Udaipur the Venice of the east

Puppets Udaipur #HaldighatiRun Vidya Sury

Rajasthan is one state I am yet to visit in India, and it is on my priority travel wish list. In fact, we had planned a trip for October since my son has a week off, but had to postpone it due to various reasons.

But that did not stop me from exploring the WWW to make a list of what I’d like to see there. So, for the moment,  let me live vicariously through the info I am gloating on. After all, travel broadens the mind even when it is via the keyboard.

Udaipur, the city of lakes

Set in the Aravalli Ranges of Rajasthan, India, Udaipur, the capital of Mewar, is a majestic city on the banks of the Lake Pichola. One must visit it at least once in a lifetime. It has just about everything a visitor could wish for—picturesque lakes, palaces, forts, temples, museums, gardens, historic monuments, festivals, natural beauty and an aura steeped in fascinating history.

Udaipur City #HaldighatiRun Vidya Sury

Udaipur city panoramic view – photo by Ravi

Udaipur is also called “the city of lakes”,  “Venice of the East”, “city of Dawn” and the “jewel of Mewar”.

Getting there is easy, since Udaipur is well-connected by air and road and the best time to visit is from September to March. Sigh.

Udaipur Palace Lake Pichola Udaipur #HaldighatiRun Vidya Sury

Stunning view of Udaipur palace by night. Photo by Ravi

Must-see places around Udaipur on my list

City Palace

This overwhelming architectural marvel looms up over the lake atop a hill with never ending courtyards, terraces, corridors, pavilions and of course, rooms. In fact, there is a series of palaces that were built at different times right from the 16th century. The hanging gardens are a treat. At the main entrance to the palace, there’s an arched gate “the tripolia” with marble porticos. Legend has it that under this arch, gold equal to the king’s weight was distributed among the people.

City palace Udaipur Udaipur #HaldighatiRun Vidya Sury

City Palace, Udaipur, by day. Photo by Ravi

The City Palace has a fabulous view of the “Jag Niwas” now converted into a resplendent hotel called the Lake Palace.

Udaipur City Palace #HaldighatiRun Vidya Sury

City Palace Udaipur all lit up (Shutterstock)

So, on one side it has the Jag temple and the city of Udaipur spreads across the other side. One can spend all day here just gazing at the sheer beauty of the place—the glass mosaics in the Peacock courtyard and the wall paintings at the Chini Chitrashala.

City palace by night Udaipur Udaipur #HaldighatiRun Vidya Sury

City palace all lit up. Photo by Ravi

Saheliyon ki bari

The Saheliyon ki bari or the garden of the maids of honor is a gorgeous garden in the north of Udaipur, on the banks of Fateh Sagar Lake, where the royal womenfolk strolled. Abundant with fountains, there are also lovely pools and marble elephant sculptures. One can catch a puppet show at Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandal which has a great collection of exhibits, preserving Udaipur’s culture and art. You can see a lot of folk clothing, ornaments, puppets, deities, paintings, etc.

Near Udaipur, about 3 km away is the Shilpgram village, a rural arts and crafts complex, where you can see ethnic art and culture from the neighboring states as well. Besides buying the artisan’s wares, you can also watch folk dance performances, and enjoy horse and camel rides. The village has an arts and crafts fair in December each year.

Some temples

Jag Mandir

This intricately carved temple is right in the middle of lake Pichola and surrounded by beautiful gardens. This temple is a shrine to Jagannath Rai or Jagdishji and the interesting thing is – there are many paths from the city wall that end up here at the temple. There’s a rock garden called the Dudh Talai from where you can feast your eyes on the sunset over lake Pichola. On the east of the Lake Pichola is the rose garden and a zoo worth visiting. Oh, best way to wrap up your day is a boat ride on Lake Pichola.

Ranakpur, about 45 kilometers from the Kumbalgarh fort and 110 kilometers from Udapur, has the biggest Jain temple in Asia built in the 15th century.

Jain temple Ranakpur near Udaipur #HaldighatiRun Vidya Sury

Jain temple Ranakpur near Udaipur (Shutterstock)

It is wonderfully maintained with 1000 unique carved pillars, and also houses two more Jain Temples. Nearby is the sun Temple or the Amba Mata Temple.

Jain temple Ranakpur near Udaipur #HaldighatiRun Vidya Sury

Jain Temple, Ranakpur Photo by Ravi

Nathdwara, Chittaurgarh is where you will see the Shrinathji temple rich with paintings and sculpture and a majestic black marble statue of Lord Krishna.


Approximately 35 km away, Gogunda is a breathtaking hilltop garden off the Fateh Sagar Lake and is located close to Haldighati, the site of the famous Battle of Haldighati.

