Udaipur, ‘the City of Lakes’ sprawling picturesquely on the slopes of a low ridge along the banks of Pichola and Fatehsagar lakes was founded by Maharana Udai Singh in 1559. It became the new capital of the Ranas of Mewar, after the death of Maharana Pratap in 1597. The beautiful city is surrounded by an amphitheater of low hills and studded with placid blue lakes, white marble palaces, graceful gardens, and sacred shrines. The amazing city is indeed a perfect blend of natural beauty and history, offering a great vacation to tourists with varied interests.
City Palace: This largest palace complex of Rajasthan is perched majestically on a low ridge, towering above the placid waters of Pichola. The construction of this 30.4 meters high and 244 meters long structure was initiated by Udai Singh and was built over a span of over three hundred years. It is a conglomeration of eleven palaces, numerous courtyards, pavilions, terraces, corridors, rooms, and hanging gardens. The complex is approached through “Hathi Pol’ or the Elephant gate’, along the main street of the old city, near the famous Jagdish temple. The ‘Bara Pol’ or the Great Gate’ brings you to the first courtyard which leads to the Tripolia Gate, with eight carved marble arches or torans. Located inside are various attractions like the Suraj Gokhada or the ‘Balcony or Sun’, Bada Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, Bhim Vilas, Mor Chowk or Peacock courtyard’, the Zenana Mahal or ‘women’s quarters’ and Chini Chitrasala, Fateh Prakash, Durbar na lall and Shambhu Niwas, etc.
Saheliyon ki Bari or the ‘Gardens of the Maids’: The well laid out garden flanking the embankment of the Fateh Sagar lake was built for the forty-eight young ladies-in-waiting, who accompanied a princess to Udaipur as part of her dowry. The gardens noted for their discreet and impeccable taste are studded with four lotus pools with dainty kiosks, marble pavilions, and elephant-shaped fountains. The colorful flower beds, lawns are protected by a series of walls and shady trees.
Sajjan Garh: The ‘palace for monsoon’ is set atop a steep hill and affords a fine view of the lake city and its surroundings.
Jagdish Temple: This magnificent temple of Lord Vishnu was built in 1615, by Maharana Jagat Singh. The shrine is approached through a steep flight of 32 steps, the plinth is adorned with bas reliefs friezes. The main sanctum has a black marble statue of Lord Vishnu.
Lake Pichola: Picturesque Pichola surrounded by hills, palaces, temples, bathing phats, and embankments is about 4 kms. in length and 3 kms. wide. The main attractions are its two island palaces Jag Niwas and Jag Mandir set splendidly amidst the turquoise waters of the lake. The majestic city palace sprawls along the eastern bank of the lake. Visi Bansi Ghat (City Palace Jetty), for a boat ride.
Lake Palace or Jag Mahal: The magnificent white palace on the Jag Niwas Island is one of the most beautiful palaces of the world. It was built in 1754, by Maharana Jagat Singh II and has now been converted into a luxury hotel.
Jag Mandir: The construction of this island palace of Pichhola was initiated by Maharaja Karan Singh and several additions were made by Maharana Jagat Singh. Prince Khurram (Shahjahan) took refuge here when he rebelled against his father.
Pratap Memorial: The memorial atop Moti Magri or ‘Pearl hillock’ commemorates Maharana Pratap, the most distinguished son of Mewar, whose chivalrous deeds have become legendary. A fine bronze statue of Maharana Pratap on his loyal horse Chetak overlooks the serene waters of Fateh Sagar. Adjacent to the memorial is a Japanese Rock Garden, known as Bhamashah Park.
Fateh Sagar: It was built in 1678, by Maharana Jai Singh to the north of Lake Pichola and the two lakes are linked by a canal. The lake enclosed on three sides by hills is named after Fateh Singh, who undertook renovations of the lake and rebuilt the dam. The beautiful Nehru Park with a boat-shaped café is set amidst the waters of Fateh Sagar. It can be reached by boat.
Gulab Bagh or Sajjan Niwas Garden: The well laid out garden built by Maharana Sajjan Singh is noted for its majestic beauty. An elegant building houses a library with a rich and rare collection of old books and ancient handwritten manuscripts.
