Udaipur: Where I lost my heart

The city of lakes, palaces & a perfect mirror of the vibrant colors of Rajasthan, Udaipur is the destination to experience the royalty of the Rajputana. With beautiful scenic locations, rich culture, history & for my love of Rajasthan, the city was on my bucket list for a long time. It was time for the last college trip & without ifs & buts, I set off to Udaipur with my friends.

Jaipur to Udaipur

Lake Pichola

The city is well connected with other major cities of India by airways, roads & railways. For the love of train journeys, I boarded the Kurj Udaipur express at Jaipur railway station. The morning sun welcomed us in the city of lakes. We had booked a stay near lake Pichola & lucky us, it was in proximity to many of the tourist places. 

Fall in love with the City Palace

The grand entrance

Rajasthan is the land of kings & palaces and Udaipur is no exception. Our hopping journey started from the magnificent City Palace in Udaipur. The palace was a few minutes away from our stay. I am in love with palaces & the royal aura they possess. The moment I stepped inside the grand entrance; I was lost in the magnificence of the palace.

Inside City Palace

It was built over 400 years by several rulers of the Mewar dynasty & preserves the past architecture and art forms. With sections like the Raj Angan (Royal Courtyard), Zenana Mahal (Ladies Chamber), Sheesh Mehal, Krishna Vilas, Mor Chowk & Lakshmi Chowk, the Mahal takes you back to the era of Rajput Kingdoms. 

The grandeur

 A sneak peek of Lake Pichola & the surrounding city from the balconies of the palace is a must if you are a tourist at heart. Taking hundreds of pictures inside the palace, we went down to Lake Pichola. 

Royal architecture

The Indian cinema has introduced us to the lifestyle of the kings of Rajasthan, but could it be better than the palace revealing its own story? Well, I have my reservations. I wish I could live forever in this royal palace. Seems like a dream? Shiv Niwas Palace, Jagmandir Palace, and Lake Palace hotels are ready to turn it into reality & provide you a taste of Rajput lifestyle & hospitality. 

View of Palace from Lake Pichola

Explore lakes in the city of lakes

Lake Pichola

Lake Pichola

If you are in Udaipur, you are probably a few minutes away from a lake! This city has beautiful lakes, palaces, islands, ghats, parks with rich historic significance. We had a glimpse of lake Pichola during our visit to the city palace. This artificial water reservoir is the home of four beautiful islands, Jag Niwas, Jag Mandir, Mohan Mandir & Arsi Vilas. Take a stroll around the lake, listen to folklores on the Natani Chabutara & witness the beautiful sunset on Gangaur Ghat.

Fateh Sagar lake

Fateh Sagar Lake

Protected by the Aravali hills from three sides, with its still water & islands, Fateh Sagar lake is not just another lake in the city. As soon as we reached the lake, the colorful boards inviting us to try adventurous water sports caught our attention. Do you recall the first time you tried a water sport? Yes, I was super excited too. The 45 minutes jet ski ride, the view of the Aravali range & glimpse of the Nehru Park, I couldn’t have asked for more.

Nehru Park

Now that I had a sight of Nehru Park, how could have I resisted visiting this lush green marvel. Jump on a board & a few minutes later gliding through the lake you land upon the floating island, known as Nehru Park. This ovular shaped park has numerous fountains, a green velvet cover & not to be missed, a floating restaurant in the shape of a boat. 

Preserved Dharohar in Bagore ki Haveli

Bagore ki Haveli

Strolling across Lake Pichola we reached a grand architecture near Gangaur ghat. The sound of Rajasthani folk songs took us inside the grand entrance. And we found ourselves rejoicing a colorful dance form being presented by Rajasthani folks dancers in the courtyard of Bagore ki Haveli. It was the Dharohar dance show, which reveals the rich history of the grand kingdoms through Chari, Tehra Taal, Gorbandh, Ghumar & other dance forms. We were about to leave when the sleek motion of the Kathpulis started & what a great experience we were about to miss! The comic narrative, thap of dhol & skillfulness of the puppeteer made me wonder about the beauty of these lost art forms.

Dharohar Dance

 The Haveli with hundreds of rooms, glass & mirror work, attires & art forms is a perfect representation of the Mewar kingdom. We reached the Haveli after 5:30 pm. While we couldn’t witness the beauty of the museum & interiors, the dance forms under the sky full of stars made my heart smile.

The land of worship

From Jodha Akbar to Padmavat, Bollywood movies have reflected the devotion of royal Rajputana families towards Indian Gods & Goddesses. With “Payoji Maine Ram Ratan Dhan Payo”, playing in the cab, I was lost in my thoughts remembering the stories of Mirabai, the Rajput princess who devoted her life to Lord Krishna, when the outside view started changing.

