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Udaipur

The Lake City

Visitor’s Checklist

Udaipur district:

269 km (167 miles) S of Jodhpur.

Total Population

389,400

Airport:

25 km (16 miles) E of city centre.

More tourism information:

Rajasthan Tourism, Suraj Pol, Tel: (0294) 241 1535 

City Palace,Jaipur
 

 

THIS FAIRY-TALE CITY, with its marble palaces and lakes surrounded by a ring of hills, was founded by Maharana Udai Singh in 1559, and became the capital of Mewar after the fall of Chittorgarh in 1567. The rulers of Mewar, who belonged to the Sisodia clan of Rajputs, traced their dynasty back to AD 566. Fiercely independent, they refused matrimonial alliances with the Mughals, and took great pride in their reputation as the prime defenders of Rajput honour. The city is dominated by the massive City Palace, which overlooks Lake Pichola with its romantic island palaces. Picturesque havelis, ghats and temples line the lake front, with the lively bazaars of the old walled city stretching behind them.

Places to Visit in Udaipur

City Palace

STRETCHING ALONG the eastern shore of Lake Pichola, Udaipur's City Palace is a fascinating combination of Rajput military architecture and Mughal-style decorative techniques. Its stern, fortress-like fa~ade, topped by a profusion of graceful balconies, Royal SUfi symbol cupolas and turrets, has been aptly described by one writer as a massive plain cake topped with fabulous icing. The largest palace in Rajasthan, covering an area of 2 ha (5 acres), the City Palace is actually a complex of several palaces, built or added to by 22 different maharanas between the 16th and 20th centuries. Much of it is now a museum, and parts of it are luxury hotels.

The older section of the City Palace complex dates from 1568. Behind its fortified walls is a maze of royal apartments, reception halls and court­ yards. They are linked to each other by narrow passages and steep staircases - a feature typical of Rajput palaces of that period, designed to confuse invaders.The superb City Palace Museum is spread out through several palaces in this section, and is entered through the imposing Tripolia Gate (built in 1713). Above the entrance is the Mewar crest - a large Sun face (rein­ forcing the Sisodia clan's claim to be descended from the Sun), flanked by Rajput and Bhil warriors (the tribal Bhils,skilled archers, played a heroic role in Mewar's great battles). Beyond this is the Ganesh Deorhi Gate where entrance tickets for the museum are sold. It leads into a coultyard decorated with frescoes of horses and elephants, and a marble relief of the god Ganesha surrounded by daz­ zling mirror and glass inlay.

Jag Mandir

Jag Mandir, with its lush gardens and marble chambers exquisitely inlaid with coloured stone, was built in 1620. Eight stone elephants stand solemn guard at its entrance. Between 1623 and 1624, this island palace provided refuge to Prince Khurram (who would later become the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan) while he rebelled against his father. It is believed to have inspu-ed many of his ideas for the Taj Mahal. Jag Niwas, or the Lake Palace, built between 1734 and 1751, was once a royal SUITUner retreat and is now one of the world's great hotels. It is also a popular loca­ tion for film shoots (including James Bond's Octopussy). Both palaces can be seen on a boat tour of Lake Pichola.

Jagdish Mandir

This 17th-centLllY temple, just north of the City Palace's main gate, has an enor­ mous black stone unage of Vishnu in its profusely carved main slu-ine. The entrance is flanked by stone elephants, and a superb bronze unage of Garuda (the mythical bird who is Vishnu's vehicle) stands in front of the temple. Nearby, at Gangaur Ghat, is the 18th­ century Bagore ki Haveli, now a splendid museum exhibiting Udaipur's traditional arts and crafts, costumes, musical instruments and marblework. Folk music and dance performances are held here every evening at 7pm.The old walled city, a jumble of shops and houses, many with beautifully painted facades, lies east of the Jagdish Mandu-. In its narrow, lanes are the Bapu and Bara Bazaars, selling wooden toys, puppets, textiles, jewels and picbbwais.

Fateh Sagar Lake

North of Lake Pichola is Fateh Sagar Lake, with a garden cafe on its island. Over­ looking it is Moti Magri Hill with a statue of Udaipur's great 16th-century warrior, Maharana Pratap, and his valiant steed, Chetak.

Saheliyon ki Bari

This delightful 18th-century retreat in the north of the city (its name means "Garden of the Maids of Honour") has ornamental fountains, a lotus pool and a rose garden. It was built for a queen of Udaipur, whose dowry included 48 maids.

Ahar

east of Udaipur, Ahar has the impressive cenotaphs of 19 Mewar rulers, and a small archaeological museum.

Chandra Mahal

Each floor of this seven­ storied palace extravagantly decorated and has a specific name according to its function. The palace is closed to the public.

Shilpgram

8 km (5 miles) northwest of Udaipur, is a lively ethnographic crafts village, with artisans, folk performers, and replicas of traditional houses. Camel rides are also available.

Eklingji

22 km (14 miles) northeast of Udaipur, is a complex of 108 temples and shrines, dedicated to Lord Shiva. It marks the site where the founder of the Mewar ruling dynasty, Bappa Rawal, received special blessings from a sage who lived here. The main temple dates to the 16th century. Built of marble and granite, it includes an impressive pillared hall and a four-faced image of Shiva crafted in black marble, with a silver Nandi facing it.