It’s known as the City of Lakes. It’s known as the Venice of the East. It’s known as the City of Dawn. It has three lakes, two floating palaces, magnificent views, romantic settings and was the former prison of Bagheera perhaps the most famous of feline mentors: It is Udaipur.
Located in southern Rajasthan, Udaipur sits in the foothills of the ancient Aravalli mountain range, on the edge of three lakes. It was while hunting in these foothills that Maharana Udai Singh was met by a hermit who advised him that they were on a propitious site to build a palace. Udai Singh took his advice and soon the palace grew to become the city of Udaipur, and Udaipur to become the capital of the kingdom of Mewar. It was also, moreover, one of the few cities to avoid the control of the Mughal Empire – which all amounts to pretty good advice from the unnamed hermit, who should perhaps have thought to have built there himself.
Udaipur, with its scenery and atmosphere is the sort of place you should take in through a wander and a stroll, rather than a mad dash from site to site. But there are a few places you should make sure you tick off your list. Firstly the City Palace – where it all began for Maharana Udai Singh and his hermit. Impressively built out of marble and granite it looks out across the lake and boasts some beautiful hanging gardens, courtyards, stained-glass windows, towers and temples. A large part of the palace has been turned into a museum, displaying a collection of miniature paintings, frescoes and quite wonderful glass mosaic peacocks. This is a fantastic place to come for views of both the lake and the city.
The famous Jag Niwas and Jag Mandir are Udaipur’s two floating palaces, adding something of the magical to the serene and picturesque Lake Pichola. Built on a small island between 1628-52 by Jagat Singh, Jag Niwas has now sadly become (like many of the old palaces in India) yet another, much needed, luxury hotel. Jag Mandir built in 1615 is reputed to have been used as a model for the Taj Mahal. However, while this is quite an inspirational sight you may not want to get too close. Not content with being simply a romantic and water-plush city, Udaipur has taken its moniker as ‘the Venice of the East’ a little too far, seemingly trying to keep pace with its European counterpart’s smelly and rubbish-infested water.
Some Key Udaipur Sites
Jag Niwas and Jag Mandir (floating palaces)
Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal (folk art museum)
How To Get There
24 km from the city centre
Frequent flights to Aurangabad, Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Mumbai.