Magic of Udaipur
Magic of Udaipur, Travelogue . The outer facade of the City Palace in Udaipur is an amalgamation of Rajasthani and Mughal architectural style. The...
The outer facade of the City Palace in Udaipur is an amalgamation of Rajasthani and Mughal architectural style. The palace is series of palaces built by successive 76 generations of the Sisodia clan and is repertoire of different artefacts of the Mewar dynasty.
Warm scintillating sun’s rays stroking us on a perfect wintry day could by far be the best welcome gesture we could experience as we stepped out of the train to enter Udaipur, the cultural flag bearer of Rajasthan.
Winters are the most preferred time to visit the western part of India. As the temperatures of the mid day could be most pleasant hovering around 25C. Luckily our choice of the hotel proved to be best as it is located in the old city where the grandeur of the old traditions is still alive. The narrow lanes and the mesmerising slopes in this part of city have offered a merry ride as our auto steered into various alleys at a modest speed.
As we anxiously stepped inside the hotel we were awe stuck by the beauty of the Lake Pichola created in 14th century, currently a sanctuary for a wide variety of birds. Over several centuries, lake’s surroundings and islands within have been developed. This fresh water artificial lake is spread across 1700 acres is abutted by the overwhelming high rises of hotels that offer a fantastic view.
The first leg of our exploration included a boat ride on Lake Pichola to reach the Jag Mandir Palace, a natural island developed within the lake. The Jag Mandir place is acclaimed to be most sought after place for celebrity weddings and indeed the ideal place for pleasure parties. This palace also served as refugee asylum for Shahjahan when he rebelled against his father Jahangir for the Mughal throne. Jagriti, a museum within the place has unique collection of rare paintings, old photographs, maps and contemporary architectural drawings.
Next we stopped at the FatePrakash Palace which is now a seven star hotel also houses the crystal gallery. Crystal gallery connoted the glory of the Sisodia clan has an exquisite display of the various paintings, large chandeliers, and weapons of the kings. It housed the biggest display of the unused crystal chairs, tables, fountains, tables, dinner sets, perfume bottles, beds and table fountains which were ordered by Maharaja Sajjan Singh in 1877 from F&C Osler & Co, London. But before the shipment arrived the king died and it remained unopened for nearly 110 years. It is the single largest collection of crystal anywhere in the world.
The next spot on our list was City Palace which is in the same complex as the FatePrakash Palace. The outer facade of the palace is an amalgamation of Rajasthani and Mughal architectural style. The flamboyant five-storied palace built on the top of the hill offers panoramic view of the entire city and its surroundings. Actually the Palace is pack of series of palaces built by successive 76 generations of the Sisodia clan and is repertoire of different artefacts of the Mewar dynasty.
A small museum within the complex has been exclusively dedicated to legendary Maharana Pratap and his horse Chetak. A walk through the entire palace is like a journey past various generations of the dynasty who have substantially modified, modernised and tried to beautify and glorify their fame according to existing trends of their regime. Even the silver ware and other aesthetic possessions of the kings and Queens were displayed.
Apart from the fort, Udaipur also boasts of its unique collection of vintage cars of Raja’s of Mewar which include the Rolls-Royce, 1939 Cadillac Open convertibles, Mercedes, Vauxhall and Opel Models. These have become more popular with the James Bond Octopussy where one of the Ford cars was actually used.
Our adoration for the place reached its zenith when we took a rope way and reached a hill peak at sunset. The ropeway led us to Mansapurna Karni Temple, located at the highest point of the hill. A bird’s eye view of the city under the setting sun wrapped by a blanket of still blue waters surrounded by the aesthetically landscaped Aravalli ranges was a visual treat. With those pleasant images of the city we retired back to our hotel room and eagerly waited for the night to grow. Our hotel roof top offered a splendid view of the beautifully lit Lake Pichola its islands and Ghats. The serenity of blissful moments is symphonised by the sacred hymns and temple bells from a very old Mahadev temple located on the ghats. A lovely candle light dinner under the open sky gave a perfect ending to an eventful day.
We started our second day by first visiting the Jagdish Temple dedicated to Laxmi Narayan built in Indo-Aryan architectural style by Maharaja Jagat Singh. It is 150 mt away from the City Palace. It is constructed at an elevation and we have to take a flight 32 marble steps to reach it. The three-storied temple complex has beautifully sculpted pictures of elephants, charioteers, dancers, musicians and horsemen, a typical feature of Maru-Gurjara architecture.
Later, we had a local breakfast of hot poha garnished with freshly chopped coriander and onions, samosas with khatta-meeta chutney and khachori at a local outlet.
Udaipur was founded by Maharaja Udai Singh II father of the legendary Maharana Pratap, who is known for his outstanding bravery and chivalry. Especially his resistance to the untiring efforts of Mughal Emperor Akbar to annex the Mewar kingdom is a source of inspiration to every Indian and matter of honour and prestige for Rajputs. Motibagri is a place overlooking the Fatehsagar Lake, has a bronze statue of the Rajput hero riding his favourite horse Chetak.
The location of the place at an elevation, amidst well manicured gardens is a delightful sight. Down the hill we entered a museum containing splendid paintings of Maharana Pratap and other kings of Sisodia clan. It also had replicas of the Kumabalgarh Fort, the Chitorgarh Fort and the battle ground of the Haldighati, where Rana Pratap clashed with outnumbered Mughal armies. The journey to the past is an exhilarating experience as it leaves us inspired and cleverly elusive as well.
As we walked out of the museum we were bowled by the irresistible speed boat ride across the FatehSagar Lake. Though the ride lasted for few minutes, the bouncy jumps it offered on a wintery morning while the popular Bollywood numbers played in the back ground made the ride pretty exciting.
Then we visited Saheliyon ki Bari, a royal garden meant for the royal ladies and their women entourage. It has fountains, lotus pools, carved gate ways and fountains. During our visits to all these historical places in Udaipur, we were pleasantly delighted that none of these structures are left decrepit. In fact, the concerned authorities have taken diligent efforts to restore the structures to act as repositories of our illustrious past.
We next stopped at Shilp Gram, a craft village where skilled craftsman and artisans from Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Rajasthan displayed their unique talents. It actually showcases the typical village environment in each of the states. Thatched huts, sheds, wooden houses seen in the remote villages are the special attractions of the place.