Exhibition Overview

Worlds of Pleasure: Udaipur’s Lake Palaces

Within the dry, mountainous landscape of Mewar, Udaipur appears as a shimmering oasis. At its center are the island palaces of Lake Pichola: Jagmandir and Jagniwas.

Both palaces integrate thoroughly with their lake settings. Not only are they surrounded on all sides by water, but they feature pools and fountains in their gardens, are cooled by lake breezes, and have open arcades framing spectacular views.

These elegantly designed spaces became pivotal to cultivating bonds with noblemen and allies in the eighteenth century. They convey the atmosphere of refined pleasures (vilasa).

Maharana Ari Singh II enjoying Jagmandir, for example, builds a sense of pleasures savored at a meandering pace. The bird’s-eye perspective allows us to follow the maharana as he admires trees plump with pomegranates, shoots fish from a ceremonial window, and observes the feeding of crocodiles. His beloved is always at his side.

Maharana Ari Singh II enjoying Jagmandir
Attributed to Jiva and others, ca. 1767
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Image, 58.3 × 114 cm
The City Palace Museum, Udaipur, 2011.18.0037