Nestled in the beautiful 'City of Lakes', Udaipur, Lake Pichola is an artificial fresh water lake that is believed to be created back in the 15th century. The lake which is flanked by hills, havelis, and temples, is about 4 km in length and 3 km wide, with the depth increasing to its maximum during monsoon.
The word Pichola literally translates to 'the backyard'. It is named after the village Pichola which is located nearby. Two islands called Jag Niwas and Jag Mandir are settled in the lake. The Leela Palace Kempinski, Oberoi Udaivilas, Fateh Prakash and Shiv Niwas are the four royal hotels that can be found on these islands.
Two more smaller islands, known as Mohan Mandir and Arsi Vilas, are also found in the lake. On the banks of the Lake Pichola, a palace complex called the City Palace is built. Due to the many magnificent palaces that were built in and around the lake, it has now become a popular spot for shooting amongst movie directors.
PC: Edwin Poon
Lake Pichola is believed to have been created by Pichhu Banjara, a Banjara tribesman under the rule of Maharana Lakha. The lake was then extended by Maharaja Udai Singh who was impressed by the enchanting lake that was surrounded by lush greenery, by building Badipol, a stone masonry.
Jag Niwas Island
A palace which has now been taken over by the Taj Group of Hotels, known as the Lake Palace, covers almost the entire island of Jag Niwas. It was built in between 1743 and 1746 by Maharaja Jagat Singh's direction. It used to be the summer palace of the Mewar dynasty.
The east-facing palace is a marvelous 250-year-old, built using white marble. It is now the most picturesque hotel that makes for a fine romantic holiday. Some of the main attractions of this palace include Sheesh Mahal, Mor Chowk and Krishna Vilas.
Jag Mandir Island
The Jag Mandir island is popular for the Gul Mahal Palace. It was built by Maharaja Karan Singh; however, since Maharaja Jagat Singh made enhancing extensions, the island goes after his name. He made the addition of a women's section known as zenana.
The palace particularly gained international attention when the James Bond movie Octopussy was shot at this very location. Jag Mandir is also known to be the place of refuge for the Mughal King Shah Jahan, at the time when he was revolting against his father King Jahangir.
Exquisitely designed with coloured stones and adorned with Mughal paintings, the palace is made of yellow sandstone and is three-storied. A lot of inspiration was taken from Shah Jahan's Taj Mahal which is reflected in some parts of the palace.
The Legend Of Natini's Curse
A raised platform can be observed in the courtyard, called Natini Chabutra. It was built to honour a professional tightrope walker called Natini, who was challenged by the prevailing king Maharana Jawan Singh, to walk on a tightrope tied across a village on the west of lake to the City Palace perched on the east. He offered her half the kingdom that belonged to the Mewar dynasty.
It is believed that she was cheated by cutting off the rope and before she drowned, she cursed that the king would never have any direct successors. This is believed to have come true.
Things To Do At Lake Pichola
Gangaur Ghat, Hanuman Ghat and Lal Ghat are the three points surrounding the lake from where the breathtaking sunrise and sunset can be witnessed. Boat rides are available to ferry across the lake and view the palaces and islands. A longer boat ride stops at the Jag Mandi Palace for further viewing of the fort.
The prices for 1-hour boat ride to the Jag Mandir is Rs 325 per adult and Rs 165 per child. For a 30 minute ride, the charges are Rs 225 per adult and Rs 115 per child.