First, the Sajjan Garh Palace in Udaipur was not built to catch the sunset. Instead, it was built by one of the many Maharana’s of Mewar in the 19th century to ‘catch’ the pregnant clouds during the India monsoons. Err, this was where the Maharana would temporarily retire during the rains. And to shoot wild animals too. For, a thick cover of forest surrounds the palace. Previously, a rich hunting ground, the forest has now been declared to be the Sajjan Garh Wildlife Santuary.
The Sajjan Garh Palace is perched high on a hill-top in the Aravalli ranges and a short drive, of about 15 minutes from Udaipur City and a steep climb of another 10 minutes gets you to the palace. The Palace’s other claim to fame – being featured in the James Bond movie, Octopussy. Yes, this was the residence of the exiled Afghan prince, the villain of the movie!!
Sajjan Garh’s Present Famous Offering – View of Sunset: Real and reel history aside, do not be misled by the word ‘Palace’ here. Sajjan Garh Palace is certainly not one of those regale, heavily embellished palaces that is common in Rajasthan. In modern language, Sajjan Garh Palace can be best termed an ex-hunting resort of the kings. This means, there’s nothing much to see in the palace. On the eastern side, the Palace overlooks the Udaipur city and the Fateh Sager lake. Most tourists, however, run up to the large open terrace that overlooks the western sky. Yes. This is why I had started with “Catching the sunset…” Over-looking the Aravalli ranges, Sajjan Garh certainly gives the ‘top of the world’ feeling. The sun’s slow descent into the distant horizon is a beautiful experience from here. We sat there, singing songs, until the sun was long gone, the air started getting crisper, and the lights started flickering from the villages below.
Trekking at the Sajjan Garld Wildlife Santuary: If you the adventurous-nature-lover type, consider trekking at the Sajjan Garh Wildlife Santuary. About a 7-8 km trek, it starts at the point called the Gorilla Point, encircles the hill and ends at the starting point — Carry your own snacks and water, but be sure not to litter the forest with the empty packets and bottles. It is unlikely that you will spot any major ‘wild’ animal here. But birds and snakes abound. Take your pick. We skipped it though. The thought of snakes….eeks…
Best Time To Go To The Sajjan Garh Palace: Go about 30-45 minutes before the sunset. That way, you would have explored the rooms and jharokas of the palace before you claimed your seat in the terrace for the setting sun. There’s nothing to do once the sun is gone. A quick 10 minute drive downhill gets you back to the Udaipur city.