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  Udaipur  
 
     
 
     
 
Udaipur is often called ‘ Venice of the East'. It is also the ‘city of lakes'. The Lake Palace (Jag Niwas) located in the middle of Pichola Lake is the finest example of architectural and cultural  marvel. The grand City Palace on the banks of the lake along with the Monsoon Palace (Sajjan Garh) on the hill above enhances the beauty of this magnificent city. Udaipur is also the centre for performing arts, crafts and its famed miniature paintings. The Shilpgram festival is a
great crowd-puller on new year. Maharana Udai Singh  founded Udaipur in 1559 AD. According to a legend Udai Singh was guided by a holy man meditating on the hill near Pichola Lake to establish his capital on that very spot. Surrounded by Aravali Ranges , forests and lakes this place was less vulnerable to external invasion than Chittaurgarh. Maharana Udai Singh died in 1572 and was succeeded by Maharana Pratap who valiantly defended Udaipur from Mughal attacks. Maharana Pratap is the most revered Rajput icon who gallantly fought the Mughals at the battle of Haldighati in 1576. Mewar continuously defied foreign invaders and has a history of bloody battles until the British intervention in the nineteenth century when a treaty was signed to protect Udaipur . Upon independence, Udaipur merged with the union of India .
 
 

SIGHT SEEING

 
 
LAKE PICHOLA :
Pichola Lake derives its name from Pichola Village that got submerged when Maharana Udai Singh enlarged the lake after he founded the city. He built a masonry dam known as Badipol. The lake is 4 km long and 3 km wide. This picturesque lake encloses the Jag Niwas Island and the Jag Mandir. The City Palace extends along its eastern banks.
 
 
     
 
CITY PALACE :
City Palace towers over the Pichola Lake . Maharana Udai Singh initiated the construction of the palace but successive Maharanas added several palaces and structures to the complex but retained remarkable uniformity in the design. The entry to the Palace is from the Hati Pol, the Elephant Gate. The Bari Pol or the Big Gate brings you to the Tripolia, the Triple gate. It was a custom to weigh the Maharaja under this gate in gold and
silver, which was distributed to the populace. It is also now the main ticket office. Balconies, cupolas and towers of the palace give a wonderful view of the lake. Suraj Gokhada (or the balcony of the sun) is where the Maharana would grant public audiences mainly to boost the morale of the people in trying times. The Mor Chowk is the Hindi name of peacock square and is named after a vivid blue decorative glass peacock on the wall.
 
     
 
The main part of the palace is now preserved as a museum displaying a large and diverse array of artifacts. As we go down the steps from the entrance is the armoury museum exhibiting a huge collection of protective  gears and various kinds of weapons including the lethal two-pronged sword. The City Palace museum is then entered through the Ganesh Deori. This leads to the Rajya Angan or the royal courtyard. This is the spot where Maharana Udai Singh is said to have met the sage who advised him to found a city here. The rooms of the palace are superbly decorated with mirror tiles and paintings. Manak Mahal or the Ruby Palace has a lovely collection of glass and mirror work while Krishna Vilas displays a rich collection of miniature paintings. Moti Mahal  (the pearl palace) has beautiful mirror work and the Chini Mahal has ornamental tiles all over. The Surya Chopar (the sun square) depicts a huge ornamental sun symbolizing the sun dynasty to which the Maharajas and their ancestors belonged. The Bari Mahal is a central garden giving a view of the city. Some more beautiful paintings can be seen in the ‘Zenana Mahal'  (the ladies chamber). Then, there is the Lakshmi Chowk which is a beautiful white pavilion.
 
 
     
 
FATEH PRAKASH PALACE :
The Fateh Prakash Palace , the grand heritage palace hotel of the HRH group represents the authentic royal luxury at its best. The warmth of royal hospitality greets you as you walk along the corridors lined with large paintings of the Mewar School that flourished through the seventeenth to the nineteenth century.
The lake facing suites in the turrets are suitably appointed with four
poster beds and period furniture, festooned with maroon velvet curtains and delicate silk tassels. It's a legacy kept alive since the early decades of the twentieth century when Maharana Fateh Singh (period of reign: 1884 - 1935) used to be the royal occupant of this palace. Till date the formality of royal occasions are maintained.
 
     
 
CRYSTAL GALLARY :
Situated in the Fateh Prakash Palace , it has a breath taking collection of crystals. These were ordered by Maharana Sajjan Singh from F & C Osler England but could not live to see them because of his untimely death. The crystal items include tables, sofa sets, dining tables, dressers, fountains and even beds besides a whole array of washing bowls, decanters and perfume bottles. There is also an exquisite jewel studded carpet. 
 
