Known as the Lake Garden Palace, Jagh Mandir is a beautiful three-storey palace located on the southern island of Pichola Lake. Built in 17th century, the construction was started by Maharana Karan Singh II and later completed by Maharana Jagat Singh. It served as a hiding place for Shah Jahan (also known as Prince Khurram). During the years 1620 to 1628, Karan Singh ruled Rajasthan and during that time, Shah Jahan revolted against his father.
Karan Singh supported Shah Jahan as his mother was a Rajput. Together with his wife and two sons, they left the Mughal Kingdom and lived temporarily at the City Palace of Udaipur. At that time, the Lake Garden Palace was under construction. One interesting fact was that the Mughal ruler Shah Jahan took a handful of ideas from Jagh Mandir Palace during his stay from 1623 to 1624, particularly the pietra dura work, when he built the world famous Taj Mahal.
The current appearance of the Palace is the result of further renovations and additions made by Jagat Singh. During the revolt of 1857, Maharana Swaroop Singh offered this palace to several European families and refugees from Neemuch. The palace houses a temple dedicated to Lord Jagdish and thus the name is derived from that. A museum can also be found detailing the island’s history as well as a clean courtyard.
The main highlight of Jagh Mandir is the eight life-sized stone elephants, located on each side of the jetty entry, facing the palace as well as the cenotaphs that add to its beauty. Guarding the entrance, they seem like protecting the beautiful island palace. Another noteworthy attraction is the courtyard that is richly adorned with white and black tiles and gardens with various flowers, trees and bushes. Currently, this palace can be rented for private parties.
The first structure built as a refuge for Shah Jahan is the Gul Mahal. It was originally a yellow sandstone palace with a dome. The crescent symbol of Islam was attached on top of the dome. It was reported that the huge marble slabs pinned to the interior walls that were inlaid with semi-precious stones like onyx, ruby, jade, and jasper were copied by the Mughals when building Baby Taj in Agra.
You can find several pavilions here, each having unique characteristics from one another. On the eastern wing is the Bara Patharon ka Mahal, a building made from twelve marble slabs and is also called as the ‘Palace of the Twelve Stones’. The Zenana Mahal provided a number of chambers for the royal ladies while the Darikhana is an open-air terrace located on the northern part of the palace. This is now transformed as a restaurant by the present Maharana.
The best time to visit Jagh Mandir is during the winter months, from November to March. This is the best weather condition to spend the whole day sightseeing the palace’s entirety. The sunrise/sunset view is a sight to behold from the Lake Garden Palace. A restaurant is open here that serves tasty and lip-smacking Rajasthan cuisines as well as service for hosting parties.