Ranakpur: Jain Temple Complex
Ranakpur is well worth a visit to see the Jain Temple Complex. It is one of the five great holy places of the Jain faith. The highlight of the complex is Adinath Temple with a staggering 1,444 pillars. The temple is considered the single most impressive example of Western Indian temple architecture.
Non-Jains are only allowed to visit Adinath between 12-5 p.m. Menstruating women are not allowed inside. No leather, cigarettes, cell phones, food/drink/alcohol are allowed in the complex (lockers are available or leave them in the car). There are very strict rules about being properly dressed as well. Entry into the temple is free but you must get permission and pay for ANY camera.
You can combine your visit with Kumbhalgarh Fort as a long day trip from Udaipur or visit on your way between Jodhpur and Udaipur. The road from Kumbhalgarh Fort will take you through Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary. The road is very winding (my daughter got car sick) and it takes about an hour and a half to reach Ranakpur from Kumbhalgarh Fort. If you visit as a day trip from Udaipur the taxi cost should be Rs 2000, visiting on your way to Jodhpur taxi will cost Rs 3150. Those prices were posted at our hotel. We did the trip as part of a private tour with Udaipur Magic but I'd recommend doing it on your own.
- Religious Travel
Amazing Views from Kumbhalgarh Fort
Beautiful Kumbhalgarh Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sitting high on a hilltop at an altitude over 1000m, Kumbhalgarh is the second most important fort of the Mewar Kingdom (after Chittorgarh/Chitaurgarh), although it is considered the most impregnable fort in Rajasthan. It has seven fortified gates and the amazing ramparts are wide enough for 6 horsemen to ride abreast. It takes about 30 minutes to walk from the parking lot to the top of the fort. The walk is pretty steep in some parts but the panoramic view is amazing.
The drive from Udaipur takes just under 2 hours. You can combine it with Ranakpur as a long day trip or visit on your way between Jodhpur and Udaipur. If you visit as a day trip from Udaipur the taxi cost should be Rs 2000, visiting on your way to Jodhpur taxi will cost Rs 3150. Those prices were posted at our hotel. We did the trip as part of a private tour with Udaipur Magic but I'd recommend doing it on your own. Be sure to get an early start and stop below the fort for great photos!
There's a refreshement area with a few tables and a wonderful little souvenir shop that had great books about Rajasthan and India.
Foreigners Rs 100, Indian Nationals Rs 5
- Historical Travel
Sahastrabahu temple, Bagela lake, Nagda.
About 22 kms to the north of Udaipur lies Nagda on the Lake Bagela where you'll find the twin Vaishnava temples of Sahastrabahu, more well-known locally as Sas Bahu. Set up on a podium the "Sas" is the larger of the two having rather thicker columns at the entrance , with a magnificent sculpted ceiling. It also has 10 seperate shrines around it. The "Bahu" is smaller, has less decorations and has a more pointed spire. There is a splendid view of the lake and its numerous water birds.
There is no entry fee, although there are kids to tell you different
This is one stupendous sight to see in the middle of the wild Aravali mountains, although easy of access from Jodhpur or Udaipur which is just over 80 kms away. The fort could be combined in a one-day circuit with the temples at Ranakpur. The forts name come from its builder the Maharana Rana Kumbha and dates from 1443-1458. At 36 kms long the wall of the complex is second only in length to the Great Wall of China. The walls are some 10 metres thick and can be seen from afar on top of the 1900 metres high mountains. There are supposedly 360 different temples within the enclosure including Shiva and Jain. The palace on top of the highest hill is called Badal Mahal or Palace of Clouds, but after climbing up to the palace the main rooms were all closed. The climb right to the top terrace is well worth the effort for the view out over the mountains.
Entrance is 100 INR (1€20) for foreigners.
Ranakpur Jain temples.
About 90 kms to the n/w of Udaipur is the Ranakpur temple complex. Whilst the majority of the temples are Jain, there is a Hindu temple too. The largest, devoted to Adinath has some 29 different rooms and has 420 columns supporting 80 domes. Built in 1433 by Dharna Sar it is reckoned to have 1440 pillars and columns all decorated and sculpted in white marble. It is one of the 5 most visited of the the Jain temples in India. Called also Chaumukha temple because of the four-faced image of Adinath that face the four cardinal points. The temple is only open to the general public between 12h00 and 17h00
There is no entry fee but you have to pay a "donation" of 100 INR if you want to take a camera or 150 INR for video inside the temple. No charges if you stay outside.
