5 mins read
Discover The Gems Of Udaipur’s Historic Old City
By Anushree Anantharaman
17 Sep, 2023
Step into a realm of enduring elegance and majestic splendour as you venture into the renowned Old City of Udaipur, the very foundation of Udaipur on the banks of Lake Pichola. This historic area serves as the vibrant nucleus of culture and architectural marvels, offering a captivating blend of enchanting palaces, picturesque lakes, ancient temples, lush gardens, and winding alleyways lined with market stalls, evoking the spirit of a heroic past and embodying valour and chivalry. Behold our treasure map to conquer the old city with maximum fun and minimum fuss!
An Introduction and History to The Old City of Udaipur
Discover the beauty of Udaipur's old city (Picture Source- Wikimedia Commons)
The city of Udaipur has an interesting legend behind its origin. During one of his hunting expeditions in the Aravalli Hills, Maharana Udai Singh, who ruled over Mewar then, had a fortuitous encounter with a revered sage. This occurred during a period when his capital, Chittorgarh, was facing relentless assaults from adversaries. The Sage counseled the King to establish a kingdom in the fertile valley that would be well-protected by the elevated Aravalli Hills. Subsequently, Maharana Udai Singh laid the foundation stone of Udaipur in 1557 A.D.
He went on to build the city palace on the banks of Lake Pichola, Udaipur's first artificial lake, which served as the residence for the royal family. Lake Pichola is one of Udaipur's oldest and most iconic lakes and remains a prominent attraction in the city today. Lake Pichola became a magnet for people and civilization to develop along its shores in banks.
The charming Lake Pichola
Eventually, the city of Udaipur came to be known as the "Venice of the East" and the "City of Lakes" due to its several artificial and artificial lakes. This led to the development of temples, forts, and markets, shaping what is today recognized as the Udaipur old city.
In the years that followed, as the population and activity in the city grew, the city walls were extended, giving rise to new buildings and settlements. Nevertheless, the old town of Udaipur continues to exude a unique and enduring charm. Here's our take on the top 8 must-see spots in this classic part of Udaipur .
Did you know?
Witness a beautiful sunset at Lake Pichola (Picture Source- Veena World)
Before we dive into our list of top attractions, here's an intriguing tidbit about the royal family of Mewar and their intricate connection with the city and its lakes. During Maharana Jawan Singh's rule from 1828 to 1838, an extraordinary challenge unfolded. The Maharana made an audacious promise to Natini, a talented tightrope walker – he pledged half of his kingdom to her if she could successfully traverse Pichola Lake on a tightrope.
As Natini confidently began her journey across the lake, it seemed she would triumph. However, the tale takes a tragic twist: the King deceives her by cutting the rope, causing her to plunge into the lake, where she tragically drowned. Legend has it that, in her final moments, she placed a curse upon the Mewar Kingdom. This curse foretold a future devoid of direct descendants to inherit the throne.
This curse is believed to have come true as six Ranas out of the seven succeeding Jawan Singh were adopted!
7 Best Things To Do In Udaipur's Heritage Street
1. Visit the City Palace
The majestic City Palace in Udaipur (Picture Source- Architectural Digest India)
The old city of Udaipur begins at the iconic City Palace, a majestic structure that stands as a testament to Udaipur's royal legacy. After Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, the City Palace is the second-largest palace in India that took nearly three centuries to complete. An interesting fact about the City Palace is that one King did not build it.
Instead, it took almost 400 years to complete and witnessed several kings during its construction. After Maharana Pratap lost to Akbar, the city was under Mughal rule but soon returned to the Rajputs. Later, Amar Singh, Bhim Singh, Sajjan Singh and other rulers kept the throne until the independence of India. Arvind Singh Mewar is the successor and runs most of the things in City Palace.
Today, City Palace remains as it is in the Old City of Udaipur near the Jagdish Temple and on the banks of Lake Pichola. The royal family continues to reside here, in a part of the palace. The remaining area is open to the public; some features became a museum, some rooms were displayed, and the gardens were accessible. The City Palace Complex also houses the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum, showcasing a rich collection of royal costumes, delicate shawls, silk saris, and other dresses.
Additionally, the Maharani's Palace in the complex displays fascinating Rajput weaponry, some even dating back to the 15th century. Each evening, a light and sound show tells visitors about its rich history, struggle and the life of royal families. The famous Bollywood movie 'Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani' was shot in the City Palace.
9 am to 5:30 pm (No Tickets After 4:30 pm)
Indians: Rs.250 for Adults and Rs. 100 for Kids
2. Explore the Jagdish temple
The famous Jagdish Temple (Picture Source- Holidify)
One of the most prominent landmarks in the old city of Udaipur is the Jagdish Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Built-in 1651, this three-storey temple is a remarkable example of Indo-Aryan architecture, with finely carved pillars and an imposing pyramidal spire.
