|Jagmandir Island Palace|
|Arvind Singh Mewar|
|Mewar Coat of Arms|
Grounded in the principle of humble service, the Mewar dynasty touts a glorious history known for its valor and chivalry and spirit of sacrifice. It is the only state in India that, resisting all conquerors, has never compromised her honor and thus her rulers are Maharanas vs. Maharajahs.
Rising like an elaborately decorated multi-tiered confection, City Palace is regally enthroned on the east side of Lake Pichola. Originally designed as a fortress, the palace has been softened by the addition a cornucopia of canopies, kiosks, turrets, balconies and towers looking much like delicate icing on an elegant tiered cake. Inside, the beautiful artwork and mosaics celebrate all that was beauty and life in ancient Udaipur.
|City Palace Complex|
The passage ways are too narrow for an attacker to draw his saber or raise his rifle. As we moved from room to room through these corridors we understood the brilliance of this design. We did not let Sunni out of our sight for fear of being eternally lost.
|Hati Pol (Elephant Doors)|
Note the spikes on the door. They were to make charging elephants, used as beasts of war, think twice before crashing through the gates.
|Maharana Arvind Singh Mewar Residence|
The current Maharana, Arvind Singh Mewar, lives in the northern potion of the complex.
Other sections of the palace are now hotels, government offices, research institutes and the Rajasthani State Archives that contains 1,000 documents from the Mewar dynasty beginning with the reign of Maharana Kumbha (1433-1469). These documents are inscribed on copper. Unfortunately this treasure eludes us as it is only made available to selected scholars.
|Jani, Kathryn, Katie & Paty at Mank Chowk|
Sacred cows used to roam at will alongside tethered horses and elephants waiting for their riders. It is now dotted with shops and a small restaurant.
As we wait in the mid-day sun, Jani and I are very appreciative of Kathryn and Paty’s sensible umbrellas. Facing the Manek Chowk is another Palace called the Mardana Mahal, which was the Male Quarters.
The Mor Chowk, Peacock Courtyard, was built by Karan Singh in 17th century. 200 years later inlaid glass mosaic work depicting peacocks were added by Sajjan Singh.
|Sunni in the Badal Mahal|
Rai Angan was the most important chowk of the Mardana Mahal because it was the ceremonial site for Maharanas to be anointed as Rulers of Mewar.
Moti Mahal, Palace of Pearls, was the private residential palace of Maharana Rana Karan Singhji (1620-1628). He was responsible for extensive and elaborate restoration of the palace including many rooms decorated in intricate mirror work.
GARDEN OF PRINCESSES
This sanctuary was built for the forty-eight young female attendants who accompanied a princess to Udaipur as part of her dowry when she wed Maharana Sangram Singh II (1710 -1734).
Sunni tells us the story that the Princess asks the Maharana to build her a garden so she and her ladies could have pleasant relaxing place outside of the city. When it was finished she said it was perfect but a garden needs rain. The Maharana replied that he cannot make rain. “Oh, but the king can do anything!” she exclaimed. The result is a system of hand operated fountains that “rain” on cue.
The images are of various positions for copulation taken from the Kama Sutra, an ancient Indian Hindu text on human sexual behavior. Some of these positions are rather imaginative. We all graciously decline the invitation to purchase. Can’t imagine how they would clear customs in Dubai or where I could hang them in my home with lots of grandchildren around.
It was the beauty of this white palace that gave Mughal emperor Shah Jahan the inspiration to build the Taj Mahal of white marble.
The palace is a favorite place for destination weddings. Elizabeth Hurley was married here.
Practically speaking they are worn as protection from the sun but they have come to symbolize honor – knocked over it is a grave insult; placed at another man’s feet it suggest surrender; the exchange of turbans signifies deep friendship; When a man carries a turban in his hands to present to a woman it proclaims her husband’s death. So sorry we missed learning how to wrap up one of these.
Jani gives the elephant a donation of India Rupees which the elephant in turn raises his truck to hand it to the little old man sitting on top. What a fund-raising system.