Boat ride at Jaisamand Lake
The Lake is so picturesque and its so calm and pollution free. Just loved the fresh air, the mountains and a lake as big as an ocean to a naked eye.you can enjoy boat ride in Jaisamand lake.I had boat ride with my friends it was great and worth the penny. The view with hills, forts and water all around is still fresh in my memory.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Jaisamand Lake is renowned for being the second largest artificial lake in Asia. Located at a distance of 50 kms from the city of Udaipur, Jaisamand Lake is also known as Dhebar Lake. In 1685, Maharana Jai Singh built this lake while making a dam on the Gomti River. This lake covers an area of 36sq km, stretches to the length of 14 km and width of 9 km. The lake is deep to the maximum of 102 feet and has a circumference of 30 miles.In total, this lake comprises seven islands and one of the islands is still inhabited by the tribe of Bhil Minas. Out of all, the biggest island is known as 'Babaka Bhagra' and the second one is known as 'Piari'. The lake has graceful marble steps descending to the water, you can enjoy boat ride in the calm waters of Jaisamand Lake too. This lake offers a wonderful place to relax and lighten up. Another feature of Jaisamand Lake that makes it a nice place to visit is a sanctuary.
a summer palace of Udaipur Queens makes the perfect backdrop to Jaisamand Lake. The lake also boasts of six interesting cenotaphs carved from marble on its embankment. On the northern shore of the lake, there is a stunning palace with a courtyard and on its southern shore; there is a pavilion of 12 pillars. From the courtyard of the palace, you can see the dazzling view of Jaisamand Lake.
one night I stay here with my friends most famous and expensive hotel resorts in Udaipur- The Jaisamand Island Resort is located on the biggest island of the 3, within Dhebar Lake. It is on the largest of the three islands, measuring 40 square miles (100 sq km), and is the only privately owned luxurious hotel on the island.
- Sailing and Boating
Range upon range of the Aravalli hills protect this impregnable fortress, the second most important citadel of Mewar. Surrounded by thirteen mountain peaks, guarded by seven great gates and seven ramparts, strengthened by rounded bastions and immense watchtowers, this mountain fortress has witnessed many battles. The winding road leads through deep ravines and thick forests to Arait Pol with its watch-tower, Hulla Pol, Hanuman Pol, Ram Pol, Bhairava Pol, Paghra Pol, Top-khana Pol and Nimboo Pol.
On top of the fort is the Badal Mahal Palace,It encloses beautiful rooms with pleasant colour schemes of green, turquoise and white, which provides a fascinating contrast to the raw, earthy and grim fortress. The palace was rebuilt by Rana Fateh Singh in the late 19th century. The legendary Maharana Pratap was born here.
One must consider staying 1 Night at Hotel Aodhi by HRH Group of Hotels. Its really worth
- Adventure Travel
Sajjan Garh/Monsoon Palace
On top of Bansdara Mountain Sajjan Garh was built by Maharana Sajjan Singh in 1884. The palace looks its best during the rainy season, it was later abandoned and used as a monsoon palace and hunting lodge. It offers a panoramic overview of the city's lakes, palaces and surrounding country side and best place for sunset.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Castles and Palaces
Jaisamand Lake & Sanctuary
is located 52km south east of Udaipur and was built by Maharaja Jai Singh in 1685.It is one of the largest lakes in Asia
On the banks of lake are elegant marble steps descending to the water and a small temple dedicated to Shiva.
The forests around Jaisamand, which once were the hunting grounds of maharanas of Mewar, have now been converted into a game sanctuary.
The Jaisamand Sanctuary built in 1957 covering an area of 62sqkm welcomes a wide variety of resident and migratory birds and animals.
There are seven islands on this lake and the Bhil Minas (tribe of Rajasthan) inhabits all. Two bigger islands are known as Babaka Bhagra and a smaller is called Piari.
On the dam are six exotic cenotaphs and a Shiva temple in the centre. The northern end of the lake has a palace with a courtyard while its southern end has a pavilion of 12 pillars. The hills to its south have grand palaces that have an excellent view of the lake.
