Any place which is rich in culture and history, always has an ethereal beauty which sets it apart from the rest. So is this wonderful city, which is a fortress surrounded by sparkling lakes and the Aravalli hills – an absolute fairy tale setting. People who have visited Udaipur have named it ‘Venice of the East’, ‘Kashmir of Rajasthan’ and ‘City of Dawn’, among many other names.
Built and established by the Chittor ruler Maharana Udai Singh II in 1553, Udaipur was made the capital of the rich and prosperous Mewar kingdom. The city of Udaipur was protected from external attacks, by a six-kilometre-long city wall, with seven gates at various locations.
The City Palace, constructed in the year 1559 by Maharana Udai Mirza Singh, stands on the banks of the Pichola Lake. It houses 11 palaces within it and were constructed during different periods of time and by different rulers. Lavish and extravagant with decorations and interiors, it has innumerable courtyards, gardens, temples, ladies’ palaces and rooms. European and Chinese styles of architecture have been used in this magnificent structure. The City Palace is a living testimony to the wealth and affluence that India owned once upon a time.
The quintessential attraction of Udaipur is the majestic, impregnable Kumbhalgarh Fort, which was constructed by Maharana Kumbha in the 15th century. Maharana Pratap, one of India’s great warrior Kings, hailed from this famous fort. Built to be the strongest of all the forts in Rajasthan, it is protected by 13 mountain peaks of the Aravalli range. It is around 1900 metres above sea level and is encompassed by a long, thick wall, which is the second longest in the world after the Great Wall of China. No other fortress matches the protection it offers with seven gates and ramparts, making it invincible. It survived many attacks from Akbar and other invaders. ‘Badal Mahal’ is the highlight of this place.
Everything in Udaipur, including the city, is man-made. Lake Pichola is yet another man-made natural wonder created by Maharana Udai Singh. Nestled between hills, palaces and bathing Ghats, the lake offers the most fascinating views to the avid photographer. Cruises on boats satisfy the awestruck tourist, with views of the entire city.
Bagore Ki Haveli
Bagore Ki Haveli sits at the waterfront of Lake Pichola. This old haveli has more than 100 rooms and presently serves as a museum of Mewar culture and tradition. Traditional costumes, paintings, jewellery boxes, copper vessels and glasswork adorn this monument. Folk dances and cultural performances come alive during the evenings here.
This solitary palace is situated on top of a distant mountain. It was built by Maharana Sajjan Singh as an astronomical centre. Over time, it was converted into a monsoon palace and a hunting lodge for royalty. Its location attracts people and it is thronged by visitors purely for the magical view that it offers of the entire city. At the foothills of this palace is the Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary. In the evenings, the neglected palace is transformed into something spectacular, created by the magic of illumination.
Come, lose yourself in this fairy tale city, where every rock has a story to narrate. The air of Udaipur carries the beauty, bravery, grace and heroism of the people who have lived here in the past. With a history so rich and culture so vibrant, you will definitely be mesmerized by the myriad colours it has to offer.