Cruising around Palaces on Udaipur Lake Pichola2 December, 2012
Pichola Lake is one of the most beautiful and picturesque lakes of Rajasthan, India. Located in the heart of the city, Pichola Lake is the oldest and one of the largest lakes of Udaipur.
A trip to Pichola Lake would be incomplete with a boat ride. Cruising on the pristine blue waters of the lake has a soothing impact on the traveller – especially a jet-lagged one like me (after a total flight time of about 7 hours from Singapore to Delhi & then Delhi to Udaipur by Jet Airways). For the best sights of the palaces & forts around Lake Pichola, take a sunset cruise on the lake.
Lake Pichola comprises several islands that accompany the calm waters of the lake. The world-renowned Lake Palace is perfectly located on the Jag Island of this tranquil lake. Even the Jag Mandir, another destination of tourists, is located on an island of this lake.
The amazing thing about Lake Pichola is that you never get bored of the sights on the lake as you get a different perspective of the same palaces at different time of the day. I must have taken the boat cruise across Lake Pichola to Udaipur mainland from Leela Palace Udaipur about 8 times during my stay at Udaipur but I still enjoyed the sights of Jag Mandir at different times of the day (see picture below).
The grandiose Jag Mandir Island Palace is well-known as a place of refuge to Prince Khurram (later Emperor Shah Jahan). It is said that the architecture of the Taj Mahal, built by Emperor Shah Jahan for his lovely wife Mumtaz Mahal, was inspired by his stay at the Gol Mahal on Jag Mandir Island Palace. The Gol Mahal is a domed two-storied structure dominating the northeastern section of the island-palace, this was built in the reign of Rana Karan Singh (1620-1628). It is an architectural masterpiece and an icon of Udaipur.
You can visit Jag Mandir Island Palace as part of your sunset cruise around Lake Pichola. The Lake Pichola Sunset Cruise (300 Rupees per person) will depart from a jetty near the City Palace. The cruise will take you along the banks of Udaipur old town where you can see locals doing their laundry by the lake before turning around towards Jag Mandir. You will alight at Jag Mandir to do some sightseeing and take a boat (a boat will depart every 20 minutes from Jag Mandir but check the last departure timing) back to the jetty where you started your cruise.
On Jag Mandir, you can check out the Jagriti which is an exhibition of rare paintings, old photographs, maps and contemporary architectural drawings that help you appreciate the evolution of Jagmandir Island Palace from the 17th century to the 21st century. The Garden Courtyard is a picturesque spot for photo-taking with its central pool, this courtyard on the east of the island, faces the Gol Mahal. It was built in the reign of Rana Jagat Singh I (1628-1652). Special lighting around the rose shrubs and shimmering candlelight reflections from the pool bring it alive in the evening. You should also visit the Darikhana Terrace to capture the best views of Udaipur. There is no better place to view the natural terrain of Udaipur – with the historic Lake Pichola in the midst framed by a range of Aravalli hills in the west, Elklingarh on the east and Moti Magri and Sajjangarh at some distance in the west.
Also check out the Barah Pathoron ka Mahal – a palace made out of twelve solid marble slabs. This is an engineering marvel of the 18th century. It is flanked by a colonnaded veranda on the eastern side of the Garden Courtyard and was built in the reign of Maharana Sangram Singh II (period of reign: 1710-1734). With spectacular views of the waterfront, it functions today as the Picholi Bar.
Pichola Lake is enveloped by lofty Palaces, temples, bathing ghats and elevated hills on all its sides. In the southern part of this lake, there is a hill that is known as Machhala Magra and one can see glimpse of Eklinggarh Fort from here. The City Palace of Udaipur broadens along the eastern banks of this lake. Built by Jagat Singh, Mohan Mandir is situated in the north-east corner of Lake Pichola.
It is said that the name of Lake Pichola comes from the nearby small village of Picholi and the lake was originally created early in the 15th century by a local Banjara tribesman who transported grain. Legend has it that he built a dam at the southern end of today’s Lake Pichola so that his livestock could cross a stream and this dam created part of the Lake Pichola today. In 1560, a year after Maharana Udai Singh II began building his new capital of Udaipur around the shore of Lake Pichola, he strengthened the dam and greatly enlarged the lake.
The island palace of Jag Niwas, now the Taj Lake Palace Hotel is an 18th century creation of Rana Jagat Singh II. It is said that he constructed the palace in response to his father’s statement that ‘if he wanted to stay in an island palace like Jag Mandir Island Palace, he should build his own’. Well – he did it and today, Jag Niwas Palace is one of the many luxury and exclusive (only guests staying in the hotel or guests who are dining at the hotel’s restaurant can stop here – you can’t just stop here for sightseeing) hotels in Udaipur and had served as a filming location for one of James Bond’s famous movies – 1983 Octopussy. With Udaipur’s reputation as ‘Venice of the East’, it is not surprising that this city has served as film location for many Hollywood and Bollywood movies – one of the most recent British comedy movie being “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” starring Judi Dench.
You just can never get tired of such sights in Udaipur – the beautiful lake view, the sunrise over the majestic City Palace, sunset over Lake Pichola – where better to enjoy such sights than from your hotel room in the Leela Palace Udaipur where all rooms will have a view of Lake Pichola. The architecture of Leela Palace Udaipur and services accorded by the Leela Palace Udaipur staff will indeed make you feel like a Maharajah (or Maharana in Udaipur’s context) but more of that in a later post about the Leela Palace Udaipur. The main form of transportation to Udaipur mainland is by the Leela Palace boat (although there is also a road link to the old town of Udaipur but the roads are too narrow so tour buses would prefer to pick you up from the jetty instead). Transfers by boat is free and unlimited for guests of Leela Palace Udaipur.
Jet Airways flies to Udaipur from New Delhi twice a day. If you are flying to New Delhi from Singapore in the morning, you will be able to catch the afternoon direct 1-hour long Jet Airways flight to Udaipur. If you want to experience luxury living like a Maharajah or Maharana (in Udaipur’s context), I strongly recommend the Leela Palace Udaipur as your hotel of choice during your stay at Udaipur.
Jet Airways has introduced a 4-coupon “ONE FARE PASS” booklet to facilitate convenient travel on Jet Airways and JetKonnect flights in regional domestic markets. The ONE FARE booklets will contain 4 coupons which will be applicable for travel in both Premiere and Economy Class on domestic flights that are less than 750 km in distance.
Each Premiere ONE FARE PASS booklet cost 49,216 Indian rupees inclusive of all taxes. The Economy Class ONE FARE PASS (Jet Airways and JetKonnect) booklet cost 19,606 Indian rupees inclusive of all taxes for Jet Airways, and 17,254 Indian rupees inclusive of all taxes for JetKonnect.
The 4 coupon One Fare Pass will be valid for sale from November 21 to March 31, 2013. Travel validity is six months from the date of issue. This Pass is valid for travel from Delhi to Udaipur and Delhi to Srinagar routes so if you are planning a trip to Srinagar and Udaipur, this should help to achieve some savings and convenience for you. Do note that this Pass is available for sale only in India.