An amazing realization of man’s fortitude and dauntless will the vast sheet of emerald green water expanding to the invisible extent called Jaisamand Lake is located about 50 kilometers from Udaipur. One of the largest man-made water body in the world and second in Asia, the lake used to be the ‘Shikargah’ of the erstwhile rulers of Mewar.
Accessible through a road picturesque by flanked green woods, the lake is fourteen kilometers in length, nine kilometers in width, and eighty-eight kilometers in circumference. The dam measures 330 meters in length and 35 meters in width. Also called Jaisamudra and Dhebar, the lake is about thirty meters in depth. It is surrounded by hills rising 300 meters above its water level.
The dam was constructed by damming River Gomti in 1685 A.D. by Maharana Jai Singh who on its inauguration on 2nd June 1691 A.D. walked around it and distributed gold equal to his own weight in charity.
It is said that when Maharana Raj Singh built Rajsamand Lake in the seventeenth century at a huge cost, his son Maharana Jai Singh decided to construct a huge waterbody more economically. He spent quite some time in selecting the place.
The unbelievable vastness of the lake is interspersed with a series of islands where live tribals like ‘Meena’ and ‘Sadhus’ who use ‘Bhel’ small boats, as their means of transport. Two islands are called ‘Baba ka Magra’ and the third one is called pairee.
Twenty four elegant ‘chattris’ flank the embankment. There are elephant statues made of marble and a Shiva Temple named Narmedeshwar Mandir built according to ‘Vaastu’ norms and crowning the lake stand the grand palaces of the queens of Mewar.
During the reign of Maharana Jai Singh, were built Mandaps on pillars at north and south ends of the dam, and later on they were converted into palaces. In those in the north stayed the Maharana while the ones in the south were for princes as according to the tradition in Mewar the Maharanas and princes were not allowed to stay together.
Maharana Jai Singh got built two palaces on the top and slope of the hill in the north so as to have a view of the whole lake and its surroundings. It is believed one of them was built by the Maharana to please his angry Maharani. So it was named ‘Roothi Rani Ka Mahal’. However, the fact is that the Maharana built these palaces as Maharana Raj Singh had done near Rajsamand Lake. Later on, the palaces on the south hill were repaired by Maharana Sajjan Singh.
Related to the building of the Hawa Mahal is an interesting incident. It is said that once Maharana Jai Singh asked an expert horseman to jump over from one wall of the ditch to another. Twice the horseman jumped over the ditch and returned to the first wall. The third time, the horse jumped, went up to the other wall and without touching it with its feet turned back in the air and returned to the first wall. Amazed and extremely pleased the Maharana asked the horseman to for asking anything he liked. He said that he did not want anything like gold or land but in his memory, any palace near the lake may be named after the feat that he had performed. So the Maharana named a palace with fountains as ‘Hawa Mahal’.
There is another story about the reason why Jaisamand Lake was constructed. It is said that once when Maharana Jai Singh was having a feast to celebrate the ‘Shikar’ of a wild boar, some persons suggested that by damming the Dhebar Naka, the water of rivers like Gomti, Jhamri, Ruparel, Vagor, etc. could be used for the benefit of the people of that area. The Maharana was not convinced as he knew that the earlier dams broke down again and again. It was suggested that if it was built with big strong stones from Barwadi mine and iron from Luhariya mines, it would be very strong. It was also proposed that the work could be allotted to the highly skilled and experienced workers who had built the largest lake in India in Bhopal. The Maharana agreed to this proposal and work started.
There is an interesting incident related to the naming of this dam as ‘Dhebar ka Talab’. It is said that before the dam was built, a person named Dhebar was given death punishment here on the charge of embezzlement and the place came to be known as Dhebar.
As the dam used to be damaged repeatedly, Maharana Jai Singh got built two walls in consultation with experts. However, the gap between these walls was not filled. In 1875, Maharana Sajjan Singh got the gap filled with stone, lime, and sand to strengthen the dam.
The construction of the dam resulted in submerging ten villages. The ruins of these villages can be seen when the water level of the lake goes down considerably. The residents of these villages were rehabilitated on the bank of the lake.
Like his father Maharana Raj Singh who built Rajsamand town near Rajsamand Lake, Maharana Jai Singh also wanted to have Jainagar and built some buildings and Baoris in the vicinity of the waterbody. However, now only some remains can be seen.
The second-largest artificial lake in the world with beautiful islands inhabited by tribes is a must-visit place.
Now there is a beautiful island in the lake that attracts a big number of tourists.