 
     
 
JAGMANDIR :
This is the other island palace on Lake Pichola , which was constructed by Maharana Jagat Singh I in the year 1620AD. It also served as a hideout for Prince Khurram (Shah Jahan), during his revolt against his father, Emperor Jehangir. The prince being the son of a Rajput mother received the royal favour. It is also said that Shah Jahan [Prince Khurram] derived some of the ideas for building the Taj Mahal from architectural beauty
of this palace when he stayed here during 1623-24. The island has some striking carvings including a row of elephants that look like guarding the island. The exquisitely carved chhatri in gray and blue stone also attracts the visitors.

It is also the place where European families were sheltered by Maharana Sarup Singh during the uprising of 1857 AD.
 
     
 
SAJJANGARH :
Outside Udaipur , this 18th century palace was built by Maharaja Sajjan Singh at a height of 2268 ft on the top of Bansdara Mountain . It was originally intended to be a five storey astronomical center but the plan was shelved due to premature death of the Maharaja. It was later used as a monsoon palace and hunting lodge. The palace majestically dominates the sky line and offers breath taking view of the countryside. 
 
 
     
 
THE LAKE PALACE :
The Lake Palace is located on Jag Niwas Island and covers the whole area (1.5 hectares) of the island in the middle of the Pichola Lake . Built by Maharana Jagat Singh in 1743, it was meant as a royal summer palace but now has been converted into a five star palace hotel. Its superb beauty and enduring charm and its reflection in the middle of the lake is like a leaf straight out of a fairy tale book. With intricate craftsmanship
and ethnic themes using textiles and handicrafts all over, its beauty is beyond description. The surrounding lake murmurs pleasantly, with her rippling and lapping waves.
 
     
 
SHILPGRAM :
Literally meaning, "Craftsmen's Village" Shilpgram comprises 26 huts set in 70 acres of natural surroundings at the foot of the Aravali Hills. It is a living ethnographic museum depicting the enormous diversity in crafts, art and culture of various Indian states. But the exquisite terracotta work mainly in dark red and dark brown sand material along with the wooden carvings are the forte of this ethnic village.  A colourful craft festival during winter infuses vitality and verve into this village.
 
 
     
 
AHAR :
Located about 2 km's east of Udaipur , Ahar is an impressive cluster of cenotaphs of the Maharanas of Mewar. There are about nineteen cenotaphs of Maharanas who were cremated there. The most striking cenotaph is that of Maharana Amar Singh who reigned from 1597 to 1620. Nearby lies the Ahar Museum , where display is limited. However it contains very rare earthen pottery, some sculptures and other
archaeological finds. Some of the pieces date back to 1700 BC. The tenth century metal figure of Buddha is a special attraction.
 
     
 
VINTAGE / CLASSIC CARS:
The collection within the grounds of the Garden Hotel comprises a variety of vintage and classic vehicles like Cadillac, Chevrolet, Morris etc owned by the Maharanas of Udaipur. They used these automobiles as their luxurious modes of transport. However, other models are gradually being added to the collection in order to a unique aristocratic safari for the exclusive guests.
 
 
     
 
SAHELION KI BARI :
Maharana Sangram Singh built this in the mid-18th century. The 'garden of the maidens' brings to mind the lifestyle of the ladies of the court. The delightful gardens reflect their discreet and  impeccable taste. There are four pools with dainty kiosks. All around are flowerbeds, lawns, pools and fountains protected by a series of walls and shady trees. The fountains of the Sahelion ki bari function solely by water pressure and no pumps are
used. The garden has a lotus pool and a sitting room decorated with paintings and glass mosaic. The whole ambience is flavoured by reminiscence of those beautiful belles enjoying themselves in lavish environs.
 
     
 
MAHARANA PRATAP MEMORIAL(Moti Magari):
An impressive bronze statue of Maharana Pratap on his favourite horse Chetak, stands atop the Moti Magri (Pearl Mount) overlooking Fateh Sagar. Local people climb up the hill to pay homage to Rana Pratap and his faithful charger 'Chetak' who was fiercely protective about its master and stood by him till its last breath. This loyal steed sacrificed its life while carrying his master to safety from the battlefield of Haldighati.
The sound and light show held here every evening is worth viewing.
 
