Udaipur – A Royal Affair

After taking what I thought was turning out to be an endless sabbatical, I am finally back! Only this time I want to start journaling some of the photographs I take in the city (i.e., New Delhi) and the few I take when I am travelling. Am I finally giving in to the idea of making a New Year resolution? Mmm … may be, but it is something I have never believed in (besides, we are in the third week of the month already!).


The first set of photographs were taken during my travels in Udaipur, India.

Udaipur, also known as the Venice of the East, is a beautiful lake town situated in Rajasthan. I visited Udaipur with two other friends in August 2013; ours was a four-day trip, which in my opinion is just the right number of days one needs to explore the city.

After boarding an evening train from Delhi’s Nizamuddin Railway Station, we reached Udaipur at seven in the morning the next day. Like all the cities in the country, Udaipur too has a lot of auto rickshaws that take you around the city at a good (negotiable) price. After a bath and an elaborate breakfast at the rooftop of our guesthouse we were ready to explore the city! Our first stop was the City Palace (image 1). It is the largest in Rajasthan and is situated near the beautiful Lake Pichola, which has an absolutely incredible restaurant, Ambrai Restaurant (image 2), that overlooks the lake and serves delicious and authentic Rajasthani food like gate ki sabzi and laal maas, to name a few.

City Palace, Udaipur
City Palace, Udaipur
Ambrai Restaurant, Lake Pichola
Ambrai Restaurant, Lake Pichola

One side of the palace is surrounded by market where you can shop till you drop – from beautiful paintings to colourful clothes and memorabilia (image 3) – all of this at a good bargain. While walking through the lanes we reached a haveli, only to realise that it has now been turned into a retail outlet (image 4). The owner of the shop told us that a lot of buyers from all over the world come to his shop to buy bedsheets, bedcovers, pillow and cushion covers and colourful long skirts (in bulk), and they then sell these in their countries under fancy brand names! In case you are a budding entrepreneur, all you need to do is make a quick visit to this lake city!

'Game of chess': Vintage memorabilia for keepers
‘Game of chess’: Vintage memorabilia for keepers
An old haveli turned into a store
An old haveli turned into a store

Towards the southern end of the lake, situated on a small island is Jag Mandir (image 5 and 6), also known as the “Lake Garden Palace”. Its construction is credited to three Maharanas – Maharana Amar Singh, Maharana Karan Singh and Maharaja Jagat Singh. Jag Mandir or Jagat Mandir lends its name from the last maharana who completed the construction. The royal families used the palace as a summer resort and pleasure palace for holding parties; even today it is often used for holding wedding ceremonies of not just the royal family but, well, whoever can afford it!

Jag Mandir
Jag Mandir
Chhatri: a typical Rajasthani architecture
Chhatri: a typical Rajasthani architecture

About two hours away from Udaipur is the largest fort in Asia, Chittorgarh (image 7). The ruins (image 8) are like an open book of history, with stories one can make a film out of. The fort is a World Heritage Site and a trip to Udaipur seems incomplete if one misses out on this architectural beauty. We were informed, by our guide, that the Chittor fort was under siege thrice and even though they fought bravely, the ladies had to commit Jauhar thrice in order to save themselves from capture, enslavement and dishonour at the hands of the invaders.

Sprawling Chittorgarh fort
Sprawling Chittorgarh fort
Ruins of the Chittorgarh fort where women committed jauhars thrice
Ruins of the Chittorgarh fort where women committed jauhars thrice

The reason for one of the attacks on Chittor by Alauddin Khilji, second ruler of the Khilji Dynasty, was to forcefully obtain the beautiful Rani Padmini. After much convincing, the rani agreed to show her reflection (even though it was considered to be quite a shameful act) to Alauddin only because he convinced the King Ratan Singh that he considered Rani Padmini as his sister. While the rani remained in her palace (image 9) Alauddin Khilji was allowed to see a reflection of the beautiful Rani Padmini, in one of the strategically placed mirrors in the palace opposite this one.

Rani Padmini's Palace
Rani Padmini’s Palace
Vijay Stambha or Tower of Victory
Vijay Stambha or Tower of Victory

The Vijay Stambh (image 10) is a nine-storey tower which was built by Maharana Kumbha to commemorate his victory over the Muslim rulers of Malwa and Gujarat. The tower has intricate carvings on each of the floors and stands tall even though the fort was invaded by a lot of Muslim rulers.

With so much history at every step, our guide didn’t let us leave until we shopped a little: A government-run outlet of local fineries awaited us – from hand-printed sarees (named after the queens who ruled their state) to quilts that assure you relief from any kind of body pain (true or not, I couldn’t resist picking up a few things).


I hope you enjoyed reading this and that I have done justice to the place with these photographs. Come visit this magical city of love and lakes!

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