The wonderful heritage and the beautiful setting together have made Udaipur one of the finest travel destinations in Rajasthan. This city of lakes, was developed in 1568 when the capital of Mewar was shifted here from Chittorgarh. If you have read about Mewar Dynasty and its hero Maharana Pratap, you would expect Udaipur to wear a mighty appearance. But, on the contrary, Udaipur with its elegant palaces, placid lakes, and lush hills is said to evoke romance. Several times it has made it to the list of ‘The Top Romantic Cities of the World’. The city turns more enchanting in the evening, as there are many places from where you can marvel at the setting sun.
Attractions in Udaipur
Begin exploring Udaipur with this magnificent and gigantic palace complex. Perched on a low ridge, above the placid waters of Pichola Lake, City Palace of Udaipur is the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. With a blend of Rajput and Mughal influences, City Palace is as elegant as it is majestic. The construction of this palace, made of yellow stone, was begun by Maharana Udai Singh and further additions were made by his successors. This palace complex is an amalgamation of eleven palaces. A complex warren of low-roofed passages connects several parts of the palace complex. This labyrinth of passageways was meant to confuse the enemy during the attack. A part of the palace complex has been transformed into a museum which is accessible to the travellers. Read More
This 4 km long and 3 km wide lake is synonymous to Udaipur. It is surrounded by hills, gardens, havelis, ghats, and temples. Your exploration of Udaipur can’t be complete without a boat ride on the waters of this beautiful lake. This lake has two island palaces which are amongst the most beautiful monuments of Udaipur. One of them is the world famous ‘Taj Lake Palace Hotel’; this white edifice appears to be afloat in the placid waters of the lake. Another island palace is ‘Jag Mandir’ which is generally open to the travellers, if not booked for an occasion. It is reached by a boat ride from City Palace. There are several roof-top cafes and restaurants in Udaipur from where you get a view of Pichola Lake with the hills in the backdrop. Lounging at one of those places around dusk is a delighting experience. Read More
Sajjangarh, also known as ‘Monsoon Palace’, is situated on a high hill inside the Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary. This deserted palace was conceived to be a summer retreat with a nine-storey observatory from where royal family can catch the sight of the approaching monsoon clouds. That’s how it received its second name – Monsoon Palace. The observatory could not get completed because of the untimely death of Maharana Sajjan Singh, who had commissioned this palace. The construction was accomplished by Maharana Fateh Singh. Later on, this palace was abandoned because of the inability to pump the water upwards. All you get from the palace, and its surroundings, are scenic views. You can climb until the first floor from where you get the commanding views of the Udaipur city. Don’t forget to reach the terrace behind the palace to watch the sun settling in the rolling hills. Read More
Jag Mandir Palace
Jag Mandir is an island palace, situated in Lake Pichola. It was built by Maharana Karan Singh. Maharana Jagat Singh did several additions to this palace and lent it his name. This palace, made of yellow sandstone, is inlaid with marble kiosks, placed around an attractive courtyard. The most notable structure inside is the Gol Mahal – a domed pavilion. In the early 17th century, this palace is where Prince Khurram, who went on to become Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, was given a refuge. It is a surreal experience to gaze at the City Palace, situated across the waters, from here. You can also take a walk to the lawns behind the palace to take in the splendid views of the lake and the hills. Read More
Travel Tip – This palace is accessed by a boat ride from the jetty at the City Palace complex. A visit around sunset is more enjoyable.
Bagore Ki Haveli
This 130-room mansion is situated by the lake, near Gangaur Ghat. It was built in the middle of the eighteenth century as a miniature of the City Palace. Its courtyard features some beautiful peacock mosaics and carved pillars made from granite, marble, and the local blueish-grey stone. A section of the mansion has been converted into a museum. On display are several furnishings, artworks, textiles, musical instruments, and paraphernalia. Every evening this mansion hosts a cultural program which features folk dances and a puppet show.