 
     
 
Jagdish Mandir :
Built by Maharana Jagat Singh I in 1651, the temple enshrines a black stone image of Lord Vishnu. There is a brass image of Garuda, the Lord of Birds, and mount of Vishnu. The exterior and the plinth are covered with base relief of alligators, elephants, horsemen and celestial musicians rising in tiers. Chanting, ringing of bells and music can be heard throughout the day. It is the largest and most splendid temple of Udaipur
 
 

NEAR UDAIPUR

 
 
EKLINGJI :
Built in 734 AD, it is a complex of 108 temples located 22 kms from Udaipur . On Udaipur-Nathdwara route. There are hills around and small springs of water. The temples are exquisitely carved out of sandstone and marble and are devoted to Lord Shiva, the family deity of the Mewar rulers.
The Maharanas of Mewar, worshipped Shina as Mahadeva Chaumukhi, the quadriform divinity, represented by a bust with four faces. It has an
 
ornate Mandap [a pillared hall] and a huge pyramidal roof composed of hundreds of knots very vividly carved and finely decorated with coloured stones. Before the entrance to the main temple, there is a beautifully sculpted huge Nandi (the sacred bull, mythologically the vehicle of Lord Shiva.)
It is here that the tourists take a break. The devotees pay their homage through out the year.
 
     
 
KUMBHALGARH FORT:
Located 84 kms north of Udaipur in the wilderness, Kumbhalgarh is the second most important citadel after Chittaurgarh in the Mewar region. Cradled in the Aravali Ranges the fort was built in the 15th century AD by Rana Kumbha. The inaccessibility and hostility of the topography lends a semblance of invincibility to the fort. It served the rulers of Mewar as a refuge in times of strife. The fort also served as refuge to the baby king
Udai of Mewar. It is of immense sentimental significance for the people being the birthplace of Mewar's legendary king, Maharana Pratap.

The fort is self-contained in all respect to withstand a protracted siege. Its defences could be breached only once by the combined armies of the Mughal and of Amber primarily for scarcity of drinking water. There is a magnificent array of temples built by the Mauryas of which the most picturesque place is the Badal Mahal or the palace of the clouds. The fort also offers a superb bird's eye view of the surroundings. The fort's massive wall stretches some 36 kms with a width enough to take eight horses abreast. Maharana Fateh Singh renovated the fort in the 19th century. The fort's large compound has very interesting ruins and a walk around it can be very educative.
 
     
 
KUMBHALGARH WILD LIFE SANCTUARY :
Kumbhalgarh Sanctuary Is located in the most rugged of the Aravalli hills in Pali, Rajsamand and Udaipur districts of Rajasthan. It takes name after the impressive historic fort of Kumbhalgarh, which come into view over the park. It is 578 sq Kms in area and at an altitude of 500 to 1,300m. It is home to a large variety of wildlife, some of which are highly endangered species. The wild life includes wolf, leopards, sloth bear,
 
hyena, jackal, jungle cat, ‘smabhar', ‘nilgai', ‘chaisingh' (the four horned antelope), ‘chinkara' and hare.
The bird life at Kumbhalgarh is also gratifying. The normally shy and untrusted gray jungle fowl can be spotted here. Peacocks and doves can be sighted regularly feeding on grains scattered by the jungle guards. Birds like the red spur owls, parakeets, golden oriole, gray pigeons, bulbul, dove and white breasted kingfisher can also be seen near the water holes.
Kumbhalgarh's natural beauty is attracting many tourists and especially for its accessibility from Udaipur , which is 100 Kms from here. Foot tracking and horse safari organized by local tour operators are proving to be very popular. A typical safari route enters the sanctuary from the Kumbhalgarh Fort and cutting across the sanctuary it reaches Ghanerao, and then borders an old abandoned road. On this road, one can sight ‘chinkaras', ‘neelgais', four horned antelope and many birds.
 
     
 
CHITTAURGARH :
Chittaurgarh epitomizes Rajput spirit, valour, pride and romance. It reverberates with heroism and sacrifice the tales of which are still sung by the Bards of Rajasthan. The imposing and awe inspiring fort stands on a 240-hectares site, on 180m high hill that rises rapidly from the plains. It has one kilometer zigzag ascent to it. The road leads through seven gates to the main gate Rampol (meaning Gate of Ram). On the ascent
between the second and the third gate, you see two ‘Chattris' (cenotaphs) built to honour Jaimal and Kalla heroes of 1568 siege by Emperor Akbar. The main gate of the fort itself is Surajpol (meaning Sun Gate).

The fort fell thrice to the enemies in its entire history. The first attack occurred in 1303 when the Sultan of Delhi Ala-ud-din Khilji, overwhelmed by the beauty of Queen Padmini, besieged the fort with sinister design to capture the queen. In 1535 Bahadur Shah, the Sultan of Gujarat, besieged the fort causing immense carnage. It is said that 32000 men donned the saffron robes of martyrdom and rode out to face certain death. The women folk led by Rani Karnawati committed Jauhar (collective self immolation by fire) to save their honor.

