The City of Lakes is undoubtedly the most romantic place in Rajasthan. Capital of the Mewar kingdom, Udaipur was founded in the 16th century by Maharana Udai Singh II, before becoming the capital of neighbouring Chittorgarh. Known for its palaces, this beautiful city is surrounded by seven lakes and the Aravalli range of mountains.

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Highlights

There is something intrinsically romantic about Udaipur as you lose yourself in its lakes, palaces and gardens, so it’s no surprise the city is a sought after wedding destination. While there are seven lakes in and around the city, the most popular are Lake Pichola and Fateh Sagar Lake.

City Palace complex

Standing tall along the banks of Lake Pichola are a series of palaces stitched together — all built in different eras starting from the 16th century. There are eleven individual palaces here, filling Udaipur’s skyline and forming the largest palace complex in Rajasthan.

City Palace has several entrance gates known as pols, but you’ll most likely enter through Bara pol, which takes you into a courtyard and the triple-arched Tripolia gate. The courtyard is filled with eight marble toranas (arches), where kings weighed themselves in gold and silver before distributing the riches to their subjects. Constructed in a blend of Rajasthani and Mughal styles in granite and marble, the palaces reveal a network of halls, terraces, courtyards and towers.

The main part of the complex is open as the City Palace Museum. Visit the miniatures at Kishan Vilas, which according to legend, was where Maharana Bhim Singh’s daughter Krishna Kumari drank poison to solve a dispute between suitors from Jaipur and Jodhpur over her marriage— and thus saving the city from invasion.

Head to the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors) for art and intricate mirror-work, the Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace) for coloured glasswork, Mor Chowk (Peacock Courtyard) for mosaics and decorative peacocks and the Manak Mahal (Ruby Palace) for porcelain and crystal figurines.

Lake Palace

Shimmering white on Lake Pichola, the Lake Palace is a beautiful monument right on the water. Now a luxury hotel, Lake Palace was originally a royal summer palace called Jag Nivas. Entry is restricted to hotel guests, but take a cruise to view its marble edifice laced with semi-precious stones.

Jag Mandir Island

Lying adjacent to the Lake Palace is the Jag Mandir, another palace which sits as an island on the lake. It was used as a resort by royalty in the 17th century to host parties and is believed to be a source of inspiration for Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan when building the Taj Mahal — he took refuge at Jag Mandir when he rebelled against his father Jehangir.

The Jag Mandir is built over three storeys and architecturally blends Mughal and Rajput influences. Its entrance is guarded by a row of huge stone elephants, before giving way to the 17th century Gul Mahal tower and mosque, which has a small exhibit on the island’s history and great views over the lake.

Monsoon Palace

Another beautiful royal palace, the Monsoon Palace (Sajjan Garh Palace) sits atop the Aravalli Hills overlooking Fateh Sagar Lake. Built in the 19th century as a refuge from the annual monsoon, the palace was also used as a hunting lodge. Visit the palace in the evening for sunset views, or head here during the monsoon and watch the clouds float over Udaipur.

Saheliyon Ki Bari

A beautiful park filled with sculptures and statues, Saheliyon Ki Bari (Garden of Maidens) was created by Maharana Sangram Singh for his queen and her 48 female attendants as a refuge from court life. It’s now a popular meeting spot. Look out for the lotus pond and elephant fountains.

Bagore Ki Haveli

Located at Gangaur Ghat on the banks of Lake Pichola, this 18th-century palace belonged to the then prime minister of Mewar, Amar Chand Badwa. The Rajput architecture has been preserved and there is a museum dedicated to Mewar culture, including jewellery boxes, royal clothing and mural paintings.

Arts and crafts

While Udaipur is a romantic city filled with magnificent palaces and sunset cruises, it is also known for its local arts and crafts, silverware and paintings. Visit the Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal institution, dedicated to the region’s folk arts and crafts. Set up in 1952, the museum collects dresses, musical instruments, ornaments and other folkloric memorabilia. You can watch music performances and cultural shows here.

Near the Fateh Sagar Lake is the Shilpagram, a cultural village dedicated to local crafts and a living museum, depicting the life and traditions of the folk artists. Hathi Pol bazaar, Bapu bazaar and Bada bazaar are the best places to buy jewellery, textiles and crafts.

Chittorgarh

Chittorgarh is the capital of the historical Mewar kingdom and is easily accessible from Udaipur as a day trip. Yet another of Rajasthan’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, the town is synonymous with Meerabai, a princess who relinquished her royal status in an act of devotion to the Hindu god Krishna. Visit the temple named in her honour.

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