“Keesariya Balam Aavooni, Padharo Mare Desh” is not just a song, however the actual essence of the Rajasthan. I have always been mesmerized by the royal touch, the hospitality, culture & in-depth history of Rajasthan. This December thanks to COVID unlock I visited the charismatic beauty of the City of Lakes- Udaipur. Since Rajasthan has a sweet spot in my heart- a visit to Udaipur was an enthralling feeling of meeting an old lover. Though Udaipur’s charm did not attract me as much, other cities did, but still, I explored the subtle taste of royalty.
Well, work from home gives you an included advantage to satisfy your travel craves. This entire thought of voyaging adjacent places of Delhi was of my mother since she was bored. We considered Himachal & Uttrakhand first but looking at Instagram & WhatsApp post; we avoided seeing snow as every third individual was in these locations. And the COVID convention changed for these states due to an increment in tourism. Consequently, another reasonable travel goal was Rajasthan, & we had this Udaipur belt untouched.
Therefore, Udaipur was chosen, and I booked the Hotel Panorama Haveli– since it advertised a great bargain on booking.com. This lodging was located in old Udaipur overlooking the south of Pichola lake. To clarify, Udaipur has numerous staying choice from luxury hotels, to the haveli, to budget motels & indeed 1BHK home and hostels. You can book as per your comfort & necessity. It was a road trip, so I got my car serviced. The distance we were covering was 624km, roughly 10hrs 32min drive. Nevertheless, we were all equipped up & excited for the road trip, & luckily, my junior Priyanka joined me on this trip along with my mom.
We started around 5.45 am from Gurgaon on the 10th of Dec, it was a chilly morning with haze wrapping the neighbourhood. As we drove the interstate, I appear to see the cars had the yellowish fog light flickering like a star. It made a spooky air with the flickering of the yellow & orange light. But the fog looked fumy and flimsy in the weak morning light, and I was much obliged to the dawn. The drive was smooth with less traffic and excellent road. We made our first halt at a roadside Dhaba for breakfast, and we ate aloo Paratha. It was yum. However, later we took a few breaks for tea & the final one for lunch.
It was 5 o’clock when we reached, hence checked in to our hotel. Depleted with the long travel, we went to the inn’s rooftop eatery after refreshing up. The view was all-encompassing, one side I could see the Lake & other side sun setting on Aravalli. It was stunning. We requested tea & a few nibbles, & sat there, getting a charge out of the magnificence around us.
Our evening was calm as we took a walk to the adjacent temple & sat near the Lake for some time. It was an ancient Hanuman temple near Hanuman ghat. We strolled little further to the bridge that associated Chand Pole & Hanuman Ghat and looked at the sparkling lights of City Fort. Afterwards, we had an early supper & went to bed.
Next day, we got up early had a quick shower and all set to explore the city. We booked an autorickshaw to explore the city as its not only helpful but economical way to travel. I have continuously prefered local transportation when it comes to exploring the city. Besides, our first pit halt was at a rooftop Lakeview cafe, Jheel’s Ginger Coffee Bar & Pastry kitchen.
The cafe was located on Gangaur Ghat Road 700m from my inn; consequently, we chose to walk down & asked our autorickshaw driver to meet us exterior the eatery. We reached the cafe in 5-7min, & climbed to the rooftop which was on the 5th floor. Quite a task. Be that as it may, be; nevertheless, the view from the rooftop was astounding, as I could see the JagMandir- Lake Garden Royal residence and the Taj Lake Palace. The climate was cloudy today; thus, we were beyond any doubt of losing the sunset on Pichola lake. But without hosing the temperament further, we requested coffee, Ice tea, a few sandwiches & mushroom cheese omelette. The food was not too bad, but the view was magnificent.
Post breakfast, our autorickshaw driver proposed going to the Karni Mata temple since the timing has been changed due to COVID. We agreed & drove towards the temple, situated on the Aravalli mountains, and a ropeway ride takes you to the place. The temple gives an impressive Udaipur view, including Fateh Sagar Lake, Pichola, City Royal residence, and Gulab Bagh. Even I was not disappointed; as one can really see the shades of water of Lake Pichola from here.
