To break the monotony of too wide an expanse of water of Pichhola Lake, Nature has bestowed on us islands in lakes and man has crowned them with majestic palaces namely Jagmandir and Jagniwas.
Located on a rock in Pichhola Lake, Jagmandir palace is known for its mesmerizing natural setting and historical importance.
The historical importance of the place lies in its association with Prince Khurram, later on, called Shajahan, Emperor of the World, the title conferred on, him by Jahangir as a reward for his success in bringing about a treaty between his father Jahangir and the ruling Maharana Amarsingh First of Mewar. Prince Khurram is said to have come to Udaipur when he laid the foundation of this palace in 1615 A.D.
Later on, when he rebelled against his father Jahangir, Prince Khurram came to Udaipur to seek refuge. He had earlier been to places like Patna. Mathura, Ranthambore, and Mandu. First of all, he stayed in Delwara ki Haveli and was later on sent to Jagmandir.
The construction of the portion comprising the biggest cupala etc. was accelerated by Maharana Karansingh and the prince was given refuge here in 1623-24 A.D. The construction was done according to the direction and desire of the prince. Maharana Jagat Singh had cordial relations with Khurram and another reason was that the prince had a Rajput mother.
It is said that inspired by this palace and its setting while in the refuge, the Prince Conceived his world-famous Tajmahal and later on he implemented the idea in building Tajmahal in Agra. Its biggest cupola and glass mosaic, spacious courtyard, water pool, use of large seamless marble stones in the walls and the reflection of the whole structure in the lake around had inspired him to construct a big and beautiful monument of similar design and mosaic in Tajmahal in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. Though superior in design and dimensions, the Taj has broad resemblance with the essence and outline of the water palace in Udaipur.
The construction of Jagmandir has been credited to three Maharanas of Mewar. It was started by Maharana Amar Singh and later on carried on by Maharna Karan Singh and completed by Maharana Jagat Singh. It is said that it has been named after Maharana Jagat Singh. According to another version, Jagmandir was named after an accomplished sage Jagat Giri, the Dada Guru, grand teacher of Prem Giri. It was Prem Giri who advised Maharana Udai Singh to build a holy palace in the memory of Dada Guru on the island along with the construction of the royal palaces in Udaipur.
Serving as a summer resort and pleasure area for the royal family of Mewar, it has Gul Mahal, Darikhana, garden, courtyard, Bada Pathron ka Mahal, Zenana Mahal, and Kunwarpada ka Mahal.
Zenana Mahal is adjacent to the main temple and Kunwar Pada ka Mahal is located at the western end of the structure. Gul Mahal was built by Maharana Amar Singh and developed by Maharana Jagat Singh to house the Mughal prince Khurram, Residental suites, reception halls, and internal courts adorn the palace.
The architecture of the building reflects Mughal and Rajput styles. The palace was built with sandstone and black marble and has crescent of Islam fixed on the dome. The palaces have some striking carvings including a row of elephants that look as though they are guarding the island. There is also an exquisitely carved Chhatri in grey and black stone.
In one of the rooms built with twelve marble slabs, some of them are so thin that when one puts one’s hand on one side, it can be seen from the other.
The large courtyards and gardens have tropical flowers and exotic fruit trees. The birdlife alone makes a visit worthwhile.
During the first movement for independence in 1857, the army officers at Neemuch cantonment and their wives found that it was not a safe place. To save their life, the refugees consisting mostly of women and children came and hid themselves in village Doongla Concerned about their safety, the chivalrous Maharana Sawai Singh felt that war was only for men and called them to Udaipur and lodged them safely in Jagmandir.
During his stay in Udaipur, the prince developed brotherly relations with the Maharana. As an additional mark of gratitude, prince Khurram exchanged his orange turban, the symbol of brotherhood, with the Maharana and it has been preserved for three centuries, still in the same folds as when transferred from the head of the Mugal to that of the Rajput prince.
The charming island with majestically standing palm trees and exquisite archeological beauty has become a favorite place for celebrations like weddings and ring ceremony of celebs in different fields from not only India but also from distant foreign lands.
a small platform rising out of the lake some distance west of Jagmandir is known as Natni Ka Chabutra. A somewhat unlikely legend has it that a girl from the Nat caste, a professional tight-rope walker, was promised half the kingdom of Mewar if she could walk across from the village on the west bank of the lake to the main palace on the east bank on a rope. She accepted the challenge. A rope was tied from the top of the Sitamata hill to the royal palace. When she was doing well some of the Maharana’s ministers, becoming alarmed lest the rash promise might have to be made good, cut the rope. The Chabutra marks the spot, so the story goes, where the girl fell into the water and was drowned. The Maharana felt very sad and ordered a platform to be built in the memory of the girl at the spot, where she was drowned.
Apart from the two large island palaces that are Jagniwas the present Lake Palace Hotel and Jagmandir, there are several other small islets. To the west of the Lake Palace is one known as Arsi Vilas built by Maharana Arni Singh Third. It is crowded with trees in which a variety of waterfowls have their nests. It is important to note here that the building was once used for storing explosives and arms.
Built by Maharana Jagat Singh First is Mohan Mandir on a small island near Rajghat Tripolia to commemorate the victory of Sirohi.
According to a legend, it is believed that a Muslim mendicant named Jalal Shah lived on the rock that existed in the north part of Pichola. He was an accomplished saint and the Maharana was highly impressed by him. As such, when the mendicant left the world for his heavenly abode, the Maharana got built a platform in his memory.
To the west, not far from the lake beyond Jagmandir, is a hunting lodge known as Khas Odh that also features frequently in the old miniature paintings of Mewar. It was first built by Maharana Sangram Singh Second in the eighteenth century and was enlarged by Maharana Fateh Singh at the turn of the present century. In the center of the building is a square pit where fights took place between tigers, leopards, bears, or wild bears, the spectators watching from the top of the surrounding walls.
Further along in the direction of the town and spreading down towards the edge of the lake is another large walled enclosure knows as Haridas ki Magri, where wild bear and a few species of deer were allowed to run free.
To the south of the lake is the hill known as Ekling Garh on which the old city wall can be seen. Snaking along the crest and down to the banks from the Samore Bagh which is reserved for the heir apparent.
Located on the bank of Lake Pichhola and at the base of Machhla Magra hill is a small pond called Doodh Talai that gets its name from its milk clean water. Camel rides and horse rides are also available and so also boating on the pond.
Near Doodh Talai, there is a beautiful park with a musical fountain and a path leading to the mountain top where stand the ruins of Ekling Garh that can be reached by ropeway too. From this park, one can go to Karnimata Mandir on the other hill.
Nearby is located Manikyalal Verma Park developed by Udaipur Municipal Corporation. On the Nav Samawatsar, Hindu new year, a fair is held here. The beautiful trees, plants, and flowers make it a worth visiting place. From the sunset point, one can watch the sun setting between the two the hills with the
crimson rays making the water glow like gold. With its unique location, natural ambiance, exquisite architecture, and historic importance, Jagmandir has become a place worth a visit.