An evening to re­mem­ber

Friday - - Leisure -

lower ground, wait­ing for the mon­soon pre­dic­tions.

The palace is no longer used for any royal func­tions, but in­stead houses a wilder­ness-themed ex­hi­bi­tion from a lo­cal forestry unit.

The most fas­ci­nat­ing of the plethora of tem­ples in Udaipur is the Indo-Aryan Jagdish Tem­ple. Built by Ma­ha­rana Ja­gat Singh and com­pleted in 1651, the tall cone-shaped build­ing is fan­tas­ti­cally carved with im­ages of ele­phants, horses, tigers, pri­ests and elab­o­rate artis­tic pat­terns.

The gleam­ing sand-coloured struc­ture raises de­fi­antly into the blue Ra­jasthani sky, a tes­ta­ment to the strength and re­silience of the lo­cal peo­ple and their crafts­man­ship.

The tem­ple is ded­i­cated to Lak­shmi, Hindu de­ity of wealth, pros­per­ity and for­tune, and wor­ship­pers come reg­u­larly to of­fer their prayers and take a bless­ing from the res­i­dent Hindu pri­est. A steady stream of bare­foot wor­ship­pers and tourists cir­cle around the tem­ple, awestruck by the in­tri­cate de­tails that dec­o­rate its ex­te­rior. On my last night in Udaipur I opt to try the sun­set cruise or­gan­ised by the Taj Lake Palace. Board­ing the sleek speed­boat, I stare wide-eyed at the vivid colours paint­ing the sky. The most ra­di­ant shades of pink and orange look like a work of art painted on an artist’s can­vas. The white mar­ble of the City Palace and the Lake Palace glow mes­meris­ingly against such a colour­ful back­ground.

The boat tour takes us near the banks, where we ob­serve peo­ple bathing, swim­ming and so­cial­is­ing in and around the wa­ter. Pri­vate havelis (man­sions) con­verted into ho­tels line the banks, their rooftop restau­rants packed with din­ers soak­ing up the evening sun in this ex­otic and won­der­ful land.

Our boat ap­proaches Jag Mandir, a mar­ble struc­ture pro­trud­ing from the lake’s sur­face. A row of life-size mar­ble ele­phants line the perime­ter of the is­land, which our guide ex­plains is a free­stand­ing is­land sim­i­lar to the Taj Lake Palace’s foun­da­tion. Built be­tween the mid-16th and 17th cen­turies, the palace has been used for a va­ri­ety of pur­poses through­out its his­tory; no­tably to pro­vide refuge to Prince Khur­ram, who had re­belled against his fa­ther, Em­peror Ja­hangir, in 1623.

To­day the palace grounds com­prise a large court­yard, foun­tain and gar­den ar­eas, a few ho­tel rooms and a restau­rant. Bathed in a warm yel­low glow from strate­gi­cally placed spot­lights, the palace shim­mers in the wa­ter like a star in the night sky.

Cruis­ing back to the Taj Lake Palace as dark­ness falls, I re­view my stay in this mag­i­cal lake city. The cap­tain points out a red light on one of the City Palace’s tow­ers. The light sig­nals to Udaipur res­i­dents that the ma­ha­rana is in the city. Of all the mag­nif­i­cent places in In­dia, I muse, what a splen­did one to call home.

A lux­ury room with the Taj Lake Palace win­ter of­fer is Rs87,500 (Dh5,140) for two nights in­clud­ing break­fast. See www.tajho­tels. com.

Air In­dia flies from Dubai to Udaipur via Delhi from around Dh1,400.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.