The temple was built in 1651 under the reign of Maharana Jagat Singh, who ruled Udaipur from 1628 to 1653. Jagdish Temple is the home of Lord Vishnu and an iconic example of Maru-Gujaru architecture of the era. The Mughal invaders destroyed many figurines and carvings in the temple as a part of revenge upon Rajput rulers. The Mughals took to vandalism to take out their anger and frustrations on their defeat at the hands of Mewar rulers. Due to the Mughal invasion, Maharana Jagat Singh spent 1.5 million rupees to renovate the Jagdish temple.
Worship Lord Vishnu in Jagdish Temple (Picture Source- Pixels)
According to the old legends, it is believed that the marble slab in the Jagdish temple has magical powers. Rubbing your shoulder, knees, or back on the marble can quickly relieve the pain. While it might be difficult for some to accept this, we opt not to scrutinize the beliefs tied to religion. Nonetheless, immersing ourselves in the local ideas when exploring a new region is enriching.
5 am to 2:30 pm and 4 pm to 10 pm
3. Take a leisurely walk along the Gangaur Ghat
Visit the famous Gangaur Ghat (Picture Source- Expedia)
A "ghat" is a location along the shores of a lake or river where locals bathe and wash their clothes. Locals also use ghats to celebrate Hindu festivals in India. The ghat is called "Gangaur Ghat" since it's popularly known for the celebration of the Gangaur Festival. The ghat showcases intricate carvings and balconies, providing a stunning view of the lake and City Palace.
On these festivals, the ghat looks spectacular as people celebrate the chariot processions during these festivals, making it the most scenic and beautiful place in Udaipur.
Open 24 hours
3. Delight in the splendour of Lake Pichola
Aerial view of the serene Lake Pichola
The old Udaipur city concludes at Lake Pichola's serene shores, where you can take a leisurely boat ride. This picturesque lake, flanked by the City Palace and the Lake Palace, offers breathtaking views of Udaipur's architectural wonders. The boat ride is a serene and romantic experience, allowing you to soak in the city's beauty from a unique perspective.
Numerous rooftop cafés and vantage points along the street offer panoramic views of the lake and its architectural surroundings. Photographers can capture the tranquil waters, the majestic City Palace, and the setting sun, creating frames defining the picturesque beauty of Udaipur.
9:00 am to 6:00 pm
4. Immerse yourself in Bagore Ki Haveli
The intricate designs on the walls of Bagore ki Haveli (Picture Source- Travel India Travel)
Situated in the Gangaur Ghat Marg of Udaipur in the state of Rajasthan , Bagore ki Haveli is an opulent gracious palace which was built in the eighteenth century on the waterfront of Lake Pichola. Boasting over a hundred rooms with elaborate exhibits done up in mirror and glass works, the Haveli was built by the Prime Minister of Mewar Kingdom- Amar Chand Badwa.
Beautiful paintings and murals from the Mewar era adorn the palace's walls; the Queen's Chamber is the most popular of the lot and has two very gorgeous glass and mirror sculptures of peacocks on display. The women of those times were interested in music, and the royal women used Sangeet Kaksh in the Haveli to learn music and indulge in playing musical instruments such as santoor, chang, dholak, nagada, sarangi, etc.
The popular Dharohar Dance Show in Bagore ki Haveli (Picture Source- Viator)
Restored and renovated time and again, the Haveli has been finally converted into a museum thronged by regular tourists, history buffs, and culture explorers. The highlight of the Haveli is the popular Dharohar Dance Show held here every evening, showcasing Rajasthan's culture and folk tradition.
9:30 am - 5:30 pm
Indians: Adult - INR 60, Children (Age between 5 to 12) - INR 30,
Foreigners: Adult - INR 100, Foreign Children (Age between 5 to 12) - INR 50
5. Experience the automotive history at the Vintage Car Museum
Experience luxury in Vintage and Classic Car Museum (Picture Source- Udaipur Tourism)
Udaipur's royal families' luxury, exquisite living, and management are worth noticing. As a non-royalty, every other individual wishes to peek into the lifestyle of royalty. Adorned with explicit beauty and history, Udaipur stores several items of historical significance. Out of many, one of the most exciting places to visit is the Vintage and Classic Car Museum.
Situated on Gulab Road in Udaipur, the Classic and Vintage Car Museum is a collection of motor cars used by the Maharana of Mewar. The collection includes several Rolls Royce and Mercedes models, but what rolled us over was an ethereal 1934 Rolls Royce Phantom.
Witness the collection of exquisite vintage cars (Picture Source- itravel)
The curious café, the aged Shell Petrol Pump, the rustic museum, and exquisite vintage cars all around presented a very retro ambience. If you are lucky, you may see the royal family, including Sri Arvind Singh Mewar, driving by in these cars.
