Udaipur - An Exotic Travel Destination In India
Udaipur is a very popular tourist destination and the historic capital of the kingdom of Mewar in the former Rajputana Regency. Also nicknamed, "The Lake City" of Rajasthan, it is located 400 km south-west of the state capital Jaipur. Maharana Udai Singh (the ruler of Mewar kingdom), driven from the citadel of Chittorgarh by the pursuing Mughal armies, on one of his hunting excursions, met a sage absorbed in meditation on a hill overlooking Lake Pichola. The hermit blessed the king and advised him to build his capital on this very spot. The Maharana followed his advice, and thus a new city Udaipur was founded in the year 1559. Being a mountainous region, and unsuitable for heavily armoured horses, Udaipur remained safe from Mughal influence inspite much pressure. Tourist season spanning from mid-September to late March, is the most appealing time to pay a visit.
City Palace, Udaipur
Places To Visit In Udaipur
- The City Palace: It is a conglomeration of several buildings and towers and is better recognized as a palace complex located on the banks of the Pichola Lake. The crystal gallery, the vintage car museum, and the Maharani palace are a few magnificent structures, that deserve a mention.
- The Lake Palace: It is a luxury palace located on the island of Jagniwas in Lake Pichola. A speedboat transports guests to the hotel from a jetty at the City Palace. Built under the supervision of the erstwhile ruler Maharana Jagat Singh II, this palace was used as a summer resort by the royal family. It has more than 80 rooms and suites featuring marble walls.
- Jag Mandir: It is a palace built in a natural island at the southern end of Lake Pichola. It was used by the royal family as a pleasure palace for hosting parties. It is a three storied property with a series of structures inside it. Jagmandir proper is the main palace. It has towers that are octagonal in shape at the corners and are topped with cupolas. Internal courts and reception halls are present within. Residential suites for the queens, princesses and the palace of the crown prince adjoin this palace. Inside it is Gulmahal palace built in yellow sandstone. It has a crown shaped dome with a crescent fixed on top. It has three circular chambers, one above the other, with a common entry from a columned hall. Marble slabs inlaid with precious stones, such as rubies and jade have been affixed to the interiors. Gulmahal is surrounded by a roomy circular apartment built in marble, with paintings to decorate the interiors. The pavilion at the entry of the palace is decorated with large elephants carved in stone, at the jetty entry for docking of boats arriving from the mainland near City Palace, that cruise through the Pichola Lake. The garden courtyard has fountains and water pools, crisscrossed by walkways, and a flower garden with blooms of jasmine, bougainvillea, nasturtiums, and moss rose. Jagmandir also has a Palace of Twelve Stones, built of twelve solid marble slabs, located on the eastern wing of the main palace.
- Monsoon Palace: This is a hilltop palatial residence built chiefly to enjoy the clouds and rainfall in the monsoon season. Built in white marble, the palace has a central court with a staircase and many rooms. It stands on marble pillars. carved with exquisite motifs of leaves and flowers. Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary, which encircles the palace, is a reserve for reptiles, tigers, wild boars, hyenas, and deer.
- Jagdish Temple: It is an Indo-Aryan temple thronged by a large number of devotees, especially to watch the aarti or prayer service that takes place at every sunrise and sunset. The deity of Lord Vishnu in black stone, in the form of Lord Jagganath, presides over the temple. There are many small shrines dedicated to Lord Ganesha, the Sun God, Goddess Shakti, and Lord Shiva.
Fateh Sagar Lake
The Courtyard of Maidens
Lakes And Gardens In Udaipur
- Fateh Sagar Lake: It is an artificial lake with blue waters and a backdrop of green mountains. It has three small islands, two of which have public parks, and the third has the Udaipur Solar Observatory. The lake supports and sustains ground water recharge, drinking water, and supplies the agricultural land and various industries. It is a pear-shaped water body, encircled by the Aravali hills on three sides, and a dam on the eastern side. The run-off emerging from the surrounding hills drains into the lake. Monsoon rains are the main source of all water flow to the lake. It is connected to lake PIchola by a canal.
- Lake PIchola: It is an artificial fresh water lake with islands Jag Niwas, Jag Mandir, Mohan Mandir, and Arsi Vilas.
- The Courtyard of Maidens (Saheliyon ki Bari): It is one of the most beautiful gardens and popular among tourists in Udaipur. It was especially built for a group of forty-eight women attendants, who accompanied the queen of Udaipur as part of her dowry. It has gardens with lush green lawns, flower beds, bird fountains with water spurting from their beaks, and lotus pools, to enhance its ambience. Located on the banks of the Fatehsagar lake, the magnificent gardens have elephant shaped fountains, that are fed by the water of the lake. This patterned garden used to be a relaxing spot, where the queen, her maids, and female companions could spend their time in leisure. In later years, a pavilion of rain fountains was built, to form an illusion of rain dancing. There is a small museum here, that exhibits ancient pictures and a huge collection of antiques from the royal family.
Udaipur Solar Observatory
It is situated on an island in the Fateh Sagar lake, a large water body, so the air turbulence which occurs due to ground heating by sun rays, is decreased. This improves the image quality and accuracy. It owns a variety of telescopes to visualize the magnetic field and evolution of solar active regions. It is one of the best solar observing site in Asia.
Udaipur is well connected to the major cities of India, by land, rail, and air. Maharana Pratap or Dabok Airport situated about 20 km from the main city, has flights to almost all the capital cities in the country. Udaipur has direct trains on both broad and meter gauge network. The roads in this part of the country are paved and fit for private vehicles. It is at a six hours drive from Jaipur, and four and a half hours drive from Ahmedabad.