A place of fascinating monuments, majestic palaces, picturesque lake and exquisite havelis.. where every monument has a separate tale to tell..of valor and poignance, join us as we set off for this 'Venice of the East', the magnificent Udaipur!
Founded in 1559 by Maharana Udai Singh II as the Capital of the erstwhile Mewar kingdom, legend has it while Maharana Udai Singh II was hunting he came across a hermit who blessed the king and asked him to build a palace on the spot assuring him it would be well protected. Today this city is home to some enchanting palaces that overlook picture-pretty lakes, temples and havelis, Udaipur is a place intertwined with myths, legends and history.
A city that's often called the 'City of Lakes' Udaipur is famous for its Pichola Lake, one of the oldest and largest lakes enveloped by bathing Ghats and elevated hills on all sides. In the heart of the lake stands the Lake Palace. This lake is also home to two islands, Jag Niwas and Jab Mandir. While the Jaisamand Lake, the 2nd largest artificial lake in Asia, is home to the summer palace of Udaipur Queens, other lakes here include the Fateh Sagar Lake, the Rajasmand Lake and Udai Sagar Lake.
Overlooking Lake Pichola, the City Palace is not only one of the largest palaces of Rajasthan, but also across the globe! While Maharana Uday Singh initiated its construction, succeeding Maharanas added several palaces and structures to the complex yet retaining the uniformity of the design. It is said that that the Maharana would be weighed under the Tripolia gate (The triple gate) in gold and silver, which was then distributed to the populace. From the balconies of the City Palace, one gets a panoramic view of "Jag Niwas" (the Lake Palace Hotel) on one side, and Jab Mandir and the city of Udaipur on the other. The City Palace is also known for its Mor-chowk (Peacock courtyard), and other numerous palaces such as Dilkhush mahal, Sheesh mahal, Moti mahal and Krishna Vilas.
Built by Maharana Jagat Singh in 1743, the Royal Summer Palace perched on the Jag Niwas island is said to be poetry in white marble! Converted into a heritage hotel, and offering a magnificent reflection on the lake the Lake Palace offers its onlookers a heavenly view! Other important palaces here include the Fateh Prakash Palace and Sajjangarh (Monsoon Palace).
Preserving artifacts of a bye gone era are the numerous museums that Udaipur is home to! Within the City Palace itself are a number of worthwhile museums, such as the Government Museum, where one can find portraits of Udaipur's Maharajas, weapons of a bygone ear & several items of clothing worn by these Maharajas!
For art lover's try the Shilpgram Museum, that literally translates "Craftsmen's Village". It is an amazing museum depicting the enormous diversities in craft, art & culture between various Indian states. Comprising of 26 huts in the natural surroundings at the foot of the Aravali Hills, this village comes alive during winters with its annual craft festival.
And for car lovers check out the Vintage collection of the Classics Car Museum. One used by the Maharanas, it houses some classic beauties like Chevalate, Morais, Cadalec, etc.
Not only is Udaipur known for its palaces and lakes, beautifying Udaipur are the lush gardens, the favorite being the Gulab Bagh or Sajjan Niwas Garden, a fabulous garden known for its spectacular rose plants, which sprawls over 100 acres of land, an ideal place for nature lovers! Apart from the garden a small zoo is also found here and is known to house leopards, tigers, chinkaras and other animals. But that's not all, one can also find a Museum here - the Victoria Hall Museum, is known for its collection of antiques, curios and royal household items and a library known as Saraswati Bhawan Library, where books found here include books on history, archaeology, etc. even manuscripts dating back to the early medieval periods.
The Saheliyon Ki Bari or the "Garden of Maids" was the garden the queen used to visit with her maids and spend their time of leisure. Built by Maharana Sangram Singh for the royal ladies, this garden is known for its numerous fountains, bird-fountains, lotus pools, water pools, marble elephants, chiseled kiosks, and spectacular flowerbeds.
While there are many temples in and around Udaipur, the most famous one here is the Jagdish Temple, the largest temple in Udaipur dedicated to Lord Vishnu (Laxmi Narayan), the preserver of the Universe. It is known for its Indo-Aryan style of architecture, decorated ceilings, painted walls and beautifully carved pillars.
Other temples worth visiting for their intricate beauty are the temples of Ranakpur , that are said to be masterpieces of architecture. Visit them to see how unbelievably beautiful they are! Other temples known for its remarkable architecture are the Eklingnath Temple and the Jagat Temple, which are known for their intricate works of art.
Apart from the palaces here, havelis too are known for their splendid architecture, delicate carvings and excellent glass work. A must visit here is Bagore Ki Haveli, while a visit to the historical Maharana Pratap Memorial, a life-sized bronze statue of Maharana Pratap balanced on his faithful and favorite horse, Chetak is also worthwhile.
About 2 kms east of Udaipur, try the impressive cluster of cenotaphs of the Maharanas of Mewar. In all there are about nineteen cenotaphs of Maharanas cremated there, the most striking cenotaph being that of Maharana Amar Singh, who reigned from 1597 to 1620.
Also take time to visit the Udaipur Solar Observatory, Asia's only solar observatory, situated on an island in the middle of the Lake Fatah Sagar.
Udaipur also serves as a base for some interesting excursions, some being Nathdwara, (a pathway to Lord Sri Krishna) 48 km from Udaipur. At about 140 km from Udaipur, Chittorgarh is known for its massive Chittorgarh Fort. Situated on a hilltop, Kumbhalgarh is another impressive 15th-century fortress, built by Rana Kumbha; it is known to house over 360 temples within the fort and is also home to a wildlife sanctuary. Other interesting places from here include Mount Abu, Eklingji - a temple complex situated nearly 22 km away, built in 734 A.D. which consists of 108 temples chiseled out of sandstone and marble and is devoted to the royal family of Mewar.
Want to be part of this romantic getaway? Besides having its own airport and railhead, the city is conveniently connected with important destinations of Rajasthan and neighbouring states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra by extensive road network.
Looking at taking home a souvenir of this memorable journey? From Miniature paintings to Silver jewellery and potteries, stone carved items even puppets, shopping here is an absolute delight!
One of India's most exquisite destinations known for its marvelous havelis, majestic palaces, lakes and more... if you're looking for memories that will last you a lifetime.. we suggest you try Udaipur!