9 am to 9 pm
Rs. 250 per person for Adults
Rs. 150 per person for Children
6. Take a leisurely walk in Saheliyon Ki Bari
Spend an evening at this beautiful picture-worthy location ( Picture Source- Udaipur Tourism)
Saheliyon-Ki-Bari, or 'garden of the maids' in English, was built by Maharana Bhopal Singh for 48 young women attendants who accompanied a princess to Udaipur as part of her dowry. With its lush greenery, flowers, beautiful fountains, lotus pools, and marble artefacts and pavilions, Saheliyon-Ki-Bari offers splendid views and makes up for an ideal romantic setting.
It is a lush garden with marble elephants and different types of fountains and is a popular tourist spot for visitors from around the country. Many film shooting has also taken place for Bollywood hit movies.
08:00 am to 06:30 pm
7. Take that ropeway ride to visit Karni Mata Temple
The scenic ropeway to reach Karni Mata Temple
Maharana Karan Singh built the Karni Mata Temple in Udaipuringh between 1620 and 1628 while he executed the development of the residential areas in Machla Magra. The temple was not very popular until 1997 and was visited by a few people. Only after the redevelopment project undertaken by the Mansapurna Karni Mata Development Committee in 1997 did devotees start flooding the temple.
Today, the temple is fully equipped with easily accessible staircases and ropeways, along with multiple resting places for the convenience of the followers and devotees of Karni Mata. The most exciting thing about visiting the Karni Mata Temple is the way to reach it. You have to go in a small cable car across the ropeway up to the hill where the temple is located. This is something you must do when you visit Udaipur.
4:00 am to 10:00 pm
Indians: Adults- Rs. 100, Children- Rs. 50
Foreigners: Adults- Rs. 300, Children- Rs. 150
The old city of Udaipur serves as the vibrant epicentre of culture and activities. Beyond its splendid monuments, some incredible must-visit experiences are awaiting you in this part of the city. Here's your checklist:
A. Hathi Pol Bazaar
Shop till you drop at this colourful bazaar (Picture Source- Exotic Miles)
While sightseeing at City Palace, Udaipur, remember to give time for shopping during your trip. You can find the sellers right beside the City Palace. Some shops sell Pichwai and Phad paintings and other Rajasthani artworks. Something that you can't miss buying here is the miniature Rajasthani paintings.
B. Puppet Show and Folk Dance Show at Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal
Experience Rajasthani culture at Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal (Picture Source- Sahapedia)
The vivacity of Rajasthani culture can be best experienced through its dances and puppet shows at the Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal, a cultural institution established to propagate folk art and dance forms. While here, you can watch local artists showcase their skills, talents and art forms that have been handed down from generation to generation.
C. The Mewar Sound and Light Show
Experience a fun history lesson at City Palace, Udaipur (Picture Source- Travelogy India)
Manek Chowk, City Palace hosts a 1-hour show to relive the rich history of Mewar that dates back to 1500 years ago. The show premieres in two languages, English and Hindi. The official court poet of the House of Mewar, Pd, writes the Hindi play. Narendra Mishra. Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar, the custodian of the House of Mewar, is the voice of the hi-tech sound and light show. The duration of the show is 60 minutes/ 1 hr.
D. Under the Sun Aquarium
Spend a day exploring the marine life in Udaipur (Picture Source- The Udaipur Store)
Under The Sun, India's largest public aquarium exhibit is the newest popular tourist destination in the enticing city of lakes. The 125-meter-long aquarium houses 150 tanks and 180 types of fish and marine animals. This aquarium is remarkably constructed near Vibhuti Park on Fateh Sagar Pal. It has a beautiful display of awe-inspiring aquascaping & delightful tropical freshwater fish species.
Witness a beautiful sundowner in Udaipur (Picture Source- Pinterest)
There's no specific time recommended for visiting Udaipur – the city's beauty and pleasantness can be enjoyed throughout the year. The monsoon season adds joy and magnificence, and even though Rajasthan's summers can be somewhat intense, Udaipur has the advantage of mitigating the heat thanks to its surrounding water bodies. Winters in this city are particularly delightful. And suppose you are looking for places to stay, depending on your preferences. In that case, we are proud to offer two exceptional properties in the city, each catering to various budgets.
The Hosteller Udaipur
First up is The Hosteller Udaipur , situated just a stone's throw away from the City Palace. This vibrant establishment seamlessly combines comfort and a sense of community. Whether you're inclined towards cosy dormitories or welcoming private rooms, you'll discover the perfect accommodation that suits your needs. Here, you can forge connections with fellow travellers, relish modern amenities, and immerse yourself in the local ambience.
The Hosteller Udaipur, ARTIST HOUSE
Alternatively, we have The Hosteller Udaipur - Artist House, an architectural masterpiece remin iscent of an opera house, located just a 7-minute drive from the old city. This distinctive property offers an immersive artistic experience, with every nook and cranny adorned with captivating murals and imaginative spaces. A stay at The Hosteller Udaipur - Artist House transforms you from a mere guest into an integral part of an artistic journey. Book now!