The city of Dawn, Udaipur is an enchanting city. Also known as The Venice of the East, it is a vision in white, drenched in romance and beauty. From the azure water lakes in the midst of sandy terrain, hemmed in by the lush hills of the Aravalis, Udaipur is a fascinating blend of sights, sounds and experience
An inspiration for the imagination of poets, painters and writers, it is a kaleidoscope of fairy-tale palaces, lakes, temples, gardens and narrow lanes strewn with stalls, carrying the flavor of a heroic past, epitomizing velour and chivalry. Their reflection in the placid waters of the Lake Pichhola is an enticing sight.
The jewel of Mewar, Udaipur was ruled by the Sisodia dynasty. Maharana Udai Singh laid the foundation of the city, in 1559 AD. The legendary Ranas of Mewar, who traced their ancestry back to the Sun, first ruled the region from their 7th century stronghold – Chittaurgarh.
In contrast to the house of Jaipur, the rulers of Udaipur prided themselves on being independent. Yet, Udaipur for all its individuality remained one of the poorer princely states in Rajasthan, a consequence of being almost constantly at war. Ultimately in 1818, Mewar came under British political control, but still managed to avoid almost all-British cultural influence.
Founded in 1568 following the final sacking of Chittorgarh by the Mughal emperor Akbar, Udaipur rivals, any of the world famous creations of the Mughals, with its Rajput love of the whimsical, and its superbly crafted elegance. Overlooking the aquamarine expanses of the Lake Pichhola stands the splendid Lake Palace.
A marvel in granite and marble, it is certainly the best example of its cultural explosion, but Udaipur is full of palaces, temples and havelis, ranging from the modest to the extravagant. It’s also proud of its heritage as a centre for the performing arts, paintings and crafts.
Udaipur is one place where you won’t have to go far looking for your kind of food. Some of the best places to eat in town include the Lake Palace’s excellent dining terrace, the Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel, and Gallery Restaurant at the Fateh Prakash Palace Hotel. Amet-ke-Haveli is another place where you enjoy an evening meal set against the romantic backdrop of the lake.
Chetak Circle, Clock Tower, Hathi Pol, Palace Road and the City Market are some of the best places to shop in Udaipur. The Rajasthan Government Handicrafts Emporium is another good stop. Do try and make time for Shilpgram, the craft bazaar. It hosts a shopping extravaganza every year, commencing mid-December. No matter where in Udaipur – if you’re buying stone jewellery, then don’t give in to the price before bargaining.
Holi, the festival of colours, is celebrated in February/ March and marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. The Udaipur royal family hosts an elaborate function at the City Palace.
Southern Rajasthan, 270 km south of Ajmer. Situated on National Highway 8, Udaipur is well-connected to several major cities of central and western India.
How to Reach
IA daily services to from Jodhpur, Jaipur, Aurangabad, Mumbai and Delhi. In addition, Alliance Air operates air services from Delhi and Mumbai, and UP Air from Delhi. Airport: Dabok Airport is 25 km from the city centre. A taxi from here to the city centre costs around Rs 250.
Connected to Delhi, Jaipur and Ahmedabad by metre gauge rail. The railway station is 4 km from the city centre. The major trains to Udaipur are the Mewar Fast Passenger from Ahmedabad, Ahmedabad Delhi Mail and the Chetak Express from Delhi to Ajmer via Jaipur. Railway station: Located 5 km from the city centre on the City Station Road.
Overnight luxury/ deluxe coaches run from Delhi. The fares range from Rs 260 to Rs 380. One can travel by taxi from Jaipur (405 km via Ajmer). Bus terminus: The bus stand is 2 km from the railway station, right opposite the Udai Pol.
Unlike the simmering heat during summers of the nearby Thar Desert, Udaipur has a more tolerable and often pleasant weather. Though at times the mercury touches a sweltering 40ºC, it hovers around the 30s for most part of the year. Rainfall is scanty and the winters are pleasant.
A majestic architectural marvel, towering over the lake on a hill, surrounded by crenellated walls, it is a conglomeration of courtyards, pavilions, terraces, corridors, rooms, and hanging gardens. The Mor Chowk, known for its exquisite peacock mosaics in glass and the chini chitrashala, noted for its blue and white ceramics, are other attractions in the palace.
