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Udaipur

Photo credit: Francisco Anzola
Udaipur
  • (worth a trip)
  • 3-5 km
  • Easy
  • Average
  • 2-3 days
  • 3 3

Popularly termed as the "Venice of the East" and also known as "City of Lakes"

Udaipur, Rajasthan India
Rajasthani local food is the show stopper no matter where you go in Rajasthan. Some of the must try dishes while in the city include 'daal baati churma', 'pyaj kachori', 'bajre ki roti', and 'garlic chutney'. If you prefer non-vegetarian delicacies, then you cannot miss relishing 'lal maans' (meat cooked in red chillies curry), 'khad khargosh' (wild hare cooked and roasted underground), and 'safed maans' (meat cooked in curd). If you have a sweet tooth, then enjoy a piece of 'dil kushal', 'ghewar', and 'Churma Ladoo'. Lotus Cafe (Lal Ghat Area), Millets of Mewar (hanuman Ghat Area), and Palki Khana (City Palace) are some of the most preferred places to dine. For a cup of coffee or a fancy cocktail, Cafe Edelweiss (Coffee and baked snacks) and Panera Bar (Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel) are really popular.
The city of Udaipur celebrates the bright and colorful Mewar Festival in the month of March or April. The festival is celebrated to welcome the season of spring. The entire city lights up during the festivity. Houses, shops, and streets are decorated to give the festival a carnival-like feel. Numerous traditional activities and performances take places throughout the city. The festival is concluded with magnificent fireworks which are a must-see sight. The entire festival makes up for an in-depth dose of Rajasthani culture and gives photographers brilliant opportunities.
Udaipur suits budget as well as affluent travellers in a way that it houses sleeping options ranging from INR150 to INR40000. Likewise, the city has many dining options too. A regular meal at a not-so-fancy restaurant can cost anywhere between INR100-INR250. More lavish restaurants such as Paantya Restaurant (Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel) and Palki Khana (City Palace) have menus that can go up to INR1000 for a single delicacy.

Udaipur, located on the western side of the state of Rajasthan, India, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Situated approximately 250 miles southwest of Jaipur (capital of Rajasthan), the city of Udaipur is known as the historical capital of the Mewar Kingdom. The city was founded by Maharaja Udai Singh in 1559 after which the Sisodia clan who ruled the Mewar shifted their capital from Chittorgarh to Udaipur. The royal family or Rajvansh of Udaipur was one of the oldest kingdoms in the world. The current symbolic ruler of the city is Maharana Mahendra Singh Mewar of the Royal Family.

 

The city of Udaipur is also famous as the “Venice of the East” and “City of Lakes” for it has some of the most beautiful lakes in the country. Lake Pichola, Fateh Sagar Lake, Udai Sagar Lake, and Swarup Sagar Lake are some of the most prominent ones. Let’s explore these and some of Udaipur’s other must-visit attractions:

 