 
 
In 1568 Mughal Emperor Akbar conquered it. In 1616, Mughal Emperor Jehangir restored the fort to the Rajputs. Now, a new township sprawls below the hill on the west side. According to the legend the construction of the fort was started by Bhim, a Pandav hero of mythological epic Mahabharata. The fort has many magnificent monuments. Even though the fort mostly is in ruins, it stands as an overwhelming reminder of its past history of triumph and tragedy and its walls resonate with
 
unbelievable legend of extraordinary men and women and their equally astounding deeds.
Chittaurgarh is connected by both bus and rail. The bus stand and the railway station are located in the new township.
 
     
 
HALDIGHATI :
The historical site of Haldighati, situated towards the south west of Nathdwara, witnessed the great legendary battle fought between Maharana Pratap and  the mighty Mughal army in 1576 AD. Here stands a cenotaph with delicate white marble columns, which is dedicated to the indomitable Maharana Pratap's loyal horse, Chetak. 
 
     
 
RANAKPUR :
Beautifully sculptured Jain temples mark the glory of this renowned place. Considered as one of the five holy places for the Jain community, these were created in the 15th century during the reign of Rana Kumbha. These are enclosed within a wall. The central Chaumukha [four faced temple] is dedicated to Adinathji. The temple is an astounding creation of architectural splendor with 29 halls and 1,444 pillars all distinctly carved,
 
no two pillars being alike. Every hall of temple has  inconceivable surface carved with equal delicacy. Facing the main temple are the  temples -Parasvanath - Neminath with exquisite figure carving which look similar to that of Khajuraho sculptures. Another temple worth visiting is the nearby ' Sun Temple ' dedicated to the 'Sun God'. The temple has a polygonal wall, richly embellished with carvings of warriors, horses and celestial (Nakshatras, grahs) bodies.The Sun God has been shown riding its vehicle, the chariot. There is a stream of devotees eager for blessings. Ranakpur is known as 'the tranquil pilgrimage town'. The faultless architecture, intricate carvings, delicate designs neatly chiselled idols, diverse and multiple hues and above all, the ambience of Ranakpur palace is at par with another equally famous group of Jain temples at Mt. Abu- the Dilwara temples. For the tourism buffs a ride to the outskirts like ' Sadari' - 'Desuri'- 'Ghanerao'- 'Narlai', will be found to be exciting.
 
     
 
SHREE NATH JI- NATHDWARA :
Nathdwara lies 48 kms from Udaipur and literally means the gateway to the Lord. This great Vaishnavite shrine was built in the 17th century dedicated to Lord Krishna. The legend has it that the image of Lord Krishna was being shifted to a safer place from Vrindaban in order to protect it from being desecrated and vandalized by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. When the image reached the spot where the temple exists,
the wheels with the axle of the bullock cart carrying the image sank deep into mud. Human efforts failed to move the cart further. The accompanying priest interpreted this as the Lord's indication to be installed at this spot. Accordingly a temple was built here.
 
 
This is a revered temple and a place of pilgrimage for the believers. Devotees throng the shrine in large number during the occasions of "Janamashtmi", the day of Lord Krishna's birth and other festivals like Holi. The priests treat the image like a living deity and tend to the lord with daily normal function like bathing, dressing, meals (called "prasad") and resting at regular intervals. The main attractions are the ‘Arties' and the ‘Shringar'. The formal prayer is offered with ‘diyas', incense sticks, flowers,
 
fruits and other offerings with local instrumental and devotional music for the Lord according to the demand of  time and occasion. The fine intricately woven ‘shaneels' (velvet) and silk cloth with real original zari and shredded work done upon them along with real antique jewellery looks dazzling. The view of the idol after the ‘pardha' (curtain) is removed is spectacular, rather mesmerizing compelling  the waiting devotees to scramble for a view of the Lord. It is here that the mystic, spirited aura of India comes alive. Nathdwara has a small but throbbing township around the temple. Its shopping in the bye lanes is a great revelation. It's famous for its 'pichwani' paintings, with Lord Shri Krishna in the centre, where gold colour is used for profusely.
 
     
 
MEWAR FESTIVAL, UDAIPUR :
The Mewar Festival is celebrated to welcome the advent of spring. It coincides with the festival of Gangaur in Udaipur , and has a unique charm about it. The women folk gather to dress the images of Isar and Gangaur and then carry them in a ceremonial procession through different parts of the city. The procession winds its way to the Gangaur Ghat at Lake Pichhola . Here, the images are transferred to special boats amidst much
singing and festivity. Once the religious part of the festival is over, it is time for cultural events where Rajasthani culture is portrayed through songs, dances and other programmes. The festival culminates with an impressive fireworks display.
 
     
 
     
 
     
     
   
     
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