Wherever you live on this planet – India, Asia, the US or Europe, chances are that you have heard of (or stayed in) this luxurious, heritage resort of India that floats on a lake – the magnificent Taj Lake Palace of Udaipur. Taj Lake Palace (formerly known as Jag Niwas) is known for many reasons today: the filming location of the 1983 James Bond movie titled Octopussy, the preferred choice of stay for the royalty & the place that provided refuge to many European families during the sepoy mutiny of 1857. All of these are just a few of the many reasons behind the mass-popularity of Jag Niwas. However, this is not why the palace was built in the first place. Originally Jag Niwas was constructed so that the royal prince could steal a few moments of privacy and solitude from the very public City Palace.
Behind everything that sparkles in & around the City Palace:
Most of us have heard the stories about Rana Sanga who was described as the greatest Indian King by Babur, was taken by surprise by the use of gunpowder & was poisoned by his own men. We have heard of Panna Dai who sacrificed his own son to save the royal prince, Udai Singh II. And who hasn’t heard of the mighty, Maharana Pratap who was a force to reckon with, and made all attempts to take Chittaur back?
You see the connection here?
Rana Sanga belonged to the Sisodia Dynasty whose capital was Chittaur. After Rana’s death, two of his sons were assassinated one after the other which was why Chittaur then belonged to Rana’s third son – Udai Singh II. Had it not been for a loyal and compassionate nurse, Udai Singh II would have met the same fate too. But Panna Dai courageously sacrificed her son, saved Udai Singh II & shifted the royal prince to Kumbhalgarh.
Udai Singh II is not only known as the son of Rana Sanga, or the prince who was saved by Panna Dai, but also as the father of the mighty ruler, Maharana Pratap. After shifting the base to Kumbhalgarh, the Mewar kings fought & took Chittaur back. But it was getting increasingly difficult to keep the seat.
Chittaur was getting vulnerable day-by-day & Udai Singh’s army & resources were getting exhausted. This was when the 12th ruler of the kingdom of Mewar & of the Sisodia dynasty, Raja Udai Singh II decided to shift to a new area and build a new capital. The city that he built came to be known as present-day Udaipur. And the palace he started building is the present-day City Palace.
City Palace over the last 10 years:
The first time I visited City Palace was in 2011, on an office trip. And the last I visited City Palace was in December 2021, with family. Between these 10 years, every time I visited the palace, my attention remained divided between Lake Palace, City Palace & other hotspots of Luxury within the city. I spent hours buying handicraft items, leather bags, miniature paintings & jewellery boxes. The remainder of the time was meant for boat rides, walks along the Fateh Sagar & Pichola lakes, cultural shows at Bagore ki Haveli, countless cafes situated in the old Udaipur city & pictures that could go onto my Facebook profile.
Udaipur kept offering & I kept taking. Today, I have more memories than I can share. I talk about some, remember some & the rest are locked in some deeper alleys of my mind, waiting to be rediscovered on one fine day.
No matter how much you explore or take, the city always has more to share.
The next time you are in Udaipur, here’s what I recommend after you have visited the City Palace:
- Boat rides in Lake Pichola
- Hole up in a cafe nearby and read a book
- Watch the cultural show at Bagore ki Haveli
- Explore the handicraft shops & buy some souvenirs
- If you can, plan a visit to nearby Chittaur or Kumbalgarh fort