At the foothills of the Aravalli mountains floats a city. A beautiful dream of a city, in the midst of seven lakes.
Founded in 1558 by Maharana Udai Singh II of the Sisodia Clan as the capital city of his kingdom of Mewar, the city bears the name Udaipur, or “Udai’s city”.
It is well-known as a City of Lakes, though these lakes are man-made, created in the course of centuries. That notwithstanding, they are breathtakingly beautiful and the city itself was built on their banks.
The most central of these lakes, and with the most picturesque name, is Lake Pichola. It is here that the heart of the Old City of Udaipur sits.
The most imposing monument on the Lake is, of course, the simply-named City Palace – a sprawling complex of palaces built along the Eastern bank. First begun in 1553, the palace was improved and expanded on in the course of 400 years and today contains royal residences, a museum, as well as a luxury hotel.
Just across the water from the City Palace sits the other palace – the Lake Palace. This jewel of a palace, built in white marble, was created in 1746 as a Summer Palace, and it floats impossibly on the surface of the still waters of Lake Pichola.
South of the Lake Palace sits a third palace – the Jag Mandir, begun in the mid 1500s (around the time Lake Pichola itself was created) and completed in the mid 1600s.
There is a fourth palace in this City of Palaces – the Monsoon Palace – high up in the Aravalli Hills and completed in the late 19th century. From here, there is a view upon the entire city with its seven lakes, and the pendulous clouds that hang over the city during the Monsoon Season, hence the name.
Back in the Old City, one can wander for days through the warrens and alleyways, stumbling upon magnificent Hindu Temples or quaint colonial-era edifices.
Another view of the city is offered by touring it by boat – one is able to admire the many ghats and facades of the city as they were meant to be admired: from the water.
Time passes one by as one floats upon the azure waters of Lake Pichola.
Before long it is evening. The City Palace glows a burnished shade of gold by the light of the setting sun.
I hop a return speedboat leisurely back to the Lake Palace – in which I’ve chosen to sojourn during my time here – to prepare myself for the coming few days of wandering.