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Home >> Destination Guide India > Udaipur

DESTINATION GUIDE INDIA - UDAIPUR

ABOUT UDAIPUR CITY

A desert kingdom tucked away in the midst of hills, an impregnable citadel, an impressive royal lineage stretching back 26 generations, a do or die attitude and a fierce sense of independence characterise Udaipur. Unlike its desert counterparts in Rajasthan, Udaipur is situated in the forested, hilly region of Aravalli Ranges in complete contrast to the arid deserts of Marwar in the northwest.

Udaipur - dream destination in the desert, whose sagas of great valour and stories of high romance add colour and character to a history as proud and unrelenting as it is long. The kingdom of Mewar was ruled by the Sisodia dynasty for over 1200 years from Chittorgarh before Maharana Udai Singh II founded Udaipur in 1568 following the final sacking of their hill fortress. In sharp contrast to its spartan and martial persona are lakes, hills, temples, gardens and fairy-tale palaces that make Udaipur the most romantic and enchanting place in Rajasthan. Apart from Udaipur's own splendours, there are several other places to visit in its vicinity Jaisamand Lake, the fort of Kumbhalgarh and the temples at Ranakpur, Eklingji, Nagda, Kankroli and Nathdwara.

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS - UDAIPUR CITY

Arsi Vilas

Arsi Vilas is an exclusive island located just behind Jag Niwas. It was built by Maharana Arsi Singh so he could watch the sunset from the middle of the lake. It has a lower platform at the back, which serves the purpose of a helipad when required.

Lake Pichola

This lake is the centre-piece around which Udaipur revolves. It started off as a small pond built by a banjara, who dammed up the waters of a mountain stream by building a dyke. Maharana Udai Singh extended this pond, creating the exquisite Lake Pichola. Lake Pichola The lake lies to the immediate west of the ridge on which the City Palace of Udaipur stands. Maharana Udai Singh built a masonry dam, known as Badi Pol, and the lake is now 4 km long and 3 km wide. The lake is fairly shallow and can actually dry up in severe droughts. One day's heavy rain is sufficient to fill the lake for a year. Amusingly, the water of the lake belongs to the Government of India whilst the land under water belongs to the royal family. A few crocodiles are believed to live in the more remote parts of the lake near uninhabited sections of the shore. Late in the eighteenth century the traveller Louis Rousselet wrote this about the crocodiles after a sojourn in a punt on the lake: The crocodiles found here as in other inland lakes of India, is a formidable animal. It attains a great size, and the people who inhabit the shores of the lake occasionally fall victim to its savage attacks........Since the English Residency has been established at Oudeypoor, and the Rana, overcoming the ridiculous religious prejudices which protect these reptiles, has allowed Europeans to hunt them down, these formidable animals have abandoned the neighbourhood of the town, and have taken refuge on the opposite banks. Pitilessly pursued into their retreats, they have become very wary. As soon as a boat appears upon the lake, they dive to the bottom, and, on rising again, only show the tips of their muzzles above the surface.

Pratap Smarak

A statue of the legendary Rajput warrior Maharana Pratap, who frequently defied the Mughals, is situated atop Moti Magri overlooking Fateh Sagar. The way to the top passes through elegant gardens, including a rock garden in the distinctive Japanese style. The park is open to the public from 9 am to 6 pm.

Shilpgram

Three km west of Fateh Sagar is an interesting place called Shilpgram, a crafts village with traditional houses from four states-Rajasthan, Gujarat, Goa and Maharashtra. Daily demonstratiShilpgramons by musicians, dancers or artisans from various states are held here. Camel or horse rides are available here. It's open daily from 9 am to 6 pm. The open air Shilpi restaurant next to the site serves snacks and good Indian and Chinese food. It also has a swimming pool, open from 11 am to 4 pm. There's no public transport to Shilpgram, so you'll have to take an auto-rickshaw or taxi, or you'll have to rent a bicycle. Ahar Museum

Three km east of Udaipur are the remains of an ancient city. Here, you'll find a small museum housing old earthen pottery, sculptures and other archaeological finds. The museum is open daily, except Friday, from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm and entry is free. Nearby are clusters of Cenotaphs of the maharanas of Mewar.

The Durbar Hall

India's most impressive, with a sumptuous interior boasting some of the largest chandeliers in the country. In 1909 Maharana Fateh Singh invited Lord Minto, the then viceroy of India, to lay the foundation stone of the Durbar Hall. Also called Minto Hall in his honour, the majestic hall once hosted formal court gatherings, state banquets and royal weddings. Numerous old paintings, weapons and grand portraits of former maharanas of Mewar adorn the walls of this hall. The top floor of this high ceiling hall, where the crystal collection is now housed, was the viewing gallery, from where the ladies of the palace, used to watch in veiled seclusion, the special functions happening in the Durbar Hall below. Today painstakingly restored, the size, splendour and capacity of this hall makes it an ideal venue for hosting special functions such as conferences or social gatherings.

