Located in the middle of Lake Pichhola, the breathtaking beautiful Jag Niwas, popularly known as Lake Palace, was built by Maharana Jagatsingh Second.
There is an interesting incident related to the building of this impressive white marble structure. It is said that once when Maharana Jagatsingh was the heir apparent, he requested his father Maharana Sangramsingh Second to grant him permission to spend a few days at Jagmandir island palace. There was a tradition that no member of the royal family was allowed to stay in the island palace in the night. The Maharana said that if the prince was so fond of living in an island palace, he should build another one. The prince did not react. However, when he became the Maharana he turned his dream into reality. Most of the buildings of Jag Niwas were originally constructed during the reign of Maharana Jagatsingh Second. Among them the main buildings were Bara Mahal, Khush Mahal, Phool Mahal, Dilram Mahal, Dhola Mahal and Labrinth, Bhool bhulaiya. Built on four acres on an island near the northern bank of Lake Pichhola the enchanting palace was named Jag Niwas after its builder. It was built in three years.
Maharana Jagatsingh was a generous host. To commemorate the auspicious event the finest pedigreed horses were gifted to the noblemen. The court bards were given elephants, horses, clothes and jewellery. The celebrations continued for three days.
Admiring the charm of the lake and the palaces one foreign lady visitor wrote that the lake looked like every tale of fairy-land rolled into one, thousands of lamps, cupolas and marble palaces with a dark blue velvet sky overhead.
Additions were made to Shambhu Prakash, Sajjan Niwas, Sarva Ritu Vilas and Chandra Prakash by Maharana Shambhusingh, Sajjansingh and Bhupalsingh.
About these unique palaces it was aptly remarked that nothing but marble entered into their composition. Columns, baths, reservoirs, fountains all were of this material often inlaid with mosaics and the uniformity pleasingly diversified by the light passing through glass of every hue. The apartments were decorated with historical paintings in water colours. The walls contained many medallions in conviterable relief in gypsum, portraying the main historical events of the family. Beds of flowers, orange and lemon groves, intervened to dispel the monotony of the buildings.
Jag Niwas was used as the royal family’s summer residence till 1995. From 1955 it was opened up for visitors and tourists. Then it was decided to convert it into a hotel. Reconstruction of the palace began at the end of 1959. The first and foremost task was to restore the exquisite glass inlay panels. The challenging job was ably carried out by talentel Udaipur craftsmen. The old suites of including Sajjan Niwas, that had been personal suite of Maharana Bhupalsingh and Sarva Ritu Niwas and Khus Mahal that had been the suites of former Maharanas were kept as they were and new rooms equipped with modern fittings were constructed.
In 1971 the crucial step to hand over the management of the hotel to Taj Group of Hotels was taken. Although ownership of the hotel rests with the royal family, the Taj Group now runs the hotel with its professional experience and expertise.
Aptly called a poem in marble, the unique Lake Palace Hotel has been showered with prestigious awards and is among one of the best hotels in the world.
( Source : Dr. Rajshekhar Vyas)