Udaipur is The most beautiful city in Rajasthan, famous for its grandeur, lakes and palaces. Udaipur attracts all, honeymooners, westerners, all travelers who want to soak in to the bliss of a beautiful destination. Most travelers know Udaipur through a James Bond movie "Octopussy" and many other famous movies & serials like British television series The Jewel in the Crown,The Disney channel film, The Cheetah Girls One World,Darjeeling Limited, Opening Night, Heat and Dust, Gandhi, and The Fall.
Udaipur is also famous for Bollywood movies, some of the classics shot in Udaipur are Guide, Mera Saaya, Phool Bane Angaray, Kachche Dhaage, Mera Gaon Mera Desh, Jalmahal, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani & the 2014 flick Ramleela.
Udaipur is referred by many names "Venice of the East", the "Most Romantic City of India" and the "Kashmir of Rajasthan" (a reference to Dal Lake) , Udaipur has three interconnected lakes within the town - the Fateh Sagar Lake, the Lake Pichhola and the smaller Swaroop Sagar Lake; along with lakes are numerous forts, palaces, temples, gardens, mountains and narrow lanes which give the reminisces of a heroic past, valor and chivalry.
Udaipur was the capital of the Rajput kingdom of Mewar, ruled by the Sisodia clan with jhala's loyalty. The founder of Udaipur was Rana Udai Singh, father of Maharana Pratap. The ancient capital of Mewar was Nagda, located on the Banas River northeast of Udaipur. Legend has it that Maharana Udai Singh came upon a hermit while hunting in the foothills of the Aravalli Range.
In 1568, the Mughal emperor Akbar captured Chittorgarh, and Udai Singh moved the capital to the site of his residence, which became the city of Udaipur. As the Mughal empire weakened, the Sisodia ranas, and later maharanas, reasserted their independence and recaptured most of Mewar district. Udaipur remained the capital of the state, which became a princely state of British India in 1818.
After India's Independence in 1947, the Maharaja of Udaipur acceded to the Government of India, and Mewar was integrated into India's Rajasthan state.
Climate of Udaipur
The climate of Udaipur is tropical, with the mercury staying between a maximum of 42.3°C and a minimum of 28.8°C during summers. Winters are mild with the maximum temperature rising to 28.8°C and the minimum dipping to 2.5°C. Best time to visit is during the winters preferably September to March.
Udaipur is easily accessible from every major destinations of India. The city is well connected with Agra 630km, Delhi 670km, Mumbai (formerly Bombay) 739km, Ahmedabad 260km, Ajmer 265km, Chittorgarh 115km, Jaipur 405km and Jodhpur by 275km.
Dabok airport, also known as Maharana Pratap Airport, is 24km from the city centre.There are daily flights from Delhi, Mumbai and Jaipur on Jet Airways, Indian Airlines, Air Deccan, and Kingfisher Airlines. Taxis to the city cost INR 500 and are the only means of transport to and from the airport. You pre-pay for the taxi inside the airport. Come prepared with cash since they don't take credit cards and there is no ATM at the airport.
Train service has improved over the last few years after Udaipur was converted to broad gauge railway line. There are now daily trains from New Delhi and Jaipur. You can take Mewar Express (Train No. 12963DN) from H. Nizamuddin Station, which leaves at 7.00 P.M. and reaches Udaipur at 7.00 A.M. next day. One can also travel by broad guage trains up to Ajmer and then take bus or train from Ajmer to Udaipur.
If you coming from Western or Southern India, take a train to Mumbai and then an overnight train to Udaipur. Alternatively, you can take a train to Ahmedabad and then, travel by any express train that leaves in the evening for Udaipur for an overnight journey.
Udaipur is connected by an efficient bus service with most Rajasthani towns including Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Ajmer, Mount Abu. Buses also head south to Ahmedabad with connections to Mumbai but it is not a short journey. There are comfortable sleeper coaches available for longer trips.
