There’s a city called Udaipur in India that has a site truly unlike any other, and it’s called the Taj Lake Palace. It’s a real palace, but unlike the many palaces in royal Rajasthan, this palace is also its own island; a floating mass of vibrant white marble on the placid Lake Pichola.
Originally built as a late Maharana’s “pleasure palace”, this iconic residence was later turned into the royal family’s summer palace, and is now known as the Taj Lake Palace, where you can book a stay and be one of the few who get to see what’s behind the palace walls.
That’s right. You can only see the interior of the Lake Palace if you’re a guest of the hotel, even though the palace itself is one of the most popular sites to see in Udaipur! It may sound a bit snooty, but since the palace is relatively small, and the entire thing is a historical gem, it’s considered best not to allow constant boat loads of people to shuffle around in its all-white marble interior.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to tour behind the Taj Lake Palace’s walls, and even stay in a former Maharana’s suite, so you better believe I took a ton of photos to share my experience! Of course the entire thing was beyond impressive, but what was the most interesting for me was to envision the times we were told about, when the Maharana and his people with have constant parties with dancing, drinking, and even a waterslide!
The waterslide no longer exists, but the rest of the original Lake Palace still remains, and is fully functional for guests to enjoy. Here are a few of my favorite things that are behind the walls of the Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur, plus a video collaboration I created with TravelTomTom!
A Private Royal Boat Arrival
There are tourist boats that shuttle people all around Lake Pichola, and then there are the private royal boats that are only for Taj Lake Palace guests. These boats are the only ones that are allowed to dock at the Lake Palace, and pick up/drop off guests at another private dock on the mainland. Once you arrive on your fancy shiny wooden boat, which by the way, is the only way to get to the Lake Palace, you’ll be greeted by an impeccably dressed crew of staff, from a man with an impressive mustache holding a decorative umbrella out for you, to the women in the colorful pink and orange sarees greeting you with champagne.
A Grand Entrance to the Taj Lake Palace
Upon your arrival to the Taj Lake Palace, you’re transported into a fairytale as you’re showered with rose petals falling from the sky, and ushered into the pristine area that I can’t bring myself to call a lobby. To the right is the palace’s very own bazaar which sells everything from scarves to incense, and straight ahead is the beautiful architecture of archways that lead to one of courtyards for entertaining.
The Ornate Lake Within the Lake Palace
Maybe more of a pond than a lake, but beautifully ornate nonetheless. This was my favorite part of the Taj Lake Palace, and the place that constantly made me envision jovial people in festive attire; dancing, playing, eating and drinking, all around the leaves and petals of this beautiful pond. From one of the upper terraces or even along the upper walkway, you can see how the designs create giant flowers, which are colored with real grass and flowers.
The Maharana’s Suite that I stayed in at Taj Lake Palace
Since there were several Maharanas during the existence of the Lake Palace, there were multiple rooms built specifically for each one’s taste. The one I stayed in was very ornamental and exotic, with red and blue stained glass windows that lit up the entire room at night. It had a living room area, and also a floor sitting area, which also had a seat set up against the pop-out window that had a stunning panoramic view of the City Palace.
What set this Maharana’s room apart from the rest, was a staircase that led up to a large private deck, where you could sunbathe or take in the breathtaking views of the entire city and lake.
The Other Maharanas’ Room
This Maharana must not have been a fan of the heat, because hanging from the tall ceilings of this room, were what seemed like massive tapestries, but when switched on turned into massive fans! It was definitely interesting to see! What was also interesting to see was the extremely detailed artwork on the attached bedroom walls, which was mostly of beautiful women and the god Vishnu.
The Queen’s Room
What I first noticed about the Queen’s room, was a massive swing that hung from the ceiling, right in the middle of the room! Taking a closer look I noticed that the chains of the swing were extremely detailed figures of animals, and they were linked in such a way that they could smoothly swing and strongly hold anyone who sat on it. The Queen’s room was also a lot lighter and brighter, with subtle feminine touches and amenities that are fit for a queen.
Upper Terraces Fit for a Princess
Whether you’re having a romantic private dinner or simply strolling by to get to your room, the upper terraces of the Taj Lake Palace are the epitome of royalty. The smooth marble floors, and prestigious domed pillars make you feel like you’re in the movie Aladdin, especially with the view of the city in the background. There’s even a palace flute player who pipes whimsical tunes throughout the day, making everything feel even more magical and royal.
Exclusive Dinner Experiences Made for a Queen
If you were ever trying to have the most romantic dinner of your life, you would 100% want to set up a unique dining experience at the Taj Lake Palace. Each dining experience is catered to your exact liking, from location within the palace, to hand selected five-course menus. You can see in the video just how magical this experience looks with the hundreds of candles strategically placed around the terrace, and a candlelight dinner set for only two.
The Royal (Spa) Treatment
I’ve been to plenty of spas in my life, but none have been quite as unique as Jiva at the Taj Lake Palace. Going along with the island theme, is a real, old-fashioned wooden ship, that has been renovated and revamped, and turned into the palace’s spa boat. I was slightly confused about it at first since the ship seemed rather small, but Taj did an impeccable job at turning the cabin area into a cozy, relaxing massage room for two, and even added a small spa jacuzzi on the front deck of the boat!
A Glorious Lake Palace Breakfast
There’s really nothing better than a breakfast buffet fit for a King or Queen, and the one that’s offered at the Taj Lake Place definitely fits that description. From cooked-to-order omelets and waffles, to every type of fruit, juice, and yogurt imaginable, the breakfast at the Lake Palace was definitely one worth bragging about.
Alyssa is a self-made, full time travel blogger who loves adventure and typically travels the world solo. She's been to 53 countries and 6 continents so far, and believes she has mastered the art of chasing waterfalls, traveling solo, wine drinking, and making budget-traveling look good. Curious to know how she started this career? Check out the About section above!