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The glass fragments of a large sphere are arranged according to a design on a sheet of newspaper – the convex part facing down. Liquid limestone is poured onto the surface and allowed to flow onto the design: it will submerge the pieces of glass, the contours of which, being curved, will remain visible. A frame defines the size of the panel. Once the limestone has solidified, the panel is turned over and the craftsman cleans the convex glass, removing the damp newspaper and unveiling the design: a shiny and colorful stencil, reflective in its deformation of reality. These original inlays are found in the internal courtyard of the Lake Palace: they decorate the structure’s honor garden, where the Maharaja amused himself and entertained in the summer. The ancient pieces show a denser and more pasty limestone, smaller pieces of glass that are also more sunken in. The common design is a tree of life, or a floral vase with cascading branches and leaves. The reference to the fountain in the center of the patio is in the design, the same ramifications and leaves are reproduced in the water garden: fresh petals are thrown into the water each morning.

A man in a uniform shoos away the pigeons with a white flag – a sound that remains in your ears: the deep cracking of the flag’s fabric when it is waved forcefully, like the blow of a cannon, making the pigeons fly away. The garden, which at one time was reserved for women, remains a small jungle – the trees and flowers create restful shade – at one time an orchard to distract the princess. The Maharani suite is not very well-lit because of the colored glass and small windows. There is no sense in visiting Udaipur if you do not sleep here. Dinner on the terrace in the evening with the lit facade of the Royal Palace is a highlight of any trip. In 2011 the lakes of Udaipur dried up completely. The monsoon was almost non-existent and the lakes disappeared. The Lake Palace, a royal residence built on an island, seemed at least ten meters tall. One could reach it by walking along the bare and muddy bottom of the lake.

Lake Palace

Pichola, Udaipur

Rajasthan 313001, India