A royal past makes itself
evident in every nook and corner in Udaipur. Whether it is the
ornate doors that are entrances to people's homes or the
palaces, gardens and monuments, Udaipur gives one a glimpse of
what the place would have looked like in its time of glory.
Founded by Maharana Udai Singh in 1568, and considered the
jewel of Mewar, Udaipur's air is filled with a strong sense of
romance, adventure and the best of Rajputana.
Udaipur is also a centre of historic arts and crafts of Mewar,
like the Mewar School of Miniature Painting. There is of
course the modern face of Udaipur that one can look at if
interested, but given the other sights from a glorious past,
modernity is no real distraction. This is a place that will
hold you in its thrall no matter who you are or where you come
Population: About 2,632,210
Climate: With scanty rainfall and summer temperatures
reaching 40ºC only every once in a few years, Udaipur has
pleasant winters, making it a year rounhd destination.
Best time to visit: While Udaipur is visitable all year
round, festival time in Rajasthan is between October and
Places of interest
Built in 1725, the grand City Palace is actually a
conglomerate of eleven palaces overlooking the sprawling Lake
Pichola. One of the largest, most beautiful palaces in the
state of Rajasthan, it is now a museum, royal residence and a
luxury hotel. This intricately designed monument is an
architectural wonder in granite and marble.
Built in 1651 by Maharaja Jagat Singh, this temple is
dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is located in the centre of the
old city. The temple has a black marble image of Lord Vishnu,
which is unusual for the northern part of the country, where
statues of Gods are normally in marble.
Originally built in 1678 by Maharana Jai Singh, Fateh Sagar
was rebuilt by Maharana Fateh Singh after the rains destroyed
the dam. The garden island in the middle of the lake is Nehru
Park, which also has a café. You can also hire pedal boats to
tour the lake.
With its main attractions being the two palaces on the islands
in the lake, Jagniwas and Jagmandir Lake Pichola is about 4 km
in length and 3 km wide. Jagniwas was earlier the summer
retreat of the prince of Mewar and now a five-star hotel. The
city palace extends along the eastern shore of the lake and
you can go for a boat ride from Bansi Ghat.
Udaipur has some fabulous handicrafts, which is why Shilpagram
or the art village is a great place to go to. A craft bazaar,
it is on the outskirts of Udaipur, about 3 km from Fateh Sagar.
The place showcases crafts from Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat and
Rajasthan, and you can pick up quite a lot of wonderful pieces
Bharatiya Lok Kala - Udaipur Folk Museum
Conserving local folk arts like paintings, dolls, masks and
musical instruments, this museum can be quite an eye opener on
everything from the society that exists here to the talent and
creativity of its people.
Ashwa Poojan - Navratri, the
festival that is celebrated for nine nights and ends with
Dussehra on the tenth day is preceded by the worship of the
horse. In the land of Rajputana, the horse is sacred for it
was the Rajput warrior's most trusted and faithful companion,
both in the battlefield, and also in times of peace. Ritual
prayers are offered to the steed, with the Maharana himself
offering prayers to the animal on the occasion.
Gangaur - Celebrated mainly by unmarried women in the
belief that it will bring matrimony, processions of the idols
of Issar and Gangaur, manifestations of Shiva and Parvati, are
taken out and worshipped.
Kartik Purnima - The full moon night of November, when
the Pushkar Mela is in full swing in Pushkar, near Ajmer, is
also the time for the festival of the full moon in Udaipur.
Lord Brahma is offered ritual prayers, but in Udaipur the
occasion is also celebrated with a festival of classical
performing arts against the backdrop of the Jag Mandir. The
City Palace remains illuminated throughout the night.
New Year's Eve - Udapiur has its own way of ringing in
the New Year. Held in the opulent Durbar Hall of Fateh Prakash
Palace, a formal banquet is served with all the pomp and
ceremony of a royal occasion. The Maharana is in attendance,
and there is live entertainment on offer.
Shriji's Birthday - In commemoration of the birth
anniversary of the 76th Maharana, this is an occasion where
the current Maharana known affectionately as Shriji is greeted
by people that are symbolically his subjects. No appointments,
this occasion makes people feel that the ruler is accessible
and sympathetic to their problems. In the evening, he
celebrates the event with his extended family and friends and
is a private affair.
Holi - Holi, the festival of colours, is celebrated in
February/ March and marks the end of winter and the beginning
of spring. The Udaipur royal family hosts an elaborate
function at the City Palace.