Things to see in Udaipur
India | Rajasthan
Udaipur is an important tourist destination located in southern Rajasthan, known for the majestic City Palace, the museums, and for the picturesque Lake Pichola with its water palaces. Udaipur is also one of the best location in Rajasthan to learn more about Rajput miniature painting.
UDAIPUR: THINGS TO SEE AND NOT TO BE MISSED
Udaipur is located in southern Rajasthan about 7 hours by car from Jaipur or 5 from Jodhpur, the closest major tourist destinations. For visitors not traveling in Rajasthan by car and driver, Udaipur can be reached with various long-distance trains or buses. The city has also an airport with a few flights a day to Delhi, Mumbai and other major cities in India.
Udaipur is home to under half a million inhabitants and is also known as the city of lakes for the presence of various water basins which make the region particularly picturesque. Founded in the 16th century by Maharana Udai Singh II, Udaipur is a city rich in history and art, which will fascinate visitors with wonderful seventeenth-century buildings perfectly reflected in the waters of Lake Pichola. Udaipur is also one of India's major art and craft centers, home to several Rajput miniature painting schools, and is probably the best place in India to buy this kind of souvenirs.
The main tourist attractions in Udaipur not to be missed are:
- Udaipur City Palace. The City Palace, also known as Maharana Palace of Udaipur, is a vast complex whose construction began in 1560 by the founder of the city, and then underwent expansions and renovations on several occasions until the last century. The palace is particularly known for the beautiful mosaics made using Belgian glass, for the frescoes, for the sumptuous rooms of the royal family and for a vast collection of ancient Rajput miniatures housed in a museum.
- Lake Pichola. Pichola lake is a small artificial water basin reflecting on its surface the ancient palaces of Udaipur. In the lake we find the Jag Niwas, an ancient palace built entirely of white marble, which houses one of the most exclusive hotels of whole India, while the Jag Mandir is another palace on the water surrounded by a beautiful garden. Mini cruises are organized on Lake Pichola with the possibility of disembarking at Jag Mandir, the ideal time for navigation is at sunset because of the beautiful light.
- Jagdish Mandir. Not far from the City Palace, among the alleys of Udaipur Bazaar, the Jagdish Mandir is a temple dating back to the mid-seventeenth century dedicated to Jagannath, a manifestation of Vishnu, and place of worship quite popular in India. The external facade and the domes leaves visitors amazed for the intricate bas-reliefs covering every part of it.
- Saheliyon-ki-Bari. The Courtyard or Garden of the Maidens was built in the mid-17th century by the Maharana Sangram Singh II to offer a place of rest and recreation for court women. It has large pools with lotus flowers, fountains, pavilions and paths shaded by palm trees.
How long stay in Udaipur? To see the most important things that Udaipur offers, it is required a full day. Therefore, we recommend to stay in Udaipur a couple of nights, perhaps taking an hotel not far from the shores of Lake Pichola, from where most attractions can be reached on foot. The City Palace is a very popular destination, with hordes of tourists standing in front of mosaics and statues to take selfies. It is therefore advisable to plan the visit early in the morning, before the larger groups enter, and we recommend get a guide on site (or in the hotel) who will be able to indicate the most suggestive corners for pictures and give detailed explanations on the fascinating history of these places.
What is the best time to go to Udaipur? The best season to visit Udaipur is from October to March, when the weather is cooler and much drier, like for the rest of Rajasthan.
But now let's see some photos of Udaipur taken during our tour in India.
The tour in Udaipur begins with an excursion to the City Palace
, also known as Maharana Palace of Udaipur
, which construction began in the second half of the 16th century by the founder of Udaipur, but which saw many maintenance, restoration and expansion works in the followings centuries.
After passing the large entrance portal to the City Palace, visitors arrive in the main building which houses the museum. Udaipur is particularly famous for beautiful mosaics
made by colored glass: here we can see a statue of Ganesha surrounded by a mosaic that shows intriguing figures and very detailed patterns.
The oldest part of the Udaipur palace
houses a beautiful courtyard with a garden and a marble tub. As this courtyard is on the roof of the palace, how such big trees manage to grow? The answer is simple, as the building was built around a hill that was incorporated within the walls.
As usual for this historical period, we find many latticeworks windows, built using a single carved stone slab. They allowed court women to look outside without being seen.
The Dilkusha Mahal
dates back to the first half of the 17th century and houses several interesting rooms. In this photo we can see the Kanch ki Burj
), an intriguing room dating back to the 19th century, where geometric shapes and colors are reflected by infinite mirrors placed everywhere on walls and roof.
