This is a city of lakes and a city of palaces.
The palaces here are all, in their own way, epic and awe-inspiring.
Take the City Palace, which sprawls on the East Bank of Lake Pichola. Construction of the palace was initiated in the mid 1550s by the Maharana Udai Singh II, soon after shifting his capital here to the city that would be named after him.
In the course of 400 years, his descendants would continue adding to the Palace, resulting in its distinctive and complex Mughal + Rajasthani “layer-cake” look – at least for the visitor staring from upon the lake towards it.
The City Palace today consists of a publicly accessible monument, a museum of treasures, and two heritage hotels – the Shiv Niwas Palace and the Fatehprakash Palace, managed by the HRH Group of Hotels, in turn owned and managed by the current ruling Maharana of Mewar (Udaipur is the capital city of Mewar).
And then there is the Monsoon Palace, or Sajjangarh Palace, built by Maharana Sajjan Singh (therefore the name Sajjangarh) in 1884. It perches, impossibly – a dream in white marble – high in the Aravalli Hills, some 5 kilometres away from downtown Udaipur.
It is said that the Palace had been built to provide a view of the monsoon clouds during monsoon season. And certainly the palace affords an epic, panoramic view of the entire city of Udaipur and its lakes.
Accessing the palace is a rather hair-raising affair, however, since the way up to it is a single-laned, two-way winding road up through the hills of the Sajjan Sanctuary. It is not for the faint-hearted.
From Udaipur, one can also make a daytrip out to the village of Ranakpur to view a “palace” of another variety. I refer to the magnificent Jain Temple, established in the 1400s.
The temple affords the perfect location for contemplating the eternal interconnectedness of all things in the universe; and mankind’s smallness in the face of such immensity.
The City Palace
The Monsoon Palace
Ranakpur Jain Temple