They say that there’s a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. If the diverse, multicultural history of India was a rainbow, Rajasthan would arguably be the pot of gold that you would find at its end. All the kingdoms and dynasties of ancient India have vied for the sands of Rajasthan, and some have succeeded, leaving their mark all over the state in the form of forts, palaces, cultures and even entire cities. Udaipur, once the proud capital of the Mewar kingdom and now a proud city, has its own marks. You can find numerous forts, palaces and scenic lakes and valleys dotting the terrain of the city, and many of the manmade monuments still stand in their full glory as a reminder of the Rajputana times. Here is a look at some of the most prominent Udaipur forts and palaces that you must visit. ALSO READ: 5 Places you must visit when you travel to Udaipur!
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The City Palace in Udaipur – Udaipur – Rajasthan
Let’s start the list with the most obvious stopover for a tourist in Udaipur: the majestic City Palace. Built in 1559 by Maharana Udai Singh, the City Palace overlooks scenic Pichhola Lake and has several smaller palaces built within it. It has several gateways or ‘Pols’ from all directions, including Toran Pol, Tripolia Pol and Bara Pol. Once inside, you can explore the complexes within, including the Darbar Hall, Mor Chowk, Sheesh Mahal, Rang Bhawan, Dilkhush Mahal and the Jagdish Mandir, which is just by the palace. From within the palace, you can see the Jag Mandir and Lake Palace, which lies in the middle of Pichhola Lake and is another entry in the list. Most of the City Palace has been converted into a fascinating historical museum, with various monuments, clothing, furniture and weapons on display. Also Read - Rajasthan Man Names His Second Child 'Congress Jain', Hopes His Son Will Serve the Party in Future
If you are in Udaipur, you cannot miss the majestic Chittorgarh Fort, considered one of the largest forts of Asia. The fort is around 120 km away from Udaipur, lying along the highway between Delhi and Mumbai. By some counts, this is the largest fort in the country, but it was undisputedly the flourishing capital of the Mewar dynasty that reigned for centuries. Spread across 690 acres and rising to a height of 590 feet in some places, Chittorgarh Fort lies on a hill that overlooks the Berach River that originates from the hills of Udaipur. The fort has been captured a few times over the years, despite its size, with some of the noteworthy conquerors being Allauddin Khilji in 1303, Bahadur Shah in 1535 and Akbar the Great in 1567. In the last case, Akbar’s victory led to Maharana Udai Singh II fleeing the capital and establishing Udaipur. The fort has witnesses the Jauhar (ritualistic suicide) of nearly 13,000 Rajput women after falling in the hands of invaders. You can access the fort from seven gateways, with the main one being Ram Pol. Inside, you can find several monuments, temples and ruins. The fort once had 84 water bodies, but you can only find 22 today. ALSO READ: 7 royal cenotaphs of Rajasthan that will astonish you
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Fateh Prakash Palace
Fateh Prakash Palace (on the left), Chittorgarh, Photograph Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
The Fateh Prakash Palace was built to serve the greatest guests who would come to visit Maharana Sir Fateh Singh of Mewar and Udaipur, whose reign lasted from 1884 to 1930. Built within the monumentally expansive Chittorgarh fort, the palace is now home to a luxury hotel of the HRH Group but can still be visited. The Crystal Gallery and Darbar Hall, also called Minto Hall, are two of the main sights here. The Darbar Hall itself is decorated to the brim with artifacts from the palace’s royal era, including armor and weapons. From the palace, you can get a view of the scenic Lake Pichola through the intricately decorated windows. Each of the 45 suites and 21 rooms in this hotel is decked with period paintings, portraits and furniture.
From the royal rooms and darbars of ancient Udaipur, we move towards the rough and tough fort of Kumbhalgarh, located 82 km from the main city in the district of Rajsamand. This was considered the second-most vital fort for the Mewar dynasty, after Chittorgarh of course. It gets its name from its founder, Maharana Kumbha of the Sisodia clan. Built in the 15th century, Kumbhalgarh is said to be where the legendary king Maharana Pratap was born. It can be accessed through several gateways, including Hanuman Pol, Vijay Pol, Aret Pol, Nimbu Pol, Ram Pol and Bhairon Pol. From all the gateways, you can enter the two palaces within: Badal Mahal and Kumbha Mahal. The fort complex has several Jain and Hindu temples, built over the centuries since the 13th one. These include the Bawan Devi, Golerao, Vedi, Neelkanth Mahadev and Mamadeo temples. The Pleasure pavilions, dam, gardens and stores, Badva Bund and Lagan Baori are also fascinating points within the fort.
Lake Palace in Udaipur – Udaipur – Rajasthan
The Lake Palace, as the name suggests and mentioned earlier, is a palace that lies in the middle of Pichhola Lake; with its white marble walls seemingly rising out of the pristine, still water of the lake. Like many of the monuments in Udaipur, this one too is a luxury hotel, bringing the royal life of the Mewar dynasty closer to mango people. During the royal days, it was the choice of many kings and his kin for a relaxed abode away from the bustle of the larger City Palace. Back then, it was known as Jag Niwas, and was built on an island of four acres. Maharana Jagat Singh II is credited for building this palace, which was completed by 1746. It was used as a summer escape for the Mewar royal family, and its earlier name comes from the king that created it. Now operated by the Taj Group, the lake palace took the name of Taj Lake Palace in 1971. ALSO READ: 10 pictures that show why Rajasthan is the best state to visit in India
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