While planning the itinerary, I had a dilemma over  whether to visit Chittorgarh Fort of Kumbhalgarh Fort.  Obviously I want to see both. But while Chittorgarh lies in one direction, Kumbalgarh is in another and can be clubbed with Ranakpur and Haldighati. Let’s see.

Chittorgarh Fort

Reminiscent of our history class in school and located about 125 kilometers from Udaipur, the historic Chittorgarh fort, is also one of the largest forts in India. It represents the Rajput pride and spirit, and is known for Maharana Pratap’s heroic exploits, Krishna’s ardent devotee Meera Bai who drank poison, the Jauhar fire into which Rani Padmini and others jumped to protect their honor, and the place where Panna Dhai sacrificed her son.  The fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Chittorgarh Fort, Udaipur Vidya Sury

Chittorgarh Fort, Udaipur (Shutterstock)

Kumbhalgarh Fort

Set amidst dense forests and hills, the 15th century Kumbhalgarh fort, about 90 kilometers northwest  of Udaipur in the district of Rajsamand, Rajasthan, is the birth place of Maharana Pratap.

Kumbalgarh Fort #HaldighatiRun Vidya Sury

Kumbalgarh Fort – Fab photo by Ravi

The fort is a part of the 578 square kilometer Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary around Kumbhalgarh and Ranakpur. There are several palaces and temples inside the fort. It is believed that this fort has the second longest continuous walls, after the Great Wall of China.

Kumbalgarh Fort Wall #HaldighatiRun Vidya Sury

Kumbalgarh Fort Wall (Shutterstock)

There is a light and sound show at  Kumbhagarh Fort that is said to be gorgeous.

Nearby is Haldighati and Khamnore famous of their variety of special roses, that are used to make natural sherbets and fragrances.

A special note about Haldighati

Located approximately 40 kilometers from Udaipur, and 17 kilometers from Nathdwara, Haldighati is a mountain pass in the Aravalli Range that connects the districts of Rajsamand and Pali. It is an important historical site in Rajasthan. The name Haldighati comes from the yellow colored soil in the area that resembles the golden yellow of turmeric—In Hindi, Haldi is “turmeric”, and “ghati” is valley.

This is a great site for history buffs and tells the stories of historic battles fought by brave soldiers. Of these, the most significant is the battle of 1576, a ferocious battle between Maharana Pratap Singh of Mewar and Raja Man Singh of Amber.

Using guerilla warfare, Maharana Pratap and his army swiftly drove away the Mughal commander Man Singh and his forces when they attacked the royal camp at Badshah Bagh, into Rakt Talai, the plains at Village Khamnore.  When Pratap fought with Man Singh and killed his mahout, his loyal horse Chetak was wounded. In spite of this, the horse managed to carry Pratap through the mountains, after the battle, to safety, after which it died.

About 4 kilometers from the battlefield is a pure white marble cenotaph or “chattri” dedicated to Chetak, the valiant mount of Rana Pratap Singh. Each year, on Rana Pratap Singh’s birth anniversary, cultural programs are held to celebrate his greatness. The Chetak Horse Festival is also celebrated to promote the Marwari breed of horses.

Two kilometers from the Chetak memorial is the Maharana Pratap Haldighati Museum that visually depicts scenes from the Battle of Haldighati and life of  Maharana Pratap.

Haldighati Museum Udaipur #HaldighatiRun Vidya Sury

Haldighati Rana Pratap Museum

Close to Haldighati is the Balicha village famous for its terracotta crafts. Another place known for its special roses, the chaitri-gulab, is Badshahi Bagh. Here you can find original rose water and ‘Gulkand’, a jam made from Rose petals, believed to have great medicinal value.


A heritage run is being organized by Royon Samajik Sansthan, an NGO in association with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Sunday, October 9, 2016 starting at 6 a.m., as part of the Vedaan Run to Breathe Run series. The trail will cover four ASI heritage sites—the Haldighati Pass, Chetak Memorial, Rakht Talai and Badshahi Baug.  The heritage run includes four categories: Dream Run (2.5Kms & 5Kms), Heritage Run (10Kms), Half marathon (21Kms). 

For details about registration, please visit the Vedaan Run to Breathe Haldighati Heritage Run website.

Folk Dance Udaipur #HaldighatiRun Vidya Sury

Folk dance in traditional costume MOROZ NATALIYA /

Depending on the time of year one visits, Udaipur offers two major festivals.

  • Gangaur festival—a traditional festival between March-April is great fun when we can see plenty of dancing, singing and fireworks at Lake Pichola.
  • The Mewar festival, which welcomes the spring.
Folk Dance Udaipur #HaldighatiRun Vidya Sury

Folk dance in traditional costume MOROZ NATALIYA /

Udaipur can be a 3-day trip, a weeklong trip, or more, depending on how much time one can spare. I am aiming for a week, since it is on my priority travel wish list. Who knows, maybe later this year!

