Top 10 Things To Do In Udaipur – The City of Lakes
Udaipur, also known as the ‘Venice of East’, is a beautiful city of lakes in the state of Rajasthan. The shimmering waters of huge lakes surrounded by majestic Aravalli Hills with sunset at the backdrops make Udaipur an ultimate romantic destination. The city is like an oasis on the dry heart of Rajasthan. The scenic beauty and romantic settings of the city makes it a heaven for movie shooting. Udaipur has attracted many movie directors over a period of time. A lot of Hindi and English movies have been shot here including Guide, Mera Saaya, Octopussy, Dhamaal, Ram-Leela and Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani. Being the historical capital of the Kingdom of Mewar, the city has a rich history and culture. The magnificent Rajput-era palaces narrate the tales of bravery and grandeur. Rajasthan is known for its hospitality and Udaipur is no exception. The unmatched royal treatment, heart-warming hospitality and the old-world feel of its heritage hotels will make you feel like a king. Whether you take a thrilling motor boat ride on the restless waters of the vast lakes, or enjoy the tranquil camel ride along the waterfront area, or explore its glorious fort palaces and bustling colourful markets, Udaipur gives you a very promising experience. If you have ample time on your holiday, explore the city at your own pace and you will discover a lot of hidden gems. For your small time-bound trips, here is a list of the 10 must-visit places in Udaipur.
1. City Palace
The City Palace of Udaipur is the personification of magnificence and grandeur. It is a colossal complex of 11 palaces, courtyards, pavilions, and gardens that are skilfully interlinked through numerous quadrangles and zigzag corridors. This was done to avoid surprise enemy attacks. The palace was originally built by Maharana Udai Singh II in 1559, and then by his successors over a period of 400 years. The entire complex belongs to the Mewar royal family and a part of it is still a home to them. Built on an uneven hill on the east bank of Lake Pichola, the palace offers a breath-taking view of the city and its important landmarks. City Palace is a beautiful museum that gives you an insight into the royal lifestyle of the kings. Admire the royal dresses, silver utensils, silver jewellery, antique weapons, intriguing artefacts and descriptive paintings of the palace that will transport you to a fascinating imperial era of the Rajput Dynasty. Massive entry gates, wooden carved doors, stain glass windows, intricate peacock mosaics, delicate mirror work and splendid stone carvings of the palace exhibit a rich blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. Walk through the galleries displaying the statue of much revered king and warrior, Maharana Pratap, his sword and other belongings, as well as the paintings displaying the battle of Haldi Ghati. Hiring a guide at the City Palace is advisable. Lastly, do not miss the one hour light and sound show that takes place every evening at the City Palace. The show describes the regal history of Mewar.
2. Monsoon Palace
The ‘Monsoon Palace’ or the ‘Sajjangarh Palace’ is a hilltop palace. Located at a distance of 10 kilometre from Udaipur city, it is perched on top of the Basandra Mountain Peak at about 944-metre above the sea level. Built in the 19th century by the 72nd ruler of Mewar, Maharana Sajjan Singh, the palace had an astronomical purpose to watch the progress of monsoon clouds. It was also used as a summer retreat and a hunting lodge for Mewar kings. Being the highest palace in Udaipur, it offers spectacular panoramic views of the city and the magnificent lake Pichola. The sunset view from the terraces of Sajjangarh Palace is a sight to behold.
3. Nehru Park
Nehru Park is a beautiful island garden situated in the middle of Fateh Sagar Lake. Enjoy a refreshing motorboat ride on the blue waters of the lake to reach the picturesque park. Spend your leisure time exploring the park’s beautiful garden with a lily pond, a small zoo and a pyramid shaped water jet fountain. Check out the Udaipur’s Solar Observatory situated on the Island. Wear the traditional dress of Rajasthan and get yourself clicked at a minimal cost. Dine at the boat shaped cafe near the park and taste some local cuisines. Get a panoramic view of the spectacular Aravalli hills and click lots of pictures. Or simply sit and relax by the lake side and enjoy the tranquility of the place.
4. Jag Mandir Palace
‘Jag Mandir’, also known as the ‘Lake Garden Palace’ is a magnificent piece of architecture. It is a 17th century palace situated amid the grand Lake Pichola. The credit for the construction of this captivating palace goes to the three Maharanas of Mewar Kingdom – Maharana Amar Singh, Maharana Karan Singh and Maharana Jagat Singh. Jag Mandir Palace was used as a summer resort for the royal family. Currently, lavish parties are hosted here by the current Maharana, and the place is also rented for private parties. Explore the various sections of the palace where royalty once resided. Each of them tell fascinating tales of antiquity. The beautiful Islamic architecture of ‘Gul Mahal’ catches the major attention. This was tastefully built by Maharana Karan Singh to provide refuge to the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and his family for several years. The floor of the courtyard is covered with black and white tiles, fountains, water pools and crisscross walkways. There is a ‘Barah Patharon Ka Mahal’ or the palace of twelve stones that was constructed out of twelve solid marble slabs. ‘Zenana Mahal’ is a cluster of chambers that was once dedicated to the royal ladies. ‘Kunwar Pada Ka Mahal’ was meant for the Crown Prince of the kingdom. Venture into the beautiful gardens of Jag Mandir adorned with moss rose, jasmine, frangipani, bougainvillea and huge palm trees. Another awe-inspiring attraction is the eight life-sized elephants carved in white marble facing the lake, giving an impression of guarding the palace. Also, dine at the Darikhana Restaurant and treat your taste buds with some lip smacking flavours of Rajasthan. With its historical significance and supreme beauty, Jag Mandir Palace is a must-visit.
