Referred as the city of lakes and Venice of East, Udaipur is definitely worth visiting. Udaipur is located 400 kilometers from capital city Jaipur and it is one of the most sought after destinations of India. The city was established in 1559 by Maharana Udai Singh and hence named Udaipur. Its natural beauty, enchanting location and picturesque surroundings is bound to make you fall in love with this city.
Unlike my other trips this trip was a planned one. Udaipur was my first destination in Rajasthan trip and the reason for choosing this is obviously its beauty. There are lots of things in and around Udaipur to visit. And not to forget it is tourist favourite, especially for up-market Westerners and Bollywood actors. It was a backdrop for numerous movies including the James Bond flick "Octopussy".
It is also famous as a royal wedding destination. Several celebrities have organized their marriage ceremonies and rituals (Raveena Tandon & Anil Thadani). The marriage ceremonies brought people varying from Bollywood celebrities, leaders, business tycoons and others to this beautiful city. I have read a lot about Udaipur in newspapers but it was just about celebrities and their grandeur marriage and not about the beauty of the city. So, when I decided to visit this city, I promised myself that I will write a detailed blog on this city specifically.
PLACES TO VISIT
It is dotted with several palaces, lakes, temples and museum.
We embarked the journey with the palaces. So, let’s start with the palaces and the most important palace is The City Palace or The Winter Palace.
Winter Palace/City Palace- This is the largest palace of Udaipur and it is divided into three parts, the successor of Maharana (king) lives with his family in the first part. The palace today is home to the 74th Maharana of Udaipur, Shri Arvind Singh and his family. The second part is converted into a hotel and the third part is open to be visited and adored by tourists like us.
The palace offers picturesque backdrop of rugged mountains, sweeping views of the Pichola Lake, Jag Mandir and the city on the other side. The Mahals of the palace has been reformed as the Museum now. These mahals boast of its beautiful glass works, paintings and antique furniture.
Painted in gleaming white colour it is a fine blend of medieval Indo-European architecture. I was amazed by the sheer lavishness of its courtyards, overlapping partitions, terraces and corridors. There is a beautiful Suraj Gokhada or the balcony of sun. Then there is The Mor Chawk, the peacock square that gains its name from the vivid blue mosaic in glass of a peacock that decorates its walls.
The entry to the Palace is from the Hati Pol, the Elephant gate. The Bari Pol or the Big Gate brings you to the Tripolia, the Triple gate. It was once a custom that the Maharana would weigh under this gate in gold and silver, which was distributed to the populace. It is also now the main ticket office.
The main part of the palace is now preserved as a museum displaying a large and diverse array of artifacts Down steps from the entrance is the armoury museum exhibiting a huge collection of protective gear, weapons including the lethal two-pronged sword. The City Palace museum is then entered through the Ganesh Deori meaning the door of Lord Ganesh.
This leads to the Rajya Angan, the royal courtyard. The rooms of the palace are superbly decorated with mirror tiles and paintings. Manak Mahal or the Ruby Palace has a lovely collection of glass and mirror work while Krishna Vilas display a rich collection of miniature paintings.
Moti Mahal or the pearl palace has beautiful mirror work and the Chini Mahal has ornamental tiles all over. The Surya Chopar or the sun square depicts a huge ornamental sun symbolising the sun dynasty to which the Mewar dynasty belongs. The Bari Mahal is a central garden with view of the city. Some more beautiful paintings can be seen in the Zenana Mahal or the ladies chamber, which leads to Lakshmi Chowk a beautiful white pavilion.
Opening Time 9:30 A.M
Closing Time 4:30 P.M
Last Entry Time 4:00 P.M
Summer Palace/Lake Palace-The Lake Palace was built in 1743-1746. It is made of marble and is situated on Jag Niwas island in Lake Pichola. It was originally built as a royal summer palace, but is now a luxury 5 Star hotel. This is the most popular palace as James Bond film "Octopussy" was shot here. The tickets are extremely expensive so most of the Indian tourists opt not to go here.
Monsoon Palace- Also known as Sajjangarh Palace it was built by Maharana Sajjan in 1884. The palace is set at Bansdara Mountain as high as about 944 m above the sea level and provides an exceptional view of the city. And you can easily observe nature’s very own light show. After visiting the City Palace, you might not find’s its architecture any great but the location is simply amazing. I clicked lots of photos of the white city. The cool air and mesmerising view will definitely refresh you. The best time to visit this palace is in evening as you can get an amazing view of sunset from here. And if you are lucky enough, then you can also catch a glimpse of some animals as it has Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary also. I was not lucky enough as I could only see Leaf Monkey (Langur).
Opening Time 8:00 A.M
Closing Time 5:30 P.M
Last Entry Time 6:00 P.M
The city has three lakes- the Fateh Sagar Lake, the Lake Pichhola and the the Swaroop Sagar Lake. You can enjoy the boating in all of them if you have time, but I would suggest Pichhola as it is the most serene and soothing lake. It has two islands, Jag Niwas and the Jag Mandir. This lake is 4 km long and 3 km wide, originally built by Maharana Udai Singh II. There are many ghats, which can be approached through boats from the City Palace. In the heart of the lake the Lake Palace stands, which is now converted into a heritage palace hotel. The best time to visit the lake is obviously the evening time.
Jag Mandir- Jag Mandir is situated on an island in the middle of famous Lake Pichola. Today it is a complete destination for weddings and other royal events. And one thing is sure that it is likely to become one of the hottest regal wedding venues in Rajasthan. To pamper the mind, body, and soul, there is a spa and salon. Also have an all-day cafe, restaurant and bar. The azure water around this grand old Palace enhances its exquisite beauty.
