Saturday, May 14, 2011

Maharajas & Me - Udaipur

Udaipur, founded in 1559, is known as the City of Lakes.  It boasts beautiful scenery, ornate palaces, and the distinction of being featured in the James Bond movie, Octopussy.

The City Palace (left) and Lake Palace (right) by night

Lake Palace
(Read more about it in wikipedia or the hotel website)

The Lake Palace was built in 1743 as a royal summer palace for the Maharana of Udaipur, and drew upon the Taj Mahal and other Agra buildings as it's inspiration. Situated on its own island in the middle of Lake Pichola, the Lake Palace is accessible only by boat (except during exceptionally arid years when the lake dries up, and you can walk your good-self there).   Today, the Lake Palace is a luxury hotel that is off-limits to non-guests such as me and Dave.

Photo credit: wikipedia
City Palace
(Read more about it in wikipedia)

Built in 1559, the City Palace is a blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture, and is considered the largest royal complex in Rajasthan.  It was also the most crowded royal complex that we visited in Rajasthan, which was a shame because it would have been wonderful to explore the sprawling palace, replete with intricate paintings, murals, inlays, mirrors and marbles, at a leisurely pace.

At the palace entrance.
You may be thinking, who are these good-looking people with us?  That is Jenn Ganesh and Erica Coleman, friends from New York who spent two weeks traveling with us in India.  Russ Brooks, also from New York, stayed on for even longer!
The ladies have fun with palace mirrors.
I loved the various rooms with multi-colored glass windows
though the chair looks a little stiff...
A royal swing.
Just a few examples of the beautiful paintings and murals throughout the palace complex

Jagdish Temple
(Read more about it in wikipedia)

Jagdish is a large Hindu temple in Udaipur, and I loved it for the carved stone elephants all over the facade.  Just as horses are the symbol of Jaipur and camels the symbol of Jaisalmer, elephants are representative of Udaipur. 

Brightly-colored worshippers inside the temple
An ellie and a sadhu (holy man)
Another ellie (I think he's in battle)
Tusks like an ellie, but this woman worked the Jagdish Temple for donations.
After a generous donation she gave us her biggest smile.

(Read more about it in wikipedia)

This "Garden of the Maidens" was created for the 48 female attendants who accompanied an Udaipur princess as part of her dowry.  The lush fuschia flowers were a vibrant contrast to the greenish water and white marble cupola.

Indian men were also more than happy to offer us lush fuschia flowers as decorative hair pieces.
The best part of Udaipur?  See below!

The group dressed to the nine's in the Maharajah's finest silk caps and cashmere robes
(or were they polyester?).  Touring in the same clothes as the local people really allowed us to
blend in and get a taste of the real India.  Actually, it was just a fun photo shoot, but we did
agree that Russ's ensemble was quite dashing.

All of our Udaipur photos are available here.

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