Taj Lake Palace – Udaipur
The Vintage coupé glides to a stop at the lake’s edge. It’s hard to believe the floating vision in marble is real. Blink, and indeed, there is a luminous palace emerging from the mist. Suddenly you are in a boat, drifting ever closer and the reality doesn’t disappoint. With the Aravalli Mountains and city palaces as a backdrop one gets an impending sense of enchantment.
Accommodations at Taj Lake Palace, are as delightful as the exterior. Every one of our romantic rooms holds a story and among the most compelling is The Chandra Prakash Suite, meaning Lustre of the Moon. The decorative gilt moldings, sculpted marble columns, and fine fretwork screens impressed even the Maharaja who held court in this very room in the 1930s.
There are countless unique experiences to be had. Sail into a purple sunset on a 150-year old Gangaur complete with candlelight and resplendently dressed oarsmen. Indulge in a heritage walk with an escort followed by a glass of sparkling wine at the bar. Soak in the sounds and sights of the city as your royal butler accompanies you on a shopping trip. In this royal dream, anything is possible.
Glowing moonlight. Gentle lakeside breezes. A whole entourage courtesans. What young prince could resist? Certainly not Maharana Jagat Singh II. Legend has it that the young prince indulged in moonlight picnics with the ladies of the Zenana on the lake island palace of Jag Mandir. A pleasurable pastime – until his father found out. With that option closed to him, there was only one solution. He built his own pleasure palace on a different island in Lake Pichola. Begun in 1743 and inaugurated in 1746, the new palace was named Jag Niwas after his highness Maharana Jagat Singh II, 62nd successor to the royal dynasty of Mewar.
Jag Niwas, now Taj Lake Palace, is one of 4 lovely islands in Lake Pichola. And each island has a story to tell. Mohan Mandir is the place from where the king would watch the annual Gangaur festival celebration. Arsivilas used to be an ammunition depot and later was used as a helipad by the royal family. And of course, Jag Mandir is the location for the original pleasure palace of Maharana Jagat Singh I.
The Royal Dynasty of Mewar had palaces to spare. In addition to Taj Lake Place there was the City Palace, which used to be the official residential palace during winters, the hill top Monsoon Palace also known as Sajjan Garh, and the aforementioned Jag Mandir.
What may have begun as a prince’s rebellious gesture was turned into one of the most romantic hotels in the world by Maharana Bhagwat Singhji in 1963. Then in 1971, with its legacy of hospitality, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces was the perfect choice to carry on the royal tradition of the luxurious Lake Palace, Udaipur. The palace’s decadent reputation was cemented when the James Bond film Octopussy was filmed on the premises. Taj Lake Palace was the secluded lair of the film’s eponymous Bond girl.