Palace of Jugmunder, Pecholee Lake, Oodeypore, India. Source: Illustrated London News (20 January 1872): 61 [Hathi Trust Digital LibraryHathi Trust Digital Library web version. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

The Island Palaces of Oodeypore

Oodeypore, the capital of Meywar, in Rajpootann, Western India, 400 miles inland from Bombay, is surrounded by several small lakes, on the shores of which are built some of the most remarkable specimens of ancient Indian architecture, palaces and temples of granite, and in some instances faced with marble. The temple, however, of Juggonath Rai is in the main street of tne city of Oodeypore. It was built by Rana Jugget Sing, about 1640. It is a magnificent structure, composed of white marble, and elaborately carved, with groups of figures illustrative of Hindoo mythology all round the basement. The Pecholee Lake, situated between the city of Oodeypore and the base of a range of the Aravelli mountains, was formed, about the year 1560, by Rana Oodey Sing, who on the fall of Chittore, the former capital of Meywar, retired to the valley of the Girwo, in the Aravelli, and there laid the foundations of Oodeypore. This lake is artificial, being formed by the construction of a dam 300 yards long by 60 ft. high, across a gap in the hills through which a small stream flowed, and the consequent flooding of a valley about five square miles in extent. The several eminences in the valley appeared as islands in the lake, and on these ornamental palaces have been raised. That shown in the Engraving is called the Jugmunder, or “Minster of tke World;” and the buildings on it were first commenced by Rana Knrrun Sing, about 1625, when he built the large domed edifice in the left of the Engraving for the fugitive rebellious son of the Emperor Jehangir Sultan Khoorum, who afterwards succeeded to the throne of the Moguls as Shah Jehan. The rest of the buildings were erected chiefly by Rana Jugget Sing.

In this island about thirty officers, ladies, and children, who escaped from the mutineers at Neemuch, in June, 1857, were sheltered and protected by the late Rana Seroop Sing. They were guided to Oodeypore by the Rao of Baidla, one of the most powerful and intelligent of the chiefs of Meywar, who received from the British Government a sword of honour as a reward for his services on that occasion.

The Jugnawaz Island, in the Pccholee Lake, owes its name and the beautifol ornamental buildings upon it to Kana Jugget Sing, who reigned from 1628 to 1654. Additions have been made by later Ranas, and at present an elegant summer residence is being built by the Rana, to be fitted up in European style. The buildings are entirely composed of white marble, and contain magnificent apartments, ornamented with paintings and medallions illustrative of the chief events in the history of the country. A smart little schooner was built in 1865 at Oodeypore, under the direction of the European residents, as a yacht for his Highness the Rana, who has become an enthusiastic sailor on this lake.

Maharana Sumbho Sing, the present Rana of Meywar, was adopted by the late Rana Seroop Sing, whose grandnephew he was. On the death of Rana Seroop Sing, in 1861, he succeeded to the principality; but, being a minor, did not assnme the reins of government until November, 1865, when he was invested with full powers by Colonel Eden, Governor-General’s Agent for Rajpootana, acting on the part of the British Government. He is a young man of excellent disposition, intelligent and clear-headed, an ardent sportsman, fond of yachting and driving, and very anxions to acquire a knowledge of European customs and institutions. The Princes of Meywar hold the first rank among the Hindoos of all the royalty of India. They are descended from the senior branch of the Children of the Sun, and are accordingly called “Hindoo Sooraj,” or “Sun of the Hindoos.” In the long and bloody struggle of the Mohammedans for ascendancy in Rajpootan a Meywar alone refused to bow to the yoke of the invaders and to give a Princess in marriage to the Mogul Emperor. Alliances with the family are eagerly sought after by the other Princes of Rajpootana.

We are indebted to Captain F. C. Taylor, of the Madras Staff Corps, for a set of photographs of the scenery and buildings at Oodcypore, one of which is engraved for this Number.

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“The Island Palaces of Oodeypore.” Illustrated London News. 50 (1 June 1867): 544-45. Hathi Trust web version of a copy in The University of Michigan Library. Web. 28 November 2015. The text above was created from the Hathi Trust page images with ABBYY FineReader. — George P. Landow

Created 14 December 2015