This sanctuary built in 1957 lies just beside the Jaisamand Lake and has an area of 62sq km. The lake has a wide variety of resident and migratory birds and is also home to crocodiles. The surrounding forest has leopard, cheetal (spotted deer), chinkara (Indian Gazelle) and wild boar. Tourist bungalows, a forest rest house and a hotel provide accommodation. The best time to visit the sanctuary is between November and June.
- National/State Park
Kumbalgargh fort, Ranakpur temple + shivika lake
be warned that Ranakpur temple is a full 3 hour drive from udaiput airport! I didnt know this and it was a surprise. However, taxis can be pre arranged for good value - for me it was 1900rs to take meto the fort and temple, then another 1900 on another day to go back.
Kumbalgargh is 100rs entry for foreigners and 5rs for Indians. You can walk up the steep slopes to the main building, and also walk around the wall to the right - see how far you get! Its a 36km wall. I think i walked about 1km round it. Allow around 2 hours to spend looking round the fort.
Ranakpur has a stunning large Jain temple, and 2/3 small temples. 50rs charge to take in a camera. No bottled water,leather belts, cigarettes or shoes allowed inside but you can leave these outside or with the guard. Allow 30-60 minutes for a leisurly look around.
I stayed in nearby Shivika lake hotel in Ranakpur for 1200rs per night. i stayed 2 nights, althoughreally only 1 night is necessary. They can organise wildlife safaris jeep or walking, for 2 hours to 2 days. i did a 2 hour jeep ride which was OK - we saw antelope. There are wild leopards around but chances of seeing them are slim. From what i heard, it would be good to do a night safari in the dry season (october-march), as you can see animals come to drink at the pool as you are inside a hide.
The hotel staff are friendly, the rooms are basic. They offer a cheaper 'non A/C' room but I wouldnt bother. The a/c room, as well as having a/c, also has a patio, and a much nicer bathroom with a flushing toilet!
The bread I had as toast for breakfast was mouldy, and considering the heat, its not too surprising. I would avoid eating the bread there. Also the peas in the puloa rice were hard. Go for fruit or omlettes for breakfast, and aloo palak was good for dinner. very reasonable food too, at around 100rs for a simple meal with mineral water.
There is also a lake at the hotel - if you go up the right hand path there is a way to get down to the lake. You can walk aroud to the left and see water buffalo and egrets, and on the tower to the right there are some kingfisher nests.
be warned that the hotel does not have internet access for guests, and their own private connection was faulty when I stayed.
The hotel can arrange a good value taxi to take you from udaipur and see the sights - I had chandra who was very fair and friendly and spoke broken english. he knows Rajasthan very well.
Fateh Sagar Lake
Fateh Sagar Lake is the second artificial lake of Udaipur, the first being Jaisamand lake. Located in the north of Lake Pichola, Fateh Sagar Lake lies just besides the entrance to Moti Magri Hill. Built in 1678 by Maharana Jai Singh, Fateh Sagar Lake got its name from Maharana Fateh Singh, who later made additions to it. Talking about the statistics of Fateh Sagar, the lake extends to the length of 2.4 km, 1.6 km. in width and deep to the extent of 11.5 meter. During the monsoons, the lake covers the total area of around 1 sq km.
Fateh Sagar Lake is well-planned with three intake channels and an overflow channel that is usually brought into play in the rainy season. Fateh Sagar Lake is embellished by three small islands, which can be reached by taking a boat ride in the lake. The largest island of the lake is developed into a park by the name of Nehru Park. The garden comprises a boat-shaped restaurant and a small zoo for children. This island park is the favorite picnic spot of Udaipur dwellers.
The second island is converted into a public park with brilliant water-jet fountains by the Government of Rajasthan. The third island addresses Udaipur Solar Observatory, which is the best solar observing site in Asia. Fateh Sagar Lake is quiet place where people usually come for relaxation and to lighten up amidst the serene waters of the lake. From the bottom of Moti Magri Hill, you can hire pedal boats or motor boats as per your convenience to enjoy a boat ride in the lake.
This pear-shaped lake is encircled by hills, with the exception of its eastern side, where a straight stone dam is to be found. You can enjoy this lake taking its circumference while driving through Moti Magri Road, Fateh Sagar Drive and Rani Road. This twisting route would present stunning views of the lake as well as the encompassing Aravalli Hills. Fateh Sagar Lake is a nice place to explore and tourists certainly come to enjoy the tranquil beauty of this lake.