Saheliyon-Ki-Bari or the ‘Garden of the Maidens’ is a beautiful garden located on the banks of Fateh Sagar Lake. It was built in the 18th century by Maharana Sangram Singh as a gift to his beloved queen and her 48 maid attendants who accompanied her as a part of the dowry. The queen and her maid attendants used to spend their leisure time here. The garden is a remarkable work of architecture. Embellished with delightful lotus pool, flowerbeds, bird fountains, lush green lawns, mighty marble elephants and kiosks, it offers a romantic ambience and a green retreat amid the dry land of Rajasthan. The main attraction of Saheliyon-Ki-Bari is the intriguing rain fountain called ‘Bin Badal Barsaat’ or ‘Rain Without Clouds’ that was built by Maharana Bhupal Singh for his favourite daughter. Its rain-like showers run without electricity. The garden also has a historical significance with its museum exhibiting huge collections of royal households and ancient pictures.
6. ‘Bangore Ki Haveli’ Museum
‘Bangore Ki Haveli’ is a historic building transformed into a museum. Built in the 18th century by the chief minister of Mewar, the haveli stands proudly at the Gangaur Ghat of Lake Pichola. There are more than hundred rooms that exhibit the rich culture and history of Mewar. Venture into the huge courtyards, decorated archways, well-arranged balconies and Jharokhas, artistic cupolas and a unique fountain. Explore the private quarters of the royal ladies, their living rooms, dressing rooms, worship rooms and so on. Admire the mural paintings, mirror work and the glass inlay work used to decorate the haveli. Trace the royal lifestyle of the kings with an amusing display of their exclusive stuff such as, dice-games, jewellery boxes, hookahs, pan boxes, copper vessels etc. Bangore Ki Haveli is also a cultural centre. In the evening, you can enjoy various cultural performances like, Puppet Show and Rajasthani folk dances with traditional music. It is a perfect place to discover the depths of royal culture of Mewar.
7. Vintage Car Museum
The elite lifestyle of the royal family is opulently displayed in their collection of rare vehicles at the Vintage Car Museum in Udaipur. The museum houses around 22 antique vehicles including luxury cars, convertibles and solar rickshaws. The rare collection of the museum includes Rolls Royce, 1939 Cadillac open convertibles, 1936 Vauxhall and rare Mercedes models. Although most of these cars are over seventy years old, they are well maintained and still in working condition. Some of them are still used by the royal family of Udaipur who own the museum. This place is a car-lover’s paradise. Take a 45-minute tour of the museum and click your favourite memories. For a grand overall experience, dine at the Garden hotel restaurant and enjoy the sumptuous vegetarian Rajasthani thali.
8. Khumbalgarh Fort
Khumbalgarh Fort is the second important fort of the Mewar Dynasty after Chittaurgarh. Situated on a hilltop at around 1100-metres above the sea level on the Aravalli range, this fort is a must visit for history lovers. Khumbalgarh, in its current form, was built in the 15th century by Maharana Khumba, who was the father of the great warrior of Mewar, Maharana Pratap. This fort is also the birth place of Maharana Pratap. The grand structure includes seven massive gates, seven barricades, huge watch towers, grand cannons, numerous palaces and gardens, and over 360 Hindu and Jain temples. There is a most notable ‘Lakhola Tank’ inside the fort which is 60 ft. deep. The tank was once used for purified water storage. You will be amazed to discover the ancient water purification procedures. Kumbalgarh has 36-kilometer extended perimeter wall also known as the ‘The Great Wall of India’. It is the second longest wall in the world after ‘The Great Wall of China’. Discover the beautiful palace at the top of the fort, also known as ‘Badal Mahal’ or the palace of cloud that offers the panoramic view of the down town. Admire the captivating colour combinations of its lovely rooms. Spend a pleasurable evening exploring the ancient remnants of the royal era of Mewar. Hiring a guide is recommended.
9. Eklingji Shiva Temple
Eklingji is a famous Hindu temple complex located in the town of Kailashpuri. The origin of the temple dates to 734 A.D. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the ruling deity of Mewar. The complex includes 108 temples made of marble and granite. Lord Shiva is worshipped here in the form of five-faced lingam made of black marble. The five faces depict five forms of Lord Shiva – East-facing part is Lord Surya, West-facing Lord Brahma, North-facing Lord Vishnu, South-facing Lord Rudra and the upraised top is Sadashiva with Amba, his wife. This place is revered as the spiritual capital of Mewar. Eklingji is also famous for its magnificent architecture. Check out the pyramidal style roofs, distinctively carved towers, huge pillared halls, heavy silver doors and carvings done on the walls. You will also find some damaged sculptors of the deities that are the remains of the damage done during Aurangzeb’s rule. Overall, the temple provides a spiritual as well as an aesthetic experience.
10. Ranakpur Jain Temple
Located at a distance of 95 kilometers in the north of Udaipur city, Ranakpur Jain temple is an awe-inspiring grand structure of the 15th century. It is dedicated to Adinath, the first Tirthankar of the Jains. Constructed in light-coloured marble, it covers an area of 48000 sq. feet with more than 1400 exquisitely carved huge pillars supporting the temple. The splendid architecture of the temple is a masterpiece. Check out the geometric patterns on the ceilings, engraved windows, elevated spires, foliate scrollwork, huge elephant structures, two massive bells – each weighing around 108 kilograms, engraved nymphs playing the flute, and figure of Lord Surya driven in his seven-horsed chariot. This artistic temple with its religious significance and appealing beauty is a must-visit place in Udaipur.