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Sightseeing in Udaipur

There are a lot of options for sightseeing in Udaipur. Udaipur the capital of the erstwhile Rajput kingdom of Mewar stands out in stark contrast to other Rajasthani cities mainly because it is set on the banks of freshwater lakes, the Pichola, Fatehsagar, Doodh Talai and Swaroopsagar.

Lake Pichola is the largest and the most beautiful of Udaipur's lakes - it is overlooked by hills white palaces, mansions, bathing ghats, gardens and temples dot its banks. Jag Mahal and Jag Niwas are the two island palaces that add to the lake's romantic ambience.

A tour of Udaipur should begin at the City Palace, on the banks of the Lake Pichola. The magnificent and awe inspiring citadel is, in fact, a complex of several buildings that were added at different times by different rulers spanning nearly three hundred years. A ticketed 'Mewar Light & Sound Show' is hosted every evening within the Palace premises.

Happily, they harmonise beautifully with each other and maintain an overall homogeneity of design. There are terraces, courtyards, pavilions, corridors, rooms and hanging gardens, with lavish Mughal-inspired decorative art on their walls, floors and ceilings. Simply astounding!

The main part of the Palace is now a museum. You should see the Mor Chowk for the gorgeous peacock mosaics, Chini Chitrashala for the striking blue and white ceramics and Dutch inlaid tile work, Manak Mahal for glass and porcelain figures and Krishna Vilas for miniature painting.

Other sightseeing option is the Jagdish Temple. Built in 1651 by Maharana Jagat Singh, this Temple is located within easy walking distance from the Palace gate. It is an impressive, beautifully proportioned structure, covered with carved friezes and heavily decorated inside.

In the middle of Lake Pichola stands the exquisite fairy tale Lake Palace, seemingly afloat on the tranquil waters that reflect the rugged hills that surround it. Designed to beat the heat and dust of summer, the Lake Palace or the Jagmahal was built by Maharajah Jagat Singh II in 1754. The pretty white marble palace is now a luxury hotel that attracts thousands of guests each year.

Bharatiya Lok Kala Museum houses a very interesting collection of Rajasthani folk art – costumes, paintings, folk deities, musical instruments, masks, dolls and weapons. The puppet collection is particularly fascinating. A memorial to Maharana Pratap (Pratap Smarak) is located on top of Moti Magri (Pearl Hill), which overlooks the Fateh Sagar Lake. And from the bottom of Moti Magri you can take a boat ride to Nehru Park, a pleasant spot on an island in the lake where you can relax and enjoy the splendid view.

After sightseeing if you want some rest, then spend some quiet moments at the Saheliyon ki Bari, (Garden of the Maids of Honour), a small ornamental garden with fountains, once the site for royal picnics, or the impressive Gulab Bagh (Rose garden).

The 18th century Monsoon Palace also known as Sajjangarh, sits dramatically on top of a hill just outside Udaipur from where you get spectacular views of the city’s lakes, palaces and the surrounding countryside. Watch a breath taking sunset from here on a clear day.

About three km from the city, on the way to the airport, is Ahar, the ancient capital of the Sisodias, before Chittaurgarh was founded in the 8th century. There is a fine complex of royal cenotaphs here. A small museum has an interesting collection of rare antiquities, some dating back 3000 years, excavated from the area.

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