Palaces of Udaipur
Apart from being a charming lake city with small bridges, narrow lanes and lake view rooftops, Udaipur is best remembered for its palaces built by maharajas* of Mewar Kingdom.
One is them the Lake Palace has been converted in to a five star palace hotel (Jag Niwas Hotel) and is well-know as the setting of Octopussy, 1983 — one of James Bond movie series shown in some Udaipur hotels at 7 o'clock.
* Maharaja or Maharana is a royal title in India meaning «Great King», Maharani being the female equivalent title.
The second natural island in the Pichola lake is home to another beautiful palace — Jag Mandir, which we visited during a boat ride.
The entrance is adorned by sculptures of 8 elephants facing the lake:
Mewar Kingdom in sounth-central Rajasthan dates back to 734 AD, Udaipur being its capital since 1568. Maharanas are considered not rulers but custodians of the kingdom on behalf of Lord Siva. The present Maharana — Adarsh Singh is the 76th custodian of the Mewar dynasty, the symbol of which is the sun:
Built as a summer residence, the Lake Palace was used by royal families for holding parties. There are numerous miniatures in City Palace museum depicting the ways maharanas used to be entertained:
..while maharanis, or princesses, were watching behind the intricately designed jharokhas — overhanging balconies typical of Mughal architecture: maharani saw everything, but nobody could see maharani.
City Palace overlooking Udaipur is built in a florid style combining the Rajasthani and Mughal architectural styles and is considered the largest palace complex of its type in Rajasthan.
At some distance from the City Palace, there is a fascinating vintage car collection owned by the ruling maharana, who picks out a car to drive on this or that occasion. The round leather cover in the front hides the Mewar dynasty symbol (the sun)…
Back to our hotel, enjoying the lake views and Old Monk on «the highest rooftop in Udaipur»…