I took a trip down to the city of Lakes, Udaipur in December 2015, and I have no clue what took me so long to pen down this travelogue. Maybe the 2000+ pictures in the archive and the constant battle to decide which ones to upload and which ones to leave out!
We had a week-long trip to Udaipur, and if you go by the regular tourist itinerary, it shouldn’t take you more than 4 days to cover all the tourist attractions. But since ours was a slightly long trip, we got ample time to relax and also visit the spots which normally tourists do not visit when on a short trip. Got you all the details below. Enjoy! 🙂
Udaipur is a short 1 hour flight away from Delhi, and the weather over there is perineally hot during the day. During December, the nights were slightly nippy, but comfortable. I’d recommend taking clothes which can be layered on top of each other to keep you comfortable with the changing temperatures during the day.
Our trip began with an evening at the Saheliyon ki Baari (Courtyard of Maidens), a garden structure which Maharana Sangram Singh got made for his queen and her friends to take a stroll in in the evenings, complete with lush green gardens, a fountain amidst a lotus pool, etc. One thing you’ll notice when entering this Baari is that the fountains around the entrance spurt water when you clap around them. No idea what the mystery behind the same is, but it was fun!
After spending some time here, we proceeded towards the Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandal for their evening puppet show and local folk dances. It is a Government run institution, so the facilities are very basic, but the shows were enjoyable and give you a taste of the local culture.
Thereafter, we retired for the night and spent the rest of the evening on the terrace of our hotel overlooking Fateh Sagar Lake.
The next morning, we headed towards the Kumbalgarh fort stretch. You can easily cover the Kumbalgarh fort, Haldi Ghati, Maharana Pratap museum in one day since most of these places are on a single stretch.
The Kumbalgarh Fort, with the 38 km long fort wall has the longest continuous fort wall in the world after the Great Wall of China. It really is a sight to behold from the top!
Remember to carry your sports/ walking shoes for an Udaipur trip. There’s lots of walking that needs to be done!
Slightly away from the Kumbalgarh Fort is the Maharana Pratap museum, Chetak smarak (the spot where Maharana Pratap’s faithful horse Cheak breathed his last), Haldighati, etc.
Haldighati is famous for it’s turmeric yellow color (haldi= turmeric, ghati= mountain pass). Slightly away from the yellow colored mountains is the spot where the Battle of Haldighati between Maharana Pratap and Akbar’s army led by Man Singh was fought in 1576. They say that the Battle of Haldighati was so fierce and so many lives were lost that all the blood that was shed in the battle formed a puddle, and that spot is known as Rakht Talai (pond of blood). It is said that the soil in that area remained red from blood for a long long time, though any such color is not visible now.
A little away from Haldighati is a newly built museum depicting the life and times of Maharana Pratap. The museum also hosts a robot show on the same.
The evening was again spent boating in the Fateh Sagar Lake, followed by tea and snacks around the lake.
The next day, we had planned to go to Chittorgarh– a fortified hilltop city in Rajasthan which has tons of stories about the Rajput history, bravery, love and dedication of the men and women.
When you enter the Chittorgarh premises, the first place you see is the Fateh Prakash Palace, now converted to a Government museum housing various artifacts from the Mewar dynasty.
The next tourist attraction is the Meerabai temple, a Krishna temple where Meerabai used to pray, and this is where Meerabai drank poison to prove her pious love toward Lord Krishna.
You go deeper into the Fort, and you’ll see a Vijay Stambh, a 9-storey Tower of Victory built in 1440 by Maharana Khumba after defeating Mohamed Khilji. The tower stands tall and proud till date, and is surrounded by Hindu deities’ sculptures all around.
Right next to the Vijay Stambh is the Jauhar sthal (place of jauhar) where Rani Padmini self immolated herself in 1303. Jauhar is a Rajput tradition (now banned) which was followed by Queens and Royal ladies in history- Rajput ladies in history are known to have jumped into fire to save themselves from being caught/ abducted by the opponent if their husbands/ army got defeated/ killed. They believed it was better to be burnt alive than go anywhere near an unknown man.
Another tourist attraction in Chittorgarh is the Padmini Palace, house to the ‘most beautiful’ woman in history. Legend has it that Rani Padmini was so fair and her skin so soft that when she ate a paan (betel), one could see the color outside on her skin!