The city lies on the Golden Quadrilateral, midway between Delhi and Mumbai National Highway (NH) 8; it is around 700km from either metro. The roads in this part of the country are paved and fit for private vehicles.
State Transport Authorities and private tour agents operates daily buses between Udaipur-Jaipur, Udaipur-Delhi, Udaipur-Ahmedbad, Udaipur-Jodhpur. Some of these buses also have sleeper coaches for a comfortable journey.
Most of the sightseeing places in Udaipur centered around the Lake Pichhola and can be seen on foot. However, hiring a local cab or three-wheeler is the best option is you could good to bargain.
A taxi is needed for viewing more of the surrounding areas such as the nearby wilderness park and Monsoon Palace (Sajjan Garh) - which provides a nice view especially at sunset. In Udaipur, you will not find black and yellow taxis, which are regularly visible in the metropolitan cities. If you are touring the city, you can hire taxi/cab that is available in variety, ranging from luxurious cabs to average ones. You can choose taxi as per your preference, comfort and luxury. The luxurious you opt, higher the rent you have to pay.
The best option to travel around Udaipur's old city is to opt for autorickshaws or three-wheelers, which are easily available throughout the city.
Horsecarts or tongas (as they are known locally) is the cheapest mode and available mostly within the tourist areas. Tongas being the cheapest mode to travel, is used by local people to a great extent.
The splendid City Palace, posing over the fascinating Lake Pichola, is one of the most beautiful palatial structures. The elegant palace originally built by Mahrana Uday Singh II rises 30 meters above Lake Pichola and extends up to 244 meters.
The City Palace of Udaipur1 has number of small and big palaces, museums and the gardens. There are many popular palaces inside the City Palace Complex. The unique aspect of this conglomeration is that the architectural design (a rich blend of Rajasthani, Mughal, Medieval, European and Chinese Architecture) is distinctly homogeneous and eye catching.
The palace complex has been built entirely in granite and marble. The interiors of the palace complex with its balconies, towers and cupolas exhibit delicate mirror-work, marble-work, murals, wall paintings, silver-work, inlay-work and leftover of colored glass. The complex provides a fine view of the lake and the Udaipur city from its upper terraces.
Key destinations in City Palace
Amar Vilas - The uppermost court inside the complex, which is a raised garden. It provides entry to the Badi Mahal. It is a pleasure pavilion built in Mughal style. It has cusped arcades enclosing a square marble tub. 'Amar Vilas' is the highest point of the City palace and has wonderful hanging gardens with fountains, towers and terraces.
Badi Mahal - Also known as Garden Palace is the exotic central garden palace that is situated on a 27 metres (89 ft) high natural rock formation vis-a-vis the rest of the palace. The rooms on the ground floor appear to be at the level of the fourth floor in view of the height difference to its surrounding buildings.
Durbar Hall - Built in 1909 within the Fatepraksh Palace (now a heritage hotel), the hall was used by the royal ladies to observe the court proceedings. This hall has luxuriant interion with some unusually large chandeliers. Weapons of the maharanas and also some of their unique portraits are also depicted here.
Fatehprakash Palace - Now run as luxury hotel and inaccessible to public viewing has a crystal gallery that consists of crystal chairs, dressig tables, sofas, tables, chairs and beds, crockery, table fountains which were never used. There is also a unique jewel studded carpet here.
Jagadish Temple - Located 150m north of the palace in Indo-Aryan architectural style, the temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple walls and the shikara or tower are decorated with carvings of Vishnu, scenes from Lord Krishna’s life and figurines of nymphs or apsaras. The street square, where the temple is located, is also known as Jagdish Chowk from where several roads radiate in different directions.
Krishna Vilas - Another chamber in Fatehprakash Palance with rich collection of miniature paintings that portray royal processions, festivals and games of the Maharanas. However, there is tragic story linked to this wing of the City Palace. In the nineteenth century, a royal princess was unable to choose from two suitors seeking her hand in marriage, one from the royal family of Jaipur and another from Jodhpur, and hence in a state of dilemma, she poisoned herself to death.
