Udaipur flows along the shores of Lake Pichola, set against a shimmering vision of many hued hills. The city is considered to be India at its most romantic; gazing on the many intricate palaces and temples that hug the shore line, it’s easy to imagine why - the Lake Palace particularly appears as a dreamlike vision floating on water. Whilst the narrow colourful streets can be busy, exploration is hugely rewarding.
Lake Pichola was created in 1362 and then expanded to its current size on the founding of Udaipur in the 1500s. The lake’s calm surface perfectly reflects the surrounding mountains and the Rajput-era palaces that line its banks adding to the romance for which Udaipur is famous. A boat tour is a must as it gives the best view of these grand buildings and the city’s ghats – hop off at Jag Mandir Island that not only has its own palace, but great views back over the city.
In a state of large palaces and forts, Udaipur’s City Palace is often distinguished as the largest of them all. A 244 metre expanse of towers, balconies and cupolas sits directly on Lake Pichola, the rest of the complex climbing up the hill behind. Started in 1599, at the same time as Udaipur’s foundation, over 400 years it was added to by various maharanas to become what it is today. The complex includes a number of palaces, courtyards, pavilions and hanging gardens, and thanks to its hilltop position, great food over the lake.
A place to really delve into the folk art of Rajasthan, this engaging museum not only displays folk art, but also studies traditional art, literature, dances, music and culture of the region and works to repopularise them. The collection includes ornaments, dress, puppets, masks, musical instruments and paintings – it is an excellent insight into an often missed aspect of Rajasthan and northern India’s culture.
Meaning ‘Courtyard of the Maidens’, Saheliyon ki Bari is a beautiful garden designed for the use of the 48 women that Maharana Sangram Singh II was given as part of his dowry. Built around a central courtyard complete with water tank, it is very English in design. There are cast iron fountains (many of which were made in the UK), pools, lawns of lush grass surrounded by trees and flowers – it is a wonderful way to escape the bustle of the city.
Located 90 kilometres from Udaipur, the village of Ranakpur is home to a complex of 15thcentury Jain temples. The main temple Chaumuka Mandir is constructed from white marble and features over 1400 intricately carved pillars, none of which are alike, and 80 domes. The interior is just as intricately carved – entering you will be struck by the enormous feeling of tranquillity that the temple exudes.
Ranakpur can be easily visited when travelling between Udaipur and Jodhpur.
A heritage hotel housed in the former pleasure palace of Maharana Jagat Singh II, the Taj Lake Palace floats majestically on Lake Pichola – you may even recognise it as the setting of James Bond’s Octopussy. Built in 1743 from white marble, rooms are furnished with finely carved wood furniture and sumptuous silks whilst a private butler is on hand 24 hours a day to see to your every whim.
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The world’s largest and most populous continent, Asia is a vibrant and rambunctious fusion of ethnicities, cultures and customs; an incomparably rich and turbulent history showcased by mindboggling feats of architecture and engineering; a geography that encompasses towering peaks, unfathomable gorges and paradisiacal beaches; and a biodiversity that is so abundant that you’ll be reaching for your wildlife guide.