss the 400-year-old palanquin covered with very fine silk cloth, embroidered with gold and silver thread that is also on display.
The royal life called for an even more regal mode of transport; be it for grand ceremonial processions, devotional visits to shrines, meetings with the general public, or the royal hunts. For royal ladies or brides, there were highly ornate palanquins, locally called Mahajaans. These tended to be more closed as compared to those for the Maharanas, to provide them their privacy. The delicately embroidered curtains and at times, shutter-doors, enabled this. The palanquin would be borne by the handrails that are fitted at either ends of the chamber.
Taam- Jams or single-seat sedan chairs and the Takhat (seat placed on raised platform, dating back to the time of Maharana Bheem Singh, r. 1778 – 1828) were borne in a similar fashion, with the handrails. Pharkies and Howdahs are two types of open litters that are mounted on top of the elephant backs; the first being on the occasion of hunting and the second for grand ceremonial processions.
Wood has been extensively used in the making of these modes of transport; some have polychrome designs, glasswork, ivory inlay etc. The radiant sun symbol, the emblem of the House of Mewar is popularly used, as also lion and other animal motifs that symbolize power and grandeur, and floral patterns.
The display features stone sculptures from in and around Shree Eklingnath ji Temple, Kailashpuri that follows the Gurjara-Pratihara style of temple construction. Out Of the 308 sculptures which are in the collection of The City Palace Museum, Udaipur, 105 are on display. Thematically they can be classified under four sections: Gods, Surasundaris, Goddesses and animal motifs / memorial stones. The Modernization / Renovation of Sculpture gallery was undertaken with the financial assistance from the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, New Delhi, under the scheme 'Setting Up, Promotion & Strengthening of Regional & Local Museums'.
The land of Mewar and its Maharanas, have over the years, provided immense patronage to persons engaged in performing arts, including those belonging to the field of music. Some of them took a very keen interest themselves. The massive collection is a result of their dedication and love for this fine art. Examples of the musical instruments are Tabla, Pakhavaj, a traditional Mewari instrument called Kamayacha, Violin, Taus, Sitar, Tanpura, Piano, Harmonium, and some old Gramophones, amongst others. These have passed down through the generations and some of them are as old as 200 years.
Nestled in what would have once been thriving quarters of the Zenana with an equally vibrant courtyard, stands the Silver Gallery; the first gallery in all of Asia to be solely dedicated to silver. Situated in Amar Mahal of the Zenana, the gallery was opened to its visitors on 3rd March 2013.The name of the gallery, the Splendour of Silver - Reflecting the finest of Silver Smithy, holds true to its name. Silver, being abundantly available in Rajasthan, was extensively used in royal households. Several styles of silver smithy can be observed in the collection; local Rajasthani, Kutch, Islamic, etc. The collection dates back to the late 18th to 20th century and each of the items on display have been used within The Royal Family of Mewar. It includes a wide range of objects; items of religious significance, leisure and entertainment, utensils and other personal items, horse and elephant jewellery, items used in transportation etc.