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Lake Palace
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It was built in 1743- 1646 under the direction of the Maharana Jagat Singh II (62nd successor to the royal dynasty of Mewar) of Udaipur, Rajasthan as a royal summer palace and was initially called Jagniwas or Jan Niwas after its founder. The Maharana, ruler of Jaipur from 1628 to 1654, was very friendly with Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and encouraged his craftsmen to copy some of the glories of his incomparable buildings at Agra. The palace was constructed facing east, allowing its inhabitants to pray to the Sun god at the crack of dawn. The successive rulers used this cool haven as their summer resort, holding their regal durbars in its courtyards lined with columns, pillared terraces, fountains and gardens

The upper room of the palace is a perfect circle and is about 21 feet (6.4 m) in diameter. Its floor is inlaid with black and white marbles, the walls are ornamented with nichés and decorated with arabesques of different coloured stones in the same style as the Taj at Agra, though the patterns are Hindu and dome is exquisitely beautiful in form. A room built of 12 enormous slabs of marble, Shah Jahan’s throne sculptured from a single block of serpentine and the little mosque dedicated to Kapuria Baba, a Muhammedan Saint, are other objects of interest on the island. During the famous Indian Sepoy Mutiny in 1857 several European families fled from Nimach and used the island as an asylum, offered to them by Maharana Swaroop Singh. In order to protect his guests the Rana destroyed all the town’s boats so that the rebels could not reach the island.

By the latter half of the 19th century time and weather took their toll on the extraordinary water palaces of Udaipur. Pierre Loti, a French writer, described Jag Niwas as "slowly mouldering in the damp emanations of the lake." About the same time two colonial bicyclists, Fanny Bullock Workman and her husband William Hunter Workman, were distressed by the ‘cheap and tasteless style’ of the interiors of the water palaces with "an assortment of infirm European furniture, wooden clocks, coloured glass ornaments, and children’s toys, all of which seems to the visitor quite out of place, where he would naturally expect a dignified display of Eastern splendour."

The reign of Bhopal Singh (1930-55) saw the addition of another pavilion, Chandra Prakash, but otherwise the Jag Niwas remained unaltered and decaying. Geoffrey Kendal, the noted theatre personality, described the palace during his visit in the 1950s as "totally deserted, the stillness broken only by the humming of clouds of mosquitoes." Bhagwat Singh he decided to convert the Jag Niwas Palace into Udaipur’s first luxury hotel. Didi Contractor, an American artist, became a design consultant to this hotel project. Didi’s accounts gives an insight to the life and responsibility of the new maharana of Udaipur: "I worked from 1961 to 1969 and what an adventure! His Highness, you know, was a real monarch – really like kings always were. So one had a sense of being one of the last people to be an artist for the king. It felt the way one imagines it was like working in the courts of the Renaissance. It was an experience of going back in time to an entirely different era, a different world. His Highness was actually working on a shoestring. He wasn’t in dire straits, mind you, but when he came to the throne he inherited big problems like what to do with the 300 dancing girls that belonged to his predecessor [Maharana Bhopal Singh]. He tried to offer them scholarships to become nurses but they didn’t want to move out of the palace so what could he do? He had to keep them. They were old crones by this time and on state occasions I remember they would come to sing and dance with their ghunghats [veils] down and occasionally one would lift hers to show a wizened old face underneath. and he had something like twelve state elephants. and he had all these properties which were deteriorating. The buildings on Jag Niwas were starting to fall down and basically the Lake Palace was turned into a hotel because it seemed the only viable way that it could be maintained … It was really a job of conservation."

In 1971, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces took over management of the hotel and added another 75 rooms. In 2000, a second restoration was undertaken. The "Royal Butlers" working in the hotel are descendents of the original palace retainers.

 
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