Whenever you plan your trip here then make sure you visit this place in evening as it offers a blissful view of sunset. But the entry closes by 5 :30 so reach before that otherwise you have to wait for the next day.
Opening Time 9:00 A.M
Closing Time 6:00 P.M
Jagdish Temple- Situated in the middle of the city is raised on a tall terrace and was completed in 1651. It was built by Maharana Jagat Singh Ist in 1651 A.D. It is an example of Indo – Aryan architecture.
OTHER PLACES TO VISIT
Saheliyon-ki-Bari- It comprises of small gardens set below the embankment of the Fateh Sagar Lake. Has beautiful lotus pools, marble pavilions and elephant- shaped fountains.
Vintage Vehicle Museum- It houses the King’s vintage car collection from Rolls Royces through Cadillacs to a Morris Minor.
Crystal Gallery- It is situated in the Fateh Prakash Palace is a breath taking collection of crystals. The crystal item includes tables, sofa sets, dining table, dressers, fountains and even beds besides a whole array of washing bowls, decanters and perfume bottles. There is also an exquisite jewel studded carpet, which is beyond description. I am sure you are going to love this place.
Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal- If you are fond of art and culture, you are going to love it. It is a museum of folk arts. Also hosts puppet shows in its auditorium.
Shilpgram- It is a craftsman’s village which depicts India’s diversity through art and craft. Here, visitors can shop for traditionally produced goods, see small puppet shows and live Rajasthani song and dance programme. The simple painted huts with vegetable colours are a treat for your eyes. And if you are fond of art then you can buy a painting from these extremely talented villagers. I got nail paint done from here.
Dal Bati Churma- You can enjoy this Rajasthani local dish anywhere in almost all the small and big restaurants of the city.
Thali for Lunch- The traditional thalis served in the restaurant opposite to the Vintage Car Museum is worth trying. Rs. 199 INR per thali, it is quite a lavish lunch. Your plate will be refilled again and again till the time your hunger spans are not completely satisfied.
You can make a dash for beautiful textiles, adorable playthings, eye catching accessories. On a tour of Udaipur, pichwais or tapestries, is a must buy.
The government fuelled Rajasthan Emporium is your one stop shop for the above mentioned collector's items. You can also buy lac (mirrored) bangles if you are fond of bangles from this place. Besides, you can also drop in at the Lake Palace Road and Chetak Circle, among others.
SOME INFORMATION (Muft Ka Gyan)
Best Season to Visit-
End of October to March
Udaipur is well connected to the world through land, rail and air.
Road: The city falls on the Golden Quadrilateral, lying midway between Delhi and Mumbai on National Highway (NH) 8; it is around 650 kilometres from either metro. The roads in this part of the country are paved and fit for private vehicles. One can either drive from Jaipur (around 6 hours) or Ahmedabad (3.5 hours), or take a Rajasthan Tourism bus from India Gate in Delhi. It also falls on East West Corridor which starts from Porbandar and ends at Silchar and is intersecting the Golden Quadrilateral and shares the common space from Udaipur to Chittor.
· Chittorgarh- 2 hours (116 kilometres)
· Kumbhalgarh Fort- 2 and a half hours (105 kilometres)
· Jodhpur- 4 and half hours (261 kilometres)
· Jaisalmar- 8 hours (522 kilometres)
· Jaipur- 6 and half hours (418 kilometres)
· Pushkar-4 and half hours (320 kilometres)
· Ajmer- 4 hours (306 kilometres)
· Alwar- 9 hours (471 kilometres)
Air: Dabok airport, also known as Maharana Pratap Airport is 24 kilometres from the city centre. Daily Indian Airlines flights connect Udaipur with Jodhpur, Jaipur, Aurangabad, Mumbai & Delhi. There are daily flights from Delhi, Mumbai and Jaipur on Jet Airways, Indian Airlines and Kingfisher Airlines. The airport is going through modernisation project and will soon have a new terminal building with an additional 4 stands. The airport has been confirmed as an International airport by the Government of India.
Train: City is well connected with Delhi, Kolkatta, Jaipur and Ahmedabad through trains run by Indian Railway. Udaipur is well-connected with Delhi, Kota and Mathura with the “Mewar Express” on broadgauge tracks. Udaipur lacks direct connectivity to South India, and one has to reach it either via Kota or Ahmedabad.
Since the city has lots of things to see, time yourself properly. You can easily divide your city tour in two days. Since I have been there thought of sharing the schedule for convenience of your trip.
· Leave by 10- 10:30 am and start your tour with Shilpi Haat (will take around an hour if you are fond of culture and handicrafts)
- Visit Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal to enjot art and craft (half an hour)
- Visit Sahelio ki Bari (half an hour)
- Followed by Vintage Vehicle Museum have lunch at and then move to City Palace (2 to 3 hours)
- Enjoy the boat ride at Pichola and visit Jag Mandir (you will get amazing view of sunset)
- Rope way- Installed between two mountains right on the bank of Lake Pichola. The view from the Gondolas is breath taking and if you have passion for photography you must not miss this. It is from here that you can click best view of Udaipur including Lake Pichola, Lake Fateh Sagar, magnificent City Palace complex, Sajjangarh Fort and above all artistic landscaped Aravali mountains on the other side of the lake. Do not miss the sun setting across lush green Aravali Hills across Lake Pichola. (Sunset and after sunset time is the best time go for rope way- you can see the scintillating top view of the city after sunset)
- Start your day with Lake Palace but its entrance is really expensive. (2 hours)
- Followed by Crystal Gallery (half an hour) and Jagdish Temple (half an hour)
- Throng the market and enjoy the shopping have lunch in the city and move to
- Monsoon Palace/ Sajjangarh Palace (4 pm to 6 pm is ideal time to visit, you can see the city in twilight)
DON’T FORGET TO VISIT –