We entered Udaipur at dusk after a satisfying visit to Chittaurgarh. Udaipur is known by many monikers – the Venice of the East, City of Lakes, the most Romantic destination in the country etc.. We cannot wait. As the sun sets, we can see the outlines of the Aravali range leading us into Udaipur.
We had booked ourselves in Lake Pichola Hotel – affordable, yet on the banks of Lake Pichola. We navigate through some pretty narrow streets to get to the hotel and check in (We did not take our cars out for the next few days). We got rooms literally next to the lake. We were thrilled at hearing the lake water gently lap the parapet wall, right outside our rooms.
History of Udaipur
The Mewars of Sisodia were fierce warriors. They believed that they were descendants of the sun. The insignia of Udaipur depicting the Sun can be seen in key locations. After the final Chittaurgarh sack (defeat) in the mid -1500’s Maharana Udai Singh founded Udaipur. The site of the City Palace apparently came about by a hermit’s recommendation to Rana Udai Singh to build on the banks of Lake Pichola. The Lake itself is man made and it absolutely lends itself to the charm of Udaipur.
The Beautiful Lake Pichola
The lake has two islands – the Jag Niwas and the Jag Mandir. The Lake Palace is situated on the Jag Niwas – is famous because James Bonds’ Octopussy was shot there. The Jag Mandir offers lush gardens amidst the Jag Mandir Palace.
Daylong reflections of the water
While calling this as the Venice of the East is somewhat of an exaggeration – our room was at the banks of the lake literally 2 feet from the water – separated by a walkway with gentle waves slapping it all day – one gets the feeling of almost being on a houseboat! Our East facing rooms woke up to a flood of morning sunlight. On stepping foot outside the room, we are greeted by beautiful green water. If you are like me, you love being around water. It has this gentle soothing effect on you. We are pleased at our hotel selection indeed. On the other side of the Lake, we have the main town of Udaipur and to it’s right, the grand City Palace. What a sight! I needed nothing more in this trip – hanging by the lake all day.
A hop to the City
Udaipur town is accessible by foot. The best part is that one can cross a Venice like bridge to get to the other side in a few minutes. The town center is dominated by this massive Jain temple. A busy market leads the way into the entrance of the City Palace. Half the Palace is a museum, some parts of it a hotel and the royal family residing yet in another part.
Interested tourists can do a boat ride and visit the Lake Palace. I am told dinner at the Lake Palace is great for both it’s ambient views and food. Other hotel Palaces would include the awesome Oberoi Uday Vilas also on the Lake. A Monsoon Palace, atop a hill, a short drive from Udaipur is also available for sightseeing.
After a visit to the City Palace, I was more interested in hanging around in the hotel. Staying that close to water does that to me. On the right is a view of the Lake Palace from our hotel Terrace.
The Grandeur of Lake Pichola
Getting up early, one sees a glorious sun rise over the temples of Udaipur. The crisp sun meets your face as you step out of the room on to the walkway. From lake Pichola hotel, one gets a Panaromic view of the town and the entire City Palace.
A slight lake breeze can be felt through the day. Tourists get on boats to see the sights of the lake from mid afternoon. The dusk rides offer spectacular sunsets on the lake against the backdrop of the Lake Palace.
The setting cannot have been more natural. The Palace is lit up in the evenings and the reflections dangle in the water. Staying that close to water, all one had to do is light up a candle and have dinner served outside the room. Thanks to digital music, lugging one’s favorite music has become the least of one’s chores. Good friends gathered together for some great music along the lake’s shores followed by candle-lit dinner.
Lake Pichola absolutely adds to the mysticism of Udaipur. Stay on a Lake Front hotel in Udaipur for multiple reasons – Laze around. Write a journal. Get lost in your thoughts gazing at the Lake. Soak in the sights of the amazing Palaces by the banks of the lake. See the reflections of the water all day long. Take a boat ride. Have a candle lit dinner. Enjoy an actual holiday. The unhurried nature of this unique city offers a vacation on the traveler’s terms. Depending on one’s budget, one can have a palatial stay or a modest one – with some research, all can land in a room with Lake views.
Note: Lake Pichola tends to get dried up in severe summers as it also supplies water to the city. A couple of rains takes care of this usually. The tourist barometer can be measured by the amount of water in the lake. Do check on how much water is at Lake Pichola before you head to Udaipur.[This article was contributed by Vijay Ramanathan – a Technology/Gadget enthusiast and Blogger. You can follow his tweets at http://twitter.com/tekdude & his blog at http://tekdude.wordpress.com/ ]