World through my eyes
Udaipur is famous world over as City of Lakes and is among the top cities in India to attract foreign tourists. Owing to its natural beauty, serene calm and rich heritage, it has also been most popular among loving couples for their most affectionate moments. So much so, that when the trend of destination weddings picked up at the start of this century, Udaipur was one of the top picks. People even started to call it as wedding capital of India. For many celebrities across the world, a wedding or engagement or a pre-wedding or post-wedding event or a Mehendi ceremony or a Sangeet ceremony at Udaipur is an essential part of their nuptial ceremonies. The trend continues with the about to happen wedding in Ambani household when a pre-wedding event is scheduled in December at an Udaipur Hotel.
But, even at Udaipur there is one place or palace, which has stolen hearts of the most lovebirds. Built almost 400 years ago, the small palace on an island in Lake Pichola has become a destination in its own right. Originally built for recreation and to entertain Mewar royalty, Jagmandir Palace is one of the most sought-after celebrity wedding destination in Udaipur.
It all reached to a new level with Bollywood diva Raveena Tandon’s marriage with Anil Thadani in February 2004. It was followed by hotelier Vikram Chatwal and actor-model Priya Sachdev’s marriage in 2006, when they had a fantasia theme party at Jagmandir. Then in 2008 then Union aviation minister Praful Patel got his daughter Niyati married at Jagmandir palace in a lavish wedding. In 2012, Puru Sethia of the UK’s Sethia family had its Sangeet ceremony at Jagmandir where music sensation Akon performed with Priyanka Chopra. In 2015 oil tycoon and scion of Britain’s richest Hinduja family Sanjay Hinduja had his wedding ceremony at Jagmandir palace, a wedding which saw Jennifer Lopez performing in India for the first time at wedding. And well, that’s not all. Jagmandir has also been very popular among filmmakers and many Bollywood as well as Hollywood hits have been shot here.
Jagmandir is located in Lake Pichola, the same lake which also houses world famous Lake Palace hotel. The construction of this palace started during the reign of Maharana Karan Singh (1620-1628 AD) and was completed by his successor Maharana Jagat Singh I (1628-52 AD). The place got its name from him as Jagmandir and Jag Niwas. However, there were few additions to the palace in later years as well. Such as Darikhana, the open pavilion with distinctive columns was built by Maharana Sangram Singh (1710-1734 AD). Gol Mahal was the part of the original construction of Jagmandir. Garden courtyard and Zenana chambers were added by Jagat Singh. While, Bara Patharon ka Mahal and Kunwarpada ka Mahal (palace of the crown prince) were other parts of the palace added by Sangram Singh.
Island isn’t big and the palace is also very small as it was constructed with the sole purpose of recreation, entertainment, special functions, festivals, dances and ceremonies. It had rooms for royalty to stay but they were usually small stays.
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When you go to Jagmandir, you can also see the architectural designs of the garden palace displayed in 17th-18th century paintings. This palace was also an architectural beauty and a few 18th century paintings also describe it as a garden of heaven on earth. Many historians also say that with the construction of Jagmandir, the ‘quest for excellence’ in architecture, painting and the arts reached its pinnacle.
How to reach, what to do
Jagmandir Palace is built on an island in Lake Pichola in the heart of the old city of Udaipur. Since its an island, only way to reach here is on a boat. Island is still the private property of Udaipur royal family which also runs HRH group of Hotels. This group has ten heritage properties in its bouquet and Jagmandir Palace Hotel is one of them. Yes, Jagmandir Palace also has an hotel. Erstwhile zenana chambers on the both sides of Gol Mahal have now been converted into hotel suites. There are total eight suites at Jagmandir.
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The part of Jagmandir is open for public access. This include the Gol Mahal and Garden courtyard. Erstwhile Darikhana and the Bara Patharon ka Mahal also have restaurants, which serve the guests at hotels as well as public coming to see the palace during day time. But the admission of public is governed by the palace management which issues tickets for boat rides to Jagmandir. Although you can always have boat rides in Pichola Lake from various points at various times, but only boats operated by HRH group are allowed to dock at the Jagmandir jetty and provide access to normal visitors.
The normal boat ride costs currently INR 450 per adult and INR 230 for a child. But than there is altogether different charm to be here during sunset time and one has to shelve more money for that- INR 800 for an adult and 450 for child. There is no time limit per se for staying there. You can reach there by boat, spend as much time as you wish and then take any boat back to city palace jetty. Boat rides in Pichola lake are enjoyable. They are not just to and fro affair. The almost 20 minutes ride takes you around the lake, giving you a view of aravali hills, palaces, hotels, havelis and ghats of the historical city and thereby letting you soak in the culture and rich heritage of Mewar. A visit to Udaipur is considered to be incomplete without this boat ride experience.
While on Jagmandir, visitors can see all the areas, other than the part of the hotel premises. There is also an exhibition- Jagriti, about the historical and architectural development of Jagmandir Island Palace. The exhibition is located within the Gol Mahal at Jagmandir Island Palace and uses archival photographs and paintings to show the evolution of Jagmandir Island Palace.
So, next time you are in Udaipur, don’t miss a trip to ultimate royal place for recreation—The Jagmandir Palace.
Have you ever been to Jagmandir Palace? Was it fun? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below.
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