Day 10, Udaipur
A big, big day…..The gigantic city palace was up first. It is one of four palaces built by the Maharanas, two have been turned into hotels. The rulers of the Mewar region of Rajasthan started using the title of Maharana (Prime Minister or Custodian) instead of Maharaja (great king) in the 13th century. In this Hindu civilization Lord Shiva was considered the king of Mewar, so the royal families took the lesser Maharana name. The City Palace is the Rajasthan state’s largest at 800′ long and a 100′ high. Construction began in 1599 by Maharana Udai Singh II, the cities founder. Over the centuries the palace has become a conglomeration of eleven palaces that were built by successive Maharanas. We entered through a gate to the main courtyard where there are eight arches to commemorate where the Maharanas were weighted eight times and their weight in gold or silver was given to the happy populace.
The palace was of course divided into separate areas for men and women. This is where the Maharana sat overlooking a courtyard while entertaining guests.
The palace has several very ornate rooms that are dazzling with vibrant colors, crystals and mirrors.
While the Maharana was entertaining, his wives are gathered in their quarters watching the proceedings through latticework windows or gathering in their own communal room.
We were able to get a sweeping view of Udaipur from the top of the palace. Udaipur is unique among the cities we’ve visited so far. There are two notable differences, there is very little litter, and there are very few freeranging dogs, donkeys or cows. A little research turned up the fact that there is an animal rescue group in Udaipur. They take all the animals off the streets and care for them in their facility. Also the mayor has instigated a anti-litter campaign, that seems to be working very well.
About 150 meters from the palace is the Jagdish Temple our second major stop. After a very steep staircase flanked by elephants, we reached the temple. Unfortunately photos are not allowed in the interior. The temple was built in 1651 and dedicated to Lord Vishnu, preserver of the universe.
Then it was on to Sahelion Ki bari, the ‘garden of maidens’, which translates to the Maharana Sangram Singh’s garden for his Queen and concubines (48 young women accompanied the Queen in her marriage as part of her dowry). He built the garden in the mid-18th century with 5 fountains that work by water pressure from a nearby lake. Got a picture of our guide for the day, Laila Sharma who is a Jain monk. He lives and works at the Ranakpur temple that we visited yesterday. His family have had monks at the temple for 17 generations.
In the afternoon Suzanne and I were treated to a boat ride around Lake Pichhola, where we were able to see the Lake Palace Hotel that was featured in the James Bond classic, Octopusy. We also passed the back of the City Palace (featured photo), and then motored out in our boat to Jagmandir Island to view the palace grounds.
Back to the hotel where we collapsed with a glass of wine and had a lovely dinner overlooking the city.