Legends also have it that Rani Padmini asked her husband king Rawal Ratan Singh to gift her something which would touch water, earth and sky at the same time. Hence this palace was built amidst a pool of water near the main palace, and the tops of the palace depict ‘touching the sky’.
Chittorgarh is surrounded by a circular wall on all sides, with 7 huge gates, known as Pols for entry and exit.
Another evening by the Fateh Sagar Lake. By the 3rd day, we had actually started looking forward to spending time by the lake. And why not, when you are in the City of Lakes?!
We’d saved one whole day to roam in and about Udaipur city and explore places like the City Palace, vintage car museum, etc.
The Udaipur City Palace is a group of hotel palaces around Lake Pichola. You have the main City Palace where the current Royal family resides, and the Taj Lake Palace, Jag Mandir, Monsoon Palace are all a part of the same group. When you first enter the City Palace, which is situated on a hilltop surrounded by lake Pichola, one of the first things you notice is the ethereal, all-white Taj Lake Palace which has also been voted as the ‘most romantic hotel in India and the world’ because of it’s scenic location and setting. For the same reason the palace has featured in various Hollywood movies like James Bond’s ‘Octopussy’ and Bollywood movies like ‘Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani’ in recent times. It really is a sight to behold, and like everyone else, we too hope to stay at the uber luxurious Lake Palace sometime soon!
Once we were done soaking in the beauty of the Lake Palace, we moved towards the City Palace. You literally climb up a hill to reach the main palace premises. Inside, you can soak in the beautiful Rajputana architecture and also take a walk down the beautifully maintained royal courtyards. Parts of the palace have been converted into a museum which give you a peek into the Royal family’s lifestyle from the time the palace was built.
From the top of the palace, you can see the entire Udaipur city. It only helps that the palace is situated on a hilltop.
Below are scenes from some of the rooms of the royal families depicting the architecture and decor sensibilities of those times.
After spending a few hours in the palace, automotive aficionados can move towards the Vintage car museum which houses some cars from the Royal family’s collection. All the cars housed in this museum are in working condition. Some of them, along with the museum itself, have featured in movies like James Bond’s ‘Octopussy’, recent Salman Khan starrer Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, etc.
In the evening, we went down to Moti Magri, the memorial of Rajput pride Maharana Pratap. There’s a bronze statue at the memorial in which Maharana Pratap is sitting atop his horse ‘Chetak’ who dedicated his life towards his master and served him till his last breath. It is said that the statue is very life-like, depicting the height and dimensions of both Maharana Pratap and Chetak. You can also spend the evening here since the memorial is atop another hill around the banks of Fateh Sagar lake.
In the Moti Magri area are also the ruins of Moti Mahal, one of the earliest palaces of Mewar built by Maharana Udai Singh when he first came to settle down in Udaipur (the city is named after him). In the evenings, a light and sound show is hosted here with the Moti Mahal as the backdrop.
On the last day of our trip, which was kind of an ‘extra’ day at hand since we had already covered most tourist places in and around Udaipur, we asked our cab driver to take us to slightly unpopular tourist places. He suggested we go to Jai Samand lake which is also Asia’s largest man-made lake. With an area of around 87km square, it really was a sight to behold. Very heart-warming, condering it is a man-made lake, built by/ under Maharana Jai Singh in 1685 to supply water to Udaipur. A series of marble staircases lead you to the banks of the lake, from where you can see the summer houses of the royals and the Roothi Rani ka Mahal (palace of the upset Queen) where Maharana Jai Singh’s Queen used to stay when upset with her husband 😛
You can take a boat ride in Jaisamand Lake, visit the Jaisamand wildlife sanctuary or stay in one of the (two or three) hotels around the lake for some really isolated time!
Also around this area is the Pratap memorial at Chavand, the place where Maharana Pratap breathed his last. The place is right behind the ruined palace of Pratap where he stayed for the last 12 years of his life with Chavand as the last capital of Mewar.
Also a few kilometres away is Pratap’s samadhi sthal where his last rites were performed. This place has now been converted to a garden.
So those were the bits of our memories from Udaipur. It is not only a beautiful city with pretty amazing Rajputana architecture, the city and it’s surroundings are full of history too. Do take out about 5-6 days from your time to visit Udaipur and explore nearby areas if you want to experience history and the royal life in today’s times.
What other places in and around Udaipur would you recommend? Do share in the comments below.