Udaipur, known as the City of Dawn, is a beautiful land surrounded by many lakes and hemmed in by the verdant Aravalli Hills. Drenched in romance and beauty, the city of Udaipur is an enthralling blend of sights, sound and experiences. Udaipur has been referred to as the Venice of the West and it has been an inspiration for the imagination of many painters, poets and authors.
The desert kingdom of Udaipur has a royal lineage of 26 generations and it is in total contrast with the other arid deserts of Marwar in the northwest of Rajasthan. Udaipur can be divided into its old and new portions. On the banks of Lake Pichhola lies the old city, surrounded by walls equipped with weapons like any old fortress town. It has five big gates - Hathi Pol, Suraj Pol, Chand Pol, Kishan Pol and Delhi Gate. Many lakes and palaces characterize the city's landscape.
Maharana Pratap Airport has daily flights to Jaipur, Jodhpur, Aurangabad, Mumbai and Delhi. Udaipur city is about 21 km from the airport and this distance can be covered in 40 minutes by taxis and buses. Udaipur is well connected by rail to cities like Delhi, Ahmedabad, Ajmer, Jaipur and Chittaurgarh. There are connecting trains to various destinations of India from these cities. Rajasthan Tourist Development Corporation (RTDC) conducts tours around the city in their buses.
The three Heritage Hotels- the Lake Palace Hotel in the middle of Lake Pichhola, Fateh Prakash Palace hotel and Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel offer a luxurious stay in truly regal style. You can also find accommodation in deluxe or budget hotels.
There are many places that are of tourist interest around Udaipur. They include Nathdwara an abode of Shrinathji or Lord Krishna, the majestic Chittaurgarh, the mountain fortress of Kumbhalgarh, a beautiful Jain temple at Ranakpur and Ekligji. The cool retreat of Mount Abu is not far away from this city.
The City Palace: Towering over the Pichhola Lake is this regal architectural marvel of City Palace, whose construction was initiated by Maharana Udai Singh. We cannot but wonder at the surprising uniformity of the design of the many palaces and structures that were added to the complex later by succeeding Maharanas. Crenellated walls surround the palace, which is an assembly of pavilions, terraces, rooms, corridors and hanging gardens.
Hati Pol or the elephant gate serves as the entry point to the Palace. Through the Bari Pol which means Big Gate, you can go to the Tripolia or the Triple Arched Gate which has eight marble porticos. Once it was a custom with the Maharanas to weigh themselves under this gate in gold and silver and distribute them to the public.
You can enjoy a wonderful view of the lake from the balconies, towers and cupolas that prevail there. In those days, the Suryavanshi Maharanas of Mewar would address public audiences from Suraj Gokhada or the balcony of the Sun, in times of trouble to boost their confidence. The Peacock Square or the Mor Chawk is famous for walls that are decorated with vibrant blue peacock mosaics in glass.
Jagdish Temple This Indo-Aryan temple, which is the biggest and main temple of Udaipur, was built in 1651 A.D and is noted for its sculpted images.
Maharana Pratap Memorial This is a memorial of the great Rajput hero Maharana Pratap built on top of Moti Magri or pearl hill. Overlooking the Fateh Sagar Lake, this memorial has a bronze statue of the Maharana.
Fateh Sagar Lake This is a beautiful lake built by Maharana Fateh Singh. It is surrounded by many hills on three sides and on the northern side of the lake stands the Pratap Memorial. A pleasant boat ride will take you to Nehru Park, a beautiful garden island situated in the middle of the lake. It has a boat-shaped café in it.
Saheliyon-ki-Bari This tiny ornamental garden is also known as the Garden of the Maids of Honor, where the royal women used to relax and go for a stroll. With several fountains in its four lovely pools and marble elephants, this garden looks charming.
Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandir This Indian folk arts museum has an interesting collection of folk dresses, puppets, ornaments, dresses, dolls, masks, paintings, folk musical instruments and deities.
Pichhola Lake or Pichola Lake The Lake surrounded by hills, temples, palaces, bathing ghats and embankments had enchanted Maharana Udai Singh, who later enlarged. Jag Mandir and Jag Nivas, the two island palaces on the lake.
Ahar This was the ancient capital of Sisodias. It is at this place, which is about two miles from Udaipur, we find a number of royal cenotaphs of the kings who ruled Mewar. A small government museum displays a rare collection of antiquities that include earthen pots, iron objects and many other art pieces excavated from this region.
Gulab Bagh: As the name suggests, this is a beautiful rose garden laid out by Maharana Sajjan Singh. This garden has a library that has an extraordinary collection of old manuscripts and books.
SajjanGarh: Offering a panoramic view of the city's palaces, lakes and the surrounding country side, the monsoon palace of SajjanGarh dominates the city's skyline with its enchanting beauty.
Udaipur Climate Unlike other parts of Rajasthan, Udaipur enjoys pleasant weather. It is attributed partly to its sheltered position amidst the Aravalli Ranges and partly due to the annual rainfall of about 61cm it receives from the monsoons. During summer, temperature rises to a moderate 38 or 39 degrees C and a minimum of 28-degree C. Temperatures in winter during the coldest spell range from 11.6 degrees C to 28.3 degree C.
Shopping in Udaipur
Rajasthani miniature paintings are an extremely popular craft item. Beautiful images of gods and goddesses are painted in a village near Nathdwara. Besides this, tie and dye fabrics, folk toys, colorful clothes, wall hangings and silver jewelry are also popular in Udaipur.
Udaipur holds Mewar Festival in March to welcome spring with food, song and dance. Women attired in colorful dresses take the idols of Goddess Gauri and immerse them in the Lake Pichhola. There is a procession of boats at the end of the celebrations. Amidst the lush settings of Mount Abu, a Summer Festival is conducted in June every year. There are cheerful celebrations with tribal festivities, classical and folk music to mark the occasion.