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
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.
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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
Haldighati is a battle site about north of udaipur. On this battle site maharana pratap fought against the combined army of jaipur and mughal army of akbar in 1576. Here ia a chetal memorial, where rana's horse saved his master life.Also woth looking for is sound and light show inside the museum.
Attributed to Rana Kumbha, this fort was built between 1443 and 1458 under supervision of the famous architect Mandan. It is believed that the fort was built over the remains of an earlier structure associated to Jaina prince Samprati of the second century BC. Due to its strategic location it was the second important fort in Rajasthan after Chittorgarh. The fort is defended by a series of bastions at regular intervals along a huge wall that stretches for some 36km making it the second longest continuous wall in the world, second to none other than Great Wall of China. The walls encompass over 300 Jain and Hindu temples, cenotaphs, markets, villages, fields, gardens and water sources. The main fort buildings are located at the summit, some 1914 metres above sea level and are approached by passing through a series of 7 gates. The main palace building, the Badal Mahal, was built by Rana Fateh Singh (1885-1930) after he pulled down the old palace built by Rana Kumbha. Just below this lie the remains of the Kumbhal Palace which is believed to be the birthplace of legendary Rajput hero, Maharana Pratap Singh. Check out my Kumbalgarh page below.
Open: 8am-6pm. Admission: Rs100 for foreigners
Ranakpur is named after Rana Kumbha whom Dharna Sah, a Jain businessman, approached when he had the vision of his great temple to ask for the land for its construction. Renowned for some marvelously carved Jain temples in amber stone, Ranakpur is amongst the five holiest places of the Jain community and exceptional in beauty. Its located in a secluded wooded valley area of the Aravalli Hills, 8km from the city of Sadri and approx 90km north-west of Udaipur. Like the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the temple at Ranakpur was on my list of places to visit after seeing photo's of it on the net. I came here in a shared car that I hired with two Canadian girls from Udaipur for a day trip that also included the amazing hill-top fort of Kumbalgarh.
The Jain temple is dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankar (a human who has achieved enlightenment), Lord Rishabha or Adinath and was built in 1439. The grand scale (the temple measures 60 x 62m in area), and sheer architectural complexity along with its exquisite sculptural ornamentation distinguish it as prehaps the single most impressive example of Western Indian temple architecture. It features an unusual four-sided plan with four separate entrances. There are four subsidiary shrines, twenty four pillared halls and eligibly domes supported by over 400 columns. The total number of columns is 1,444 all of which are intricately carved and no two being alike. It's like walking round a marble forest! More can be found on my Ranakpur page found below.
Open: 12pm-5pm. Admission: Free. Camera charge is Rs50.
There are of course many lakes in the regions, most of them reservoirs of sorts that retain the water through the dry season. During our visit, we were often captivated by the ordinary duties of bathing and laundry on the lake. In this series of images, not the related cropping of an elderly woman whose grey hair is long. These Indians did not appear unhealthy or underfed. What's remarkable to me is the connectedness of the village Indians to the water. There are similar lakes in California, but the access to them is over gravelly or mud beaches, whereas the ghats provide a wonderful marble shelf from which to reach into the water. I've always loved to swim and bathe in the alpine lakes of California, but the water isn't near so warm as in the region around Udaipur. Probably, these villagers see no advantage nor romance in such natural methods of bathing and laundry, and certainly over time I would tire of it, but the open air and seemingly fresh water was very nice at Nagda and Eklingi.
For those who like to hike distances, there are several temples worth exploring. These are often easily seen from the road, so it's possible to do as I ask my driver to do, pull over and take a short hike up an enbankment or over a stone wall. The view from the temple is often worth the climb in itself.
Hindu Temples typically have ornate conical, or beehive, rooflines. The ones at Nagda don't disappoint the visitor. However, in the plundering by Mughal raiders, some roofs were leveled. The effort in this destruction must have been a challenge though as some ruins escaped the vandalism.
Most interiors of Nagda were either closed off for safety reasons or completely ruined, but we did find one temple at Sas Bahu in credible shape. Compare the unique Hindu arches which are often found on the wonderful Hindu temples, with the column and dome style architecture of Ranakpur in other tips.