Though the entire state of Rajasthan is replete with fantastic hilltop fortresses, exotic fairytale palaces and gripping legends of medieval chivalry and heroism, no city is quite as romantic as Udaipur. ‘The city of lakes’ has three huge lakes within its limits and a large number of palaces and other monuments worth visiting. It is surrounded by the ancient Aravali Mountains where wildlife still abounds.
Our itinerary ideas for your tailor-made holiday in Udaipur
The huge city palace, towering over the lake, is the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. It is a blend of stern Rajput military architecture on the outside and lavish Mughal-inspired decorative art on the inside. Started by Maharana Udai Singh, the city’s founder, the city palace is made up of at least four separate interconnecting palaces built over a period of nearly three centuries by successive maharanas. The main part of the palace is now preserved as a museum which houses interesting artefacts from the days of the royalty.
The beautiful gardens of Sahelion-ki-bari or the ‘Garden of the Maids of Honor’ were laid out in the mid-18th century for forty-eight young ladies-in waiting who were sent to Udaipur as part of a princess’s dowry. The gardens have shady walks, beautiful extensive lawns, lotus pools, marble pavilions and marble elephant-shaped fountains.
Situated close to the City Palace is this fantastically carved Indo-Aryan temple built by Maharaja Jagat Singh in 1651. It enshrines a black stone image of Lord Vishnu as Jagannath, the creator of the universe. A brass image of Garuda is in a shrine in front of the temple.
Bagore-Ki-Haveli (private mansion)
This gracious 18th-century haveli museum, on the water’s edge near Gangaur Ghat, was built by a former prime minister and has been carefully restored. There are 138 rooms set around courtyards. Some recreate the times when the house was inhabited, others have cultural displays, including the world’s biggest turban! The haveli also houses an interesting art gallery, with contemporary and folk art, and world-famous monuments lovingly carved out of polystyrene. The upper courtyard makes an atmospheric setting for fabulous Rajasthani dance performances at 7pm.
Sajjan Garh (Monsoon Palace)
Perched on the top of a distant mountain range like a fairy-tale castle, this neglected late-19th-century palace was constructed by Maharaja Sajjan Singh. Originally an astronomical centre, it later became a monsoon palace and hunting lodge. Now government-owned, it’s open to the public, but the best views are from the outside especially at sunset.
In the evening, enjoy a relaxing boat ride on lovely Lake Pichola and see views of Jagniwas Island and Jagmandir Island. Jagniwas is the island on which beautiful Lake Palace was built by Maharana Jagat Singh II in 1754. Today, it has been converted into a luxurious heritage hotel, with courtyards, fountains and gardens. As for Jagmandir, it is said that Mughal Emperor Shanjehan derived some of his ideas for Taj Mahal from this palace after staying here. The view across the lake from the southern end, with the city and its great palace rising up behind the island palaces, is a scene of rare beauty.