The Maharana of Udaipur
Normally the kings are referred to as the Maharaja, the royal title given to Hindu Kings and ‘Maharana’ was a variation to the title that was appended before the name of the ruler of Udaipur. The rulers of Udaipur are from the Mewar dynasty and the current custodian of the Mewar Dynasty, Sriji Arvind Singh Mewar, is the 76th in the line of the royal successors. Udaipur is known as the home of the legendary Mirabai and the fearless Maharana Pratap, of whom there are countless stories of heroism and patriotism that are still read today. Udaipur actually translates as the ‘Land of the Dawn’ but because of the presence of numerous lakes, the city is also known as the ‘lake city’. Legend has it that Udaipur was founded by Maharana Udai Singh who was advised by a holy sage to start a kingdom in the fertile stretch of land amidst the Aravallis. Hence, Udaipur came into being in 1559 and Maharana Udai Singh from the Sisodia dynasty was the first Maharana of Udaipur.
Origin and History
It is said that the Mughals were never able to occupy Mewar primarily due to the fact that the rugged terrain was not suitable for the Mughal horses. The Maharana of Udaipur also did not regard the British Monarchy as the supreme rulers of India and that is the reason why Maharana Fateh Singh of Udaipur was not an attendee at the Delhi Durbar in 1911 held in the honor of King George V. Hence, the Kingdom of Udaipur was in effect fiercely independent and was known as the land of bravery with the British themselves describing Udaipur as “no other place on earth”.
The Maharanas of Udaipur led a very lavish and stylish lifestyle. From their fleet of cars to their amazing crystal collection, the Maharanas exuded opulence. The present Maharana has a collection of antique cars including his collection of rare Mercedes and Rolls Royce cars that includes the phenomenal 1934 Rolls Royce Phantom II. The present Maharana of Udaipur has prominently focused on preserving the rich ancestral heritage of his forefathers, particularly the grand palaces, by turning them into Heritage Hotel properties and earning an income out of them. The Maharanas of Udaipur have had a glorious past as they were able to ward away invaders for close to 14 centuries.
The grandeur of the Maharanas of Udaipur can be easily seen through the various Rajasthani miniature paintings that depict the kings in their regal splendor. The ‘chhatri’ or the parasol called ‘Kirnia’ was a must for the Maharana and also an element of royalty.
Just like the other Indian kings, the Maharanas of Udaipur also had a profound love for cars. The collection of classic and vintage cars that is with the present Maharana of Udaipur goes up to 22 in number and are housed in a museum. Apart from that, they also had a priceless collection of the most exquisite crystal goods. The rulers of Udaipur were also famously known for their love of intricately designed palaces which are spectacular. The most famous of them is the City Palace and the water palace that has been converted into the Taj Hotel.
Influences over the years
However, the Maharanas of Udaipur, over the course of time were heavily influenced with the European style of dressing, architecture and design. This is depicted through their attire which slowly progressed to wearing a bandhgala and western styled jewellery along with European furniture and cars. Hence, the later Maharanas had a strong European flavor along with the traditional Mewar or Udaipur elements.
The former Maharanas used to dress in their traditional royal garb that comprised of a pagdi or a turban with a long tail embellished with a sarpech, long robes that were a flowy achkan with a chudidar and a traditional sash or the kamarbandh around the waist. The sheathed sword was an important aspect of the traditional dress of the Rajputs that symbolised patriotism and power. The Maharanas had a profound love for jewels and therefore used to have various French jewellers design exquisite pieces for themselves, which are now a part of their heritage. Even their horses and elephants used to be decked up in gold and gem encrusted regalia to denote royalty.
- The Maharanas of Udaipur did not yield under the Mughal and did not accede to the Mughal Empire.
- Udaipur was also not disturbed by the British during the British Raj.
- The famous Lake Palace at Udaipur was the summer palace of Rajputana.
- Legend has it that the Mewar dynasty was originated from Surya, the Sun God.