Puppets Udaipur #HaldighatiRun Vidya Sury

Until then, I treasure my bit of Rajasthan!

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  • Reply
    Shalini R
    September 25, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    Mam, you should definitely visit. That too December to see Rajasthan in all its glory. We visited Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Udaipur and in Udaipur, I wanted to see the “Katputli” show/Puppet Show. It’s a must! Beautiful is an understatement. 🙂 And yes I got the same violet katputlis. 😊
    Shalini R recently posted…Coconut Barfi with Condensed MilkMy Profile

  • Reply
    Uma Srinivasan
    September 25, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    I can add a few more not to miss places when in Udaipur. Fatehsagar lake and Sajjangarh fort in Udaipur. Saas bahu mandir aka Nagda temple (the architecture is amazing), Ranakpur Jain temple, Eklingji temple en route Nathdwara.
    Shopping at Hathipol.
    Aapno dhani for unforgettable Rajasthani cuisine.
    Udaipur is heavenly post rains. I miss it so much and more right now after reading this.

  • Reply
    September 26, 2016 at 9:01 am

    Oh Udaipur is on my list too, Vidya. Actually, Udaipur and Jodhpur. I have been to Jaipur as a kid and it has now been too long. We are actually planning a trip there once M grows a little more. I also want a week long trip but then depends on leaves , sigh! Thank you for the visual tour of this mesmerising city, Vidya. ❤️
    Nabanita recently posted…7 Things I’m Doing To Be MindfulMy Profile

  • Reply
    September 26, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    Oh my such beautiful pictures, it looks like you have found some stunning places to put on your bucket list. I deal with a number of lawyers in Mumbai through my work and I love hearing about places they have visited. I must see India one day xx

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      September 26, 2016 at 1:03 pm

      Lisa, Rajasthan is a gorgeous state, like many others, in India. When you plan your India trip, make sure you visit Bangalore, because I am here to take you around! Mmwah!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Udaipur the Venice of the eastMy Profile

  • Reply
    swati bassi
    September 26, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    I have been to Udaipur. Lakes, forts, palaces… it is simply beautiful.
    swati bassi recently posted…GratitudeMy Profile

  • Reply
    Alison (MadHouseMum)
    September 27, 2016 at 12:21 am

    Ooh this made me want to jump on a plane! I visited India when I was 18 and travelled around Rajasthan, but didn’t get to Udaipur. An excuse to return 🙂 Your photos of the puppets reminded me of one I bought on my travels and I started to wonder where it has got to…Thank you for sharing all this information – I love the look of all of it, especially the Fort. Alison x #mg

  • Reply
    September 27, 2016 at 3:59 am

    This place looks so beautiful, restful, spiritual and rich in colours. I would love to see these building and capture the folk dancing …love those outfits. I hope you make it there.
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  • Reply
    Mackenzie Glanville
    September 27, 2016 at 9:02 am

    oh wow what a breathtaking place, the colours and the beauty! Thank you for sharing this with me on #mg

  • Reply
    September 27, 2016 at 10:02 pm

    That’s a beautiful capture of a wonderful place. I am going to Rajasthan later this year.. Unfortunately we couldn’t include Udaipur… Hopefully we will cover it separately another time.
    Asha recently posted…That Day After EverydayMy Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      September 27, 2016 at 10:11 pm

      Aww! So are you going to Jodhpur/Jaisalmer, Asha? I am hoping to go there around Dec. too. 🙂 Let’s see how that pans out. The thought itself is so exotic! 🙂
      Vidya Sury recently posted…3 Safety Tips for the Digital AgeMy Profile

  • Reply
    Darla M Sands
    September 28, 2016 at 6:13 am

    Wow! That’s all I can say.
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  • Reply
    Cathy Lawdanski
    September 28, 2016 at 6:31 am

    What a beautiful place filled with so much history. I hope you make it there soon, Vidya!

  • Reply
    September 28, 2016 at 9:52 am

    All of Rajasthan is captivating and Udaipur only more so. I went there when I was a kid. It has everything a perfect tourist destination should have – plenty of history, great food and the awesomest shopping.

  • Reply
    Lisa Pomerantz
    September 28, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    Wow! This just became a destination place on my list too Vidya! What breathtaking scenery, beautiful colors…and those puppets! I do hope you can get there soon, and for as long as you like! M’wah my friend! Hugs and smiles, from here at #mg xoxo
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  • Reply
    Steps Together
    September 30, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    Wow.. Beautiful Rajasthan..

  • Reply
    Shrinidhi Hande
    October 2, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    Nice coverage, but it is not venice unless you have water transport

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      October 3, 2016 at 8:19 am

      You are right, Shrinidhi! The reference is purely poetic 🙂 Thank you for coming by!

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