What to see in Udaipur and Mount Abu

Udaipur and around

We reached Udaipur on the evening of day one and went to Sajjangarh Fort. On day 2 we went to Chittorgarh and saw the Light and Sound Show at the City Palace in the evening. Morning of day 3 we went for boating in Lake Pichola and saw the City Palace Museum. After that we went to Eklingji temple i.e. about 15 kms away from the city. Next was Devigarh Palace hotel for lunch. Our next stop was Nathdwara some 30 kms away from Devigarh. After having Shreenathji ka darshan we went to Kankroli. Spent the night at Nathdwara and left for Kumbalgarh Fort the next morning.


Amidst the Aravali hills of south Rajasthan is the city of lakes. Udaipur is proud of its heritage as a center of performing arts, painting & crafts. Maharana, the rulers of Mewar are a 1400 years old ruling dynasty. They claim descent from Kush, the son of Lord Ram. Rishi Harit Rashi handed over the state of Mewar to Bappa Rawal in 753 A.D. The rulers maintained honor & tradition despite hardships. India thus looks upon the Maharanas of Mewar with respect and call them the ‘Sun of the Hindus’.

On 16/3/1559 Rana Udai Singhji was blessed with a grandson. He paid a customary visit to Shri Eklingji. On his return he went hunting and killed a deer at this spot. Then he met an ascetic Goswami Prem Giriji who told him to make his palace on this spot i.e. modern day City Palace. Since Chittor was constantly under attack he decided to shift his capital to Udaipur. Today the city is known for its lakes, palace hotels and hills. Udaipur region is also known for its mineral wealth particularly green marble, zinc mining & soapstone. Places to see -

Fateh Sagar Lake: Large & beautiful lake. Has boating too. There is a statue of Rana Pratap on the banks of the lake. The lake was originally built in 1687 by Maharana Jai Singh, reconstructed in 1888 by Maharana Fateh Siingh. Surrounded by hills on 3 sides, the Fateh Sagar dam is 2800 feet long and a depth of 30 feet. During the holy month of Shravan a grand fair is organized i.e. called Hariyali Amavasya Mela.

Sajjangarh Fort: also known as Monsoon Palace on a distant mountain range. It was built by Maharana Sajjan Singh in the 19th century, predominates the skyline and is visible from most parts of Udaipur. It gives you a scenic view of the city palace, its lakes and the city. It now forms part of the Sajjangarh Wildlife Santuary. The palace is illuminated at night & from a distance looks like something of a fairy tale.

This fort is a must see. It is a great drive, very steep & picturesque. You can go by auto rickshaw or car. As you reach the fort to your right is a huge two level garden. Sit there, relax and have a great view of Udaipur. One, you will see hills all around the city so the location of Udaipur made strategic sense as the hills were a natural barrier for enemies. Two, as you stand you get to see the beautiful hills & valley on eastern side. Three, you get a view of Udaipur’s lakes, the big ones being Fateh Sagar & Pichola. You get to see the Lake & City Palace too.

Now climb up into the Fort. It has two floors. On floor 1 is a small gallery on animals found in the sanctuary. Floor 2 is huge. Go towards the balcony area from where you get a breathtaking view of the mountain ranges behind fort & sun set.

Sahilyo ki Bari: was made by Maharana Sangram Singh II between 1730-1734 for the entertainment of the royal ladies & their maids of honor thus the name Sahilyo ki Bari. There were many gardens below the Fateh Sagar Lake some of which were merged with this garden park by Maharana Fateh Singh.

As you enter there is a well maintained park with fountains at whose entrance is a photographer who will click you wearing local dress. Within the park is SKB that lies within a fortified wall. Next you enter the main area, which has a big fountain in the center of a big pond. Come out of this area and walk around the wall structure clockwise. First there is a beautiful park, which has lots of trees with a fountain in the center and on the sides too. Then exactly in the center of the park i.e. behind the SKB is a huge pond with fountain in the center. It has elephants on four sides and the cute thing is that you have water coming out of elephant’s tusks.

