Udaipur - of antique palaces
Go there for :
Palaces, Lakes, Museums
28.8°-38.3°C (Sum); 11.6°-28.3°C (Win)
When to Go:
STD Code :
+91 - 294
Yet another palatial city of Rajasthan, but like each one of them,
this one too is painted in its own unique hue. The lakes are what gives
Udaipur its claim to fame, other then the sprawling Forts and Palaces. And
overnighting at an ex-palace and waking up to the chirping of some hundreds
of migratory birds - varied and colorful - can be quiet an experience, isn't
it? The finery of craftsmanship of Mewar (the Mewar School of Miniature
Painting), add another stash of glory to this already proud Rajputana
Tale of the City
Founded by Maharana Udai Singh in 1568, Udaipur is considered the
jewel of Mewar. The Maharana of Udaipur is the highest ranked amongst Rajput
rulers and is the head of the Suryavanshi (Solar) Rajput clan. It is also
called the City of Sunrise and the Maharana's standard bears an image of the
Towering over a serene lake Pichola is one of
the most magnificent of Rajasthani palaces built in parts by its legendary
Maharana kings, yet exuding a strange uniformity of structure. Today City
Palace, as it is called, with with elegantly carved arches, cupolas,
romantic balconies, is a regal Heritage Resort. The inhouse Museum has many
treats to the vision - the Mor Chowk with its beautiful blue peacock
mosaics, the Manak or Ruby Mahal has figures made in glass and porcelain,
Krishna Vilas and Zanana Mahal has beautiful paintings and miniatures, Bari
Mahal is known for its eclectic garden and the princely Chini Mahal is
covered with ornamental tiles.
Udaipur's glittering necklace, 4 km long, is the
Pichola lake. And like two pretty pendants are studded two palaces on the
lake island - Jagniwas and Jagmandir. Jagniwas, now a Heritage Hotel, was
the erstwhile summer retreat of prince of Mewar. While Jagmandir was
constructed by Maharana Karan Singh to provide refuge to Shah Jehan, the
reason being the latter was born of a Rajput mother. It is believed that
this palace also provided some inspiration for the Prince's magna carta Taj
Mahal. On the east bank is embellished the City Palace and a sprawling
garden. A boat ride to the islands is undulating fun.
Neighboring the City Palace is this classic
Indo-Aryan shrine of Lord Vishnu, worshiped in a black-marbled image as Lord
Fateh Prakash Palace:
An oriental beauty, preserved since the legacy
of Maharana Fateh Singh, is this heritage palace-turned-hotel. The
reflection of its magnificent turrets in the quiet waters of Fateh Sagar
lake as you take a boat ride to the little island with a garden, creates an
euphoria beyond words. The cafetaria at the island, serves excellent coffee.
The statue of Rajput demigod Maharana Pratap, who held
the reigns of his homeland against the Mughals, stands proud atop the Moti
Magri or the Pearl Hill, overlooking the Fateh Sagar Lake. Do drop by the
interesting Japanese rock garden as you climb uphill.
Bharatiya Lok Kala
(Udaipur Folk Museum): Here is where lies the
virtual kaleidoscope to the heritage of this princely Rajput city. Look out
for paintings, dolls, masks, musical instruments, dresses and the puppet
show held almost regularly.
The literal meaning is the Craftsmen's village and true
to its name it is an archipelago of crafts from various Indian states like
Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat and of course, Rajasthan. However this ethnic
village is is earmarked for its exquisite terracotta work mainly in dark red
and dark brown and its wooden carvings. The 26 huts set amidst a sprawling
70 acres bordered by the Aravalli hills add a slush of panoramic beauty to
this otherwise shopping joint.
Festivals of Udaipur:
The Mewar Festival
is celebrated to
welcome the advent of spring every March at Udaipur. Co-inciding with the
festival of Gangaur, celebrated all over Rajasthan, Mewar Festival is when a
procession of chariots carrying idols of the goddess, embellished elephants,
camels and men on horseback, women decked up in their best attires, all
march their way through the streets of Udaipur to the Gangaur Ghat at Lake
Pichhola. The idols are then set adrift the decorated boats at the Lake. And
the vista of these boats, with idols, flowers and lights, floating across
the pristine lake, create magic for the spectators.
Ladling your bags with local crafts is sine qua non for tourists
visiting Udaipur. Wooden folk puppets, tie-and-dye sarees, enamel or
Meenakari work, colorful turbans, hand painted fabrics, silver jewelery,
wall hangings and miniature paintings in Rajput style are the tourist
favorites. Chetak Circle, Clock Tower, Hathi Pol, Palace Road and the City
Market are some of the best places to go shop-hunting. The shopping festival
at Shilpgram, the craft village (mid-December) is not to be missed incase
you are there during that season.
Rajasthali (Chetak Circle) the government-run handicraft shop, is a good
place to both pick up basic handicrafts for fair prices. Mangalam (Sukhadia
Circle) is best for textiles, handicrafts, dhurries (rugs), while at the
City Palace Museum shop buy pichhwai paintings (wall hangings painted on
cloth or silk, often featuring scenes from Lord Krishna's life). For some
quality paintings consider visiting four-time national award winner Kamal
Sharma (15A, New Colony, Kalaji-Goraji). Jagdish Emporium on City Palace
Road has traditional Udaipur (and Gujarati) embroidery items.
Indian delicacies you should not miss here are the vegetarian
delicacies like paneer do pyaja (cheese cooked with onion, tomato and
chilies), matar paneer (Indian cheese curry with peas and tomatoes) and
traditional non-vegerarian favorites like Afghani murgh malai tikka (creamy
chicken kebabs) and the famed fish a la Jagat (local freshwater fish from
Jaisamand Lake cooked in a lemon sauce and served with chips).
The Lake Palace Hotel, Udaivilas's Suryamahal and Udaimahal (Udaimahal open
for dinner only) sum up for the royal traditional palates. Ambrai (beyond
Lake Pichola Hotel), Natural View (atop the Evergreen Guest House), Cafe
Hill Park (SW of Sajjan Niwas gardens), 16 Chef Restaurant (16 Gyan Marg)
serve good multi-cuisine.
(22 km): A little hamlet that has shot to fame in
the Hindu pilgrimage map with some of the most ancient temples. The 734 AD
Shiva temple with the four-faced image of the lord in black marble looks
ethereal. At Nagada, a km before Eklingi, there a flock of three old
temples. The Sas Bahu ('Mother and Daughter in-law') temple is as
interesting as its name.
(40 km): This is where the iconic Maharana Pratap on his
charger Chetak, defeated the Mughal forces of Akbar in 1576. The chhatri
(umbrella-shaped cenopath) of Chetak, the loyal war-horse, makes this
destination an attraction of a different kind.
(48 km): The temple enshrining the black stone image of
Lord Vishnu here, as per a legend, sunk into the ground when attempts were
being made to move it.
(84 km): Ranked next to Chittorgarh, this is one
must-see fort with a plethora of palaces and temples within its impregnable
ramparts. Check out the horse/jeep safaris from here.
(135 km): On the Udaipur-Jodhpur road is this grand castle
turned hotel. The interiors are simply fascinating with dexterous carvings.
(48 km): This is one of Asia's largest artificial
lakes made during the 17th Century by Maharaja Jai Singh. With the marbled
cenopaths around, the locale looks beautiful - just right for your
Hop next to: Jaipur
(406 km), Jodhpur
(275 km), Mount