  1. City Palace (www.eternalmewar.in) – City Palace, Udaipur, is a grand palace complex which was built over a period of 400 years starting from Maharana Udai Singh II. The palace complex is located on the eastern bank of Lake Pichola and houses many palaces within the complex. It is also famous as the largest palace of its kind in the entire state of Rajasthan. The architecture of City palace is a thoughtful mix of Mughal and Rajasthani style of architecture and its location. Legends have it, that while on a hunting trail one day, Maharana Udai Singh met with a hermit, Goswami Prem Giriji Maharaj, who was meditating on the top of a hill and asked for his blessings. It is that hermit who had suggested Maharana to build the palace at the exact place where he was meditating and thus, the site of the city palace was chosen to be where it is today. City Palace has many gates known as “Pols”. “Bara Pol” is the main gate to the complex. The City Palace complex further comprises of 11 magnificent palaces, each depicting a distinctive blend of Mughal, Rajasthani, Medieval, Chinese and European Architecture. Entry tickets to the museum are sold at Bara Pol and Sheetla Mata Gate (INR25 for adults, INR15 for children). There is no fee to enter the City Palace Complex if you are visiting the City Palace Museum as the latter has a separate entrance fee. Timings for City Palace – 07:00 Am to 11:00PM).
  2. City Palace Museum (www.msmsmuseum.com) – The City palace Museum was built by Maharana Bhagwat Singh Ji in 1969 in an attempt to preserve and protect the cultural heritage of the rulers and kingdoms of Udaipur. Apart from regular temporary exhibitions, the museum also hosts permanent exhibitions such as ‘The Bhagwat Prakash Gallery’ which showcases photographic equipments and was inaugurated by Padma Bhushan Ebrahim Alkazi on 15th March, 2009, ‘The Court Paintings of Mewar’ which displays interesting and unique paintings of Mewar dating back to the 18th century, and ‘Udaipur Since 1559′ which showcases architectural interpretations of Udaipur city since its inception through drawings and models. The museum also has a huge collection of around 200 painting from the Mewar courts that denote the art and culture of the kingdom from the 18th century until the beginning of 20th century. There is also a souvenir shop – Aashka (art and craft products inspired by Udaipur’s history and culture). Entry to the museum is INR100 for adults and INR50 for kids. If you plan to use a camera or make a video, be prepared to pay an additional fee of INR200.Audio guides are available at INR225 and human guides are available for INR250. The museum is open from 09:30 A.M to 05:30 P.M. 04:30 P.M is the deadline for entry into the museum.
  3. Lake Pichola – Lake Pichola is a man-made lake which was formed in 1362 A.D. and has been named after a nearby village, Picholi. There are four islands located within the lake – Jag Mandir, Jag Niwas, Arsi Vilas, and Mohan Mandir. Of these, Jag Mandir and Jag Niwas are the most famous. Jag Niwas is famous as the home to the luxurious Taj Lake Palace or commonly known as the Lake Palace. The palace was previously known by the same name as of the island. The property covers the entire 4 acres of the island and houses 83 opulent guest rooms. It operates a private chain of speed boats to transport incoming and outgoing guests of the Lake Palace. The hotel has been named as one of the most romantic hotels not only in India but the entire world. The hotel was built during the reign of  Maharana Jagat Singh II between 1743 and 1746. The property has featured in many movies and shows, of which the 1983 James Bond Movie Octopussy and 2013 Bollywood movie Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani are the most prominent ones. Sadly, the Taj Lake Palace doesn’t allow casual visitors. However, Jag Mandir Palace or the Lake Gardens Palace on the Jag Mandir Island not only allows visitors but also pampers them with its many facilities such as a restaurant, a spa, and a bar. The construction of this palace is attributed to three rules of the Mewar kingdom who completed the building in three parts – Maharana Amar Singh began the construction in 1551, Maharana Karan Singh (1620–1628) continued with the construction during his reign, and finally Maharana Jagat Singh I (1628–1652) completed it, which is why the palace is also known as Jagat Mandir as a dedication to the last ruler. It is believed that when the palace lits up at night, it looks and feels more romantic than the Lake Palace. Jag Mandir palace can be accessed only by boats which depart from Bansi Ghat jetty next to Lake Palace.
  4. Fateh Sagar Lake – The third in line amongst the most beautiful lakes of Udaipur is the Fateh Sagar Lake which is also an artificial lake and has been named after the Maharana Fateh Singh of Udaipur and Mewar. The lake was originally crafted by Maharaja Jai Singh in 1687; however, the earthen bund which formed the lake was washed away during floods 200 years later. It is in 1889 that Maharana Fateh Singh built the “Connaught Dam” to protect the lake and which is why it was named after him. The lake is surrounded by the Aravalli range on its three sides and the Pratap Memorial on the fourth side. There is also a beautiful garden island, Nehru Park in the middle of the lake which has a boat shaped cafe. You can take a boat to reach the cafe and enjoy a simple cup of coffee amidst the breathtaking location.

 

Apart from these popular tourist attractions within the city, Udaipur is also within close proximity of towns such as Chittorgarh, Mount Abu, Kumbalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary, and Jaisamand Lake (second biggest artificial lake in Asia).

 

If you are looking forward to indulge in some recreational activities, Udaipur’s surroundings make a lovely spot for horse riding and walking through the city.

 



How to get there

There are regular flights from New Delhi and Mumbai to Udaipur Airport (Domestic). Major buses to and from Udaipur connect the city to other major cities in the country such as Ahmedabad, Ajmer, Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Mount Abu. Additionally, there is proper rail connectivity between Udaipur and the cities of Agra, Ajmer, Bundi, Chittorgarh, Delhi, and Jaipur.

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