In the western side of the country, sharing border with the rival country, Pakistan, dwells the Indian state of Rajasthan, a state of camels and deserts, a land of spectacular and majestic forts & landscapes, a place of rich heritage & culture and mouth-watering cuisines (Dal-Baati-Churma & Ghewars), a land of long and glorious history, a place where royalty is a way of life. Abode to fearless, brave, tenacious and notorious Rajput warriors and kings, the state is rightly called Rajasthan, ‘The land of Kings’.
2013 was already proving to be a good year for travelling; ancestral villages and temples in January, Ranthambhore in February, and then it was Udaipur in March . Udaipur was founded by Maharana Udai Singh in 1559 when he shifted the capital of Mewar from Chittorgarh to Udaipur. With seven artificial, inter-connected and beautiful lakes, the city is aptly known as ‘City of lakes’, ‘Kashmir of Rajasthan’, and ‘Venice of the East’. Owing to the white buildings and houses, it’s also called ‘The White city’.
With just one day in hand, I had to squeeze the most out of this splendid city and kicked off the day with authentic, heavy and delicious Rajasthani dish, Dal-Baati.
The first spot on the list was ‘The City Palace’. Located on the banks of Lake Pichola, it was constructed by Maharana Udai Singh in 1559 and has many other palaces built within. The city palace is divided in three parts – one-third has been converted into the museum for general public, another third is the home of the 76th king of the Mewar dynasty, Maharaja Arvind Singh Mewar and last third was turned into a hotel in 1963 by the Maharja and is now managed by HRH group of Hotels (I think HRH stands for His Royal Highness…Haha). Massive in size, this palace provides an amazing insight into elegant Mewar culture and architecture, a great view of the city, and is a must visit for everyone who visits Udaipur.
Entrance to City Palace
Residence of the current King and an awesome Vintage car!
Museum Part of City Palace
As you enter the City Palace, you get a stunning view of The Lake Palace hotel located in the Lake Pichola, a sight that you just don’t want to stop staring at. Built from 1743 to 1746 by Maharana Jagat Singh II as a summer resort to get respite from heat it was known as Jag Niwas island and was later turned into a luxury hotel and the management was overtaken by Taj Hotels in 1971 and since then, its called Taj Lake Palace. Today, it’s considered as the most romantic hotel in India. Tranquil blue water of the lake reflecting the calm blue sky, Arravali mountains and the Palace constituted a breath-taking view.
The whole museum is divided into several Mahals, and has many Gates and Chowks. Just as you enter the fort, you see a wall lined with yellow, red and white flags & a lush green garden which gives you a royal feeling of the era of 1600’s. This place is called Bada Chowk and is the main compound of the palace.
Red, Yellow & White!
The entrance to the main museum is through an impressive gateway, which boasts two warriors on a golden mosaic painting. Once inside, you again have to go through a security check. As you move on, you come across a hall displaying old arms and weapons such as guns, swords, pistols, spears etc. The palace is so huge that after passing through several rooms, passages, verandahs and galleries, I was unable to keep track and remember the names of all the places, though I remember a few.
Padharo Mhare Desh!
The next point was Badi Mahal which is situated at the highest point of the palace. Being the highest point in the palace, it provides an awesome panoramic view of the White city and Lake Pichola. Badi Mahal features a beautiful garden with trees, flowers and fountains. Inside, it also contains beautiful stained windows.
Inside Badi Mahal!
Udaipur – The White City
Next up was Mor Chowk or The Peacock courtyard and this is the most beautiful place inside the palace. It contains five peacock mosaics with fine glass work and this makes it an amazing piece of art. No place inside the palace was as remarkable and attractive as the Mor Chowk.
Amar Mahal displays the orthodox Indian kitchen and items of common use in an exotic manner. From clay pots, metallic utensils, fans to Chulhas made of clay and stones which used wood as fuel. The sheer size of pots and utensils made me imagine the size of the kings, their waistlines and how much efforts the cooks must had to put in for preparing the food.
Having already spent 2 hours in the palace and restricted by time, we had to cover the rest of the palace quickly without spending much time at a particular spot and thus I was unable to gather much information about other places but just the pictures.
Nice place to work…ain’t it?
‘Hat Tables’ in Zenana Mahal
Almost a recursion!
The final 10 minutes were spent in checking out the most expensive place of the palace; a place where everything is made up of pure Silver from Mandap to chariots.
A ‘Shaadi Mandaap’ made totally of Silver used for marriage of king’s son 2 years back
Finally, it was time to leave the City Palace. It’s massive size, beautiful architecture, dazzling views, stained glasses makes it one of the best monuments in Rajasthan or might be in India too.
On the way out
Moti Magari, Maharana Pratap Memorial, was the next destination. An impressive Bronze statue of Maharana Pratap Singh on his favorite and faithful horse, Chetak, stands atop Moti Magari overlooking Fateh Sagar Lake. The statue is so beautifully carved that each and every nerve on both Maharana Pratap and his horse Chetak are clearly visible. Maharana Pratap never surrendered the independence of Mewar to Mughals when all other Rajput kingdoms had submitted to the wills of Akbar. And as a result Battle of Haldighati was fought in 1576, which lasted only for 4 hours. The battle didn’t have any clear outcome but is remembered for its hero, Chetak. Maharana Pratap had injured himself and so had his horse, but despite the injuries Chetak carried Mahrana Pratap on his back to a safe place after sprinting for nearly 2 miles on three legs. On the way, while trying to leap a strem, Chetak wounded himself and succumbed to injuries and thus became a legend.
Maharana Pratap and Chetak statue
Boating while watching the Sun setting over the Fateh Sagar lake in the evening hours is a must-do activity in Udaipur. The calmness and peace it provides is totally unmatched. It also provides a great opportunity for photographers to capture the sunset and twilight.
Tired and exhausted, we decided to visit the last spot, Nimach Mata Temple located on a hill-top and call it a day. The only access to the temple is through the rope-way. At almost a height of 1 km., it provides a stunning view of the Lake palace amidst the Pichola lake and City Palace by the lake, both bathing in artificial lights.
Atop the Mountain
Untill next post…Cheers! Stay tuned.