Udaipur..An Oasis in the Desert..Venice of the East..A city of romance..a city, where many celebrities across the continents want to spend few days with their better-halves, some came here for marriage, some for movie shoots, but more or less, this city mesmerized everyone. And from the beginning of its foundation, Udaipur remains a center of attraction for Rajasthan. During the dynasty of Mighty Mughals in India, Mewar Dynasty of Udaipur wrote the history of Rajputana with its gallantry, valor and sacrifice, which is still remembered across India.
Today, this city is one of the important place to visit in India, where everybody loves to set his foot. Many places are scattered across Udaipur, where you can find a glimpse of its glorious past and incredible present, but there are some places which should not be missed at any cost, whenever you are in Udaipur. Such ten places are listed here and include one palace, two palace turned luxury hotels, two lakes, one temple, one haveli, one garden, one modern cultural center and an eating joint.
1. City Palace : A huge palace located at the east bank of Lake Pichola, may not look very exciting in exteriors, but once you enter inside, no one else can match the elegance of this palace. Built in a flamboyant style with a fusion of the Rajasthani and Mughal architecture, this palace is a city within the city. Its interior include two luxury hotels Shiv Niwas and Fateh Prakash, a Palace of Pearls (Moti Mahal), a Palace of Mirrors and Glass (Sheesh Mahal) and a Residence of Little Pictures (Chhoti Chitrashali), with its glass peacock designs. These all are the witness of the wealth and beauty of the former kingdom. The City Palace tends to attract and retain tourists, given its sheer size and the range of services it offers like a bank, a post office, a travel agency, numerous craft shops and even a World Wide Fund for Nature India Boutique.
2. Lake Pichola : Encircled on all sides by grand palaces, marble temples, local houses, dark hills and rows of bathing ghats which is thronged by bathers and visitors equally, this lake adds to the mysticism of Udaipur. Stay at any lake front hotel and enjoy the beauty of lake by gazing around simply. Take photographs of numerous palaces and their reflections in the water, take a boat-ride to the famous island palaces built in the lake and enjoy the sunset from the sunset point, you will undoubtedly fall in love with it.
3. Lake Palace : Located on the floating water of Lake Pichola, The Lake Palace is a high-end luxury hotel of Taj Group and considered as one of the best romantic destination in India. Formerly known as Jag Niwas, this is reached by a boat from a jetty near the City Palace. Built with white marbel, this is a place where beauty, grandeur and royalty come together to give you the ultimate luxurious experience. To experience the luxury and elegance of this hotel, you have to stay there as a guest. As a visitor, you can not enter in this hotel. During the boat ride from City Palace to Jag Mandir, the boat will take you closer to the Lake Palace and this is the only way to see the exteriors of this palace, if you are not going there as a guest.
4. Jag Mandir: Also known as a Lake Garden Palace, this is an island in the Lake Pichola, which was used as a summer resort and a pleasure palace for holding parties by the royal family. It is now open to the public and you can see the gardens, have a bite at the coffee shop, or even stay overnight in part of the former palace. The Palace surroundings offer a blissful view of sunset. It is approachable by a boat-ride from the City Palace.
5. Jagdish Temple : Near the main entrance of City Palace, this is a large Hindu Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu and situated about 50 meter above the ground level. Made of white marbles, the temple is highly appreciated for the carved images. It boasts of exquisite carvings of statues of several gods and goddesses, huge elephants, and extremely well carved pillars.
6. Lake Fateh Sagar : This is the second lake within the Udaipur City, other one is Lake Pichola. The lake area houses three small islands, which is named as Nehru Park with a restaurant and a zoo, a Public Park with an impressive water-jet fountain and Udaipur Solar Observatory . All islands are accessible with a short boat-rides. Lake Fateh Sagar is also connected to the adjoining Lake Pichola through a canal having gates.
7. Saheliyon Ki Bari : Sahelion Ki Bari or Courtyard of the Maidens was laid for a group of forty-eight young women attendants who accompanied a princess to Udaipur as part of her dowry. The most beautiful garden of Udaipur sets below the embankment of the Fateh Sagar Lake with the beautiful lotus pools, marble pavilions and elephant- shaped fountains. These fountains are fed by the water of the lake gushing through ducts made for the purpose. Each water channel has its distinct sound and the mingling of these sounds complement the ambiance of the place. There is also a Vigyan Kendra (Science Center) inside the garden complex.It contains various interesting information about scientific theories and practicals.
8. Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandal : It is primarily an institution to conduct studies on folk art, culture, songs and festivals of regions like Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh etc and to revive a vanishing folk culture. The institution also has a museum that exhibits collection of folk articles from Rajasthan like rural-dresses, ornaments, puppets, masks, dolls, folk musical instruments, folk deities and paintings. You can visit these museums anytime during the day to see the rural culture and traditions of Rajasthan.There is puppet theater (Kathputli) too, where puppet shows are held at regular interval. The same theater also host the performance of various folk dancers and artists everyday in the evening.This is a great place to experience the folk arts, folk dances and puppet shows in Rajasthan.
9. Bagore Ki Haveli : It is right on the waterfront of Lake Pichola at Gangori Ghat. The palace has over a hundred rooms, with displays of costumes and modern art. The glasses and mirrors were extensively used in the interiors of Haveli. In the evening, the haveli lightens and stages enjoyable performance of traditional dance and music of Rajasthan. These performances are most sought among the foreigners, and you can find a large gathering in the evening. Here, you can also see the movement of puppeteer during the puppet show, which is a very unique experience. It gives you an exact idea that how puppets move with the movement of the palm and fingers of the puppeteer. The haveli looks marvelous with glowing lights in the night.
10. Sukhadiya Circle : Basically, it is a large roundabout in the city’s northern suburb of Panchwati, on the road to Ranakpur and Mt. Abu. It has a beautiful garden and large 3-tiered fountain surrounded by a pond, that looks magical in the night. If you want to enjoy your evening with locals, this is a place to be. The circle is surrounded by various food stalls and juice corners selling everything from Pav Bhaji, Chhole-Bhature, Burgers to Milk shakes and juices. In the evening, families and friends come here together to enjoy the foods, cold drinks and tea stalls.
All Udaipur’s most important heritage symbols, as far as tourists are concerned, are located around Lake Pichola (6 from the above list) and can be covered by a simple walk. Udaipur is a nice city to visit with all its glorious history, grand palaces and beautiful surroundings. When are you going to feel the pride of Rajputana?