Ahar (3 kms.): This ancient capital of Sisodias and the archaeological site has exquisite cenotaphs of the rulers of Mewar. The Government Museum here exhibits some of the finds like earthen pots, iron objects, and other art items, dating back to 5,000 years.
Shilpgram (3 kms.): The rural arts and crafts village nestling amidst the Aravali ranges were established as a West Zone Cultural Centre. It is dotted with huts built by a craftsperson from the members of various states of India and provides a platform for the rural craftsperson representing various regions. The Shilpgram Utsav celebrated here provides a fine glimpse into the multi-facets of Indian art and culture.
Eklingji (22 kms.)
The splendidly sculpted temple complex was built in 734, amidst the hills and dedicated to Lord Shiva, the family deity of the Mewar rulers. Within the high walls of the complex are 108 exquisitely carved temples. The main sanctum has a four-faced black marble image of Lord Shiva. Facing the main sanctum is a life-size idol of Nandi, the bull and Bappa Rawal under a vaulted roof.
Haldighati (40 kms.)
The famous battle between Maharana Pratap and Mughal emperor Akbar in 1576 A.D. was fought here. The site is marked by a cenotaph with delicate white marble columns. It is dedicated to the indomitable hero Maharana Partap and his loyal charger Chetak.
Nagada (23 kms.)
This first capital of Bappa Rawal, the founder of the Sisodia dynasty of Mewar is famous for the Sas Bahu ka Mandir dedicated to Lord Vishnu and the Jain temple.
Nathdwara (48 kms.)
The 17th-century temple of Shri Nathji or Lord Krishna is one of the most important Vaishnavite pilgrim centers in the country. The magnificent black marble image of LordShri Nathji is believed to be over 600 years old and was brought here from Mathura in1669, to protect from the fanatic hands of Mughal emperor Aurang Zeb.
Kankroli (65 kms.)
It is yet another important Hindu pilgrim center of the region. The temple here is dedicated to Lord Krishna and is popularly called as Dwarkadhish, as it resembles the famous Nathdwara shrine. The beautiful Rajsamand Lake, located nearby was built by Maharana Raj Singh in 1660.
Rishabhdeoji (Kesariyaji) (65 kms.)
The 15th century Jain temple of Rishabdeoji is an important Jain and Hindu pilgrim site. Itis located on Udaipur Ahmadabad road.
Jaisamand Lake (48 kms.)
This second largest artificial lake in Asia was built in the 17th century by Maharana Jai Singh. It extends to a maximum length of about 14.5 kms. and a width of 10 kms. Three islands within the waters of the lake are inhabited by tribals. Six marvelous marble cenotaphs and a temple of Narmadeshwar Mahadeo festoon the embankment. The Jaisamand Wildlife Sanctuary near the lake makes an exciting excursion. The Jaisamand Island Resort with 5-star facilities is also worth visiting.
Jagat (58 kms.)
It is popularly called as the ‘Khajuraho of Rajasthan. The most important attraction is the exquisitely carved 10th century Ambika Mata temple.
Kumbhalgarh Fort (84 kms.)
lt was built by Maharana Kumbha between 1445-58 and is regarded as the second most important fort of Rajasthan after Chittaurgarh. The gigantic fort extends over 12 kms. amidst a cluster of thirteen peaks of the Aravali ranges. It is encircled by a 36 kms. longwall and defended by a series of battlements, bastions and soaring watchtowers. Within the ramparts of the fort are magnificent palaces, ruins of temples and gardens. The Badal Mahal or the ‘Cloud Palace’ is set at the highest point of the fort and affords a scenic view OT the surrounding countryside. The Kumbhalgarh sanctuary near the fort is inhabited by a rich variety of animal and birdlife. It is also well known for its archaeological importance.
Ranakpur (98 kms.)
The 15th-century magnificent shrine is one of the five most sacred sites of the Jains. The temple complex built in faintly glowing amber stone reverberates an aura of peace, spirituality, and tranquillity. It is a marvel of architecture and a living testimony to the wonders that abiding faith and relentless pursuit of excellence can create.