Taj Lake Palace - History and Facts | History Hit

Taj Lake Palace

Udaipur, India

Tristan Parker

20 Sep 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Taj Lake Palace

Taj Lake Palace is an 18th-century former royal abode on Lake Pichola in Udaipur, a city in the state of Rajasthan, India. The structure has now converted into a luxury hotel.

History of Taj Lake Palace

The palace was built for Maharana Jagat Singh II between 1743 and 1746. There are various unproven stories about why the palace was built on Lake Pichola. One tale states that Jagat Singh II’s father, Maharana Sangram Singh II, forbade his son from living in another nearby island palace with women that he was entertaining at the time, so his son built a new lake palace instead.

Another version states that Jagat Singh II simply felt that the main Udaipur City Palace was too public a place in which to enjoy moonlight picnics with his female guests, so the lake palace was constructed as a more secluded retreat.

During the 20th century the palace gradually fell into disrepair and in the 1960s Maharana Bhagwat Singh decided to turn it into a luxury hotel, commissioning American architect Didi Contractor to design the venue. In 1971 the Taj Hotels group took over the hotel.

During its tenure as a royal palace, the building hosted various famous guests, including Jacqueline Kennedy, Lord Curzon (who served as Viceroy of India from 1899-1905), Queen Elizabeth and British actor Vivien Leigh. Its most famous time in the limelight, however, occurred in 1983, when it was used in the James Bond film Octopussy, based on British author Ian Fleming’s iconic spy series. The palace interior was used as the home of the title character, Octopussy, played by Swedish actor Maud Adams.

Other locations in Udaipur were also used in Octopussy, including Monsoon Palace (a hilltop palace overlooking the city), which portrayed the residence of the film’s villain, Kamal Khan, and Shiv Niwas Palace (another former royal residence now converted into a hotel), which acts as James Bond’s hotel. In the film, Bond (played by Roger Moore) can be seen checking-in to the hotel and later using the casino and eating dinner by the swimming pool. Jag Mandir, another palace built on Lake Pichola, was also used as Octopussy’s home in other scenes, mostly for exterior shots.

Taj Lake Palace today

Udaipur is frequently cited as one of the most romantic cities in the world and the Taj Lake Palace certainly helps add to the image. The lake setting, exquisitely manicured gardens and beautiful architecture have ensured that it remains a popular and widely acclaimed destination for those wanting a high-end stay in the city. And even if it’s out of budget, cruises on Lake Pichola are a must-do activity in Udaipur, meaning you can still catch a glimpse of Taj Lake Palace.

Getting to Taj Lake Palace

The hotel can only be reached by a private boat service that leaves from a dock near Udaipur City Palace. The service is only available to guests staying at the hotel, although – as above – you can still see the hotel’s dazzling exterior by taking a boat cruise on the lake.

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