Udaipur is a part of royal Indian state of Rajasthan, extending from latitude 27°42' in the North to longitude 75°33' in the North. It is well connected through air, rail, and road to other important cities of India like Jaipur, Delhi, and Mumbai.
Udaipur is in the central part of the fascinating region of Mewar. The kingdom of Mewar, with which many legends of bravery are associated, was considered the most respectable of all Rajput princely states in Rajasthan. Claiming descent from the sun (Suryavansha), the Sisodia dynasty that ruled Mewar for 1200 years is one of the oldest dynasties in the world. With a lineage of 67 generations behind, this clan fought for its respect and freedom. Like other Rajput kingdoms of the time, it never married off its daughters to the Mughals. A part of this lineage were Rana Sanga and Rana Pratap, great warriors who fought to defend their kingdom from invaders.
The capital of the Sisodia dynasty was Chittor till the 6th century, when it was moved to Udaipur, named after Maharana Udai Singh. According to legend, the Maharana was out hunting one day when he met a holy man meditating on a hill overlooking the Lake Pichola. The hermit blessed the Maharana and told him to built a palace at that very spot, as it would be well protected. The Maharana followed his advice and Udaipur came into being.
Today, Udaipur is a one of the better-known tourist destinations of India and an integral part of any itinerary for Rajasthan.
The Shilp Gram (Craft Bazaar) is situated just 3 km off Udaipur and is a great place to see the art and craft of all the states of western India. The Directorate of Tourism organizes a 10-day festival from December 15 every year, which is a treat for the visitors interested in village crafts.
The onset of spring brings the Mewar festival on April 7-8. A traditional welcome to spring, this festival is a visual feast with Rajasthani songs, dances, processions, devotional music and firework displays. It is celebrated in the romantic city of Udaipur during the Gangaur Festival. A procession of colorfully attired women carrying images of the goddess Gauri makes its way to Lake Pichola. A procession of boats on the lake offers a fitting finale to this splendid celebration.
The climate of Udaipur is tropical with the mercury staying between a maximum of 38.3°C and a minimum of 28.8°C during summers. Winters are a little cold with the maximum temperature rising to 28.8°C and the minimum dipping to 11.6°C. The annual total rainfall is 61 cm. Winters (September-March) are the best period for visiting Udaipur.
If Jaipur is a study in pink, Udaipur is a vision in white. The City of Dawn, surrounded by the ancient Aravali Mountains and set on the edge of three lakes, is a brilliant kaleidoscope of narrow lanes flanked by bright stalls, gardens, lakes, palaces and temples.
Overlooking the aquamarine waters of the Lake Pichola stands the shimmering granite and marble Lake Palace, a harmonious arrangement of courtyards, pavilions, terraces, corridors, rooms, and hanging gardens. Eight marble porticos mark the spot where the Mewar sovereigns were weighed in gold, the equivalent value of which was then distributed to the poor. Within the City Palace are several architectural and artistic highlights such as the Mor Chowk, known for its stunning peacock mosaics and the Bhim Vilas Palace that has a series of lovely wall paintings.
However, the most memorable parts of Udaipur are its lake palaces, shimmering like jewels on the Lake Pichola. Jag Niwas, the summer residence of the princes of Mewar, is today a magnificent luxury hotel. Jag Mandir, the other island palace, with a marble dome, is a marvel in red sandstone. It was a refuge for Prince Khurram (better known as Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan) when he was in exile following a quarrel with his father, Emperor Jahangir.
Just outside Udaipur, on a hilltop, lies Sajjangarh, a dramatic 18th century palace that gives a breathtaking view of the Mewar countryside. The palace was originally intended to be a five-story astronomical center, but was later abandoned and used as a monsoon palace and hunting lodge.
About three kilometers from the town of Udaipur lies Ahar, the ancient capital of the Sisodias, which boasts of numerous chhatris or cenotaphs that commemorate Mewar's royal personages.
Nathdwara, 48 kilometers from Udaipur, is an important Hindu pilgrim center, also famous for nurturing the glorious tradition of Pichwal paintings.
Ranakpur, 98 kilometers away, boasts of some of the most exquisite Jain temples in the country. These are but a few of the several places of interest in and around Udaipur.