Udaipur, the name to some might suggest a grandeur of cultural exhibitions and medieval architecture while to others it might be the fresh green water of its numerous lakes. But to me, It is the the perfect blend of culture and nature. The pride of ancient nationalism and royal experience with its palaces makes it one of the best cities in the country to spend some quality time. The city, its people, its water, and its lavish palaces does its best to welcome the tourists with open arms and offers them with everything it has got.
Also known as ‘The Venice of the East’, ‘The City of Lakes’ and the ‘Kashmir of Rajasthan’, I will be sharing my experience of the visit and some crucial details to help my fellow travellers for their future plans.
WHY UDAIPUR ?
Initially, I too found the fact that I had my tickets to Udaipur rather than my preferred choice to visit Mussorie this winter a bit indigestible. But there was not a single moment in those three days that I did regret at that point. The barren beauty of Rajasthan of which I had only heard in stories and watched on advertisements was finally in front of me to feel. And I did feel in plenty.
Apart from the lavishes of the city, which quite frankly most of us cannot afford, what possibly could attract us to this place!!!!
Its lakes, mountains, jungles, history, art, culture, heritage among others are the attributes to this city which has fortunately not been capitalised yet. One’s finances will never be the constraint to enjoy the beauty of this city.
Although, I will talk about its lakes and mountains in detail, I would be happy to share the reason one should continue to read forward.
I had never listened to Rajasthani folks my entire life, I had not really tried to know how people live in such scorching heat. I had not really cared about the Rajput glory and its stories. But all changed ever since I visited their land.
I have become a frequent listener to Rajasthani music appreciating their art and them. Many of us might not be Rajputs or interested in their ancestry, but Udaipur will not give you a feel of a particular sect, but that of patriotism for the country. My eyes did become wet when I saw the battlefield in front of the gates of Chittorgarh Fort. Imagining that 600 years ago, how different were our forefathers. That how many men must have died their defending their land from their enemies. What a different world, a different life it must have been. How much blood soaked our history has always been!
Life in Udaipur
And it is not just the history or the heritage associated with it, those interested in art might find some Udaipuri handicrafts really authentic and amazing. Also, it manufactures some of the most unique works of Rajasthan you will ever know. The museums has plenty to offer about the culture, its Royals and its people.
The romance of the city is at its best during monsoons and quite pleasant in winters too. At the backdrop of palaces and lakes, this city will give a special feel of love. One which I can bet no other city has to offer.
But the most beautiful thing one could experience is the peaceful lakes whose serenity increases multi-fold at dusk. The Aravallis surrounding it and the sandy sound of the wind at hill tops will do enough to please your soul in its own dusty way.
I did find the city a heaven for patrons of art, music, crafts, architecture and love. Admirers of nature, too will find their peace with its mountains and waters. Its easy for seekers of silence to find their joy in its air.
I am sure, I was unable to put the feeling in proper words. But I know that place has transferred its positive feeling into me which makes me write about it. That is what a new experience does to me and presumably to you too.
So, continue with me to know more about the city which does best to help you with your present knowledge and future plans.
Udaipur has had a pretty glorious past embedded with Rajputana heritage and Indian ethos. In 1553, Rana Udai Singh II, father to the nationalist pride Rana Pratap, decided to shift the capital of Mewar, one of the most powerful Indian kingdoms at the time of rising Mughals. The capital was shifted from Chittor, the ancestral seat of Sisodia Rajputs and the epicentre of medieval nationalism, in the wake of growing threats from Akbar in Delhi and weakening unity in other Rajput States of Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner etc.
Udaipur is surrounded by mountains on all sides with lakes and forests adding to its natural defence making it less suscepctible to a fall. Rana Pratap and subsequent kings of Mewar have successfully defended their capital from Mughal and Afghan attacks until it became a princely state in the British rule.
The City Palace at Udaipur has seen continued patronage, even as its earlier administrative and residential role came to an end with democratic India. It is currently home to Maharana Arvind Singh Mewar.
Geographically, Udaipur basin is located along the Great Indian Water Divide. The confluence of four rivers viz. Ahar, Morwani, Amarjok and Kotra that flow through the well-defined Girwa region along eastern slopes of south central Aravallis.
1.Brief description of the city 2. Residential Part Of City Palace 3. Battle of Haldighati
9 MAJOR ATTRACTIONS
- Bahubali Hills 2. Sajjangarh, as a brilliant speck across Fateh Sagar Lake
Bahubali Hills is one of the most sought out places for pre-wedding photography and the perfect place to experience serenity of Lake Badi on one side and glaring magnificence of Arravalis and its barren landscape on the other. The plains, hills, and the lake sums up your view of Udaipur and that of Rajasthan at large.
