Maharana Udai Singh II, looked across the room, upon his self-portrait, hung on the other wall, while light fell thru the grilled wooden windows into the antechamber. The shades of blue walls, looking a bit wheatish as the cream daylight washed the walls, lifted his mood up.
It was a tough year for him. It was the year 1568, and he had to beat a hasty retreat from Chittor, a retreat he wasn’t comfortable with, knowing that perhaps he and his dynasty had seen the last of his great capital Chittor. However, politics demanded practicality over sentiment. He had been building this palace amidst the Aravalis for the last 15 years. Away from the eyes of the Mughal Governor in Ahmedabad, and the Marwari court of Amber. This would be the new capital of Mewar – and he had an appropriate name for it – Udaipur. He would start afresh and build a new capital with his folks around.
He wasn’t alone. His pride of a son, Pratap (the illustrious, amongst the 24 sons he had) was also in the room looking out of the large window that opened westwards into the main town. A full-grown man of ~30, he would soon book his place in the glories that is Indian history.
Queen Dheerbai – his favorite, was also seated by the blue Jharokha, the cool wind of the city, playing with her hair and her headgear. The Maharana felt better. There was more to life, and he vowed that his new capital would live up to it.
Udaipur City palace
Udai Singh lived for 4 more years in this oasis of calm and bliss in the scorching battlefield that then was Rajasthan. While Mughals got every other kingdom under their suzerainty, Udaipur (and Kumbhalgarh) lived on – protected by the Aravalis, in a sylvan corner of Rajasthan – and built itself into a paradise. The subsequent kings added more Palaces, Havelis (Indian Villas) and Lakes to this heritage. Soon, came sprinklings of pleasure houses, fountains, parks and hill-top residences. The palaces competed amongst each other with most intricate carvings, beautiful Jharokhas (grilled windows), lake palaces, and Ghats (fortified and embellished river embankments).
For 470 years, Kings and history has lived like this in Udaipur, alongwith the local town folks. Udaipur of today – inside the walled city – is perhaps the most conserved Indian town of how it would have been in the medieval age. The City Palace Complex looms over the entire town, wherever you look at it from.
The lake besides the palace is the raison d’etre for its festivals and celebrations. The famous Lake Palace on Pichola, is the setting of hundreds of romantic weddings and tens of movies, not to forget Roger Moore and his James Bond.
Then there is the other lake – the Fateh Sagar – bigger and bluer. And then, there are more palaces, gardens, wide avenues than you can count. We can safely say, if you haven’t stayed in Udaipur, you haven’t lived Indian history! BTW, the royalty still stays there and gives audience to their subjects ????
How to reach Udaipur
Getting to Udaipur is pretty easy. The airport (named Dabok) is well connected to 4 international airports – Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Mumbai and Delhi. By road, it is widely accessible from a host of major Indian cities like Jaipur, Jodhpur, Kota, Ahmedabad and Ajmer. So is it by rail.
Best time to go to Udaipur
The weather is very pleasant all year around, even when the summer sun is scorching the North Indian plains at 42C, you will find Udaipur at 28C. Winter months (Nov – Feb) are even nicer though the mercury hovers between 12-14C.
Stay Options in Udaipur
The city has an amazing array of super luxury palaces and villas, as well as spacious, comfortable and royal feeling rest houses, lodges and inns. Hundreds of BnBs abound within the walled city offering WiFi and Pizza. There are numerous cute and cozy cafes, tea houses and boutique restaurants which offer 2 specialties – either a roof top terrace from where you can soak in the views of the Palace complex, or a lake view sit out for you to have your drink overlooking the royal palaces from across the lake.
What to eat in Udaipur
Great food completes the tourist’s last wish. The cuisine here has a mix of traditional Rajasthani spicy food, tempered with moderate Gujarati dishes (Gujarat being the nearby state) and the cashew creamy curries of the Mughal palate. New age has brought a wide spectrum of Pizza, Pasta, Nasi and Tex-Mex too – you just need to ask for it. Must try would be rajasthani laal maas on a rooftop restaurant overlooking the lake.
Nearby places from Udaipur : Udaipur getaways
One more thing. There are fantastic getaways from Udaipur. Kumbhalgarh – Rajasthan’s largest best preserved (and breached only once) fort, as well as the intricately marble, laid temples of Dilwara and Ranakpur are enjoyable day trips to do. The Aravalis – oldest mountain ranges of Earth – only hill station, Mt Abu is a 2-hour drive. If there, we recommend that you spend the night and return the next day.
The city can easily mesmerize you for the whole week. It mesmerized the bbattle-hardenedMewaris into building a whole city! Roger Moore, Liz Hurley, Madonna, J-Lo, Richard Gere were here, and Beyoncé is coming soon. BTW, we too got married in Udaipur 🙂
So, come over, plan a trip. Call us if you need help in getting it organized.