Fateh Sagar Lake
Fateh Sagar Lake, situated north of Pichola Lake, was built in 1678 by Maharana Jai Singh. Later, Maharana Fateh Singh modified it. This lake, surrounded by hills on three sides, offers a pleasant sight. The drive around this lake at sunset is an exhilarating experience. The presence of many roadside eateries attracts hordes of locals there, which makes the place chaotic.
Moti Magri, meaning ‘Pearl Hill’, overlooks the Fateh Sagar Lake. Pratap Memorial, which has a statue of Maharana Pratap on his horse Chetak, is situated atop this hill. Driving up the hill is allowed (for a fee). The best way to explore this place is by walking up the ramp that cuts through the serene woods. There are sweeping views of Fateh Sagar Lake and the surrounding city from the top of the hill. Adjacent to the memorial is a Japanese Rock Garden known as ‘Bhamashah Park’. While climbing down, you can stop at the hall which exhibits weapons and paintings of Mewar rulers.
Saheliyon Ki Bari
Sahelion Ki Bari – or ‘The Garden of the Maids’ – is a short drive from Moti Magri. These well-landscaped gardens are centred around a courtyard. The courtyard has a large pool surrounded by marble kiosks. There is also a lotus pool in the garden which has elephant fountains. Many colourful fountains are switched on after sunset, but that’s when it gets heavily crowded.
Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal
This museum of folk art displays folk dresses, ornaments, masks, puppets, folk musical instruments, and paintings. There are short amusing puppet shows staged throughout the day. Every day at 6 pm, there are hour-long puppet shows with music and dancing.
Shilpgram, a rural arts and crafts village, is a short drive out of the town. It was established as a West Zone Cultural Centre with an intention to promote the traditional architecture, music, and crafts of the tribal people of Western India. There are about thirty houses and huts built in traditional style by the craft-persons from Western States. You can spot various types of artisans at work here and can buy their handicrafts.
The cable car service situated opposite Deen Dayal Park, south of the old city, takes you to the top of Machla Magra Hill. From there you get the 360 degree view of the Udaipur City. The views of the City Palace, Pichola Lake, and the island palaces are amazing. Nearby is the temple dedicated to a Goddess. While the cable service is well-managed, you might have to wait for some time in queue. It is not possible to expect any solitude up the hill because you’ll be surrounded by scores of tourists.
Jag Niwas Island (Lake Palace)
Lake Palace is the white edifice that appears to be afloat on the waters of Lake Pichola. It covers the entire Jag Niwas Island and was built by Maharana Jagat Singh II in 1746. This palace is visible from various places around Lake Pichola and also from the balconies of the City Palace. Jag Niwas was once a royal summer retreat and is now one of the greatest hotels in India – and world. Taj Group manages this property and is named as Taj Lake Palace.
This temple, situated just north of City Palace, was built by Maharana Jagat Singh in the 17th century. Here, Lord Vishnu is worshipped as Jagannath, the Lord of the Universe. The entrance is flanked by stone elephants, and a shrine with a brass Garuda stands outside. The main sanctum enshrines a majestic black marble statue of Lord Vishnu.
Durbar Hall and Crystal Gallery
If you want to discover the lavish lifestyle of the rulers of Mewar, visit Durbar Hall. This Edwardian-era ballroom is located in Fateh Prakash Palace – part of the City Palace Complex. Adorned with Bohemian chandeliers, antique furniture, and paintings, this hall was built to host royal functions. One floor above is the Crystal Gallery which displays various objects made of fine British crystal. Sajjan Singh had ordered all these items in 1880 but he died before the arrival of consignment. All the items remained untouched within boxes for almost 110 years before settling in this gallery.
At Ahar, which is 3 km from the town, there is a royal cremation ground and an archaelogical site. There is a museum which displays an array of excavated items like earthen pots, terracotta toys, metal beads, etc. Many of these items date back to the 1st century BC. There are also many 10th-century sculptures on display.