Manak Mahal - Approach from the Manak Chowk, the palace has a raised alcove inlaid completely in mirror glass. One of the prominent emblems of Sun is depicted on the façade of the Manak Chowk, which can also be seen from the outermost court.
Mor Chowk or Peacock Square - A pillared hall with glass and mirror mosaic decorations is integral to the inner courts of the palace. The elaborate design of this chamber consists of three peacocks (representing the three seasons of summer, winter and monsoon) modeled in high relief and faced with coloured glass mosaic, built into successive niches in the wall area or jharoka. These were built during Maharana Sajjan Singh’s reign, 200 years after the palace was established. The peacocks have been crafted with 5000 pieces of glass, which shine in green, gold and blue colours. In an adjoining chamber, called the Kanch-ki-Burj, mosaic of mirrors adorn the walls. The Badi Charur Chowk within this chowk is a smaller court for private use. Its screen wall has painted and inlaid compositions depicting European men and Indian women.
Zenana Mahal or Women's Palace - Proceeding further from the Mor Chowk, in the Zenana Mahal or women’s quarters (now converted into museum) is exquisitely designed alcoves, balconies, coloured windows, tiled walls and floors are seen.
Rang Bhawan - The palace that used to contain royal treasure. There are temples of Lord Krishna, Meerabai and Shiva, located here.
Sheesh Mahal - The palace of mirrors and glasses was built in 1716. A shrine of Dhuni Mata is also located in the complex. This location is considered as the oldest part of the Palace, where a sage spent his entire life meditating.
Udaipur is a lovely blend of water, lush green hills that set fire and passion in poet and considered as Venice of East. The city has 5 beautiful lakes that adds to its kaleidoscope.
Fateh Sagar Lake - An artificial lake constructed by Maharana in north of Lake Pichola in 1678 and to the north-west of Udaipur. Within the confines of the Fateh Sagar Lake, there are three small islands.; the largest of these is called the Nehru Park, the second island houses a public park with an impressive water-jet fountain and the third island is the address for the Udaipur Solar Observatory. Every year a festival called the Hariyali Amavasya Mela (Green New Moon Fair) is organized at the lake precincts,in the month of August/September.
Pichola Lake - An artificial fresh water lake, created in the year 1362 AD, named after the nearby Picholi village. The lake’s surroundings and the several islands within the lake have been developed over the centuries, with palaces, marble temples, family mansions, and bathing ghats. The famous Lake Palace (now converted into a heritage hotel) is located in the middle of the lake. Two islands, Jag Niwas and Jag Mandir are located within Pichola Lake. Local buses, Tongas, auto-rickshaws and taxis provide the needed transport.
Though, the city is otherwise small and most of the tourist places will take approximately 20-25 minutes for viewing but visit as each one has its own unique architecture that worth viewing.
Saheliyon ki Badi - Built by Maharana Bhopal Singh. Saheliyon ki Bari means Garden of the Maids. This garden area lies in northern part of the city and has fountains and kiosks, a lotus pool and marble elephants. Each water channel has its distinct sound and the mingling of these sounds complement the ambience of the place. There is also a small museum here. Sahelion Ki Bari' was laid for a group of forty-eight young women attendants who accompanied a princess to Udaipur as part of her dowry.
Sukhadia Circle - A large roundabout in the city's northern suburb of Panchwati, on the road to Ranakpur and Mt. Abu. centrepiece of the Circle is a large, three-tiered fountain just over 21 m. high, with scalloped dishes surmounted by a wheat-ear motif, representing prosperity. Illuminated at night, it is now a well-known landmark.
Udaipur Solar Observatory - Located on an island in the Fateh Sagar Lake, the observatory is claimed to be one of the Asia's largest. The observatory was built in the year 1976 by Dr. Arvind Bhatanagar following the model of the Solar Observatory at Big Bear lake in Southern California.