Still in the Dilkusha Mahal, visitors will find the Chitran ki Burj
(tower of the paintings
), an 18th century room covered with frescoes depicting court scenes, most of them painted with gold leaf
which increases the brilliance to the subjects.
Udaipur is particularly known for Rajput miniature painting schools
and the City Palace houses a museum with hundreds of ancient paintings of inestimable value. This in the photo is only a very small section of the painting which, due to its total dimensions (1.5 x 1 meters / 4.92 x 3.3 feet), required a working time of more than one year. Observing the trees, you can see every tiny leaf reproduced one by one with incredible details, not to mention the rain drops coming down. It is almost detailed like a real modern picture.
From a terrace on the top of the palace, visitors can enjoy a beautiful view onto Lake Pichola and its Jag Niwas
(water palace) built entirely by white marble, which houses one of the most luxurious and exclusive hotels of whole India.
On the terrace there are numerous mosaics, well protected behind "anti-tourist" Plexiglas screens, which show a great skill in realizing complex and very detailed patterns, by simply putting together small fragments of Belgian glass.
Other amazing mosaics for which Udaipur is particularly known, made by pieces of colored Belgian glass precisely cut and assembled.
An ancient ivory door
housed in the City Palace Museum of Udaipur.
The Moti Mahal, or Pearl Palace, was so called because the colored light reflected by the infinite mirrors covering ceiling and walls, made the room seem decorated with thousands of pearls.
In this room instead, visitors can see the traditional maharajah armchair
, simply resting on the ground, which is why the board games were painted directly on the floor.
A room with original frescoes
, still not renovated.
One of the most famous parts of Udaipur City Palace is the Mor Chowk
, known as Peacocks courtyard
, dating back to the 19th century and so called because decorated with amazing three-dimensional mosaics of glass representing the symbolic birds of Rajasthan. Each mosaic may have even more than 5000 pieces of glass patiently cut and assembled.
A beautiful veranda overlooking the Peacocks courtyard, also decorated with astonishing mosaics containing also tiles coming from fragments of mirrors.
The beautiful mosaics decorating the Peacocks courtyard, where there are also complex figures with floral patterns. All the mosaics are protected by Plexiglas screens, which reflect the light quite badly, but unfortunately really necessary to protect them from the hands of the tourists.
A beautiful floral mosaic
and wonderful three-dimensional peacocks
The various rooms are connected by narrow corridors
that sometimes create a kind of maze. The reason for this particular design was to confuse possible enemies, preventing mass attacks.
The City Palace of Udaipur was the residence of the maharajahs and some rooms have been preserved to show what they looked like when they were inhabited by last rulers during the past century. In these photos we can see the maharajah's bedroom
and the large sun
made with copper and gold, ordered by maharajah Buphal Singhji
to be able to see the sun even during the wet monsoon season.
In the pink-walled room there is a large scale that was used by the maharajahs to check their weight. Instead, the room with red walls was the maharajah's meditation room.
The Manek Mahal was built in the 17th century, but later, in the first half of the 19th century, the Maharajah Swaroop Singh ordered to create a mirror room decorated with colored glass, reflective surfaces and precious stones, which create a psychedelic effect.
A relaxation room
, with traditional armless chairs and a vintage fan made in Italy.
Another interesting tourist attraction in Udaipur is the Saheliyon-ki-Bari
(Courtyard or Garden of the Maidens), built in the mid-eighteenth century by Maharajah Sangram Singh II as a leisure place for court ladies, where access to men was forbidden. The garden houses pools with lotus flowers, fountains and paths surrounded by gardens.
A short distance from the City Palace, among the streets of the chaotic bazaar, we find the Jagdish Mandir
, a temple built in 1652 and dedicated to Jagannath
, a manifestation of Vishnu.
The external walls of Jagdish Mandir temple
are completely covered with very detailed bas-reliefs representing elephants, nymphs and gods.
Jagdish Mandir temple in Udaipur is also known for some erotic sculptures
, such as this representation of the Kamasutra.
is a small artificial water basin which was built by Maharana Udai Singh in the 14th century. Its waters are a good opportunity to enjoy the skyline of Udaipur and its ancient buildings, under the warm light of the sunset. Cruises
depart from a pier within the City Palace complex and let to admire the city from a different perspective.
During the Lake Pichola cruise
, visitors may disembark on Jag Mandir
island, where there is a palace and a garden built by Karan Singh in the early 17th century.