Jagdish Mandir: is a few minutes away from the City Palace. It was built by Maharana Jagat Singh II in 1662. Built in Nagar style from the basement it is divided into three parts, ‘Pith, Manduvar & Shikhar’. Outer parts of temple are well ornamented with exquisite carvings. Colossal inscriptions in the Manduvar give historic information w.r.t the Guhil rulers of Mewar. Jagdish temple is a Panchayatan mandir with miniature shrine located at four corners inside the courtyard. They are dedicated to Surya, Durga Devi, Shiv & Ganesh. It is one of the most venerated Vishnu temples in North India.

Shilp Gram: situated three kms from Fateh Sagar is Shilpgram (meaning craftsmen village) is a living museum of diversity, architecture representing traditional art, craft & culture of Rajasthan, Gujarat & Maharashtra. It is spread over 31 huts. All huts were built with traditional building material from respective regions. The annual Shilpgram Utsav is held every year for ten days in the month of December. Every evening there are colorful folk dances, musical programs organized on different themes. We missed seeing this.

Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandal: The world-renowned puppeteers of Udaipur, custodians of ancient tradition regularly put up first class shows every day. Dance timings 6 to 7 pm but please check before going.

Ahar: 3 kms east of the city are remains of an ancient city, which was once the capital of the Sisodias until Bappa Rawal founded Chittorgarh. It contains royal cenotaphs of the Maharanas of Mewar around a sacred tank Gangabhar kund. The cenotaphs are built with white marble and bears images of family deity Eklinghji, Maharana & his wives. Notable cenotaphs are of Maharana Amar Singh & Maharana Sangram Singh. Also see an archaeological museum there.

Rishabdeo: is 65 kms south of Udaipur. It is a 15th century temple of Keshariyaji (Rishabeo). It is a pilgrimage site for Hindu since they consider the deity to be one of the nine incarnations of Lord Vishnu while for Jains Rishabhdeo is the first of the 24 Tirthankaras. The black marble icon of Rishabdeo is smeared by saffron paste by his devotees. The temple has two massive sculpted elephants on either side of the entrance.

Jagat: is 58 kms kms south east of Udaipur. There is a 10th century Ambika Mata Mandir ie well preserved. It is dedicated to Ambika – one of the forms of Goddess Durga. Decorated gate, carved panel of dancing Ganesha, images of goddess Durga are a must see. Also gracious female figures in various poses, dancers/musicians decorate walls, couples making love because of which it is called the Khajuraho of Rajasthan.

Vintage Car Museum: a short distance away from the city palace is the Ranas car museum. Since we were short of time did not see but we are told it is a great place to visit for all car enthusiasts.

Loved Udaipur. Lots to shop and good vegetarian bhojnalys (restaurants). Cost per meal was about Rs 40/. Go for boating in Pichola Lake. You get better boat rates from Lal Ghat.

We reached Lal Ghat at 8am but the boating shop opened only at 9am. We could not wait till then since we had to visit the City Palace Museum after that, finish shopping and click pictures. The only way out for us was to take a pedal boat. Unsure but excited by the thought of pedaling our way thru Pichola lake we got started. A pedal boat has a stick behind which helps you navigate, change direction. Initially we struggled but gradually I got a hold of it. After pedaling for about half an hour we reached Jag Mandir only to be told that it was private property. Disappointed we pedaled our way back. Our job was made difficult by the hotel ka motor boats which left a series of waves every time they passed by.

If you like to see Udaipur well keep two three days for a relaxed tour. Besides the palace hotels visit Oberois Udai Vilas Palace Hotel situated on the banks of the Pichola Lake. We were told it is a great hotel unfortunately we did not have the time.