Gulab Bagh and Zoo - A rose garden laid out by Maharaja Sajjan Singh is situated near the palace on the east side of Lake Pichhola. A library in the garden has a collection of ancient handwritten manuscripts and books. Within the garden, there is a zoo with tigers, leopards, chinkara gazelle, birds, and many wild animals. Children can enjoy mini train, track of which covers the main part of the garden and the zoo.
Doodh Talai - A rock and fountain garden and the sunset point from which one can enjoy the sunset view in Lake Pichhola and a panoramic view of the old city. Also one can enjoy the Aerial tramway (rope way) which connects one of the dudh talai gardens to Karni Mata temple.
Nehru Garden - This is a park situated in the middle of Fateh Sager Lake. This park covers about 41 acres (170,000 m2), with flower gardens and a lily pond. It was inaugurated on the birth anniversary of the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. The garden overlooks the ancient Moti Mahal of Maharana Pratap and gives a view of the Aravalli hills on three sides.
Bagore-ki-Haveli - An old building built right on the waterfront of Lake Pichola at Gangori Ghat. Amir Chand Badwa, the Prime Minister of Mewar, built it in the eighteenth century. The palace has over a hundred rooms, with displays of costumes and modern art. The building has a large and exquisite collection of Mewar painting and glassworks.
Ahar Museum - The Ahar Cenotaphs are a group of royal cenotaphs located in Ahar, about 2km east of Udaipur. The site contains more than 250 cenotaphs of the maharajas of Mewar that were built over approximately 350 years. There are 19 chhatris that commemorate the 19 maharajas who were cremated here.
Aapni Dhani - A very good place to spend your evening. This place has a small zoo, magic show, puppet show, nat ka tamasha, dance shows and to top it all a nice Rajasthani dinner - unlimited of course. The ticket is about Rs 250 per person. The shows start in the evening around 5-6 pm.
Udaipur offers great excursions to its outskirts. Hire a cab or explore by yourself to the some of the great escapades on the city outskirts.
Eklingji Temple - 22km north of Udaipur is one of the most famous temples of Rajasthan. The magnificent architecture of Eklingnath Temple is simply remarkable.
Haldighati - An important historical site in the context of Rajasthan at a comfortable distance of 40 kms from the city of Udaipur. The term Haldighati has been derived from the yellow colored soil of the place that gives a sense of turmeric (in Hindi).
Jagat Temple - Being located at the village called Jagat, at a distance of 58kms in the south-east of Udaipur. Built in 961 A.D, the Jagat Temple is renowned for its intricate carvings in the exteriors.
Kankroli - A small town, located at a distance of 65 kms from the city of Udaipur mainly known for its temple, which is sited on the banks of renowned Rajsamand Lake.
Nagda - Located besides Bagela Lake at a distance of 23 kms in the north-west of Udaipur on the way to Nathdwara. Nagda comprises many small and big temples, but the main attraction is gained by its 'Sas-Bahu' temple.
Since the city has been the home of the Royalty, the methods of leisure are distinctly imperial. Entertainment in Udaipur doesn't match the tune of Discos and parties of the metropolitan cities.
Spend the evening overlooking the city lights from the high altitude. Udaipur's ropeway servicces gives a chance to have bird's view of the entire city. Recently started Karni Mata Ropeway has been getting popular amongst domestic and international tourists. Its a ride of about 500m from Doodh Talai Garden to Ropeway junction (to the adjacent hill). A multi-cuisine Restaurant adds up to the reson for staying longer on top of hill and keep staring the natural beauty around.
Where to reach : Ropeway Point, Din Dayal Garden, Dudh Talai, near Lake Pichola.
Timing : 10AM to 10PM (So you can dine till fairly late at the Ivy view Restaurant on top of Hill)
Cost: INR 60/- per adult and INR 30/- per kid
The city of Udaipur celebrates all the fairs and festivals with equal fervor. The important fairs and festivals that are closely associated with Udaipur are Mewar Festival and the Shilpgram Fair. If you want to catch the vigor of these desert people, catch them during their famous fairs and festivals.
