WHEN Chittor fell to the arms of Akbar in 1568, the Râņâ Uday Singh fled to Râjpipli, but soon returned to the valley known as the 'Girwâ' or 'Circle’ formed by a spur of the great Araballi range encircling an area of about thirty square miles, watered by the river Berach, which escapes from it by a narrow pass where he had some years previously built a lofty dam, forming, as a defence work, an extensive lake called after him Uday Sâgar. This Girwa is surrounded on all sides by hills rugged and picturesque, through which there is only one pass, a fortified gorge, towards Nimach, by which a wheeled conveyance can pass. About four miles south of the steep ghât, leading from Eklinga, he threw a dam across a mountain torrent, and formed the Picholā lake, of considerable extent; and in 1569, on the rising ground beside it, he raised the small palace called Nochoki, around which was soon built his new capital, called after his own name Udaypur.
When full, the Picholā lake, "submerging the bands of two others, throws out deep bays into the suburbs; a picturesque bridge unites one of these to the city, and the sparkling water on either side is edged with numerous ghâţs, gay balconies and temples, shaded with dark foliage. The bold expanse of the lake stretches away beyond from under the lofty palace, and the low yet extensive islands, fringed with marble piazzas, enclosing luxuriant orange gardens interspersed with sombre cypresses, towering palms" and temple spires "shooting up here and there, the whole resting on a background of the dark and lofty Araballi, forms a scene unsurpassed by any other in India. The palace itself is an extensive and imposing pile, but on nearer approach is found to consist of insignificant enclosures, joined by narrow dark passages, and a handsome triple-gated entrance."1
In the lake, on the west, are two islands, containing about four acres apiece; in the more southerly is the Jagnewâs palace, built by Jāgāt Singh (A.D. 1627—1653), and in the other is the Jagmandir, partly built by the same Râņâ. This latter (shown in the photograph) is described with some exaggeration by Tod.2 It is divided into three gardens, the end ones nearly square. "Each garden," says Fergusson,3 "is surrounded by an arcaded cloister, open on both sides, where it merely divides one garden, or court, from the other; but on those sides which are next the water, the arches are filled with stone trellis-work, sometimes flower of patterns of great intricacy, but oftener of geometric forms, most of the openings being filled with stained glass, forming diaper and mosaic patterns. The centre division of each of those sides which stand in the water is occupied by a hall, the arches of which are open towards the garden. Two of these, two stories high, are on the side towards the palace (the one seen in the view); but the principal halls are those at the north and south ends. The former is a splendid apartment of white marble, a square with twelve pillars in the centre and a deep veranda all round. The one at the opposite end is also very handsome. … The west side is occupied by" (what were) "the private apartments of the harem, and, though forming the principal bulk of the building, they are not remarkable as architectural objects."
The gardens are laid out in the usual formal style of Indian gardens, but are overcrowded with trees and plants, and the water channels and ornamental details are without taste or art.
The palace of Jagnewâs was the asylum of Khuram, the second son of Jehangir, who had allied himself with Bhim Singh, the brother of the Râņâ Karna, in a revolt against his father, but was defeated, and found refuge here, where he remained until he came to the throne of Dehli as Shah Jehan, A.D. 162S. With its palace and gardens this island is even finer than the Jagmandir.
These water-palaces have now an additional interest in the eyes of Englishmen as having been the retreat of several of our countrymen and countrywomen during the horrors of the Mutiny of 1857. "The only objects in Europe," adds Mr. Fergusson, "that can be compared with these arc the Borromcan islands in the Lago Maggiore, but I need scarcely say their Indian rivals lose nothing by the comparison—they are as superior to them as the Duomo at Milan is to Buckingham Palace. Indeed, I know of nothing that will bear comparison with them anywhere."