City Palace Udaipur: On 16/3/1559 Rana Udai Singhji was blessed with a grandson. He paid a customary visit to Shri Eklingji. On his return he went hunting and killed a deer at this spot. Then he met an ascetic Goswami Prem Giriji who told him to make his palace on this spot. So the Rana started construction from Nan Chowki Mahal in the Rajya Aangan. Foundation stone was laid in this courtyard and coronation of King was held here in 1559. Maharana Udai Singh laid the foundation of this complex in the 16th century. Set on a hill overlooking the Pichola Lake is a white marble sprawling structure topped by domed pavilions and cupolas at different levels. It is a blend of Rajput martial architecture on the exterior and bewildering variety of individual palaces, gardens, and courtyards with Mughal inspired decorative art in the interiors.

The palace construction was in two main phases. One, was from the late 16th to the early 18th centuries. Two, was from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries. There were some minor extensions in the 20th century too. Altogether 22 Maharanas have built and added to the City Palace.

The approach is through Hathi Pole (gate), main street of the old city leading to Bari Pole leading to Tripolia gate. It is called Tripolia gate as it consists of three adjacent gates. Maharana Sangram Singhji II constructed it in 1713 to signify his royal prerogative. The oldest part of the Palace has a temple of Dhuni Mata where the Maharana was blessed.

Other important places are Dilkush Mahal (palace of joy), Krishna Vilas (both have mirror work), Chini Chitrashala (proclaimed painted gallery with tiles & mirror work), Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace with inlaid mirror work), Bhim Vilas (prayer room), Mor Chowk (Peacock Courtyard), Suraj Gokhanda (Sun balcony built by Maharana Karan Singh ruled 1620-1628 a.d.), Manak Chowk (Ruby Palace), City Palace Museum (founder was Maharana Bhagwat Singhji ruler from 1955-1984) has collection of Rajput weaponry and Shiv Niwas & Fateh Singh palace hotels. The former hotel was built between 1865-1870. The latter has a Durbar Hall (built by Maharana Fateh Prakash) i.e. decorated with portraits of Maharana dynasty & a Crystal Gallery with rare collection of items made of crystal.

You also have a Light & Sound show at the Manek Chowk, City Palace (7pm) is a journey through the glorious history of Mewar. The two dimensional narrative articulates Mewar’s intense & extraordinary history through 15 centuries. Palace timings are 9.30 am to 4.30 pm. It is very well written and choreographed. Persons who spoke, including Arvind Singhji present ruler, made it a pleasure to hear.

Today the City Palace can be divided into many parts. Part 1 is the Shiv Niwas hotel. Part 2 is the Fateh Palace hotel. Part 3 is the private palace of the Maharana of Mewar. Part 4 is the Janana Mahal ie part museum and whose courtyard is rented out for dinner parties. Part 5 is the Mardhana Mahal that also contains the City Palace Museum. Part 6 is the point from where guests of the Lake Palace Hotel take the boat ride to go the palace.

Prior to Muslim invasions there was no separate mahal for men & women but with the invasions attitude towards women changed? Then there became one Mardana (male) mahal and a Zanana (ladies) mahal. Earlier residence did not provide for isolated quarters. As the palace expanded in the 17th/18th century the older wings were converted into Zanana mahal.

In the Fateh Palace Hotel is a Durbar Hall and Crystal Gallery. We saw the former. It gives you an idea of the royal splendor in which the erstwhile Rajas ruled. It is a huge hall with some three chandeliers. It has a covered balcony area that overlooks the Pichola Lake and Sajjangarh fort. You can have sit in the balcony and have chai (tea) to enjoy the royal experience. We did not visit the Crystal Gallery, told it is very impressive.

The City Palace Museum is very well laid out and maintained. As you enter you see a collections of arms used by the Ranas. It has lots of pictures and notice boards on the history of the Maharanas of Mewar and the city palace. See the intricate glasswork and get an overview of Udaipur city.

We also got to know during the show that Maharana Bhupal Singhji was the first ruler to sign the Instrument of Accession to India 1947. When the most respected ruler of Rajputana signed the Instrument it inspired confidence in others to follow suit.

