The word ‘Royalty’ is impossible to think of without an image of majestic ‘Rajasthan’- literally meaning the ‘Land of kings’. Figuratively speaking, if Rajasthan were a world renowned beauty queen, the city of Udaipur will be described as her soulful eyes – the most endearing of features. This city is one of the most amazing destinations to visit in India. The lakes in Udaipur, not only pose as a calm escape from the desert heat but they also support and sustain the people, agriculture, industries, and tourism of this state.
I may not do justice to the mammoth task of summarizing the rich history and cultural heritage of Udaipur, so today I will simply take you on a beautiful journey that my family and I enjoyed visiting this mesmerizing destination.
The occasion – my Father in law’s birthday, the conspiracy – an extravagant plan to surprise him. The conspirators….uh..well… it’s a very long list, but in short, the entire family! Everyone knew we were coming to attend his birthday except for our adorable, unassuming Dad, who had no clue Shiv and I would be flying in for his big day 🙂
Let’s keep the surprise visit story aside for another day but once our dramatic entrance was done and everyone stopped getting emotional, we decided to head to Udaipur for 3 days. Living in the beautiful city of Ajmer, Udaipur was just a 4 and a half hour drive by car. So, yeah ROAD TRIPPPP! This was an exciting option for us as it gave us the freedom to stop on the way to eat traditional Rajasthani food.
I cannot mention the options of hotels in Udaipur in detail, but one thing I can say for sure is that they have something for everyone. The room tariffs range from tight budget to lavish. You can decide how light you want your pockets to be at the end of the trip. The lake view hotels are definitely a lot more expensive and the palace hotels are extravagant. The entire city is like a page out of history books but do not be fooled my friend, within these centennial walls are luxurious hotels. Some of these rank best in the world and the treatment you get is no less than a Maharaja.
We reached Udaipur in the late afternoon and waited patiently by the dock after parking our car. Soon a pontoon boat dressed in white appeared to approach us. A man dressed in the traditional attire, complete with the huge mustache and unique Rajasthani turban, came down from the boat to load our luggage and help us get on board. Without any announcements just like clockwork, we boarded the boats, wore our life vests ( like good children who follow instructions!!) and the boatman (a man dressed in a similar attire) started our boat towards the hotel.
As we floated over the lake I felt my excitement level soaring. This is what fairytales are made of, and this was just the start.
“Lo and behold… your heart will sing, as you shall live the life of kings!”
We reach the hotel where we were greeted by the beautiful women adorning us with flowers and two men placed strategically near the entrance, melodiously singing in local dialect “Padharo Mare Des…” (Which means welcome to my land.) No better way to welcome someone in style.
Udaipur is so full of charm that no matter where you stay this beauty will steal your heart. After a hot cup of tea we boarded the boat again to witness the famous sunset of Lake Pichola. The calm waters transform into a golden bed during sunset and a twinkling mirror at night, reflecting the multiple lights adorning the Palace.
In the evening the lights lit up like a twinkling sky, serene and joyous.
Next morning, our hotel arranged for a guided tour of the Palace, conducted by a historian. Few random clicks of Maharaja portraits in their traditional clothes, and grandeur. Every portrait is a famous king with numerous acts of bravery to their credit. They narrate stories of war and wit of these men and the Rajput dynasty. This is how the Indian map looked back in the day-
Colorful clothes to whimsical costumes! Music that can touch your heart, dance forms like KALBELI and GHOOMAR that leaves you stunned. An experience of Udaipur is a must for anyone who savors culture. This city has everything to offer if you are in the mood to explore the lavish lifestyle of the Maharaja’s, the architectural gems of India, the culinary expertise of ‘Khandani’ cook’s (Expert chefs since generations). If you are still not satisfied with touring the number of palace’s and you want to shop for a souvenir, a part of Udaipur that can be owned by you forever, then head to the various shopping areas search for bargains at “Saheliyon ki Baari”.
We picked up amazing pieces of art to adorn our house to add an ethnic touch. Needless to say being such a popular tourist destination, anyone visiting should be prepared to bargain well with the shop keepers. At the end of the day, we enjoyed the evening performance of the Kalebli dancers, the exquisite Rajasthani cuisine.
Coming back to the birthday celebration’s, one night we had an exquisite meal in the open air restaurant with the City palace in the backdrop. It was simply marvelous.
For the people new to this form of dressing- I know many of my fashionista female readers may be enamored by these clothes but this is not a costume 🙂 The ladies in these two photo’s, my mother-in-law and I, are wearing the popular traditional attire of many South Asian women called the ‘Saree’. It is a 6meter cloth that is draped around the body over a long skirt. It is available in different designs and materials, this one, in particular, is a shaded Chiffon saree with beautiful embroidery on it. Covering the head is a cultural option, though it is not compulsory, many married women follow this tradition.
The hotel concierge was more than helpful to make special arrangements for us as we decided to continue surprising Dad by cutting his cake on a boat. The beauty of this night time cruise was enhanced by the celebrations.
The trip ended on a high note, we bid adieu to the city with a bag full of memories and lifetime of smiles 🙂
Things to do in Udaipur- Live, shop and dine like a royal, literally! Tour Palaces and lakes, there are multiple tourist attractions in this city some of the most popular one’s are as follows:
THE CITY PALACE
Standing on the east bank of Lake Pichola is a massive series of palaces built at different times from 1559. Its main entrance is through the triple-arched gate – the Tripolia, built in 1725. The palace now houses a museum with many antique articles, paintings, decorative furniture and utensils from the royal era.
Historical legend narrated to the selection of the site for the palace is about a hermit meeting Maharana Udai Singh when he was on a hunting trail in the Udaipur hills. The Maharana met the hermit who was meditating on top of a hill above the Pichola Lake and sought the hermit’s blessings. The hermit advised the Maharana to build his palace at that very spot and that is where the palace complex came to be established at Udaipur.
The City Palace was built concurrently with the establishment of the Udaipur city by Maharana Udai Singh II and his successor Maharanas over a period of the next 400 years.The Maharanas lived and administered their kingdom from this palace, thereby making the palace complex an important historic landmark.
Our personal experience – Tickets are available at the counter but there is no limit to the number of people going inside at a time which makes it extremely crowded, it is an architectural gem but I will be honest, it gets very crowded so I recommend to go at a time when you expect relatively fewer people.
Situated on an island in Lake Pichola, the Lake Palace was constructed to serve as a royal summer palace. Built of white marble, the palace is now a luxury 5 Star hotel, operating under the “Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces” banner.
Jag Mandir is a palace built on an island in the Lake Pichola. Also known as the “Lake Garden Palace”, it was constructed by three Maharanas of the Mewar kingdom. The construction started in 1551 and was completed by 1652. The royal family used the palace as a summer resort and pleasure palace.
Monsoon Palace, also known as Sajjan Garh Palace, was built as an astronomical center to keep track of the movement of monsoon clouds in the area and also served as the summer resort of the Maharanas. Built with white marble, it is located on Bansdara peak of the Aravalli hill range at an elevation of 944 m (3100 ft) above mean sea level. The palace offers a panoramic view of the city’s lakes, palaces, and surrounding countryside.
The Jagdish Temple is a large Hindu temple in the middle of Udaipur, built by Maharana Jagat Singh I. To reach the main shrine, one must climb 32 marble steps. The largest temple in Udaipur.
There are a lot more places to visit and enjoy in this magical city, as I said before there is something for everyone to enjoy in the Majestic Udaipur.
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