Talking about the temple, Shri Mansapurna Karni Mata Temple is located on Machala Hills close to Din Dayal Upadhyaya Park, at an idealized height, & open through either side. One could climb 150 of stairs from Din Dayal Park or take a 4 min ropeway route. I chose the ropeway alternative more secure & convenient, a cabin for 4 cost me Rs 640, in any case, a ticket for 2 & 6 individuals were too accessible per cabin. Surprisingly, the temple encompasses an expansive well- kept up region covering most of the hillock.
This temple was built to mark Udaipur’s boundary and safety when the area of Machala Magra was built for residency purposes between 1620-1628 by Maharana Karan Singh. Though this temple was abandoned for a long time, in 1997, the temple committee re-established and renovated the premises, and it is still work in progress. The temple premises are very expansive and quiet. We sat in the peace and tranquillity of the temple, immersing at the beauty it had to offer us of Udaipur.
Following, we droved towards Jagdish temple, after we came down from Karni Mata Temple. One thing that bothered me was the whole city was burrowed up due to Smart Udaipur’s development. Most of the streets were closed or blocked & loads of pothole. Nevertheless, the Jagdish Temple is located fair exterior the City Royal residence, which has been in persistent revere since 1651. It was at first called the temple of Jagannath Rai but is presently called Jagdish-Ji. Strolling towards the temple, I took note that the architecture is Indo-Aryan style. Jagdish temple was built by Maharana Jagat Singh, in 1651, amid his administering curb from 1628-53.
Well, this temple is devoted to Lord Vishnu, and I had to climb 32 marble steps, catching by a Brass picture of Garuda within the conclusion, being the mount (Vahana) of God Vishnu to reach the holiest place. This temple is the foremost lovely case of Hindu Iconography, comprising of three stories of hand-carved stone, and an exceptional point of either Māha Māru or Māru-Gurjara architecture, brightened by excellent and lavish carvings.
The foremost energizing include of the temple is the tower which is about 79 feet tall. This Shikhar (tower) is decorated with dancers, elephants, horse riders and musicians sculptures, making it undoubtedly a sight to behold. Though clicking photographs were not permitted interior the temple premises, I have overseen several clicks. But you do not attempt this trick; you’ll be caught. I offered my prayers to Lord Vishnu, seeking his blessing & strolled out of the sanctuary. What really caught my attention was that constructing this temple fetched a surmised estimation of RS 1.5 million in 1651. Phew! That’s an impressive amount.
Post our darshan at Jagdish temple; we strolled up to the City Palace. I was excited to explore another royal residence, with a rich history & impressive architecture. I took a ticket at the cost of 300 INR per individual. Since the city palace is still under Udaipur’s King, an Indian guest & foreign guest’s expense is the same, including the camera charges. Looking at the board whereas buying tickets, there was a light and sound show conducted at 6 pm at cost 500 INR, in any case, due to COVID it been temporarily suspended. However, the boat ride on Pichola Lake was still accessible at a charge depending on the Pax & boat chosen. I bought my tickets & walked up to the entrance of the palace.
While I stood in front of the main gate, I reviewed a line composed by Shobana Baset-“The cities having forts are privileged for these are rare gems, amidst sprawling beads of malls.” And it’s right to an extent since Udaipur Palace was built over 400 years, by 22 generations of Sisodia Rajputs. The construction started in 1553 by Maharana Udai Singh II of the Sisodia Rajput family when he moved his capital from Chittor to Udaipur’s newly discovered city. The City Palace in Udaipur was built ostentatiously and is considered the second largest palace in India. The primary is, of course, the Mysore Palace. It was built on a hill, in a combination of the Rajasthani and Mughal architectural styles, where it gives a panoramic view of the city and its surroundings.
The gateways in Udaipur are called Pols- and several such gateways provide access to the royal residence complex. The palace’s fundamental passage from the city is through the ‘Badi Pol’, driving to Tripolia Pol’, a triple-arched entryway built-in 1725. Close to the Tripolia Pol’, cannons are kept that were brought from Kumbhalgarh fort. The street between this entryway and the royal residence is lined with shops and stands claimed by experts, book-binders, smaller than expected painters and material dealers.
