The Monsoon Palace, formerly known as the Sajjan Garh Palace, is a hilltop palatial residence in the city of Udaipur, Rajasthan in India, overlooking the Lake Pichola. It is named as Sajjangarh after Maharana Sajjan Singh (1874–1884) of the Mewar Dynasty, who built it in 1884. It offers a panoramic view of the city's lakes, palaces and surrounding countryside. It was built basically to watch the monsoon clouds; hence, appropriately, it is popularly known as Monsoon Palace. It is said that the Maharana built it at the top of the hill to get a view of his ancestral home of Chittaurgarh.
Previously owned by the Mewar royal family, it is now under the control of the Forest Department of the Government of Rajasthan and has been opened to the public recently. The palace provides a beautiful view of the sunset. High in the Aravalli Hills, just outside Udaipur, the Palace is illuminated in the evenings, giving a glow of golden orange (see image in the infobox). The palace was used in the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy as the residence of Kamal Khan, an exiled Afghan prince.
It reflects the history of the Mewar kingdom. Sajjan Singh, Maharana (b. July 18, 1859 d. December 23, 1884), the initial builder of the Monsoon Palace was the seventy–second ruler of the Mewar Dynasty (1874–1884) and he ruled from Udaipur for a short period of 10 years until his untimely death. The Mewar dynasty traces its history to Guhil who founded the Mewar State in 568 AD.
Udaipur is well connected by road, rail, and air links to all parts of the country. The palace is 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) west of Udaipur and overlooks Lake Pichola. A winding road leads up the hill to the palace. During the monsoon season, the palace and the surrounding Sajjan Singh Sanctuary are major attractions for visitors. A boat ride across Lake Pichola provides excellent views of the palace and allows visitors to enjoy the scenic beauty around the palace.
Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary, which encircles the palace, was established in 1987. It covers an area of 5.19 square kilometres (2.00 sq mi). It is a well protected sanctuary now with concrete wall of Kishan Pol surrounding it. The hillside is thickly wooded and the former rulers maintained this area as a royal shooting preserve. When Udaipur was attacked by the Scindias in 1764, the hill was used as an ordnance dump; some cannons still remain.
The palace overlooks the sanctuary, which is a reserve for reptiles, tigers, nilgai, sambhar, wild boars, hyenas, panthers, and jackals. It is also popular for bird watching. The reserve can also be approached by a trek (as an adventure) starting from the Gorilla Point to the Jiyan Sagar or the Bari Lake to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Aravalli hills and the wildlife of the reserve forest.