Jag Mandir Palace
Jag Mandir Palace is a beautiful palace located on the southern island of Lake Pichola. The three-storied Palace is a palatial structure made in yellow sandstone and marble. Built in early years of 17th century, Jag Mandir Palace was raised by Maharana Karan Singh to serve as a hiding place for Prince Khurram (popularly known as Shah Jahan). Between the years of 1620-28, Maharana Karan Singh ruled the region and during this period Prince Khurram revolted against his father.
Maharana Karan Singh helped Prince Khurram as he was born to a Rajput mother. Khurram, accompanied by his wife and two sons left the kingdom. Then, Maharana Karan provided them a safe haven in the City Palace of Udaipur. The aristocrats were unsuccessful in adhering to the Rajput customs; subsequently Karan Singh shifted them to the Jag Mandir Palace. At that time, Jag Mandir Palace was under construction.
It is great to know that Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (Prince Khurram) imbibed several ideas, especially of pieta dura work, for the world-renowned Taj Mahal from Jag Mandir Palace, during his stay in 1623-24. The Palace was completed by Maharana Jagat Singh during his reign (1628-1652) after the death of Karan Singh. The present form of the Palace is the result of further additions that were made to it by Maharana Jagat Singh. Talking about the historical facts, Maharana Swaroop Singh sheltered a number of European families in this Palace, during the revolt of 1857.
In Jag Mandir Palace, Gul Mahal catches the major attention as this is the place where Prince Khurram lived with his family. Gul Mahal is made in the Islamic style of architecture, which states that Karan Singh kept in mind the taste of Khurram. The hall has amazing interiors and is decorated with the Muslim crescent. To serve the religious purpose of Khurram, a mosque was also constructed in the complex of the Palace. Another attraction of this Palace is the courtyard, which is festooned with black and white tiles.
Other pavilions that are worth mentioning are Bara Patharon ka Mahal, Kunwar Pada ka Mahal and the Zenana Mahal. Bara Patharon ka Mahal is made out of twelve solid marble slabs. Kunwar Pada ka Mahal was meant for the crowned prince. The Zenana Mahal offered several chambers for the ladies of the Royalty. Jag Mandir Palace has beautiful gardens adorned with roses, palm trees, jasmine flowers, frangipanni trees and bougainvillea.
On your trip to this magnificent palace, you can also check out its museum where the history of this island and its Palace has been preserved. Above all, you would be mesmerized to see eight life-sized Elephants carved out of white marble, giving the impression of guarding this beautiful island Palace. In the present date, the Palace complex also comprises a Darikhana Restaurant that serves lip smacking cuisine of Rajasthan. Jag Mandir Palace is a nice place to visit and explore the halls, where once the royalty of Mewar used to reside.
Maharana Pratap Memorial
Maharana Pratap Memorial is a historic site that is dedicated to the gallant Maharana Pratap. Situated at the top of Moti Margi or Pearl Hill, the memorial overlooks the Fateh Sagar Lake. In Hindi, memorial is known as "smarak" and smarak is always made in the memory of loved ones. Maharana Pratap Memorial was constructed with the initiative taken by Maharana Bhagwat Singh Mewar with the help of a public trust.
The memorial comprises a life-sized bronze statue of Maharana Pratap balanced on his loyal and favorite horse, Chetak. It is believed that Chetak was a faithful horse. He was extremely protective towards Maharana Pratap and stood by his master till his last breath. Chetak was killed in the battle of Haldighati. People visit this memorial to pay their homage to the Rajput hero, Rana Pratap and his loyal mount 'Chetak'.
This outstanding statue has also been picturised for various Bollywood movies. If you are a photographer, then you will truly love this place. From the comfortable height of the hill, you can click some of the best pictures of Udaipur city. One can also visit the attractive Japanese Rock Garden and the remnants of one of the forts of Udaipur, which are located near this hill.
Small and cool prizes to take home
When walking toward the city palace In Udaipur you'll see a small alley on the left. It's quite steep and is the last side street before the city palace. Go down the street and it'll run directly into a very small workshop/shop. Take some time to look at the unusal pendants for slae and talk with the artist. He's a very friendly very talented guy who makes unusual gifts that are small and easy to carry when backpacking and traveling around. I bought several as prensents for people at home and everyone loved them. I was staying with a large volunteer group in Bedla outside Udaipur and many of us found great deals here.
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