Between these two entryways, eight marble curves or Toranas are raised. Along with this gateway the Maharanas used to be weighed here with gold and silver, distributed among the local individuals. Further ahead there’s an arena between the Toran Pol and the facade palace, called the Manak Chowk, where elephant battles were arranged to test their ability before beginning war campaigns.
Behind the gateway of Badi Pol, a massive wall is used for the elephant fight in the early era. Whichever elephant which touches the wall first would be considered frail elephant. Both elephants would drag each other in this fight—a great form of entertainment.
The city palace is still beneath Mr Arvind Singh Mewar’s rule the current King of Udaipur and is claimed to be 76th custodian of the House of Mewar. The fractional of Udaipur Palace is the King’s home; fractional has been opened for public touring. In contrast, rest has been converted into a hotel.
We hired a guide for our tour, at the cost of Rs 500. The visit commenced with the fact that the 1983 James Bond motion picture Octopussy was shot here. This was an unknown reality; besides, we entered the palace, and first, the thing I saw was the jewelled statue of Lord Ganesha. Here we had to sanitize our hands, tickets were checked & mask had to be put on.
Advance, we climbed the stairs to reach an open zone where the warrior ensemble of Maharana Pratap was kept, whose add up to weight was 33kg. Damn! that was way too much. The part of the palace we were touring was called the Badi Mahal or Garden Palace. It is situated on a 27 metres (89 ft) high natural rock formation bis-a-bis the rest of the palace. The ground floor rooms show up to be on the fourth-floor level because of the tallness contrast to its encompassing buildings.
The uppermost court inside the complex is known as Amar Vilas- it was built in Mughal style as a pleasure pavilion with wonderful hanging gardens with fountains, towers, and terraces. A cusped arcade enclosing a square marble tub to sit and relax. There’s a water pool, which was utilized for Holi celebration.
In a connecting corridor, miniature works of art of 18th and 19th centuries are shown. Other than, wall canvases of Jag Mandir (because it showed up within the 18th century), Vishnu of Jagdish sanctuary, the exceptional yard and an elephant battle scene are portrayed.
I took a seat on one of the marble tubs, tuning in to the royal residence’s history described by the guide. Initially, Mewar kingdom prospered in Nagda (30 kilometres to the north of Udaipur). The Mewar Kingdom was set up by Guhil in 568 Advertisement, who became the first Maharana of Mewar. Be that as it may, the capital was moved to Chittor, a peak fortification in the 8th century, and over 800 years the Sisodias and Choudhary’s ruled from Chittor fort.
In 1537 Maharana Uday Singh II acquired the Mewar kingdom at Chittor. However, there were signs of losing control of the fortification in wars with the Mughals. Hence, Udai Singh II chose the location close to Lake Pichola for his new kingdom. The area was well secured on all sides by timberlands, lakes and the Aravalli slopes.
I strolled advance ahead from the patios and took a note that the royal residences are interlinked through several Chowks or quadrangles with crisscross passages. It was arranged in this design to maintain a strategic distance from shock assaults by enemies.
Settle halt was Bhim Vilas- a display of a collection of smaller than expected canvases that portray the real-life stories of Radha-Krishna.
At that point we have gone to Dilkhusha Mahal -‘Palace of Joy’ was built in 1620. Another was Krishna Vilas similar chamber, which includes a rich collection of scaled-down works of art that depict regal parades, celebrations and recreations of the Maharanas.
The beautiful part of the palace was yet to come to the Mor Chowk as known as peacocks square is integral to the castle’s inner courts. This chamber’s elaborate design consists of three peacocks (speaking to the three seasons of summer, winter, and storm) displayed in tall help and confronted with coloured glass mosaic, built into successive niches in the wall area or jharokhas.
200 years after the palace was established these were built during Maharana Sajjan Singh’s reign. The peacocks have been created with 5000 pieces of glass, which sparkle in green, gold, and blue colours. The lofts before the Chowk are delineated with scenes of Hindu god Ruler Krishna’s legends.
