Udaipur has been referred by multiple titles such as ‘Venice of the East’, ‘Most romantic city of India’, ‘City of Lakes’ etc. It used to be the capital of the former princely state of Mewar. Apart from its many beautiful lakes, Udaipur is also known for its palaces, museums, gardens and gorgeous hotels. The world famous ‘Lake Palace’ hotel occupies an entire island in the Pichola Lake. Many of the palaces have been converted into luxury hotels. Lake Pichola, FatehSagar Lake, UdaiSagar and SwaroopSagar are considered some of the most beautiful lakes in the state. Surrounded by the beautiful Aravalli range of hills, Udaipur is a must visit city in Rajasthan.
Udaipur was founded in 1559 by MaharanaUdai Singh II as the final capital of the erstwhile Mewar kingdom. There are various legends related to Udaipur and its founder. Legend has it that MaharanaUdai Singh II came across a hermit while hunting in the foothills of the Aravalli Range. This hermit blessed the king and asked him to make a palace on the spot, assuring him that it would be well protected. The king thus established a residence on the site. In 1568 when the Mughal emperor Akbar captured the fort of Chittor, King Udai Singh thus moved the capital to the site of his residence, which became the city of Udaipur. Yet another important historical fact worth mentioning is that when King Udai Singh was a boy, his uncle Bhanvir wanted to kill him to take over the kingdom. Udai Singh was brought up by a maid named PannaDhai who also had her own son of the same age as of Udai Singh. PannaDhai came to know of Bhanvir’s intentions and replaced her own son with Udai Singh while he was sleeping in his bed. When Bhanvir came to kill Udai Singh during his sleep, he didn’t know that PannaDhai had already replaced him with her own son. Bhanvir killed the sleeping boy thinking him to be Uday Singh. Thus, PannaDhai sacrificed her own son to save the life of Udai Singh, who grew up to be the founder of the city of Udaipur.
What to See
Located on the east bank of the Lake Pichola, City Palace was built by the MaharanaUdai Singh as the capital of the Sisodia Rajput clan in 1559. It has several palaces built within its complex which are a wonderful blend of Medieval, European and Chinese Architecture. The Palace has various towers, domes, arches, courtyards, pavilions, terraces, corridors, rooms and hanging gardens, each with a distinct art and architecture that narrates the sagas of the Royals. The Palace is wholly made of granite and marble. The interesting fact about these palaces is that they were built by different Kings and rulers over a period of almost 300 years yet they resemble each other.
The City Palace of Udaipur is one of the largest in Rajasthan and is built on a hilltop that gives a panoramic view of the Lake Palace and the Jag Mandirisland in the lake. The interiors of the palace complex showcase intricate mirror-work, marble-work, murals, wall paintings, silver-work, inlay-work and colored glasswork. There are some antique furniture and ornamental tiles that portray the local craftsmanship. ManakMahal or the Ruby Palace has figures of crystal and porcelain, whereas the Bhim Vilas has an amazing collection of miniature paintings that depict the fable about Lord Krishna and his beloved Radha. Yet another famous attraction of this city is the ‘Bagore Ki Haveli’ that got its name from Maharana Shakti Singh of Bagore who contributed a three storey’s construction to this monument initiated by Amir Chand Badwa, who was the Chief Minister at the Mewar Royal Court. After his death, the building came under the possession of Mewar State. Bagore Ki Haveli means the ‘Mansion of Bagore’. It is said that the mansion that used to serve the royalty of Mewar was left vacant for almost half a century. The mansion is located on the waterfront of Lake Pichola at GangoriGhat and boasts of an expansive area consisting of over a hundred rooms. These rooms are used to display several artwork including costumes, glass and mirror work, paintings etc.
Best Time to visit
Like most cities of Rajasthan, Udaipur too remains hot during the summers in India. Best months to visit this city of lakes isDecember to February, when temperatures range between 9 degrees to 28 degrees Celsius. However, immediately after monsoons i.e. the end of September also presents a beautiful sight to its visitors as the lakes are full and the city and nearby areas are lush green. Temperatures remain between 23 to 32 degrees Celsius during Monsoons but can get humid. If one has to visit the other cities in Rajasthan like Jaisalmer and Bikaner, then monsoons should be skipped altogether and one can travel during November to early March.