Mewar Festival - Mewar festival is observed to welcome the arrival of spring season (March/April). The festival is especially meant for women and offers the best time when they dress in their finest clothes and join the celebrations of the fest. To conduct the ceremony, women assemble to dress the images of Isar (Lord Shiva) and Gangaur (Goddess Parvati). After dressing the idols, they carry them in a traditional procession passing through different parts of the city. In the last, the procession makes its move towards the Gangaur Ghat at Pichola Lake. At this point, the images are transported into special boats and immersed in the deep waters of the lake. When this religious part gets over, people engage into various dances, songs and other cultural events revealing the culture of Rajasthan. Mewar festival is concluded with a glittering show of fireworks.
Shilpgram Crafts Fair - Shilpgram Mela is held annually in the west of the city of Udaipur in the month of November/ December. The fair is organized to promote art and craft of Rajasthan. This fair is a perfect destination to try out the hand woven clothes, embroideries, mirror works and handicrafts. The hand woven clothes and camel leather items grab the major attention of visitors in this fair.
Ajmer - An ancient town located 288km from Udaipur is famous among the spiritual and religious sects for the shrine of Khwaja Ajmer Sheriff and the only Brahma temples by the banks of Lake Pushkar.
Bhilwara - The administrative city of Mewar region located 168km from Udaipur. The city contains some of the exquisite neolithic temples that adorn the Nagar style of architecture.
Bundi - An ancient town loacted 275km from Udaipur inhabitated by local tribesmen famous for its historical fortresses and kunds (holy wells).
Chittorgarh- About 140 km from Udaipur, Chittorgarh was the capital of Mewar from 734 AD to 1559. Chittorgarh Fort is a massive fort situated on a hilltop near Chittorgarh town in Rajasthan state in India.
Jodhpur - A popular gateway to the Thar Desert located 269km from Udaipur with the massive Mehrangarh Fort and access to Osiyan desert.
Kumbhalgarh - A 15th-century fortress, built by Rana Kumbha of Mewar, with 36km of walls. Over 360 temples are within the fort. It also has a wildlife sanctuary. Located in Rajsamand District, 64 km from Udaipur. The vista from the top of the palace typically extends tens of kilometers into the Aravalli hills.
Mount Abu - A popular tourist hill station located 185km from Udaipur. highest peak on the mountain is Guru Shikhar, at 1722 meters above sea level. Mount Abu is home to a number of Jain temples especially the Dilwara Temples.
Nathdwara - Shri Nathdwara (a pathway to Lord Shri Krishna) lies 48 km from Udaipur and literally means the gateway to the Lord. Devotees throng the shrine in large numbers during occasions of "Janmashtmi", the day of the Lord's birth, and other festivals like Holi. It is famous for its 'pichwai' paintings, with Shri Krishna in the centre and is recognized for profuse use of gold colour.
Ranakpur - Ranakpur is widely known for its magnificent marble Jain temple devoted to Lord Adinath and is a "must see".Ranakpur is located between Jodhpur and Udaipur, in a valley on the western side of the Aravalli Range. Easily accessed by road,Ranakpur is around 100 km north of Udaipur. Its architecure is said to be better than even that of famous Taj Mahal.It is said that the experience of visual treat inside the temple can hardly be described in words. Light colored marble has been used for the construction of this grand temple. The temple, with its distinctive domes, rises majestically from the slope of a hill. Over 1444 marble pillars, carved in exquisite detail, support the temple. The pillars are all differently carved and no two pillars are the same. There is one beautiful carving made out of a single marble rock where there are 1008 heads of snakes and numerous tails over the head of Lord ParsvaNatha. One cannot find the end of the tails. The image faces all four cardinal directions. The temple is designed as chaumukha—with four faces.The construction of the temple and quadrupled image symbolize the Jain Tirthankara's conquest of the four cardinal directions and hence the cosmos.