A peculiar V-shaped cross sectional view of hill range is an amazing place to start your city tour. The trek to the top is fairly easy for us, covering a distance of 200 metres with a nominal elevation. The hills were a mere 12 kilometres from the city centre. I could easily rent a two wheeler to get there. The journey to the destination was equally fulfilling, that I can assure. A couple of waterfalls, few dotted hills and a good road made my ride pretty enjoyable.
People do miss the fact about the beauty of the place at dusk and at dawn. Just because laziness overpowers some tired men, their eyes and their soul has to pay the price of missing the scenes at those times.
SAJJANGARH MONSOON PALACE
The Sajjangarh Monsoon Palace is a palatial residence atop the Aravalli hills. Surrounding the city, it provides a 360-degree panoramic view of the the rural and urban landscape of the country. I could feel the sweet aroma of the gusty winds from the top. The intensity and the warm silence is well appreciated too. Rumours say that the palace was built by Maharaja Sajjangarh at such a great height so that he can see his ancestral home in Chittor.
I could spot the palace as a dotted speck during sunset. The path to palace lied between the city and the Bahubali hills, hence making it easy for me to cover both spots at a single go. One is allowed to take his hired /personal vehicle inside the premised which also houses a wildlife sanctuary. If luck be with you, you can spot dear and leopards. I might warn you that the path is bit tricky and unsafe for inexperienced riders.
FATEH SAGAR LAKE
Fateh Sagar Lake is an artificial lake situated situated north-west of the old city. It is surrounded by Aravalli hills on three sides and an embankment on the fourth. Such natural status makes it one of the best places in Udaipur to watch sunset or an evening stroll/ride with a fresh water breeze blowing on your face.
One can find several food stalls, a well stretched pathway with some pretty decent evening citylights and some good company to make your evening serene.
The lake also has the country’s largest aquarium. It is also known for its boating ride to an island garden in the lake called the Nehru Garden. There are shared motor boats and normal boating rides but no self-rowing boats. An evening in the middle of waters of the Fateh Sagar might be a lifetime experience for most of us.
VINTAGE CAR MUSEUM
The vintage car museum boasts of some of the country’s most amazing and unique vintage cars. The royal family, everywhere in the world has always been fascinated by such cars ever since they have been manufactured. With an extinction of such design, efficiency and need, this museum provides a glimpse to all those car lovers a sightful experience.
As the museum is maintained by the royal family of Udaipur, entry tickets are bit expensive with no special rebate for students.
Gulab Bagh is a massive garden, a perfect place for spending time in green. The entry is free, so it isn’t much of a tourist attraction but a place for locals. Being situated right opposite to the Vintage Car Museum, one doesn’t need a special plan to visit the same.
SAHELIYON KI BARI
Moving up north and east of Fateh Sagar lake, there is a special place for enthusiasts of flowers and colours. The place originally for the queen and other women of royal family and their maids has a water fountain in the centre of the courtyard surrounded by a small but delightful garden. One can sense the varied aroma of flowers giving a pleasant experience to the mind.
If Udaipur were to be a man, lake Pichola would be its heart. Lying on the backyard of the glorious City Palace, Lake Pichola is what makes Udaipur the perfect destination for tourists.
It surrounds the famous JAG MANDIR and the royal 5-star HOTEL LEELA PALACE which is accessible only through a boat ride. The magnificent lights of the City Palace and the night view of the old city from this lake was something my eyes were not prepared for.
KARNI MATA MANDIR
On the periphery of the old city, lies a hilltop temple of Karni Mata. The three ways to reach the temple are through trolley, a sloped pathway at the front, and Stairs at the back. We were lucky enough to go through the most difficult and the most adventurous way- the Stairs. The early morning rays of the Sun waking up the city and its momentous palaces, was best visible to us from the hill top. One could easily capture the whole wide view of the city from this point. One could also easily spot the walls built around the city to shield from foreign invaders. The morning was magical for me in my own mysterious way.
City Palace is the centre of city attraction, the palce around which the city of Udaipur came into existence. The legend says that a hermit once advised Rana Udai Singh II, to build a palace at the place they met to protect the glory and heritage which has been bestowed upon him.
Of all the forts and palaces I have been to, I found the City Palce of Udaipur most well maintained, organised and powerful to communicate its history. The CITY PALACE MUSEUM is well equipped to show the scars and pride of the city and those of the Ranas of Mewar. On a personal note, the real battle image of Haldighati and the stories they narrated were enough to burst my sentiments. The museum and the palace were also an evidence of marvellous architecture and did show the way of living of the royal family since the 16th century.
1.The Aravallis 2.Jag Mandir at night 3.Dudh Talai 4.City Palace
A visit to Udaipur doesn’t culminate with the major attractions inside the city but also the nearby attractions which carry immense historical significance and does great to arouse excitement.
- UDAI SAGAR LAKE
- KUMBALGARH FORT
- CHITTORGARH FORT
- EKLINGJI TEMPLE
- RANAKPUR VILLAGE
To read more about my trip to Chittorgarh Fort, follow my blog on the same visit.
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