City Palace Complex and Museums

The gigantic City Palace, towering over the Pichola Lake, is the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. It extends a considerable distance along the east bank of the lake. South of the palace, a pleasant garden runs down to the shore. The original structure was built in the sixteenth century. Thereafter, each successive generation of rulers in Udaipur made its architectural mark on the City Palace complex. By the end of the nineteenth century the Maharana's Palace was a city in itself, with storehouses, stables, wells and farms within it's walls. City Palace Udaipur Inspite of being a conglomeration of buildings added by various rulers, the palace complex manages to retain a surprising integrity of design. The palace has numerous balconies, towers and cupolas and there are stunning views over the lake and the city from the upper terraces. The main part of the palace has now been preserved as a museum. It has a large and varied collection of artifacts. The museum includes the Bari Mahal, which has a lovely central garden. The Mor Chowk with it's beautiful mosaics of peacocks; the Manak Mahal with it's collection of glass and porcelain figures and the Krishna Vilas with it's fine collection of miniatures are a treat not to be missed. The Zenana Mahal (The women's private living quarters in a palace) also has a collection of paintings. If one wants to see examples of beautiful mirror-work then a visit to the Moti Mahal is a must. The Chini Mahal is covered in beautiful oriental tiles.

Crystal Gallery

The staggering collection of crystal which is housed in what was earlier the ladies viewing gallery, was ordered by Maharana Sajjan Singh in 1877. At that time the Birmingham based company F & C Osler had a showroom in Calcutta and it was from here that Maharana Sajjan Singh got his inspiration. He however died before the shipment could arrive from England. Much of the crystal remained packed in cases and it was only in 1994 that it was arranged and opened for public display in its entirety. The variety of crystal objet d'art includes fountains, vases, crockery and furniture. What is amazing about this collection is the ethnicity of the designs. There are objects in crystal that are distinctly Indian in conception like the lotas or drinking water vessels and chuskies or small decanters. Alongside this fascinating range of crystal are exhibited silver beds, chairs and brocade and velvet seating.

Fateh Sagar

North of Pichola Lake, this water body is overlooked by a number of hills and parks. It was originally built in 1678 by Maharana Jai Singh, but reconstructed by Maharana Fateh Singh after heavy rains destroyed the dam. A pleasant drive winds along the east bank and in the middle is Nehru Park, a popular garden island with a cafe shaped like a boat. You can get there by boat from near the bottom of Moti Magri. Paddle boats are available.

Jagdish Temple

This exquisite Indo-Aryan temple is located north of the entrance to the City Palace. Maharani Jag Singh built it in 1651. A black stone image of Vishnu as Jagannath, Lord of the Universe is installed there. A shrine in the front of the temple has a brass image of the Garuda, a mythological bird .The steps upto the temple are flanked by elephants.

Jagmandir Palace

An island palace, its construction was begun by Maharana Karan Singh, but it takes it's name from Maharana Jagat Singh (1628-1652) who added to it a zenana (women's quarters) and named the island Jag Mandir in honour of himself. Made of the finest yellow sandstone inlaid with marble, it has been dedicated to Lord Jagannath, the Lord of the Universe. The place is available for holding various social functions such as parties and receptions and even marriages! In fact a lot of westerners come to get married at this place.

Kumbhalgarh Fort

This is the most important fort in the Mewar region after Chittorgarh. It's an isolated and fascinating place 84 km from Udaipur, built by Maharana Kumbha in the 15th century. It's worth taking a leisurely walk in the large compound, which has some interesting ruins and is very peaceful. The fort is open daily and entry is free.

Eklingji Temple

Dedicated to the patron deity of the Marwar clan, the Eklingji Temple still holds a significant place in the hearts of the Rajasthanis. The original structure of the temple was built in the 8th century though the present structure was built much later. Standing at the banks of the Indersagar Lake, the Eklingji Temple exude a purity that cleanses heart and soul.

Lake PalaceLake Palace

Occupying an island in the midst of Lake Pichola, the Lake Palace appears to emerge straight from under the water. Today, the palace has been converted into a heritage hotel and welcomes guests with a warmth that penetrates deep down the heart. The royal treatment accorded is akin to those that were given to the Maharajas of yesteryears.

HOW TO REACH

Air :  The city has domestic airport, which is service by majority of airlines. Regular flights connect the city with key Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai and so on.

By Train: The city is conveniently connected with important destinations of Rajasthan and neighbouring states like: Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra by extensive road network.

By Road: The city is conveniently connected with important destinations of Rajasthan and neighbouring states like: Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra by extensive road network.

 
 
 

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