Whereas the upper level encompasses an anticipating overhang, which is flanked by embeds of coloured glass. In a connecting chamber, called the Kanch-ki-Burj, mosaics of mirrors embellish the walls.
The Badi Charur Chowk inside this Chowk could be a littler court for private utilize. Its screen divider has painted and trimmed compositions delineating European men and Indian ladies.
Proceeding assists from the Mor-Chowk, within the Zenana Mahal or women’s quarters, wonderfully planned niches, overhangs, coloured windows, tiled dividers, and floors are seen.
A part of ‘Zenana Mahal’ has been converted into a museum. Maharana Pratap was built in Sheesh Mahal- Palace of Mirrors and glasses for his wife, Maharani Ajabde.
Using the interlinked corridors, we moved to the palace of Widow queens. It was not as elaborate, effortless with kitchen, sleeping area & a seating place for the queen if other queen came to meet. No men were allowed here.
We exited after checking through the Laxmi Vilas chowk-. a craftsmanship exhibition with an unmistakable collection of Mewar depictions
At last, we moved out of the palace and strolled into shops lined inside the post complex. My mother bought saree made out of banana leaves & one from mulberry extract, which is hand made in the regions. I obtained a cloth piece with block print made out of the vegetable colour. I have been more excellent palaces than Udaipur, but still, it’s one of its kind.
Our next halt was supposed to be Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandal Gallery that displays masks, pots, canvases and wall craftsmanship to urge the foremost unique social experience of Rajasthan. In any case, the genuine treat begins with a puppet show conducted at 6 pm. Too bad! We were not as fortunate as the exhibition hall was closed due to COVID. Subsequently, we went to Saheliyon-ki-Bari.
We drove adjacent to the Fateh Sagar Lake to Saheliyon-ki-Bari which suggests Courtyard or Garden of the Maidens, was laid for a bunch of forty-eight ladies. Interestingly, the garden is found on the Fateh Sagar Lake banks, displaying a green withdraw in Udaipur’s drylands. Maharana Sangram Singh built it from 1710 to 1734 for the illustrious women.
As per legend, the King planned the garden himself with fountains and kiosks, a lotus pool and marble elephants. From the Fateh Sagar Lake, the water for the fountains was drawn. One fine day he presented the park to his queen as the queen was accompanied by 48 maids in her marriage, to offer all of them pleasurable minutes away from the court’s political interests. This designed garden utilized to be the prevalent unwinding spot of the royal women. The queen and her maids and female companions used to come here for a walk and spend their recreation time.
After spending some time, we chose to cover the final destination of the day Bagore Ki Haveli. I wished to witness the captivating Dharohar folk dance performance within a historic haveli’s authentic ambience. It by and large begins at 7 pm, but terrible luckiness haveli was closed due to COVID. Instep booked a table at the Upre by 1559 A.D for dinner & drove back to the hotel.
By the time we come to our hotel, it was 7 pm, requested tea & got refreshed up. Since the booking was 9 pm at the Upre by 1559 A.D, we rested for a while. The Upre by 1559 A.D unwinds at a swanky yet traditional, rooftop lake view eatery with a bar. They serve luscious North Indian, Rajasthani and Mughlai dishes to extinguish your meat longings in conjunction with alcohol and cocktails.
I adored the ambience, and the eatery was at a walking distance from our hotel. The night view at the roof incorporates shining lake waters and a horizon of legacy ghats. It was cold, but the tall electric chimney was making it tolerable. We finished the supper with Rabri and strolled back to the hotel. We feel asleep in a couple of mins, as soon as we hit the bed. Tomorrow we are heading to Kumbhalgarh so had to wake up early.
How to Reach:
The nearest airport is Udaipur airport, 22km from the away from the centre of the city. From the airport, you can book a cab to the town.
Udaipur railway station is connected with all cities of Rajasthan and with important cities around the country. Few luxury trains cover Udaipur as a part of many itineraries. You can book cabs, auto-rickshaw, and other options to reach your required destination from the railway station.
Major cities are connected well with Udaipur. The road network connects Udaipur with six and four-lane highways, making commutation easier. There are frequent buses public and private ply from Rajasthan, Delhi, Ahmedabad, and Mumbai.