Palaces of the past

Friday - - Leisure -

away. An at­ten­tive stew­ard pro­vides chilled wa­ter, re­fresh­ing hand tow­els, an Ayurvedic rose fa­cial ton­ing spray and cu­cum­ber slices to soothe my eyes.

A unique fea­ture of the Taj Lake Palace’s pool area is the el­e­vated jacuzzi, which is con­tained within a small gazebo sus­pended over the wa­ter and al­lows guests to soak while seem­ingly float­ing in the lake. Tempt­ing as it is to stay within the bliss­ful lux­ury of the ho­tel, I ven­ture out to see the famed sights of the Venice of the East.

Back on shore on the east bank of Lake Pi­chola, the City Palace is just a few min­utes away from the Taj Lake Palace’s dock. I am­ble up a hill to view the ex­ten­sive com­plex, which con­sti­tutes the City Palace.

Built in 1559 by Ma­ha­rana Udai Singh, the colos­sal struc­ture fuses Ra­jput and Mughal ar­chi­tec­ture and is the largest royal com­plex in Ra­jasthan. In ac­cor­dance with the sun-wor­ship­ping cus­toms of the ma­ha­rana, it faces East. The in­te­rior of the palace is a maze of rooms large and small, nar­row cor­ri­dors and stair­cases. Beau­ti­ful dec­o­ra­tive tiles and ob­jects pop­u­late some rooms, while oth­ers are set up to of­fer var­i­ous his­tor­i­cal tit­bits.

Large win­dows from the top floor of­fer panoramic views of the ur­ban sprawl of Udaipur – a stark con­trast to the spa­cious lux­ury of the palaces of the past.

The Mon­soon Palace, made fa­mous in re­cent his­tory by the James Bond film Oc­to­pussy, is a strik­ing struc­ture high above Udaipur in the Aravalli hills. Orig­i­nally known as Sa­j­jan Garh Palace, it was built in 1884 and used to track the mon­soon clouds, from which the cur­rent name is de­rived.

Jut­ting above the city, sweep­ing views of Udaipur’s lakes and lush coun­try­side can be had from the palace’s grounds. I can only imag­ine the an­tic­i­pa­tion felt by those on

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