A desert kingdom tucked away in the midst of hills, an impregnable citadel, an impressive royal lineage stretching back 26 generations, a do or die attitude and a fierce sense of independence characterise Udaipur. Unlike its desert counterparts in Rajasthan, Udaipur is situated in the forested, hilly region of Aravalli Ranges in complete contrast to the arid deserts of Marwar in the northwest.
Udaipur- dream destination in the desert, whose sagas of great valour and stories of high romance add colour and character to a history as proud and unrelenting as it is long. The kingdom of Mewar was ruled by the Sisodia dynasty for over 1200 years from Chittorgarh before Maharana Udai Singh II founded Udaipur in 1568 following the final sacking of their hill fortress.
In sharp contrast to its spartan and martial persona are lakes, hills, temples, gardens and fairy-tale palaces that make Udaipur the most romantic and enchanting place in Rajasthan. Apart from Udaipur's own splendours, there are several other places to visit in its vicinity Jaisamand Lake, the fort of Kumbhalgarh and the temples at Ranakpur, Eklingji, Nagda, Kankroli and Nathdwara.
Lake Pichola, Udaipur
Lake Pichola in Udaipur is the largest and the most beautiful of Udaipur's lakes - it is overlooked by hills while palaces, mansions, bathing ghats, gardens and temples dot its banks. Jag Mahal and Jag Niwas are the two island palaces that add to the lake's romantic ambience.
City Palace Udaipur
A tour of Udaipur should begin at the City Palace, on the banks of the Lake Pichola. The magnificent and awe inspiring citadel is, in fact, a complex of several buildings that were added at different times by different rulers spanning nearly three hundred years. Happily, they harmonise beautifully with each other and maintain an overall homogeneity of design. There are terraces, courtyards, pavilions, corridors, rooms and hanging gardens, with lavish Mughal-inspired decorative art on their walls, floors and ceilings. Simply astounding!
The main part of the Palace is now a museum. You should see the Mor Chowk for the gorgeous peacock mosaics, Chini Chitrashala for the striking blue and white ceramics and Dutch inlaid tile work, Manak Mahal for glass and porcelain figures and Krishna Vilas for miniature painting. The Jagdish Temple, built in 1651 by Maharana Jagat Singh, is located within easy walking distance from the Palace gate. It is an impressive, beautifully proportioned structure, covered with carved friezes and heavily decorated inside.
Bharatiya Lok Kala Museum, Udaipur
Bharatiya Lok Kala Museum in Udaipur houses a very interesting collection of Rajasthani folk art costumes, paintings, folk deities, musical instruments, masks, dolls and weapons. The puppet collection is particularly fascinating. A memorial to Maharana Pratap (Pratap Smarak) is located on top of Moti Magri (Pearl Hill), which overlooks the Fateh Sagar Lake. And from the bottom of Moti Magri you can take a boat ride to Nehru Park, a pleasant spot on an island in the lake where you can relax and enjoy the splendid view.