Pictures of -
1. City Palace
2. Lake Palace
3. Shiv Niwas Palace
4. Kumbalgarh Fort


20 kms from Udaipur is this temple of Eklingji famous for its 108 temples. Eklingji is an incarnation of Lord Shiva and the family deity of the Maharanas of Mewar. The temple was built by Bappa Rawal in the 8th century and rebuilt in the 15th century by Maharana Raimal. It features four-faced image of Eklingji in black marble. Outside the temple in the courtyard is a large icon of Bappa Rawal standing besides Nandi. Temple timings are 4.15 to 6.45 am, 10.30 am to 1.30 pm, 5.15 to 7.45 pm.

The marble inscription at temple entrance read, Shiv Eklinghji Prabhu, Personal Deity Mandir, Aryakul Kamal Diwakar, Hindu Surya Medpateshwar, Maharana of Mewar, Vikram Samvat 791 or 734 A.D.

At the entrance we saw a number of local women selling flowers, wanted to capture the color but photography within temple is prohibited. After darshan both of us felt the power of Eklingji. There is something special about the mandir which makes it a must visit. Within the temple & outside there were a large number of colorfully dressed Rajasthani women singing devotional songs. They were having bhang too.

Pics of Eklingji http://www.esamskriti.com/photo-detail/Eklingji.aspx

Devi Garh

Thanks to the movie ‘Eklavya’ Devigarh was high on our list of places to see. Devigarh has an imposing entrance. After driving for about a km we saw Devigarh.

When you enter the fort there is a huge garden in the center with a backdrop of the hotel as you can see in the picture. On the left is a walkway that takes you to a landing area from where you can go to the restaurant or well laid out rooms. Next wifey and me set to discover the place and relate every room to the movie. Accidentally, we walked into guest rooms too. The hotel is very well maintained, spotlessly clean. By virtue of having hills on all sides it makes a great view just as we saw in the movie.

It was lunchtime so we decided to try out the restaurant. In an absolute sense the prices might look steep but the food is very good, ambience excellent with a great view thrown in. Bottom line it is worth every rupee we spent. Try the pudhina ka chatni; I ate it as if were having dal, very tasty.

Pictures of Devi Garh http://www.esamskriti.com/photo-detail/Devi-Garh.aspx


It is 65 kms from Udaipur beyond Nathdwara. It is about an hours drive from Nathdwara. It is the site of a 16th century temple of Dwarkadhish or Lord Krishna. This Vaishnava mandir ranks very high among the temples of the Vallabhacharya sect and resemble the Nathdwara mandirs. Just next to the temple is the Jaisamand Lake measuring 14 kms in length & 10 kms in width, is one of the largest artificial lakes in the world. It was created by Maharana Jai Singh in the 17th century. There are eleven islands on the lake which have migratory birds for various species. There is a boat ride too.

This mandir like many others is on the top of a hill and situated on the banks of the Jaisamand Lake. I have always wondered why our temples are situated in the hills! Was it to make it less accessible & visible to invaders or to make devotees undertake arduous journeys for darshan? We had darshan of the Lord Krishna and felt nice thereafter. What we missed out doing is go on the Dam where lies a beautiful garden and from where you get a great view of the temple, fort.


It is 48 kms from Udaipur. It is a Vaishnava mandir devoted to Lord Krishna popularly known as Shrinathji. The black marble murthi was brought from Mathura to save it from the Mughal king Aurangzeb. The image is put to daily routine of getting up in the morning, bathing, changing of clothes and jewellery, offering meals, putting it down to sleep and accordingly temple closes and opens. Outside the temple in the streets you will find shops selling Pichwai paintings & Meenakari jewellery. Molela near Nathdwara is famed for its unique terracotta folk art; with the tradition going back a thousand years.

Shrinathji is a wifey's Ishta Devata. Early morning darshan say 5.30 am is supposed to be the best. Nathdwara market is a fun place. I saw devotees enjoying chat, handmade kulfi and dosa. After morning darshan we had garam garam chai and poha.

Sources of Content: One notes copied from boards outside the temple/palace. Two words of our Guide & local Pandit. Three is History & Culture of Indian People published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. Given volume & page number references below. Four print outs given by the Maharana’s palace hotel in Udaipur. Five is Rajasthan tourism site.

Receive Site Updates