Love is that fragile flower of the most uncommon beauty which can never be found by purpose alone while wandering through life’s garden, but one whose colour and fragrance is the most pure and meaningful when discovered by accident.
Hence Udaipur is love; it oozes romance in its every bit. The city holds in itself a story, which unfolds as you step on its very being. My journey to this place was a short one but the most memorable one for not only did I fall in love with what I witnessed, but it had the power to make me fall in love over and over again at every step. Its sense of romance is unmatched in Rajasthan, and arguably all India.
This fairy-tale like city is my favourite city in Rajasthan, as it seems to encompass the entire rich heritage and colours that the state is famous for. It’s an impossibly dreamy city, with an easy-going atmosphere.
Dominated by the majestic City Palace overlooking Lake Pichola and adorned with one of its kind floating palace hotel namely the Taj Lake Palace and Jagmandir, a palace built on an island on lake Pichola, makes the city proud of its grandeur and prosperity. Picturesque havelis (intricately carved houses), ghats and temples line the lake front with a colourful and bustling market selling everything from accessories to furnishing items to authentic Udaipur rajaais (quilts) and bed sheets and with some of the best eatery stalls and small hotels in its by lanes.
The top 5 places to visit while in this enchanting city of India:
1. City Palace
The Palace stretches along the eastern shore of Lake Pichola and is a fascinating combination of the Rajput military architecture and Mughal style embellishment. Its stern, fortress-like facade, peppered with a profusion of elegant balconies and domes, has been aptly described in the past as a huge plain cake topped with fabulous icing. One of the largest palaces of Rajasthan, it is actually a complex of several palaces. Much of it is now a museum which is spread out through several palaces allowing us to witness India’s royalty.
2. Jagmandir Palace
This palace is located in the middle of the Lake Pichola, not to be confused with Taj Lake Palace hotel, also located in the lake which is now the luxury hotel. This palace can be explored on a boat tour, which leaves from the banks near the City Palace every 15 mins. Eight mighty stone elephants at the entrance welcome’s every guest making them feel like royalties. It boasts lush gardens and marble chambers and exquisitely inlaid coloured stone, which is said to be inspired by the design of Taj Mahal at Agra. Now a hot favourite place for weddings, Jagmandir allows common man to celebrate their special day like great Indian kings.
The charming Saheliyon-ki-Bari is a gorgeous 18th century garden, located in the north of the city. Its name translates to “Garden of the Maids of Honour”, as it was built for the queen of Udaipur whose dowry included no less than 48 maids. The garden features ornamental fountains, lotus pool and a rose garden.
4. Eklingji Temple
If you’re spending more than two days in Udaipur then a visit to Eklingji is a must for it is a holy complex with 108 temples and shrines all dedicated to Lord Shiva. It includes the striking pillared hall and four-faced image of Lord Shiva in black marble.
A stone’s throw away is Nagda, which is home to the Saas-Bahu temples; two twin structures dedicated to Lord Vishnu. They are renowned for their extravagant sculptures portraying amorous couples and scenes from the epic Ramayana.
5. Bagore Ki Haveli
Perfectly justifying its presence in the old city of Udaipur this Haveli is a true example of the old world charm aristocracy, boasting numerous rooms and verandas’ with authentic ware now displayed at the haveli for the guests to see. Overlooking the Pichola Lake at Gangori Ghat this haveli transforms into a colourful and vibrant stage that is ready to soak you in its cultural glory. The evenings here showcases the Bagore dance show (officially called Dharohar).The show takes place at the terrace called the Neem Chowk. The balconies in Neem Chowk are lit up in different colours and give you a sense of the enriching evening that has been beautifully planned. The pleasant February evening and the star-lit sky made it even more beautiful.
A brief and informative introduction, followed by the beating of a drum, blowing of a conch shell and a welcome song, kicked off the evening show that can best be summed up to be just perfect to witness when in the culturally rich city of Rajasthan.
One can see :
- The Chari Dance, where the dancers dance with ignited brass pots on their heads.
- The Terha Taal Dance, where the dancers play 13 different manjiras tied on their hands and legs.
- The Gorbandh Dance, where the dancers wear ornaments that are used to adorn the camels and dance in complete abandon.
- The Rajasthani Puppet show, always popular with the kids as well as adults.
- The Ghumar Dance, a supposedly high-class dance, where the dancers dance in rhythmic circles to the accompanying music.
- The Bhavai Dance, where the dancer dances with several earthen pots balanced on her head.
All in all an enthralling evening packed with colours, music, dance and culture of our Royal past.
After satisfying the cultural appetite it’s best to visit one more gem of Udaipur to satisfy ones gourmet appetite. And the place that does just that is the Ambraai Restaurant, on the opposite bank of Bagore Ki Haveli. The tables here are set perfectly providing one a panoramic view of the City Palace lit up to its perfect glory in the evenings and a clear view of the Taj Lake Palace hotel, again a mesmerising sight for the eyes. One is transformed into the laps of romance while dining right on the banks of the Lake with the most spectacular evening view of the city under the roof of million twinkling starts.
Udaipur for me is the epitome of love, romance and grandeur. Visiting this place will surely give you memories for life. Also known as the Venice of India, it is a must visit for very soul who believes in love.