Built in 1651 A.D by Maharana Jagat Singh, this Indo-Aryan temple is the largest and the most beautiful temple of Udaipur, with noteworthy sculpted images.
Maharana Fateh Singh built a beautiful Lake, overlooked by a number of hills on three sides and the Pratap Memorial on the north. In the middle of the lake, is Nehru Park, a lovely garden island, with a boat shaped cafe, accessible by an enjoyable boat ride.
Bhartiya Lok Kala Museum
The interesting collection, exhibited by this Indian folk arts museum, includes folk dresses, ornaments, puppets, masks, dolls, folk musical instruments, folk deities and paintings.
This small ornamental garden, was a popular relaxing spot, where royal ladies came for a stroll, and hence the name. The garden has many fountains in its four delightful pools, chiseled kiosks and marble elephants.
Atop the Moti Magri or Pearl Hill, overlooking the Fateh sagar Lake, is the memorial of the Rajput hero Maharana Pratap, with a bronze statue.
The Pichhola is a picturesque lake that entranced Maharaja Udai Singh. The founder later enlarged it. Hills, palaces, temples, bathing ghats and embankments surround the lake. Two island palaces, Jag Mandir and Jag Niwas, on the lake, are of breathtaking magnificence.
AHAR – Ahar boasts of a profusion of royal cenotaphs of the rulers of Mewar. A rare collection of antiquities, including earthen pots, iron objects and other art items, excavated in the region, are displayed in a small Govt. museum. JAGAT – The splendid and well-preserved 10th century temple of Ambika Mata, is known for its intricate carvings in the outer walls. Popularly known as the Khajuraho of Rajasthan.
Dominating the city’s skyline is the monsoon palace of Sajjan Garh. It offers a panoramic overview of the city’s lakes, palaces and the surrounding countryside.
KANKROLI – An important Vaishnava temple, popularly called Dwarikadhish. It is the most important temple of the vallabhacharya sect, built to resemble the famous Nathdwara shrine.
A spectacular rose garden, lay out by Maharana Sajjan Singh. A library in the garden has a rare collection of ancient handwritten manuscripts and books.
This historical site, is a witness, to the great battle fought between Maharana Pratap and the Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1576 AD.A noteworthy site, is the Chhatri of the Maharana’s horse Chetak.
Built in 734 A.D, this beautifully sculpted temple complex, has108 temples within its high walls. The temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is the presiding deity of the Mewar rulers. The walled complex, encloses an elaborately pillared hall or mandap, under a large pyramidal roof and has four-faced image of Lord Shiva in black marble.
After Chittaurgarh this is the second principal fortress in Rajasthan. Built in the 15th century by Maharana Kumbha, it extends over 12 km and encloses many temples, palaces and gardens. The Fort is accessible only by jeep from Kelwara, through the seven gates.
The beautifully sculptured Jain temples lie in a tranquil valley of the Aravallis. The main Chaumukha Temple is dedicated to the Tirthankara Adinath and has 29 halls, supported by 1444 pillars, all distinctly carved.
This most revered 17th century shrine, is dedicated to Shrinathji or Lord Krishna, and attracts thousands of pilgrims, from all over the country, especially during Diwali, Holi and Janmashtami, when their number exceeds a lakh. Foreign tourists are not permitted inside and photography is prohibited.
A stunningly situated artificial lake, built in the 17th century AD, by Maharana Jai Singh, it is the second largest in Asia. Graceful marble chhatris flank the embankment, and beautiful summer palaces of the Udaipur queens, are built on either side of the lake. A trip to Jaisamand Wildlife sanctuary, allows a close encounter, with the rich wildlife in their natural habitat.
Close to Kankroli, is the dam built by Maharana Raj Singh, in 1660 A.D. Many ornamental arches and chhatris adorn the embankment.
The ancient site dating back to the 6th century A.D. is renowned for the Sas-Bahu temple (9-10th century A.D) with interesting architecture and carvings. The splendid Jain temples of Adbudji are also worth a visit.