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Lake City: Udaipur, Rajasthan

The historical capital of the kingdom of Mewar, Udaipur was founded in 1553 by Maharana Udai Singh of the Sisodia clan of Rajput, when he shifted his capital from the city of Chittorgarh to Udaipur. The popular tourist destination is known for its history, culture, scenic locations and Rajput-era palaces.

Popularly known as the City of Lakes because of its sophisticated lake system, Udaipur has five major lakes – Fateh Sagar Lake, Pichola Lake, Swaroop Sagar Lake, Rangsagar and Doodh Talai Lake. The city is well connected by air, rail and road to other cities in India.

Dabok airport which is also known as Maharana Pratap Airport is a very small domestic airport situated in a satellite town about 20 kilometres from Udaipur. Daily flights connect Udaipur with Jaipur, Mumbai and Delhi. The railway station in the city also connects to various other places in India with luxurious trains like The Palace on Wheels, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, Maharaja Express and The Indian Maharaja plying here.

The state transport and private buses connect the city to other parts of India. For transport within Udaipur, there are unmetered taxis, private taxis, radio taxis, auto-rickshaws, and regular city bus services are available in the city in addition to private cool cab services.

Most places in Udaipur can be travelled to on foot but be ready to walk long distances. There are options for using rickshaws or cab services. Accommodation and food in Udaipur are on the more expensive side as it is a tourist spot. Good accommodation options are available around the railway station road which is a bustling area. There are a number of low budget hotels across Lake Pichola in the Naga Nagri sector.

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Must-try foods are Dal Baati Churma, Gatte Ki Sabzi and the thalis which are all you can eat. Vegetarian food is in abundance and finding non-vegetarian places to eat is tough at times. Lal Maas is a must-try as it is authentically Rajasthani non-vegetarian food.

The places to see in Udaipur are the City Palace located in the old city which is a mix of Rajasthani, Mughal, Medieval, European and Chinese architecture. The palace is built entirely in granite and marble. Located on Lake Pichola, the palace has museums and gardens in it. The entrance fees are a little too steep but worth the buy.

Lake Pichola is an artificial freshwater lake which was created in the year 1362 AD and is named after the Picholi village which is nearby. Over the years within and around the lake palaces like Lake Palace, marble temples like Jag Mandir and Jag Niwas, family mansion and bathing ghats like Gangaur Ghat, Ambrai Ghat, Hanuman Ghat have been developed.

Near Lake, Pichola is Doodh Talai Lake which lies between several hillocks. The Deen Dayal Upadhyay Park or sunset point which has a lovely musical fountain and the Manikya Lal Verma Garden are part of the Doodh Talai Lake Garden. There is a cable ropeway between the two which offers a great view of Lake Pichola and the city of Udaipur. This one is a must-do when in Udaipur.

Gulab Bagh which is a rose garden laid out by Maharaja Sajjan Singh is nearby and has a library in the garden which has a collection of ancient handwritten manuscripts and books. There is a mini-train whose track covers the main part of the garden. The zoo was moved from Gulab Bagh in 2015 to the Sajjangarh Biological Park.

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Bagore-ki-Haveli is a mansion built in the 18th century on the waterfront of Lake Pichola at Gangori Ghat by Amir Chand Badwa, the Prime Minister of Mewar, now a museum. It has over a hundred rooms, with displays of costumes and modern art. The building has a large and exquisite collection of Mewar paintings and glassworks. There is a nightly one-hour long dance performance.

Fateh Sagar Lake which is also an artificial lake constructed north of Lake Pichola in 1678. It was built by Maharana Jai Singh and later reconstructed and extended by Maharana Fateh Singh. Within Fateh Sagar Lake there are three small islands – Nehru Park, a public park with an impressive water-jet fountain, and the third is the Udaipur Solar Observatory. Boat services operate on both that take one around for a closer view of the sites. Near Lake Fateh Sagar is Moti Magri, a memorial of the Rajput hero Maharana Pratap. The space has a nice memorial and beautiful view of Udaipur city and Lake Fateh Sagar.

Nearby is the Sahelion ki Bari garden with fountains and kiosks, a lotus pool and marble elephants for the royal maidens. The gardens are beautiful and a must-see. Sukhadia Circle which is a large roundabout in the city’s northern suburb is a popular recreational centre. There is boating which is allowed at an economical rate.

The Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal has a beautiful museum which shows the Rajasthani culture. There are a traditional dance and puppet show which showcases a splendid Rajasthani way of life. Monsoon Palace, also known as Sajjan Garh Palace built as an astronomical centre 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.

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Below the palace is the Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary which encircles the palace and was established in 1987. The palace overlooks the sanctuary, which is a reserve for reptiles, tigers, nilgai, sambhar deer, wild boars, hyenas, panthers, and jackals. It is also popular for bird watching. The reserve can also be approached by a trek (as an adventure) starting from the Gorilla Point to the Jiyan Sagar or the Bari Lake, to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Aravalli hills and the wildlife of the reserve forest.

Udaipur is a must-visit place for those who love nature, culture, gardens and lakes. The best time to visit Udaipur is from September to March as the other seasons have searing hot temperatures.

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