Large marble statues were being transformed into different forms by skilled hands. We had entered Rishabdeo, the town with the largest miner of green marble. 

Kesariyaji temple

Kesariyaji Tirth

As we moved ahead, the sight of white pinnacles caught our attention. It belonged to the famous Jain temple, Kesariyaj Tirth. Dedicated to Tirthankara Rishabha, the temple has beautiful pinnacles, arches & carved walls. Fascinated by the architecture & with saffron in my hands to offer to the lord, I entered the temple premises.

Mansapurna karni Temple

Karni Mata Temple

Temple in Rajasthan with lots of white rats: Does this sounds familiar? For me, it flashed the image of hundreds of rats in a temple that I had seen on some TV channel. While the main temple behind this story is the Karni Mata temple of Bikaner, you witness a similar sight in the Mansapurna Karni Mata temple of Udaipur. 

Stairs to Karni Mata Temple

A 5 minutes ropeway ride or a 15 minutes walks through stairs takes you to the famous temple on the Magar Maccha hills. The temple is devoted to Karni Mata, who is also the official deity of the royal family of Jodhpur and Bikaner. 

By the time we reached the temple, the sun was merging into the horizon. The view of the Udaipur city from the top & the shimmering Taj Palace hotel in Lake Pichola looked spectacular.

Saheliyon ki bari: It’s all about entertainment

Entertainment is a big buzzword in our world today. But did you know how much recreation was valued in the Rajputana kingdoms?

If your answer is no, welcome to Saheliyon ki bari. Situated on the banks of Fateh Sagar lake, this beautiful garden was a gift from Maharana Sangram Singh to his queen & her 48 maids who accompanied her after marriage.

Saheliyon ki Bari

The lush green garden has numerous fountains, a lotus pool & a tour to the past through the museum which preserves royal household items. I was taken aback to know about the rain fountains that created imagery of maidens dancing in the rain. Well, we were already in the augmented reality phase in the 18th century!

Story of the Mewari Rana at Haldighati

“आगे नदिया पड़ी अपार,

घोड़ा कैसे उतरे पार, 

राणा ने सोचा इस पार ,

तब तक चेतक था उस पार “

I was teary-eyed when my Hindi teacher recited these lines from the poem “चेतक की वीरता”, back in school days. This poem also reminds me of Maharana Pratap Singh, the brave king of Mewar who fought endlessly with the Mughals to protect his motherland. How could I miss discovering the journey & valor of this great King!

Haldi Ghati mountain pass

With this thought, we set off to Haldi Ghati. Today it is just another mountain pass marked by yellow colored soil. But history registers this place as the ground of the famous battle of Haldighati. 

Maharana Pratap Museum

The site of the fight is now covered with forest. Searching for stories of the battle, we landed in the Maharana Pratap Museum. Artifacts, pictures, models, portraits, and a light & sound show takes you on a journey to explore the life of the famous warrior of Mewar. The model depicting the last meeting of Rana & his loved horse Chetak melted my heart.

Valor of Rana

The courtyard of the museum displays models of various items like bullock carts, utensils, dresses to kolhu that was an eternal part of our ancient culture.

Moti Magri

Statue of Maharana Pratap on Moti Magri

Another marvel dedicated to this beloved king of Mewar is the statue of Maharana Pratap Singh & his dear horse Chetak on Moti Magri hills. The hills also offer a visit to a beautiful Japanese rock garden, old ruins & a scenic view of the city. 

Grab colors of Udaipur at Hathi Pol Bazar

Hathi Pol Bazar

During this entire trip, I was captivated by the colors of Udaipur. With the desire to take a few of these colors back, we landed in the Hathi Pol Bazar. With mojaris, Rajasthani miniature paintings, handicrafts, the market has something to offer to everyone. The vibrance of the shops captivated us & we ended up buying lots of gift items.

As my trip ended, waiting for the train at Udaipur station, I felt something was missing. While everything seemed intact, I had lost a piece of my heart in the palaces, colors & lakes of Udaipur forever. With a dreamy heart & a promise to be its forever, I bid Udaipur adieu.

Some Tips:

How to reach

Airways: Maharana Pratap Airport is 22 km away from the city center & gets flights from major cities in India.

Roadways: Udaipur bus stand connects the city with major cities in the countries through regular & luxury buses.

Railways: The local railway station is connected with major destinations in India. Luxury trains Maharaja Express and Palace on Wheels provides a royal ride to the city

Best time to visit: September – March 

What to eat:

Dal bati near Gulab Bagh

Dabeli at Sukhadia Circle

Kachori near Police Line Road

Pani Puri in Ashok Nagar Main Road

Jalebis at Delhi Gate

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